illustration by Saffron Sener

Yasmin Gehman
4 December 2019
I remember the first time I was teased because of my taste in music. I was 14 years old, driving with my 18 year old brother whose music taste was much more “refined” than mine. His was broad, encompassing everything from Freddie Gibbs to McCoy Tyner. Mine was growing, don’t get me wrong, but it was definitely less extensive.

Handing me the aux cord in our 2008 Toyota Prius, I immediately felt the pressure to play ‘good’ music. This gesture was a rarity—my brother monopolized the music played to and from school. This was my opportunity to play him something from my library.

Opening up iTunes, I scanned my music—most of it illegally downloaded from third party websites—and landed on a One Direction song I found particularly catchy, “They Don’t Know About Us”. Fast forward about thirty-seconds and my moment to shine had already ended, before the chorus even hit (the best part, might I add). The rebuttal began: he claimed One Direction produces definitively bad music, that it is painful to listen to, that I need to have better taste in music.

Annoyed that my song was cut off prematurely and hurt that my brother thought so little of my taste in music, I sat silently in the car as he changed the song to some 2011 Kendrick Lamar.

As most younger siblings do, I found myself copying my older brother, mocking others for their taste in music. I made an effort to expose myself to new artists and genres, expanding my library into something more akin to my brother’s. Though this sequence of events may have compelled me to broaden my musical horizons, it also turned me into a pretentious ass—I held a pompous attitude about music taste, using it to dismiss others for ignorance towards ‘good’ music. Despite the fact that my library today is just as extensive his, I can’t help but think back to that morning, where I found myself so upset that I was made fun of because the music I enjoyed. It took me a long time to realize the absurdity of this; no one should be insulted for what music they appreciate. Music is not a topic for which we should demote others. If music elicits an emotion in the listener, it shouldn’t matter the genre or artist; if music makes you feel, it is doing its job.

However, I do think it is vital to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to music. Swapping playlists or stalking other people’s Spotify are two of my favorite things to do nowadays—getting sick of your own music is the worst. So in that spirit, here’s a playlist for you, the readers.