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The dangerous dynamic of musical differences


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Your taste in music can be just as important in a relationship as which political party you support.

The first live concert I ever went to was My Chemical Romance in Cardiff when I was about 16 years old - a birthday present from an ex-boyfriend who, from a very early age, tried to teach me that whiny, pop-rock was the only genre worth listening to. Suffice to say, we didn’t go the distance.

Another guy I dated, very briefly thanks to a welcome failure from Tinder, chastised me for almost a week because (at the time) I didn’t enjoy listening to ambient psy-trance. “This is eye-opening shit, it gets to you, how do you not see that?” I remember him telling me in between mouthfuls of carbonara on a date at Pizza Express.

But it isn’t just boyfriends that I’ve had musical differences with - friends too. The first two years of university were a constant game of tug-of-war; one group insisting we hit up blues bars and swing nights in Joe’s Bar in Camden, the other demanding a night spend coddled up to the DJ booth at XOYO, Piccadilly Institute or ULU requesting Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ on repeat.

And funnily enough, what I’ve found is it isn’t just me whose relationships have taken a hit because of our differences. We all know that music has an immeasurable power in bringing us together, but in some cases, it can tear us apart.

We spoke to people whose relationships took a hit from their conflicting musical tastes.

Bella was a huge fan of metal and rock music growing up, which saw relationships fizzle out - perhaps before they naturally should have.

“Bands such as Underoath held a really strong place in my life - I was always a very happy and kind person, but the relation to me and the music I listened to meant that friends I had been connected to for years, who had followed a different musical preference, decided that we were just too different to be friends.

“To this day, I listen to that music less often because I’m rarely around people who will tolerate it! If I choose to put some metal on, it’s always met (around certain people) with faces of disgust or impatience.

“Music is subjective, but it’s less easily shared and enjoyed if it’s a certain genre...there’s a connection, a neurological pathway, an unspoken understanding, that you will never share with that person!”

Nathalie’s relationship with her ex soured after they realised they were fighting a losing battle: indie vs self-indulgent pop.

“My ex was in a band, they played hard rock and other lighter rock. Their favourite bands were The Killers and the Arctic Monkeys.

“I attended his concerts although I didn’t really connect with the music. I did try to listen. I even went to a Mallory Knox concert.

“My background is largely classical...I also composed my own music and was known for it in high school - classical and acoustic guitar...I was a fan of Taylor Swift at the time we were dating,”

“When he found out he made fun of me which lead to distancing. From that point on I wouldn’t share what I was listening to...It was isolating to know that I had to hide a large part of my life interests and passions.

“His favourite album was The Killers - Hot Fuss and in the end it was quite funny, he moved to Japan and cheated on me with some other girl. He told me that they both liked to sing the whole album of Hot Fuss in the car together.”

Human beings love to share things with each other, whether it be music, books, or stupid videos of people trying to do the disappearing trick to scare their dog and completely stacking it. But sometimes, we’re also good at making each other feel alone - something that Emily found out during an experience with a group of friends at university.

“They went to V Fest and didn’t invite me because we wouldn’t want to see the same acts. They love Kendrick Lamar and stuff like that, and I was labelled as the ‘indie’ a music snob because I didn’t like the generic Fifth Harmony crap playing in the common room.

“I don’t think music is the sole reason I’m not friends with them, but it definitely established a difference in interests, and I naturally gravitate towards people that like the same music as me because it’s a huge part of my life.”

Unlike Emily, Conor felt himself changing his own interests, forcing a genre he wasn’t comfortable with, to make that crucial initial connection with a girl.

“I found myself fully changing the music I would listen to and going to clubs that weren’t really my scene because there was a girl I liked.

“Say 10 years down the line we got married. Would the fact I have essentially forced myself to like her music and lied about it cause resentment? Or would it be inconsequential because of other things?

It’s a difficult one to pinpoint,”

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