My roommates blast a lot of bubblegum pop in our apartment, the kind of vapid autotune that shrivels hipsters’ ears and makes the geriatrics say, “Why do kids listen to that garbage?”
There are songs we have played so often the lyrics are etched into our walls. Half of these songs I like and will sing along to, occasionally in key. The other half confuse me.
A recurring pattern exists when it comes to music and aging: around age thirteen, people tend to start out with basic Top 40 hits, and then in their late teens and twenties they branch out into other genres. Musical tastes peak in the late twenties and stagnate just afterwards — according to Spotify, users cease adding new artists to their listening patterns around age 33. After age 33, Top 40 hits become a foreign language only the youngsters speak.
I am already at the point where I do not recognize half of what sits on the charts, but I have finally gotten to where it no longer bothers me. Like everyone who goes to college, I have less and less in common with my high school self each day, including the fact that I no longer fake having a good taste in music. In high school, staying current in music, whether with Top Hits or underground artists so indie you could make up a band name, was almost a requirement if you wanted to function socially. I pretended to like bands whose names sounded like random word assortments read off of Scrabble, and pop artists who replaced a letter of their name with some kind of punctuation mark. In college, nobody cares. Music has diverged so thoroughly that only listening to one genre is like only reading one page of a book. One of the best parts about college is that you are introduced to so many new people who will introduce you to new artists and songs you probably would not have stumbled upon otherwise. You can switch on WREK radio or pop over to Under the Couch to hear something different. You can stumble through music festivals or be a face in the crowd at the Homecoming concert. Streaming sites pair you up with genres like an audio speed dating service, and before you know it, your iTunes library has tripled in size. Spotify even has Discover Weekly, where their service will compare songs you like and create a new playlist for you every week. You can even mingle with local artists on Atlanta’s underground music scene and connect with college-age artists and smaller bands. There is no point in holding onto one genre or falling into a concrete habit. There is no need to feel proud that you are the only person on the planet who listens to a certain indie band, and there is no reason to fake a good taste in music because it no longer matters who you listen to.
So when my roommates blast something catchy and autotuned, and I have no idea what the song is or who it is by, I sit back and listen and am thankful that I have years
to go until I peak.