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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bangers and Bops: Confessions of an uncool girl

I'm always slightly disappointed when Spotify releases its year-end report of what kinds of music I've been listening to. Despite that dark period of October where I only listened to Death Grips and the inevitable Kreayshawn-spiral (also known as a downward spiral) that happens at 3 a.m. the night before a paper is due, my top genre is always pop. Now, on a fundamental level, I fully understand that the consumption of art should be based on pleasure, not some elitist need to always know bands that haven't reached millions of streams or downloads. But every December, I am still expecting to see a badge of honor from a tech company that probably has too much of my personal data that I, Sammy Park, have the best music taste. 

This is the column of someone whose music taste isn't niche enough to have a college radio show. But I compensate for not knowing the hottest Bandcamp darlings by stealing. I steal from my friends and acquaintances and even from those restaurants that play their music too loud for baby boomers to handle. This June, my friend played "I <3 My Choppa" (2017) by Tay-K as she was driving me home, and that very night I was plotting how to do pro bono legal work for a 19-year-old currently serving time in prison for a murder charge. During my first year in the state of Massachusetts, I had a middle-aged Lyft driver who was a huge Jonathan Richman fan, and suddenly, "Roadrunner (Once)" appeared on my Spotify playlist dedicated to a hypothetical situation in which I would need to impress a potential employer who was from Boston.

All that to say, I know I'm not cool. I know the music I listen to is an amalgamation of TikTok anthems, whatever comes on shuffle and songs on the "Twilight" (2008–2012) movies' soundtracks. However, while I know I'm not cool, I also know you aren't either. Because of the ubiquitous presence of global music streaming services, we're all just at the mercy of whatever the algorithms decide we like. Listen to enough Rico Nasty and Spotify will conclude that you will also enjoy Megan Thee Stallion. Incidentally, or perhaps damningly, I love both. 

Our music taste is not individual; it is more accurately described as communal. And because the vast majority of us listen to music alone, it is hard to imagine the very real fact that while you're in the library listening to Playboi Carti, so is the boy across from you and the girl across from him. In the aggregate, our aesthetic preferences are all just millions of circles in the most chaotic Venn diagram ever, so even the mere idea that there are "cool" and "uncool" tastes is fake.

Ultimately, who cares? I know that everyone can see when I'm listening to "Fast Car" (1988) by Tracy Chapman for three hours, uninterrupted. But firstly, the song is a timeless banger (and Chapman is a Tufts alumna), and secondly, there are a gazillion more important things than worrying about your friends' and random Facebook users' opinions on what you enjoy.