The other day I was texting my friend Pat about records, as he’s thinking about buying a record player. I love vinyl. The sound quality, the fact that it’s something tactile, makes you feel more ownership about your music, and makes buying music harder (because I now only buy albums that I love in their entirety, as albums are supposed to be a full work of art). I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my love for vinyl until I read my text.

“If you buy vinyl though, make sure it’s 180grams.”

As soon as I sent the send button, I immediately felt dirty and realized the pretentious dunce I had become. Then I started thinking about how I view music. While I believe I have a great and diverse taste in music, I often judge people by the kind of music they listen to. Music unites us and divides us on a similar plane as theological issues. It can be so easy for me to turn up my nose at someone that loves music like Ke$ha (the dollar sign is the correct spelling, right?) or what I consider to be “frat-bro country” (Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and anything else that sings about girls “shaking it” and their love for getting drunk on pee-water [If you want to hear what I consider to be REAL country, check out Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, or Chris Stapleton]). Because of my judgmental attitude towards people that listen to certain types of music—a question that I think is valid to ask myself is this: “how can I despise the music a person listens to but not allow that to taint my view of them as a person?”

To start, I think most of our judgments about people comes down to the concept of ego involvement, or how much of our self-concept/esteem/personality is put into an object or task (or musical taste). Not only this, but we all have our own preferences and things that we hold to be good content when it comes to music. Some “rules” that I hold to decide if music is good or not are these things:

  1. Do the lyrics have substance?
    I’m talking music that makes you ask questions, want to deepen your faith, or deals with introspection of the soul.
  2. Is it musically creative?
    There’s a lot of music out there that all sounds the same. I want the artist to experiment with sounds and chords.
  3. Do I enjoy it?
    Does it make me want to dance / cry / drive / run / be introspective? Then I’ll dig it.

If I answer “yes” to these questions, I absolutely listen to it. Just because I have these rules for myself, doesn’t mean that I can be able to hold people to the same standard I have for music (even though you totally should have higher standards for music in my opinion…)

However, this post is how to NOT be a pretentious jerk. So how do I attempt to do this? Well, I have a few tips on how to try to break the cycle of pretentious jerk-a-ry.

  1. Try to find something positive about the music I don’t like.
    It’s got a good beat. This sounds different than most things made today. The lyrics are interesting. Whatever I can find to focus on positively is what I try to pick out.
  2. Realize you’re not cool and the end-all-be-all of musicality.
    There might be music that people enjoy out there, like DJ $WÂGGŸ BĘÀTŻ (if this isn’t a real DJ name I call it for when I make my EDM album, “Please Make this Awful Music Stop”), that I hate. This doesn’t mean that there’s no potential that it’s actually decent music. For example, I never liked the Biebs, but his new album is pretty killer. SO JUST STOP IT, YA PRIDEFUL DINGUS.
  3. Try to break out of my comfort zone of what I listen to normally.
    For the most part, I listen to chill stuff (check out this Spotify playlist to see what I’m talking about). The only way to expand my horizons of musical taste, however, is to experience new music. I would have never listened to Kendrick Lamar (my favorite hip-hop artist) if it wasn’t for this rule (and my freshman year of high school self when I started listening to hip-hop)! It helps me find new music that I enjoy.

So if you, too, struggle with being a pretentious jerk about music, just don’t. Remember—music is made for all kinds of different people and personalities, and just because you don’t connect with it doesn’t mean someone else does.

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