The total eruption in music consumption over the last century has made music taste an ever-important personality construct and the dominant root of our social friend groups.
For many, musical preference cozies up with the idea of self-perception.
Music establishments are always trying to put a closer finger on personal individual taste in order to deliver the best music experience possible. So why is it that we like the music we like? The human brain is a complex organ; the way our musical palette diverges will of course be a never-ending journey. Perhaps by understanding our own inner-workings of taste, we could then encourage ourselves to challenge the status-quo and take a look at some up-and-coming artists that are out of our usual realm.
One of the main found contributing factors to changing music taste is emotional maturation. Researchers from the 2013 University of Cambridge study found “whereas the first musical age is about asserting independence, the next appears to be more about gaining acceptance from others”. We generally go from loving aggressive and rebellious tunes, to contemporary with an introduction of mellow as the search for love increases. I get it — I went from angry-boy Eminem to love-in-the-club Nelly in the same year.
According to the 2017 Study by the Department of Psychology at Chemnitz University of Technology, psychological factors that affect our taste are our openness to experience, our introverted or extroverted natures and our overall personalities. It can be agreed we’re all wildly unique creatures us human beings, and our taste for sound is nonetheless a prime reflection of this.
Then of course there’s the social influence. “The exposure effect” described by Robert Zajonc (1968), refers to the finding that people tend to prefer things that are more familiar as noted in the 2012 Oregon University Paper ‘Influences on Music Preference Formation’. So, if your friend group often listens to a certain genre, or you guys tend to go to certain festivals, it’s likely you’ll listen to those tunes on your own.
Now that we have an idea of the why, perhaps we can smash our perceived taste and widen our musical boundaries for the hell of trying something totally new. Here’s a list of up-and-coming works that may never have found their way into your ears if you weren’t reading this very article.
Enjoy at your own accord — who knows what you might find!
5. The Vamps — Would You
‘ Would You’ by The Vamps from their 2020 album Cherry Blossom released with remarkable artistic maturity earlier in October. Be prepared for infectious piano stents and a load of high-energy choruses from this British pop rock band. The album is a whole lot grungier than anything they’ve ever done before, with ‘Would You’ being the album’s standout track with its impressive play on pace and rhythm.
4. Niko Walters — Escape
Niko Walters 2020 entire album release Escape. This new 8-piece work brings together electrifying beats and soulfully smooth ballads to create an album that explores the honest highs and lows of love. If you’re used to slow and somber love songs that lean heavily on the guitar in their essence, you’re up for a refreshing treat with the way they’re treated in Niko’s work.
3. Halsey — Alanis Interlude
‘Alanis Interlude’ by Halsey featuring Canadian singer Alanis Morissette in her deluxe release of her album Manic is a new one for the palette! If you’re mostly into chill r&b hits like myself, then you wouldn’t normally reach for this synth-rock Halsey tune straight off the shelf. I think you might be pleasantly surprised with the compelling nature of its craft, released as a surprise to fans on her 26th birthday.
2. Neil MacLeod — Openly
‘Openly’ by Neil MacLeod is another underground gem. His vocals are raw and hard-hitting with lyrics that really make you think. ‘Openly’ serves as inspiration to take action when ideas strike, and it acts as a teaser for what we can expect from the coming album We Have Known Last Days. “What excites me most about the electronic music sphere is how such incredible emotion can be generated by machines. I am constantly blown away by the endless sounds you can make” reveals MacLeod.
1. Deryk — MEN
MEN by Deryk from her recent 2020 album Womb is a single that is deeply complex in its artistry and absolutely worth the listen. Her newest five-track EP Womb written with Justyn Pilbrow was “fueled by a desire to enjoy silence again”, and it certainly pierces your heart at times as it resonates with the challenge of turning off your own mental dialogue.
Thankfully, the world we live in has such a huge library of genres that we’re able to access, which means we’ll never get bored with what’s out there in the market. We’ll forever be able to challenge our musical boundaries and dip our toes into new horizons. Bring on the new sounds that are to come through in 2021!