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Music Snobbery and the Hunt For Real Music

by Lainey Harlow, Junior Editor

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You search up your favorite song on Youtube and, while listening, venture to the comments below. Then you see it: “Music just isn’t the same these days!”, or something of the like. Pretentious self-proclaimed lovers of “real music,” masked behind Reddit usernames, flood the internet with rants about any and every music genre that they find unappealing.

For every “unique” teenager that likes pop music, or who favor older, more unknown, or just separate genres of music, there is an abundance of fans with opposing preferences. Just check the Billboard Top 100; you might hate pop, but there’s Ed Sheeran and Camila Cabello taking up the first two slots. Maybe you find rap repulsive and unartistic, but there’s G-Eazy, Cardi B, and others in the top ten.

Whether you’re an indie lover, a Beatle-maniac, or anything in between, you still have the right to your opinion. If you’re into super obscure and unheard of genres, that’s great, but interest in well-known music is no less acceptable or “unique.”

Brace yourself, because what I’m about to say might just knock your socks off: listening to a specific genre or artist does not make you any better than the next person. Wow, you listen to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on vinyl? So do 71,999 others who purchased that album last year, according to Forbes.

The fact is that no matter how popular or obscure your genre of choice, you are not “the only one” and the music is no more “real” than the next. That’s another statement I happen upon far too frequently: “real music.” The Oxford Dictionary defines “real” as “Actually existing as a thing or occuring in fact.”

Does the song exist? Can you listen to it via a streaming service, on the radio, or live? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, you might just have stumbled upon “real” music, because all existing music is by definition real.

Yes, I am aware that their meaning is less literal. But the logic that music created with the assistance of machinery or even autotune isn’t “real” or “quality” enough is flawed in that preferences are a matter of opinion. If you like the sound of two spoons tapping together with faint screeching in the background, that’s perfectly fine because you, like classic rock fanatics and metalheads alike, are entitled to your opinion.

Of course, you are equally valid in your hatred of certain genres. I personally hate EDM, but does that mean others shouldn’t enjoy it? Absolutely not, because there are countless fans who find joy in it. Those who dislike the taste of a certain food can simply avoid it, just as those who hate a specific genre can simply change the radio station.

In fact, Psychology Today reports that we form music preferences based on whether or not songs, “improve their performance on certain tasks,…stimulate their intellectual curiosity,…and manipulate or influence their own emotional states with the goal of achieving a desired mood state.” Individual people will be affected and moved by different genres, so what’s the point of judging them for ingrained preferences?

Every song or genre is likely disliked by at least one person. Thus, if we were to ban every song, artist, or genre that gains some degree of backlash, there would be no music left. Imagine a world without your favorite songs, books, podcasts, or other entertainment sources. Sounds at least slightly less pleasant.

There is no objective “best” and there never will be, as each genre has fans and belittlers alike. So the next time you hear a song or voice that makes your skin crawl, resist the urge to comment or brag about your superior music taste. Don’t be that person who tries to change people’s music tastes, just change the station.

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Music Snobbery and the Hunt For Real Music