Whenever I ask someone what music they listen to and they respond with “whatever’s on the radio,” my heart breaks a little. Even though whatever’s on the radio is there for a reason — it’s good enough to be played — I cannot stress the importance of finding your own, unique music preferences and creating your own playlists to listen to.
It may seem trivial or superfluous, but making a conscious effort to expand your music taste and find songs that truly pluck at your heartstrings will change your life. It was in middle school when I first listened to “Wonderwall” by Oasis and discovered just how good music can be. Since then, I made music a central part of my life. I started listening to it whenever I felt a strong emotion, whether negative or positive. I found that, when I felt blue, sad music helped me feel less isolated, and happy music helped me forget about my sadness. In a happy mood, songs I like sound better, and, just how good they sound, gets me excited. Music never fails to make my surroundings better and improve my mood.
The only reason this has always held true for me is because, after “Wonderwall,” I realized the beauty that music could possess and took advantage of it. I made an active effort to look into artists similar to Oasis. I found bands like The Verve, Arctic Monkeys and Blur. My playlists just kept getting better and better. When you find an artist you really like, whose songs give you feelings of ecstasy, the sensation is one-of-a-kind. When you play that artist at different points in your life when you’re going through different experiences, you can take full advantage of music’s power. Music is a healer, as its existence proves that you’re not the only person going through it; it’s an audible testament to the shared human condition.
Whatever triggers your first musical awakening is just the beginning. In my sophomore year of high school, I heard the song “Doomed” by Bring Me The Horizon, and I was shocked at myself for loving it so much. It’s a dark, electronic rock song by a band that started out as deathcore. As someone who had only ever listened to alternative and mellow pop-rock, this was the heaviest song I had ever heard. I then listened to the album it was on, the rest of the band’s discography, and then, moved on to similar artists. Today, I can proudly say I’m a huge metal fan. Who would have thought?
I have yet to have a third major musical awakening, but since then, I have had a million small ones. My instant, and quite shocking, obsession with Bring Me The Horizon showed me just how limited my taste was. So now, every day, I listen to a new artist or genre. I have a constantly expanding playlist of music I need to eventually listen to. I’m always recommending songs and making playlists for whoever asks because I’ve discovered that music is one of the greatest, most personal gifts someone can give. The feeling of finding a new artist and the euphoria that comes with being so obsessed with that artist that you listen to everything they’ve made and everything similar artists have made is beautiful.
Give yourself that feeling and start really discovering what you like — not what your friends play when they’re on the aux, not what your parents played in your childhood and not whatever’s on the radio. Check out artists you’ve never dreamed of liking, and trust me, you’ll end up surprising yourself in the best way possible.
Music is a free, spiritual healer that not enough people take full advantage of. If you’re not one of them, I promise you, it’s never too late to get into the groove. You’ll thank me later when you realize that you actually hate whatever’s playing on the radio.