A person’s music taste speaks volumes about who they are, and we each have music for different moments of our lives; what we listen to when we’re alone may be different than what we give to friends. Music can create communities, but it’s still deeply personal — which is why we decided to switch music tastes for a week and live life like a bit of a different person. The experiment was simple: two Literally, Darling writers exchanged playlists and means of listening to music.
I’ve been so deep into the alternative rock scene for so long that sometimes I forget there’s even other music out there. I discovered punk at 11 years old when Green Day’s American Idiot was released, and I honestly believe I would not be who I am today without that album. I was never allowed to go to shows growing up, so for the past few years I’ve been making up for lost time by going to anywhere between one and seven shows a week across different cities, states, and even once internationally. I mosh, I crowdsurf, and I’ve slept outside of venues overnight to ensure barricade. The communities I’ve found through my favorite bands are the reason I know about 90% of the friends I have today, and for the past year and a half I’ve been documenting my music experiences on untitledrockmag.com. The music I love has become my life.
I’m really old-fashioned in how I listen to music. I still buy CDs. I’ve got my favorite record stores I visit often, and I’m more likely to buy a CD at a merch table after a show than anything else. I like owning music, and if it’s an artist I really care about, I like knowing I’m giving them my money and doing what I can to support them, whereas streaming services like Spotify only give an artist 1/16th of a penny per play. Of course smartphones and iPods are more portable than CD players, so digitally I keep everything organized in iTunes.
The word I most often use to describe my taste is “weird.” I curated three playlists for Hope that I felt would be the best representation of me. The first are all songs by my six favorite bands: Green Day, The Matches, I the Mighty, Rise Against, Coheed and Cambria, and the World/Inferno Friendship Society. These are bands that I’ve seen anywhere between 6 and 19 times apiece, and I love them all more than most other things in life. Trying to pick just a few favorite songs from each was tough. The second playlist includes more of my go-to bands like Operation Ivy, Taking Back Sunday, and The Smugglers, as well as songs that have meant a lot to me at certain points in my life. The third playlist is the most wide-ranging and random array of songs I like. I tried to be honest with myself by including things like 3OH!3’s “Holler Til You Pass Out.” I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because we should never feel ashamed for liking what we do, but 3OH!3’s Want was a serious guilty pleasure of mine that I sometimes still jam to.
Preferred Genre: Punk Rock
Fave Artist: Green Day
Fave Song: Letterbomb – Green Day
Least Favorite Genre: EDM
I’m one of those people who has an extremely difficult time identifying a favorite musician, song, or genre. I listen to an extremely wide mix of music, from the Allman Brothers to Run DMC. One day I’ll be feeling classic Paul Simon, and the next I’ll be sobbing over The Aeroplane Over The Sea (which, coincidentally, is one of my Top 10 albums). I come from a musical family and play multiple instruments, so music has always been a present and crucial part of my life, but for a long time I believed there was “good” and “bad” music. I was a snob, and carefully curated my tastes to optimize my peak “coolness.” My relationship with music wasn’t about how it made me feel, but rather how it made me look. As a result, I was just consigning myself to a box, and was missing out on so many great artists. When I let myself throw my net wider, I realized that years spent focusing on one genre had truly limited me and my enjoyment of life.
A large part of this musical exploration had revolved around my ability to access a large amount of music easily and cheaply. After a series of bad computer crashes where I lost my digital library one too many times, I swore off iTunes and began investigating streaming services. When I found Spotify, I never looked back. I still buy my favorite albums to keep in my car, but largely my entire library can now be found on Spotify. I love it, both for its ease of use and its accessibility. I pay for the prime service, and it’s the best $10 I spend each month, as it provides me with daily opportunities to discover more music.
When I started to make my playlists for Lindsay, I caught myself curating again — trying to handpick songs to maximize the best and coolest perception of myself. But the experiment was supposed to reflect what we listen to and who we are as a “musical” person. Therein lies the problem of having a wide interest: it’s hard to narrow yourself down, and choose what represents you the most. I considered throwing every genre in the list and delivering her a hectic, non-cohesive playlist of epic length, but that felt disingenuous to me. So instead of curating, I simply sent her three playlists I listen to the most: an Americana playlist, a classic rock playlist I use to calm my anxiety, and a catch-all list for random songs I’ve been playing this summer. Since I use Spotify exclusively to listen to my music, it ended up being extremely easy for me to just cut and paste Lindsay a playlist link.
Preferred Genre: Indie Rock / Classic Rock
Fave Artist: Paul Simon / Death Cab For Cutie
Fave Song: Space Oddity – David Bowie / Goshen – Beirut
Least Favorite Genre: House
I was a little frustrated in trying to figure out how to work Spotify on my phone. When Kesha released her new single “Praying,” I thought, “I have Spotify now! Perfect! I can just stream it!” But I could not figure out how to get it to play. I’ve been told you can pick a specific song you want to hear using Spotify on a computer, but on my phone, it was impossible to get that song to play.
I noticed the same thing with Hope’s playlists as well. Songs play in whatever order the app wants them to at that time, and without paying extra, you can’t control what you’re hearing. I’m too much of a control freak for that, and I often get in spells where I’ll listen to the same song 20 times in a row. Spotify wouldn’t let me do that. If I found a song on one of Hope’s playlists that I really wanted to dwell on, I would have to wait until it came up on shuffle again.
I was also a little annoyed by the ads. I would be driving and all of a sudden, “Tap here to watch a short video to receive 30 minutes of ad-free music! Yes, really! If you tap now you’ll receive 30 minutes of ad-free music!” I’m driving. I’m not going to leave my navigation app to tell Spotify to play a video just because I’d like to hear more music and fewer commercials.
I’m clearly an old person at heart. “Back in my day we didn’t have to learn how to work technology and we didn’t have ads…”
One thing I did like about Spotify though, was the suggestions. I can definitely see this as a way for people to discover new artists they may never have heard otherwise, so I think that’s really awesome. I love the idea of having Spotify track what I already love and introducing me new music that I would also love.
As for the music itself, I was a little surprised. I think I tend to assume that most girls my age listen to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, so I was happy these playlists were more along the lines of the Beatles, the Replacements, and Tom Petty. I can definitely get behind this.
The music was all pretty calm and chill, easy to listen to. It gives me the vibe that Hope’s a calm and chill person. I’m an Uber driver, so I typically play my own music while I’m working. These playlists were really relaxing driving music and I imagine my passengers probably appreciated that more than my typical loud-fast-angry punk music.
I think my favorite playlist was the Americana playlist. I swing dance, and my first listen through of this playlist, I heard quite a few songs I could imagine dancing to, so that was great.
I recognized quite a few of the artists on the Praise (classic rock) playlist, even if I didn’t know the songs. Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” came on and I started freaking out because my friend Jules Leyhe is a guitarist and he has a cover of this song on one of his albums. I honestly would have had no idea it was a cover without this experiment.
There wasn’t anything that I particularly didn’t like. For the most part I liked all of the music on Hope’s playlists enough to be background music to my daily life. Maybe not so much the kind of music I’d get lost in, but it was good music for the car or while I’m in the shower or doing the dishes.
There was a cover by Chadwick Stokes of “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease on the Summer 2017 playlist. I could not decide how I felt about it. It was slow and a little creepy in the beginning, and I played it for a friend freaking out about it, and she didn’t know what song it was until I told her. But the last minute or so of the song was really killer.
And the reverse of that, the original version of “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show was on one of the playlists. As a sorority girl in the south in 2013, Darius Rucker’s cover was a staple song that everyone knew, so it was cool finally hearing the original.
A few other songs that stood out to me that I really dug were Caught A Ghost’s “No Sugar in my Coffee,” Trampled by Turtles’ “Wait So Long,” and David Wax Museum’s “Harder Before it Gets Easier.” They were all a little weird and dancey and I like it.
This was a really fun experiment. I love being introduced to new music, but this was like living a whole new music experience entirely. I should try to remember there are other genres out there besides my own tastes and what’s on Top 40 radio.
Fave Song/Artist You Ended Up Liking (if there was one): Wait So Long – Trampled by Turtles
Song/ Artist You Ended Up Hating (if there was one): Didn’t particularly hate anything
Would You Use Spotify Again? Probably not
Listen to Hope’s music here.
Let’s clear the air: I hate iTunes. Before I replaced my computer, opening iTunes used to cause my entire laptop to crash, and I will confess to a twinge of fear as I opened (and updated) the previously-unused iTunes on my new computer.
Luckily, I did not have a full computer meltdown, and downloading the mp3 files Lindsay had sent me was extremely easy. I remember music sharing being so frustratingly difficult when I was in high school. Oh, how times change.
I had an inkling of what Lindsay’s music taste was going to be before we started this experiment, but I was actually really pleasantly surprised by how much of her music I already knew. The second I saw how many Green Day songs were on her playlists, I knew this experiment was going to go well. I was obsessed with Green Day as a pre-teen/teenager. I had an “American Idiot” shirt that I wore for approximately 6 years, and I learned the drums because of Tre Cool, and an entry from my age 11 diary lists Billie Joe Armstrong as my “#1 Dream Guy.”
With a few exceptions, Lindsay’s playlists were like being pulled into a time warp and traveling back to my 16 year-old self. The wave of nostalgia that crashed over me when Rancid came on is inexplicable.
The largest surprise, however, was the inclusion of The World/Inferno Friendship Society, a band I was obsessed with for about 14 months and then promptly never thought about again. I had learned about them through a mix CD made by a friend’s older brother (I know, I feel cool just typing that sentence), and absolutely no one I knew had ever heard of them, so I had a small internal freak out when I saw them on the list.
Lindsay’s playlists were definitely of the punk persuasion, and in my experience punks are some of the nicest, most genuine people you’ll meet. My mother would be horrified by that sentence, and likely Lindsay’s entire iTunes library, which biases me somewhat in her favor. I got the vibe that Lindsay is probably a high-energy, fun person who doesn’t take things too seriously.
Some pre-existing favorites were on the playlists Lindsay sent me, like “Where Is My Mind” by The Pixies and “Gang Control” by Leftover Crack, but I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed some of the songs I’d never heard before, like “Semi-OK” by the Mr. T Experience, and “Sally” by the Foxboro Hottubs, which I genuinely thought was a new Green Day song until I looked at my phone. As a side note: Rise Against and Cold War Kids have an alarming number of songs with the same title, in case anyone is interested.
People have commented on how slow and tranquil my music taste is before, and I guess I never agreed with them until I did this experiment. My version of “hype” music is Led Zeppelin. Listening to Lindsay’s music made me realize just how much I organize my life around de-stressing. I work as an editor, and I noticed that my edits were about 3x more aggressive while listening to Lindsay’s music than they normally were. The same with my driving; I got home 5-10 minutes faster each day because I was accidentally speeding. Apparently punk music makes me aggressive, which really explains high school.
Pretty much the only songs on Lindsay’s playlists I really didn’t enjoy were the songs by Coheed and Cambria. Something about this band made me inexplicably anxious and I kept finding myself skipping them. All said though, I had a pretty good time with this experiment, and I got to revisit some old favorites and explore a genre I haven’t listened to in years. It might not be very good for my blood pressure, but it sure was a heck of a ride.
Fave Song/Artist You Ended Up Liking (if there was one): Sally – Foxboro Hottubs
Song/ Artist You Ended Up Hating (if there was one): Coheed and Cambria. Sorry, Lindsay
Would You Use iTunes Again? Probably not. I really love Spotify’s wide (free) selection.
Listen to Lindsay’s playlist here.
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