Your Taste in Music Isn't Better Than Mine

Traffic, losing a hair tie right before a workout, extreme humidity, being late for classes — these are just some of the things that annoy me, but one thing that has consistently bothered me is the judgemental attitudes that people have when it comes to musical preferences. There are so many things that you could be critical about — legitimate stuff that could actually have a negative impact, like cracking jokes that come at the expense of someone else's self-esteem or littering on the sidewalk— but no, some people choose to make others feel bad about what music they like to listen to. Interesting, really. What exactly makes your taste in music superior to that of others? Even if you genuinely believe that the music you listen to is god-tier and shouldn't be compared to the likes of genre X or artist Y, why do you have to go out of your way to be condescending? I can't think of any sort of benefit one could gain from telling someone that their favorite type of music is awful. 

I grew up listening to a wide variety of music, and I have my parents to thank for that. Their contrasting taste in music meant that I was exposed to all sorts of songs and as a result, I like most of the genres I come across; the only ones I've never really enjoyed are heavy metal (too loud for my liking) and country (not really my thing). My "favorite" definitely always changes — I went through a hip-hop phase in tenth grade, '80s during my senior year, J-rock as a college freshman — but one genre that I've always listened to is something that has been a consistent target for criticism over the years: K-pop. To be fair, I understand some of the reasoning behind the judgement that people direct at K-pop. As a genre that has always had a strong focus on performance, it makes sense that entertainment companies prioritize their idol groups' visuals (e.g. choreography) over raw vocal talent. Someone unfamiliar with East Asian idol culture would probably find all this strange (and maybe even artificial, considering the heavy involvement of outside producers and songwriters for many K-pop albums), but immediately dismissing an entire genre and its relevant artists because of a stereotype is snobbish and lazy. To start with, the argument that "K-pop idols are manufactured and therefore inferior" was essentially created by Western media outlets; funnily enough, that itself came, in part, from the Western music industry's unfamiliarity with the concept of trainees. Korean entertainment companies recruit and train teenagers before officially debuting them because the presentation-centered nature of K-pop means that idols need to receive basic lessons in singing and dancing. How does their training make them "fake"? Even the complaint that K-pop groups don't make their own music is largely incorrect because many contemporary idols have begun producing and writing lyrics for the songs they release. A significant majority of the K-pop artists on the Korean music charts today (BTS, IU, Bolbbalgan4, NCT Dream, etc.) take part in the album production process, with some even winning awards for their work.

woman standing in front of neon music wallAnother point that people like to use to dismiss other people's taste in music is that their fandoms are the problem. Again, this is another case of pigeonholing that is wrong and unfair — after all, it's a well-known fact that a disappointing amount of these criticisms specifically pick on female fans. The "rabid fangirl" trope is a sexist theme that is frequently utilized to disparage anything with a large following because many have come to think that anything with lots of fans and regular media coverage is "too mainstream" and trashy. This is especially true when it comes to boy bands; when the Beatles were at their peak, the media often took photos of their screaming, crying fangirls to highlight the extremity of Beatlemania. Then One Direction came along in 2010, giving people another group (and fandom) to laugh at. A few years later, BTS started gaining popularity in the West, giving people their next new target. The fact that these three groups were mocked for their primarily-female fandoms (though I'd like to mention that the rise of social media most likely made it even worse for One Direction and BTS) is very telling and says a lot about the underlying motives behind these "criticisms." If you can't listen to something because their "crazy fan(girl)s" are too much for you to handle, you're basically saying that 1) You're too prejudiced to look past something that the artist doesn't actually have any control over (why would someone tell their fans to do things that affect their reputation?), and 2) You don't actually care about their songs (refer to reason #1) and are only interested in showing off your supposedly superior, non-mainstream taste in music. Someone with a genuine interest in Boy Band Z would've given them a chance and ignored their fandom. What happened to the saying, "Don't knock it until you've tried it"? Oh right, you're only here to be judgemental. 

I'm not saying that you have to enjoy every single genre in the world — it's human nature to dislike things! — but don't make it your life's mission to look down on others for their taste in music. So what if your neighbor only listens to the HSM 2 soundtrack? It's their choice, and unless they're blasting it loud enough for you to hear, it's really not your problem. Let people jam along to whatever the hell they want.