I’ve always been more of a lurker than a poster, and that didn’t change when Spotify Wrapped dropped earlier this week. I’ve loved seeing people share the highlights from their year in music, even noting a few songs to check out for myself. But you won’t catch me sharing my Spotify Wrapped.
My current relationship with music feels different to the relationship other people appear to have with their favourite songs. I’ve become quite private about what music I listen to.
I’ve often wondered why I feel this way, so I took to my journal to free-write about it in the hopes of coming up with some answers. There are four reasons I came up with to explain my relationship with music, which I thought would be fun to discuss in a blog post.
So here’s why I didn’t share my Spotify Wrapped…
Reason 1: It’s not that I think nobody cares, I just don’t want them to
Let me explain…
When I started to enjoy music enough that I got an iPod, I was late in developing a particular “taste” in music. I was 14 and most of the other kids I knew had mostly worked out what they liked and what they didn’t. Or at least that was the impression I got based on the judgement I faced.
Initially, I listened to music that was popular in the charts because I hadn’t yet learnt to discover music any other way. Despite my dad’s vast CD collection, I hadn’t received any music education. I certainly heard a lot of all-time classics growing up. I’ve probably heard most songs that defined their decades in music, but I couldn’t name them. Even now, I’d probably struggle to put a name to a lot of tunes almost everyone has heard. My brain has just never worked that way.
Allowing the charts to dictate what songs you liked didn’t make for interesting discussions with my peers. Most of the people in my year group who had the same “taste” were people I didn’t want to be friends with (so most of my year group). And the people I did want to be friends with either despised pop music or would never admit to liking a pop song.
Then when I did acquire a specific taste in music, it wasn’t what most other people I knew were listening to at the time. And whilst I know that sounds very “People just don’t get my music taste, man. It’s so niche!” my interests were pretty niche in my small social groups.
I got into rap music. Whereas most of my friends were into metal — or “screamo” and “grunge” as I probably described it at the time (no, I didn’t know what those words meant, but saying them helped to delude myself that I was assimilating).
Now, of course, everybody had heard Eminem and finding Eminem fans was easy. Lots of people used to associate me with Eminem because (I assume) I was:
a. a big fan at the time
b. a white person who liked rap, and
c. nobody could ever remember any of the other artists I enjoyed listening to.
When I was in Sixth Form, few people I spoke to had heard of The Notorious B.I.G. or 2Pac and they’re both legends of the genre. Kendrick Lamar is a household name now, but even the few friends I had at the time who were into rap weren’t interested in Kendrick when his first album came out. DMX and D12 weren’t fringe acts, either, but nobody I was hanging around with had listened to them — never mind like them!
So there was no hope in finding anyone who cared to listen to me talk about Immortal Technique, Slaughterhouse, Joe Budden, Kool G Rap, Lowkey, Yelawolf, Tech N9ne, among others. And whilst several of these artists are not like the others, they were all more representative of my music taste circa 2011-2015 than what I felt people understood.
Instead, a lot of people were very dismissive of what I listened to. If people weren’t outright calling it shit, they were categorising the genre of rap by its most racist stereotypes, i.e. it was all about people bragging they were gangsters and doing drugs. It didn’t matter if they had listened to any songs I liked or not, listening was not a prerequisite for judgement.
Whilst I wouldn’t now consider myself fearful of mockery, I do wonder if I feel somewhat alienated from conversations about music. Few fond memories come to mind when I try to recall conversations I have had about what I listen to.
Sometime in 2015, I lost all desire to talk about music. And I haven’t found the desire since.
Furthermore, my “taste” in music has changed a lot since my days as a hip-hop head…
Reason 2: I don’t have “taste” anymore
If I did share my Spotify Wrapped, I’m sure that reason would adopt a dual meaning.
However, what I mean by having no taste is that the music I’ve come to enjoy is not really limited to genre. Rather I move from fixation to fixation with little rhyme or reason.
There are songs I used to listen to all the time between 2011 and 2015 that I now don’t much care for. Artists I once had on repeat might get the occasional play, but most I rarely listen to now.
When people ask me what I like to write about, I often fail the basics of an elevator pitch with a vague “A bit of everything” kind of response. If I felt like discussing music, I imagine it would be much the same. Thus, a dialogue would be awkward as my answer would be so non-specific as to be unproductive for a conversation. And unlike talking about my writing, I just don’t have enough passion to fumble through it.
Reason 3: Regretfully, I’m less curious than I used to be
And that lack of passion translates to not actively seeking out new music, not like I used to.
Once upon a time, I was obsessed. Countless nights were spent on YouTube clicking through the recommended tab in search of my next favourite track. I went down Wikipedia rabbit holes, links to affiliated acts leading me to artists I might never have discovered any other way.
Now, though, my music consumption is very passive. Spotify makes it easy to find new music, it would take minimal effort on my part to greatly expand my ‘Liked Songs’ playlist. But I just don’t.
My favourite songs right now are fixations that could change in a couple of days, or they could continue for several months. And for many of them, it would just be too difficult to discuss them without getting personal.
Reason 4: It does just feel too personal
Sharing my favourite songs would feel like exposing myself. It’s an act of vulnerability I just don’t feel comfortable with anymore.
All the reasons I’ve listed so far are things I feel could one day change. I could choose to combat my feelings of alienation and try to be more open. I could try and pin down my music interests into a coherent sentence. And regaining that curiosity is an easy fix if I felt inclined.
However, something I cannot imagine changing is the narratives that often accompany the songs I’ve come to love. So many are wrapped up in memories, of either events or people. To discuss my love of a song would be to discuss the sentimentality attached to them. And some memories are just meant to be cherished, not shared.
Perhaps my views on sharing music will change one day. One day I might look back at this and realise I was too in my own head.
But I needed to write this to understand my own reservations. I needed an explanation for my defensiveness when people probe about the music I like.
More importantly, I wrote this because I felt lonely in my relationship with music. Nobody I’ve met has ever expressed any similar sentiment towards music. And I have yet to read anyone else say something similar. So I wanted to put this out into the world, hoping maybe it’s not just me.