Judging other people’s taste in music


Last week Laura Miller published an article “Is the literary world elitist?”, which addresses the way people judge the taste in literature of others, focusing on how and why they express their disapproval. My first reaction was familiarity, since I recognized elements from attitudes towards music. For example, (in my experience) it’s popular to hate Nickelback, and even if you like Metallica, you’re not supposed to like their collaboration with Lou Reed.

I’m going to use these parallels between literature and music to discuss the judgment of musical taste in a similar fashion (if you think I shouldn’t directly apply the same arguments, the comment section is waiting for you! 🙂 ).

According to the article, the destructive attitude is based on insecurity and I fully agree with this: I believe it is a way of listeners to achieve a form of confirmation; if they don’t like something that is popular, they write it off as garbage in an attempt to reduce their insecurity.

The author also says it is an important point that “our relationship to any given book is also a relationship to its reputation”. Replace the word ‘book’ with ‘song’, ‘artist’ or ‘music genre’ and the point is the same.

I try myself to respect everyone’s tastes, though it’s probably impossible not to be influenced by it. For example, it would be harder for me to make friends with someone who dislikes the music I like. On the other hand, I regularly find myself making remarks (even if it’s half-jokingly) when one of my friends is listening to the newest pop hit. Do you have music that you “love to hate”, because you feel like you’re supposed to, or without having real arguments for it?

Bonus question: what about the role of the internet?  

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2 Responses to Judging other people’s taste in music

  1. I liked how you used the parallel between the literature and music, it makes it easier to understand what you say and I can relate pretty well with what is said too.
    First to answer if I have music that I love to hate, I would say yes. This example would be the Rick Roll song. I find that I love to hate this because everyone else does and because of its reputation. I probably have others too, but this is the first one that comes to mind.
    Now the role of the internet, I wouldn’t say only the internet, but social media in general affects in our judgement of music. The internet does play a major role in it though. Most people can now be found on the internet, so this has become a socializing place, on sites such as reddit or 4chan, where they discuss such topics and more. This is when I’m thinking of those songs that became popular because they were hated and people always discussed about them.

  2. Lu Hongyang says:

    Actually I don’t have a strong attitude of loving or hating some kinds of music. Once I listen a song that I never heard before, I will love it if I don’t switch it after 30 seconds. And that’s true, the influence of my friends is significant. If none of my friends likes one song, I won’t love it in most cases. Excellent music must have a good reputation.

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