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You have bad taste in music

| Monday, September 26, 2016

In a world where anyone can put together a public playlist on whatever music streaming service they subscribe to, so many people are fixated on the idea of having a good taste in music.

But what does that even mean? We don’t judge people’s taste in other mediums of art as much as we do with music. You rarely hear someone say that their friend has a bad taste in watercolor paintings. Not only because watercolor paintings are rarely a topic of conversation in the first place, but also because art cannot be objectively ranked in that way.

Despite this, many people hold the idea that music can be objectively evaluated. Sure, there are plenty of albums that have more popularity, are more inspired works of art and generally more pleasing to listen to.

But the objectivity stops there. Everyone has different tastes for a reason, and whatever someone likes can be in good taste. Every genre has something to offer, every genre appeals to each person differently.

Does this mean that it is not possible to have a bad taste in music? No. We should rethink what it means to have bad taste in music. It is not bad to like any particular song or artist; it is bad to restrict yourself to one particular genre or type of music, placing that genre on an infallible pedestal that is superior to all others.

The world is so full of interesting music and access to it is better than ever. So go out and search through different genres. Always be on the search for new music. This is what good taste in music should be: the will to explore. Finding one genre that pleases you and then stopping there is a crime.

When I make playlists they are never based on a mood or genre, each playlist is a look into my taste in music at a particular time in my life. They are not restricted by any type of music, so they are not the best for playing all the way through for other people to listen to. Instead they are a personal retrospection, and all of the music in each set is forever connected to emotions from a past time.

Constant exploration is exhausting during times where you don’t find anything you particularly love. During those stretches of time I really appreciate looking back and listening to the songs I put in the time capsule months or years ago. But no feeling is better than listening to an amazing album for the first time, hearing new sounds you haven’t heard before that make you instinctively nod your head.

You have a taste in music. Make it better by exploring.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About R.J. Stempak

R.J. Stempak is a sophomore computer science major who enjoys basketball.

Contact R.J.