Choosing The Right Rhythm

Music preferences are built from a variety of places, but what really makes our music personal?

It’s a warm, sunny day. You’re cruising down the highway with some friends, sunroof down. All of you are laughing and singing and having a good time. Close your eyes. What song is blasting through the speakers?

Whatever song that may be – whether it’s “Flawless” by Beyonce, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, “Pick up the Phone” by Young Thug or “Play it Again” by Luke Bryan – there’s a lot that goes into that song choice. “A lot of the music I listen to has been influenced by my culture and what my family listened to while I was growing up,” senior Samia Ali said. “My dad loves his old school R&B and that’s one of the reasons I like it so much.”

Junior Stella Biehl agrees. “My family has probably had the biggest effect on my music taste because I listen to a lot of music that I used to listen to with my parents when I was younger. Now that I’m older my friends also play a real big role in the music I listen to too,”  Biehl said.

Junior Ishaan Chainani finds that music choice depends on what he is doing. “If I’m with friends and trying to get hyped, I’ll listen to Migos and Drake,” Chainani said, “but if I’m doing my math homework I’ll listen to classical or more toned-down music because that’s easier to focus to.”

Do you listen to music while working out? If so you’re not alone. In fact, according to the New York Times, you’re doing something that will help you work out harder and for longer. “Whenever there’s music while I work out, I feel like I can work much harder, I love hype rap music when I’m working out because it keeps my upbeat and energetic” Chainani said.

However, responses vary when looking at what music people play through their individual headphones. Biology teacher Victoria Engel, unlike most, finds herself listening to more pop rock while working out. “My workout playlist has a lot of Ed Sheeran right now,” she said.

In music trends it’s unanimously agreed that at parties, the music gravitates around rap and hip hop. “It’s Migos, Travis Scott, Future and that type of music that gets around during parties,” Ali said. But why is this the case? Chainani thinks it’s because of a common ground. “Everyone knows it and everyone can get hype to it,” Chainani said. Freshman Jacob Fried agrees. “Usually hip hop and rap are at the top of the lists in terms of what’s popular, so naturally that’s what’s played at big social settings,” he said.

One problem with music choice, however, is that we worry whether people will like what we’re playing, or that we’ll be judged for listening to certain music. Although we don’t all love to admit it, we’ve all judged someone based on their music choice. Sophomore Maggie Scroggs as most, has her opinions on music, however she tries to keep an open mind to all music. ”I follow a lot of people on Spotify and if I see that they are listening to some random song I’ll give them a hard time, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be friends with somebody because of their music choice,”  Scroggs said.

Biehl agrees that there is judgment around types of music and she herself has been the victim of music stereotypes. “My friends will sometimes say something negative about my music but honestly I don’t really care. It’s not like it bothers me,” she said.

Although Biehl isn’t bothered by others’ opinions of her music, she still tries to do her best while playing music with other people around. “I definitely change my music when I’m around people, not because I’m ashamed of my own music but just because people like to listen to music that they know and a lot of the time that’s not my personal music,” Biehl said.

So why is it that people are reluctant to share their music in public or with their friends. Senior Joelle Pollastro thinks that music can be based on one’s emotion and because of that sometimes people are reluctant to share their music due to judgments or typical musical stereotypes that could be passed about their personality based on the music they listen to.

Scroggs thinks people can be reluctant to share music because each person’s music shows a little bit of their personality and this can lead to people being hesitant to show their inner self “I think someone’s music really expresses your mood. If you listen to chiller music you are probably in a more chill mood versus if you are listening to hard core music it’s more likely that you like to go out and have a good time,” Scroggs said.

Another subset of this is assumptions surrounding which person listens to which music.  “There will always be the notion that the jocks are going to listen the explicit rock music and the popular girls will listen to pop,” sophomore Zach Harvey said.

Engel agrees. “It’s easy to look at someone and automatically assume what music they listen to based on who they are,” she said. “But I’ve been wrong on internal assumptions, and it’s important to recognize that music choice can be from deeper than the surface.”

Junior Alex Lewis has found himself being the victim of this superficial judgment thinking. “A lot of people assume I listen to all classical music because I’m in orchestra,” he said. However in reality, his favorite type of music is alternative rock.

Engel has found that some of the stereotypes of music choice can be true. “It’s assumed that only white people listen to country music,” Engel said. “The country bar that me and my boyfriend  go to is only full of white people.”

Deciding which song to play next is difficult, and there’s so much that goes into that decision. What mood am I in? Who am I with? We go through these internal questions all subconsciously without any real thought. There’s no wrong answer to what song to play. But most importantly, don’t worry what others are thinking, because in the end it’s your choice, not theirs.

By Melissa Funes and Mahir Piyarali