Why Do Different People Enjoy Different Music?

By: Brad Manock

radio     Music, in the minds of most people, are seen either as good or bad. However the opinions of which types of music are good or bad depends on the individual. An older person would have different opinions of what counts as good or bad music than a younger person. Just about everyone has their own opinions about which types of music are good and which are bad. Why is this? That is what I will be discussing in this article.

“Turn Off That Damn ‘Dope Smoking’ Music!”

Music, in and of itself, is neither “good” nor “bad.” The feeling that people get while listening to music depend, mostly, on the memories associated with the music. When someone says that a certain kind of music is bad, what they really mean is that they do not generally like the kind of people who enjoy that music. If you hate country music, then you would probably not get along with the person that appears in your mind when you think of country music. If you hate rap music, then you would probably not get along with the person that appears in your mind when you think of rap music.

I work at a manual labor job where the radio is usually on. The music that plays on this radio is almost always either: classic rock, or country. Whenever someone turns the station to a station that plays the more current music, there is an old guy who will say “turn of that damn dope smoking music.” This coworker cannot speak properly and appears to have some kind of mental disability, probably why he is still working at the same shitty job in his later years. I think the fact that he refers to modern music as “dope smoking music” is interesting because he is not criticizing the music itself, rather he is criticizing the people who like that kind of music. People who do not like a certain kind of music usually do so because they feel that admitting that they like a certain kind of music would also mean that they one of the types of people that they dislike. There is often conflict over what station to put the radio on while working because the two types of people I work with are: young people who haven’t found anything better yet, and older people who are stuck for life because their yearly raises make it impossible to find anything better.


Nostalgia and Anti-Nostalgia

Music does a good job at fetching memories associated with it and bringing it to the conscious mind. Generally, people enjoy the music which was popular at the point in time that they were the happiest in their life. If someone prefers music that was popular when they were in high school, then their life probably went downhill shortly after graduating. Hearing the music that was popular at the point in a person’s life when they were the happiest will bring back associated memories of those happy times. This feeling is usually referred to as “nostalgia.”

Music can bring out memories that are not as happy as the ones brought out by nostalgia. I will refer to this as “anti-nostalgia.” In the example of the coworker who refers to most new songs as “dope smoking music” I assume that he had a traumatic experience involving harassment from younger people. Being a fairly old, mentally-handicap person would make you a bulls-eye for younger people stirring up trouble. This is also true for me and my dislike of country music. I grew up in a small, rural town. Being in a small town is not a problem in itself, but once I was on the outside looking in, there was nowhere to go. I feel I would have had a much happier childhood if I had gone to a larger school since there would be more than one circle of friends I could enter. Being excluded by a small social system that was controlled by: cocky rednecks who feel powerful because of their future positions in family farms, and bitchy girls who are now fat, made me dislike the things that these people enjoyed including country music. For me, country music activates “anti-nostalgia” by retrieving memories of helplessness that I had while waiting for the years to tick by before I could begin my life for real.


What We Learned:

#1        The music that a person enjoys the most is from the time in their life when they were the happiest.

#2        Music that a person specifically dislikes is music that brings out negative memories because of the time period and/or people associated with the memories.

#3        Bring a damn Ipod to work to avoid conflict over radio use.


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