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School Of Rock: How I Turned My “Not A Music Person” Boyfriend Into A Rock Music Fan

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

When I first started talking to my boyfriend, he literally told me, “I’m not a music person.” I thought that was about the silliest thing someone could say because how can you not be a music person? Does that mean you don’t like music? Cause that’s seriously incomprehensible to me. Until I met him, I thought that was something that people said to sound quirky or aloof. Not for my boyfriend. It’s not that he didn’t like music. He just didn’t know anything about it. I don’t think he knew who Elton John was. Or Fleetwood Mac. Or (heartbreakingly) Jim Morrison. He asked me who that “creepy guy on my wall” was. It was a poster of David Bowie. He similarly questioned my poster of The Smiths

A TikTok of me featuring the previously mentioned poster of The Smiths in my dorm room.

I, on the other hand, remember telling my fellow first-graders on the playground that my favorite song was “About A Girl” by Nirvana (I received many looks of confusion). Like many modern rock music fans, I received a healthy music education from my Gen X, concert enthusiast parents. In other words, I was indoctrinated from a young age. 

Arctic Monkeys became my favorite band in sixth grade after I listened to Favourite Worst Nightmare, and my love for them became (against my will) somewhat of a personality trait. My friends and coworkers literally turn to me any time Arcitc Monkeys or Alex Turner are mentioned. I made two (I promise, that’s it) Alex Turner edits for fun on my nineteenth birthday, and both went viral on YouTube. And, yes, I made my boyfriend watch them. Before we started dating. 

My first Alex Turner edit.

After I recovered from the total shock that he didn’t know anything about any of my favorite artists, I realized that the situation was kind of meant to be. I got to relive the excitement of hearing my favorite music for the first time through the perspective of someone I loved. I got to share something that I loved with him. And that was pretty cool. 

I started easy, with modern rock artists like (you guessed it!) Arctic Monkeys. We gradually listened to their albums in order, starting with Whatever People Say I, Am That’s What I’m Not. I do have a Spotify playlist of every song Alex Turner ever made or collaborated on (in chronological order), but I thought that was a little excessive. I can proudly say that my boyfriend now knows all the lyrics to “Arabella” (among a few others), especially enjoys “Fake Tales of San Francisco,” and can play the riff in “Do I Wanna Know” on guitar. Neither of us plays guitar, so it was super fun to learn it together. Although I did have a slight advantage at first because I play piano and cello, he got quite into it and can admittedly play better than me now. Drawing inspiration from countless classic rock artists, from Lou Reed to David Bowie to Black Sabbath and The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys were an ideal introduction to rock music.“That rock and roll, eh? That rock and roll, it just won’t go away…” 

Alex Turner’s infamous BRIT Awards speech.

From there, I tried a “song a day” approach with classic rock. We listened to Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, The Doors, The Smiths — the list goes on. I even got him to listen to David Bowie after we watched an episode of Rick and Morty, and I pointed out that “Moonmen” was inspired by “Starman.” Spoiler: he loved it. He now asks me to put on Bowie. 

For our six-month anniversary, I convinced him to go to his first concert with me, which proved to be quite a critical turning point in my boyfriend’s music journey, but not in the way I would’ve expected. The concert was an Inhaler concert, one of my current favorite rock bands. Conveniently, the lead singer is Bono’s son, so I was also able to introduce him to U2 as “concert prep.” At the concert, we started chatting with the couple standing next to us, and they told him he “looked like he listened to Soundgarden.” I thought that was hilariously specific. It was also at that moment that I realized I had transformed my genius, Computer Science Engineering Microsoft Intern boyfriend into a grungy Kurt Cobain lookalike. His wavy, dirty blonde hair was grown out because he knew I liked it long, and he was wearing a muted blue and black flannel with Vans. Why wouldn’t they think he listened to Soundgarden? 

“My Honest Face” by Inhaler (Music Video)

Though he enjoyed the concert itself (despite complaining about having to stand too long and not being able to hear after), that couple’s comment ended up being the most pivotal moment of the experience. Soon after, my boyfriend discovered his love for grunge. He started with Soundgarden, listening to Superunknown straight through multiple times before discovering Nirvana, which became his number one Spotify artist this year. I think he landed in their top 3% of listeners. Quite the feat. Now he might know more about the band than I do, after watching countless interviews and concert recordings and listening to their discography on a loop. I still remember how stoked I was when he told me he listened to MTV Unplugged in New York, my first Nirvana album on vinyl, all on his own. 

Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York Full Concert

Over a year later, my boyfriend is now quite the “music person.” He even surprised me with a festival (something he swore he would never do when we first started dating) for my birthday to see one of my favorite artists, Father John Misty, live. The most interesting recent development in his music journey was his discovery of The Cure after hearing “Boys Don’t Cry.” I got super excited over that one, as The Cure was a staple during my freshman year of high school sad girl phase. 

I know the title of this article says I “turned” my boyfriend into a rock fan. But, in the end, I simply introduced him to rock music. He ultimately found the music that resonated with him, and I am so grateful I got to enjoy that journey with him.

Kylee is a fourth-year at UCLA double-majoring in Communication and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Her poems have been published in Train River Poetry, The Mandarin, Open Ceilings, and our very own Westwind (among others). She also writes feature articles for Her Campus at UCLA. In her free time, she acts, drinks way too much coffee, romanticizes everything, and buys more books than she can keep up with.