There is nothing more aggravating than meeting someone who claims that the music genre they listen to is the best and everything else sucks. Get the fuck out of here with that shit. Other genres don’t suck. You suck for not opening your mind up to something outside your bubble. Every single genre has merit. There are pluses and negatives about all of them, but each has the potential to reach your soul if you give them a try. I often encounter people with an all or nothing admiration for their favourite style of music. Why does it have to be so “us v. them?” There was one guy in high school who I’d run into in the hallway who made a point of telling me that metal was the superior genre of music and everything else wasn’t worth my time. It was such a turn off that I didn’t start getting into metal until I reached my 20’s. Of course, this was also prejudiced on my part. I let one bad egg ruin my opinion of an entire body of work that had the potential to bring me great enjoyment. Even worse, I could have learned more about this guy and what made him the way he was.
There is nothing wrong with a preference. I truly believe we all have a genre that is our default mode and that we will turn to more than others. It’s usually from what we learned during our formative years and it’s hard to break out of that fossilization. But why limit yourself? It’s akin to never travelling outside your hometown. You have your roots, friends and family but you’re never going to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes if you don’t go explore. It’s cheesy to say but music is one of those great connectors. We can learn A LOT about a group of people based on the kind of music they listen to. Many criticize rap for violence, not understanding that these rappers are merely speaking about their everyday life; this isn’t controversial to them. The same can be said of metal. Some people loathe it. They call it noisy garbage and criticize the singer for growling instead of learning how to sing, not understanding that it is in fact complex music created by people who feel alienated by the rest of society and need a proper outlet.
I could spend all day going over the merits of each genre but the point is to stop belittling other genres, especially if you haven’t given it a real chance or done your homework. It’s close-minded, ignorant and in some cases even culturally insensitive. You are allowed to not like a piece of music, but ignoring an entire genre is just silly. Maybe you haven’t found an artist, album or song that speaks to you. Don’t be so freaking negative. For example, I don’t like a lot of top 40 pop, and I’ll admit to having bashed the entirety of it in the past, but that was wrong and bullshit. I just wanted people to think I have great taste in music, which is a futile and meaningless venture, my friends. I listen to a lot of weird indie, classic rock, punk and folk but sometimes I need to get down to something commercial like Lady Gaga. I know its cheese, but it makes me happy. Sue me. Why be so serious all the time?
If you’re thinking that you can’t genre-hop and you are set in your ways, I’m here to tell you that you can. Just because we all fossilize a little doesn’t mean we can’t learn to love and listen to music outside of our comfort zone. The best way is to find a gateway album. Listen to something that features the qualities that you look for in your music but also features some that are from a genre you would never listen to. In a world marred by convenience, you are going to have to work at it. You’ll probably never become a connoisseur of that new genre you checked out but you’ll have an appreciation and it’ll open your mind to so many new possibilities. I always remember my aunt telling me when I was 12 years old that “Music is music; if it’s good then it’s good.” Simple words to live by, but it makes complete sense. If a piece of music truly touches you and positively moves you, then who cares where it came from?
Written by Shawn Thicke
*Edited by Dominic Abate