What’s So Wrong About Liking Mainstream Music, Anyway?


Instinctively, my fingers fumbled for the volume button as “BABY, YOU LIGHT UP MY WORLD LIKE NOBODY ELSE” blared out from my earphones in the virtually silent elevator on my way up from the tube station. It turned a few heads and raised a few more eyebrows. As I promptly switched over to a Foster the People track (volume turned up to maximum to ensure that everyone collectively comprehended that my taste in music wasn’t all that bad), the question as to how those people were even aware that they were entitled to smirk at the idea that I was listening to One Direction flitted through my mind. Surely, if the track was so shameful, they wouldn’t know it well enough to be able to identify it… right?

My iTunes playlist is off-limits to everyone else, because I’m perfectly aware that my taste in music is not one that most people would necessarily approve of. I lie and say I’ve got no music on my phone when the truth is I just don’t want to hear people criticize the tunes that are on there. Am I ashamed? Not particularly. I am though, sick and tired of being told what we should and should not listen to. Music is down to preference, there is no rule of law determining what we can and cannot like.

Am I in the minority with putting mainstream music on my phone? Maybe. But I can guarantee you that the person next to you blaring an obscure song from an even more obscure band enjoys my music as much as I do. Just not publicly.

It’s odd when people ask me what kind of music I’m a fan of, because truthfully, I’m a fan of any kind of song that makes me feel even the slightest bit different than I would otherwise. I’m not saying it has to move me emotionally, or stir up some kind of hidden warrior within me, but if a song makes me crack a smile when I’m upset or hum along when I’m stressed out, that’s good enough for me.

Anyone who knows me at all will be wise to the fact that at the moment, I’m being the Grand Canyon of hypocrites. To say that I’ve never denounced artists including but not limited to Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift is a complete and utter lie. What isn’t a lie, though, is the fact that when the situation calls for it, I’ve taken no issue with singing along to their songs at the top of my lungs. Don’t count on me walking off the dance floor or standing around with my arms firmly pinned to my side just because I don’t necessarily approve of the song choice.

The term “guilty pleasure” is often used to describe a particular band or song we are supposed to hate, but don’t. But I’d question why it’s a requirement to feel guilty about something that makes us happy. Are there songs that are less artistic than others, less creative than others, less complex than others? Without a shadow of a doubt. But simply being lower on the scale in terms of those categories doesn’t automatically deem a song unlistenable. If a tune can make you feel something, anything at all, I’d say the artist has done his or her “job,” the nature of which has never really been specified.

I am reluctant to call myself a fan of anyone in particular. I’ve got everything on my playlist, from Guns N Roses to Shakira, from The Killers to Miley Cyrus. Simply because I listen to One Direction doesn’t make me a “Directioner” no more than knowing words to Justin Bieber’s “Baby” makes me a “Belieber.”

And even if it did, I don’t see why that would be an issue. They’re my ears after all, not yours.

featured image – OneDirectionVEVO/YouTube