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You like One Direction? Awesome. Kendrick Lamar? Fantastic. Some hipster band you’ve probably never heard of? That’s great, too.
Everyone loves music—I think that’s a pretty safe assumption to make. Everyone has, at some point in their lives, listened to a song or an album that made them feel something, forming a connection far deeper than just words alone. Music is powerful, and it’s also personal. We have songs that remind us of certain times in our lives—childhood, relationships, friendships, and more. Most people favor a specific genre of music, many are passionate about a certain artist, and some love so many different types of music that it’s impossible to pick a “favorite.” Music is a huge part of our lives, and it says a lot about who we are.
A problem I’ve witnessed, however, is the problem of music shaming. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, music shaming is basically the act of criticizing someone for having musical preferences that differ from your own. It’s a problem most of us don’t even think about, but it happens all the time. The most common target of music shaming is pop music; in our culture, it’s considered “uncool” to like what’s mainstream. To me, that just doesn’t make sense—it’s called popular music for a reason. But still, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been received with an eye roll or a snort for expressing my love for a new One Direction album, or singing along to the latest T-Swift jam. Pop music isn’t the only target, either. I’ve seen all genres—whether it’s alternative, country, EDM, or hip-hop—become objects of equally harsh criticism.
When you think about it objectively, the concept of shaming someone for liking a different style of music sounds ridiculous. Of course we all have different tastes in music. We’re all different people. People like different things. Why is that seen as a bad thing? Just because someone likes something that you don’t, that doesn’t make it “wrong” or “bad.” You wouldn’t criticize someone for eating pepperoni pizza simply because you prefer cheese.
Music is inherently subjective—so why is music shaming even a real thing? Why do we tear others down for expressing interest in something they enjoy? Maybe it’s because the music we like is very important to us, so it’s hard for us to understand why someone would choose to listen to anything else. Maybe it’s a matter of self-validation, and criticizing someone else’s musical taste makes you feel better about your own. Whatever the reason, it’s flawed, it's hurtful, and it's just not cool. In the words of the Black Eyed Peas…where is the love?!
It is completely unfair to shame someone for celebrating something they enjoy. If there’s a certain type of music that makes you happy, you should be able to listen to it and love it openly, without feeling guilty. You don’t have to like every style of music, but at the very least, be respectful of those whose musical taste differs from yours. Music should be celebrated, not shamed—after all, the purpose of music is entertainment and enjoyment. Music is fun; it was never meant to be a competition.
So please, don’t quickly jump to the skip button as soon as those “guilty pleasures” come on shuffle. I want you to sing out those One Direction tunes. Rap along with Lil Wayne. Rock out to the Black Keys. Whatever you listen to, I want you to be proud of it. Embrace the music you love, and if anyone criticizes you for it, send them my way. I’ll set them straight.