Whenever I find myself looking back on the few tangible toddler memories I still possess, I always remember hearing music. Whether my mom was cooking while listening to our kitchen radio, or the sound systems CD player was blasting as my parents had friends over, music had always been intertwined in my everyday life. Ingrained into every memory of myself as a young child, what my parents listened to was all that I knew.
Their music taste consisted of tons of classic rock on repeat and still to this day has continued to be both of their favorite music genres. While this music raised me, it was not the only type of music they exposed me too. They loved disco, soul, 90s rap, and many other genres. But my dad and mom both were teenagers in the 80s who were obsessed with the music of their decade.
So by the time I was in elementary school, I basically knew every Hall & Oates, Journey, Bee Gees, and Billy Joel song ever released.
What they played not only allowed me to appreciate a diverse range of genres, but it influenced how I would later create and define my own taste in music. Before I truly realized how much music meant to me, I went through quite a revolutionary journey of what I generally would listen too.
Although now my parent’s influence shows heavily in my taste, when growing up I went through stages that were strictly based on my one interest or one mindset held at the time. Now I finally understand what music means to me and how it is more than just a mood changer. I have matured as my taste have as well.
It is ironic how the first album I ever loved was a dark teenage rock soundtrack that came from a movie that was definitely not meant for little eight year old me.
It was 2008 when the first Twilight came out. Like an infectious disease, every pre pubescent girl became utterly obsessed with the movie which led it to become a worldwide phenomena that I certainly took part in.
Everything about the movie was perfect to me.
I read all the books, owned posters, a video game, and eventually the soundtrack to the movie on a CD. I was not into MP3’s yet, so I used my sparkly sticker covered hot pink CD player with cheap plastic headphones to listen to it.
For an eight year old, it was all a little more mature that I was as I look back now. But at that time in my life, I was desperately trying to prove I was older than my actual age. The soundtrack made me feel like I was this angst ridden older teenager who was relating to the dark rock music in the movie.
All of it was very dramatic, but that’s what I loved about it.
It was the first time I had branched out of listening to the radio or what my parents played, and instead chose to listen to something I felt connected to emotionally. Going through elementary during this time was when I really started becoming my own person who had these personal preferences like loving Twilight and its soundtrack.
When I was ten years old, my music taste had gone from heavy alternative rock to complete pop domination. Britney Spears, Rihanna, and any other bubblegum pop princess became my favorite genre to listen too. At a time when all I cared about was my bestfriend and the fifth grade gossip, the only sort of music that went along with this mindset had infectious hooks, irresistible dance beats, and superficial lyrics. This was the new pop genre that was developing throughout 2006–2010. In 2010, I found the one album that for me topped every pop song. I fell in love with what I considered the best album released at the time… Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.
Katy had always been a favorite artist of mine, but Teenage Dream became my favorite album instantly once I got it on CD from my dad. It did more for me than any other pop artist albums or songs. When I would listen to it, it transported me into a reality that was about having loads of fun on the beach or at a party in California and being forever young and beautiful. When I was ten and looking around at my other fifth grade girl classmates, I never felt I looked the same as all the other girls. The Teenage Dream album and girly pop music allowed me to escape into a world where I was a beautiful pop princess who had broken many hearts. It allowed me to be who I saw myself as. While the genre I was into may have been full of terrible cliche songs about looking hot with your best girlfriends and partying, her album was the first for me that I could use to escape reality with.
It was the summer going into middle school. I had just gotten Netflix on my Amazon Kindle. Already in its third season around 2011, I discovered Glee the television series. The show was about an unique group of students in a high school show choir who sang covers of songs that simultaneously described their struggles as they went through highschool and beyond. I became obsessed with the show. Something about the authenticity of the characters and how amazing the covers they sang were, even at times sounding better than the originals. It all made for a two year long devotion that still to this day resonates with me.
While all of the songs they sang were covers of an original, the music they made dramatically altered my own taste and helped me navigate what becoming a teenager meant. The show was able to take classic hits from the 70s to present day, and make it appealable to younger generations like myself. It introduced me to so many cult favorite songs and albums that I might never have sought out on my own. I never would have gave any interest in other forms of music than just pop if it had not been for this show. Glee’s music is what propelled me into a more mature idea of what music really was and how there is not just one genre that you can relate too.
Once I got into seventh grade, it was the introduction of rap. Up to that point I really had never listened to it by myself. Pretending to be so mature, I tried developing my taste to that mindset too. Instead of Katy Perry, I started listening to Drake, Juicy J, and 2 Chainz. What my “friends” thought was cool. Rap was able to I guess give me a way to pretend I was this mature human who could somehow relate to Drake’s Nothing Was The Same album.
As I started to value the music I listened to more, I found I was looking for meaning in the lyrics more than just a good beat. More than just the typical radio hit genres. In this search, I found Lana Del Rey.
She was my first concert. Her music inspired me, related and touched me the way no other artist really had up to that point. Lana’s music is brilliantly poetic. She is a mix of past decades and is one of a kind truly.
Middle school saw my music taste start to slowly become what it is now. While I started listening to what I thought was popular at the time, it introduced me to new genres. I started to want to care about what the artist said, what meanings were behind the lyrics. I wanted to relate more to what I was listening too. As I grew older, this passion for relating to music on a deeper level than just liking what I was hearing grew more.
As a junior in highschool and a freshman in college, my music taste has grown immensely. I listen to a lot of present day rap, so many artist from the 60s,70s, and 80s, R&B, and alternative genres. Im open to any music… well except country. Music has the ability to touch people in amazing ways. Being lucky enough to have access to almost any released song has completely changed how and what I listen too. Now I am able to create eight hundred plus playlist filled with songs I love.
Rap has stayed one of my favorite genres still. While my love for it grew from a pressure to “fit in”, I now see it as a genre that allows for expression of the hardships, successes, or failures these rap artist face. It nevers fails to make my best friends and I have a good time singing along or put me in a good mood. I love Future, Juicy J, and many others. Nineties rap music has become apart of my love for the genre as well. I listen to a lot of Biggie, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac.
Classic songs all from the 60s-90s makeup a huge part what I listen to. My parents having raised me around all of the greatest hits has made me extremely knowledgeable on many bands and songs from the past. I never would have had a liking to older music if it was not for them. They introduced me to my favorite albums and artist. Some are Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Hall & Oates. The four decades created some of the best one of a kind music the world will ever hear.
Growing up and becoming a young woman in this new ever expanding technological world where music is available to almost anyone has brought me on an interesting journey through what I listen to. I have come to realize the importance of music in my life and why lyrics and a message can be even better than the music itself. As I continue to evolve and become an adult soon enough, I hope I can keep discovering gems from back in the day while still enjoying the new modern artist of my time. As both past and present music brings me a feeling like no other.