Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Changing Tastes

There's been a soundbite my mom said to me a few years ago that's been echoing through my head for the better part of this semester. I had asked her for money to go see some heavy metal band (I don't remember which; it was a long time ago), and she had given me a look that said, "THIS again?". I asked her what the look meant; to which she responded, "Your dad and I thought you would've grown out of this by now."

Of course, when you're 17 years old, you think your music tastes are never going to change. But they do.

It's interesting how our music tastes evolve. I started heavily listening to music way back when I was 8, with a brief snippet of Creed played at the tail end of a movie trailer. I was hooked. I had never heard anything like it. My parents had tried to buy me stuff they thought would influence me, like Revolver by The Beatles, various jazz records my dad owned, James Brown, to name a few. But nothing could compare to Creed.

Keep in mind, I was 8. I still dig old Creed, but they were a gateway drug of sorts.

Creed gave way to other radio rock, that gave way to Linkin Park and Good Charlotte, they gave way to various other forms of heavy metal. Another major turning point happened when I dragged my dad to a Good Charlotte show when I was 13. I found a sticker of a band I had never heard of in the bathroom. They were called Static-X. I went out and bought a CD, and they brought me fully into the metal scene. Loud guitars, pounding drums, pissed off vocals; when you're 13, you eat that shit up. Throughout high school I was the "metalhead": long hair, black t-shirt with some band or another on it, skate shoes, baggy pants, entirely anti-mainstream, the whole nine yards. I thought I was gonna be like that forever; the music spoke to me in such a way that I believed I could never find enough.

Funny thing about that. College changes your view on a LOT of things.

I was still entirely immersed in heavy metal culture when I first got to college. Classes I took would focus on analyzing other forms of music, like motown or 60s pop or (gasp!) mainstream music. All were brushed aside by my musical elitism, claiming it could never be as "complex" or "technical" as heavy metal. Gradually, though, my tastes started to change, simply from being surrounded by music 24/7 and sharing all of my time with musicians, each with a different set of tunes for me to listen to. Death metal was replaced with Demi Lovato, thrash with Lettuce and Chris Potter, Miley Cyrus and Pink somehow slipped their way onto my computer, Lady Gaga took over both my and my sophomore roommate's speakers for a good month... it was terrifying. And yet strangely exhilarating. Learning how to compose music made me realize how poorly composed most heavy metal is, and that pop music was, oddly enough, legitimately well crafted. Some of it, at least.

Now as I make my way through my junior year as a composer, it's clear just how far I've come in terms of taste. Writing film scores, awful catchy industrial dance tunes, pop-punk arrangements, acoustic slow jams with vocoders and strings and glockenspiels, and even the occasional heavy metal in a while... none of that could've been accomplished without listening to a huge spectrum of music.

The goal of this post isn't to say, "Oh, look at me, I listen to so much music, therefore I MUST be more well rounded than you." A few years ago, yes, I would have yelled at you for listening to Jack Johnson or Cartel. And I still might. But I don't give a fuck what you listen to. If it makes you happy, go for it. If blasting Ke$ha late at night makes me happy, I'm gonna go for it. It finally clicked.

Who knows what I'll be listening to 5, 10, 20 years from now? More pop? Classical? Whatever takes over the airwaves in the near future? It's entirely uncertain.

Honestly, if it still brings me as much enjoyment as the music I listen to now does, it's perfect.

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