Imagine sitting in a coffee shop. A song that is either your favorite, or that you haven’t heard for a long time starts to play. There, even with dozens of people around you, your surroundings become irrelevant as you travel to a place far away or to a memory in the back of your mind. That is how powerful music can be.
Music can connect people to others anywhere, at any time. It can transport them to other places or give them feelings of nostalgia, bringing up old memories, either painful or pleasant.
Music is everywhere, and for HHS senior Paula Rivera, it’s “a part of everyday life.” It can determine who a person becomes friends with.
“I think that music definitely affects who you hang out with because music is everywhere,” Rivera said. She made sure to add her music preferences when posting in a college’s Facebook groups because “it links you to people with the same tastes.”
Popularity in music among teenagers has always played a role in social levels, but now, not so much.
“When I was at this age, I felt there was a certain social pressure to [listen to] what your peers are listening to, which leads to popularity. However, now that digital and streaming media have made so much music accessible, I do not feel that this is as an important factor,” said HHS music teacher Mrs. Laura Bilodeau.
“A lot of my friends and I listen to the same things, except they all like country,” said Rivera, “But that just isn’t me.” She likes Lorde, Lana Del Rey, and show tunes too. “I’ve realized that I enjoy a wider variety of music than most people I know,” she said.
Even though a lot of teens listen to the popular songs one would expect, they also listen to a wide variety of unexpected genres and artists.
Sylvan Esso, Led Zeppelin, and Walk the Moon are some artists on the less mainstream side that teenagers are into currently. Among others are also Odesza and the Arctic Monkeys.
Many students listen to multiple artists that don’t fit within one genre, and that leads to a widespread variety of music tastes around the school.
When asked if she has seen different groups of people that listen to different groups of music around the school, Mrs. Bilodeau replied, “Absolutely. I teach an Intro to Music Business class where we listen to A LOT of different music.’”
“I can’t count how many times people have heard other people’s [music] projects and are like ‘Cool, what was that again? I’m putting that in my phone so I can get it later,’” added Bilodeau.
And although there is a quite a variety, not everyone is so accepting.
When asked why people judge others for the music they listen to, Bilodeau replied, “Pure ignorance. People tend to gravitate to what relates to them. Not all music is going to resonate with everyone, but it seems, in some cases, a lot of people don’t understand that.”
“It’s like that with anything social really: ‘ you don’t like what I like, therefore, it’s different than what I understand; therefore, you must be inferior to me,’” she said.
“Anytime I say I like One Direction, or mention that I listen to [them], I definitely feel judged,” said Rivera. But that doesn’t stop her from admitting her interest. “I like what I like, and at least I feel as if at school I can be who I am,” Rivera added.
Zack Dion makes something called “Noise Music”. It is “best described as anti-music,” said Dion. He added, “I make lots of feedback with screeched vocals at very loud volumes. I also use percussion instruments such as, but not limited to, drums, kegs, and drum machines.”
What Dion does is unfamiliar to many people, which could possibly elicit judgement from others, but that hasn’t occurred to him.
When asked about others asking about his work, Dion said; “They often are more curious than anything because what I do is so unknown to mainstream music listeners that it might be confusing for them to understand. This is even more true for older people. I wouldn’t say that they are critical, just sometimes they don’t get it.”
Being a controversial topic, music can strengthen or weaken social bonds. But it will always have a strong presence in our society as we know it.
According to Bilodeau, being passionate about what you like and striving to increase your own musical awareness is the only way to get beyond the pettiness.
Music can mean a lot of things to people, and most of the time it centers around raw emotions.
“Music is such a strong influence everywhere you go. […] it isn’t going anywhere. I think that if we just accepted others’ tastes, it would be a lot more beneficial,” said Rivera.
Mrs. Bilodeau says that “music is emotion. Plain and simple. We all have emotions, some feel them more strongly than others. The very basic element of music, the steady beat, is in all of us through our heartbeats. It is a part of us on an organic level.”