Does Your Taste In Music Suck?

Music, Musing

If you utterly adore One Direction and/or traditional Country & Western and/or Kanye West, then the answer is yes.

Or no – depending on YOUR musical tastes. Confused? Let’s see if I can offend / enlighten you even more …

The only 100% truth is that MY taste in music is exceptional.

To me of course. To you, it probably sucks.

Obviously I’m not a fan of those examples above, but I’ll bet you (Dr Evil finger raised) ONE MILLION DOLLARS that your three favourite artists / genres aren’t Prince, alt-electro-rock, and Gotye.

It’s because as individuals – even when exposed to the same music as our peers – no-one will have the exact same tastes as you. So logically, your taste in music is the best in the world.

I believe that our opinions / musical tastes are created when your brain mashes together your surroundings, the opinions of your friends, and more importantly, the day you were born.


I can’t name one song I like by One Direction. But if I was growing up as teenager today, that response would probably be different (I did say probably). You see, my ears have heard plenty of boy bands, and my requirement for entry-level, heart-tugging pop is long gone.

As an awkward loner in the 70’s, I had to rely on my parent’s musical collection: Charlie Pride, Glen Campbell and Jim Nabors (can you guess why I dislike traditional Country and Western?). Additionally, my local, regional Queensland radio stations (all three of them) catered for a very Middle-of-the-Road / Adult Contemporary musicscape. It didn’t bode well for me.

Until late in the decade when HE came into my life. Into the life of all Australian children.

Molly Meldrum.

For non-Australians (and those born too late) Molly was the host of Countdown, a music clips-based show bringing the best current sounds directly into our lounge rooms every Sunday night (just after Doctor Who). In 2014 this idea sounds quaint, but in the 1970s, with no internet and a limited media, it was groundbreaking. It changed my life.

Rock and roll. Australian bands. The New Romantics. Punk (or the watered down version the ABC allowed them to air). For anyone who’s teenage years straddled 1975 – 1987, Molly was instrumental in shaping our musical tastes. If he liked a band, they were put on the show. Hell, he hand-picked the completely unknown boy band Pseudo Echo*, and took them from gigging in a pub without a record contract, and turned them into a national sensation.


Just because you’re exposed to certain genres / artists or specific songs, it doesn’t mean you’re going to like them … but hearing a wide swathe of music will help you understand your preferences.

I had no idea I’d like electronica until I heard Ultravox’s Vienna – a sparse heart-tugging dirge that my parents hated “this means nothing to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”. Oh, having your parents hate something instantly makes it good.

But then everything changed again. Because HE came into my life. Prince Rogers Nelson. The kid. Purple Rain. That makes it 1984. I’m 15.

That guitar introduction. The lack of bass. The didgeridoo-like backing vocal. When Doves Cry redefined what music could and should be.

So why wasn’t everyone loving this masterpiece? Why was my best friend (and all the girls at school) into Wham!? What’s wrong with these people? Couldn’t they hear the amazingness of my new purple Minneapolis friend? What did Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go have that When Doves Cry didn’t?

Was it them or … or … could it be me? Why didn’t everyone like what I liked?

It appears 1984 was my turning point: the year I cemented my taste in music.

Take a look at the songs released in the years you hit your mid teens. Are they still in your “favourite songs of all time”? Can you see the basis of your current musical tastes there?

Perhaps it was because I was exposed later in life to popular music that my tastes formed at that time, but I believe it’s not until you hear a good variety of genres and melodies that you really develop your specific musical taste.

A Distinctive Sound

And here we are in 2015. I’m 46 this year and still stuck in the past with Kate Bush, The Eurythmics, and INXS. But in my life I’ve also journeyed into the past and discovered The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel. And I continue my adventures today with Gotye, Arctic Monkeys, and Son Lux.

My current favourite song is a collaboration between artists from Malawi and London (The Very Best’s Hear Me), and Sydney-sider Alex Cameron’s Jumping The Shark is my favourite album. Both are starkly different. Neither are on any Top 40 charts anywhere in the world.

I don’t care.

My taste in music is exceptionally good. To me. And if your and my tastes overlap at some point, then I look forward to sharing our love of a good tune. And where our tastes differ, I hope we can discover something new, and perhaps stretch our palates.

So give me a hand – please vote – to let me know if I’m on the right track (is this the kind of article you enjoy reading?).

Heck, why not tell me about YOUR musical taste in the comments below? We could have a chat!


Until then, let’s get funky with the best boy-band song of all time 🙂


*Please note, while Pseudo Echo was a band of boys, they were not a boy-band. Totally different. We can discuss this important minutia another day.


29 thoughts on “Does Your Taste In Music Suck?

  1. I love all types of music, including hard core folk, classical, indie grunge rock, mid nineties brit pop, country and western and many more. I think you might be right about the mid teenage years being when our music taste cements itself. Great blog

    1. Thank you!

      I’m fascinated by “hard core folk” – is that super-traditional or heavy metal inspired banjos? (Joke aside – I’d love to know more).

      And how could you not love mid-nineties brit-pop? Let’s get some Blur happening!

      1. Heavy metal banjos sounds ace, I really hope that’s an actual thing. I meant more the uber traditional stuff. Think very fast Irish fiddles. I once heard Cerys Matthews, from seminal 90’s band Catatonia, say folk music had similar qualities to trance and I think she was probably right.

  2. Good ol’ Molly, he and Countdown didn’t just shape Australian music but in effect the world. Specifically, he gave Madonna and Abba a huge leg up. We really need another music show like it today to break new acts to wider audiences.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Triple J does a great job of breaking new artists – but that’s only if they’re alternative (which I like, but there’s no outlet for new up-and-coming pop / country / rock and roll artists.)

      Did you see the recent specials on ABC or Foxtel? Amazing stories!

      1. Triple J does do a great job, but even their staff admitted at a recent conference that their bite sized TV show had a greater impact across Australia then the radio shows (Particularly in regional areas). I think of shows that I love like Jools Holland and Black Cab Sessions which expose me to something new, it would be far better it we had something in Australia to reach the mainstream, Countdown proved how vital it is to shape an industry. I remember a time when I could watch one music show after another on Fri-Sat. Recovery also did great job for live alternative music within a few short years. I did catch the ABC Countdown special, sadly I wished it was longer, but at least every now and again Rage plays some footage!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this! Yes, our taste in music differs a lot. I do love contemporary country music (don’t worry not the old yeehaw kinda songs) and I listen to a lot of pop and folk. But the fact that you mentioned Purple Rain made me like you immediately, that seriously is some of the best music, like, ever.
    You know, I love music in general. And even if I don’t like a certain genre, I can still admire the musicality and talent that is put into a song (sure, some songs just generally suck). My friend listens mostly to hard rock, you know with heavy guitar riffs and stuff. I don’t really like that kind of music, but I do appreciate the skills most of these guitar players show. Damn!
    I have to admit I don’t know any of the other artists you mentioned in your post. I’m a nineties kid from The Netherlands, so…worlds apart I guess 😛
    Oh! And thank you for that Backstreet Boys song…had a little bit of a nostalgia very loudly singing along kinda thing happening here.

    1. Growing up, my next-door neighbour was totally into Heavy Metal – and on my visits to his dungeon-cave of a room (I think it was so dark because he covered the windows with posters of Heavy Metal bands) I learnt that even if I didn’t like ALL of the music he played, there was an astonishing level of creativity and musicality in each of the bands he played. Most of the musicians actually had classical training!

      And while I said I can’t stand C&W, I do have a soft spot for Glen Campbell’s Galveston (among others). Such a tortured song, but uplifting in an odd way 🙂

      Netherlands! How cool is that. You damn 90’s kids! So what music do you love? Who are the artists you love listening to?

      1. True that!
        I love Zac Brown Band, Sugarland (so sad they’re having a hiatus), Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and Kip Moore (all country).
        I also listen a lot to Sara Bareilles, Jessie J (I know, she’s becoming more and more mainstream every day, but her voice is amazing), Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift (everyone needs their guilty pleasure). Every now and then I throw in some Bon Jovi and Mumford & Sons. I love strong and meaningful lyrics. Acoustic guitars and pianos usually do the trick too.
        Only music I really can’t stand is heavy metal/grunge, techno, and hiphop that only raps about hoes and bros, and sex and drugs. One time my friend and I somehow ended up in a bar where a heavy metal/grunge band was playing. She still has to laugh when she remembers my tortured face haha!

      2. It gladdens my heart when I see new music continue to create new directions, but it sickens me to my stomach when it’s Hip/Hop (so-called) R&B that’s been auto-tuned to death. The new Kanye West / Paul McCartney collaboration is an abomination.

      3. All of Kanye West’s ‘music’ is an abomination…
        But yeah, it’s such a shame that a lot if today’s popular artists can hardly sing live, while there are so many great musicians and singers out there who don’t get the recognition they deserve

  4. im a great music fan of all kind of music.but my most preffered taste i would say is rockmusic.(right now im so addicted to foo fighters and shinedown its crazy)
    im born in the 80S and grew up in the 90S and omg what a time was that!! so many different music and all oh so great.

    1. Of course the 80’s / 90’s were the best time for music! Apart from Dannii Minogue. She should have left music alone.

      So what’s your thoughts on the new Foo Fighter’s album? The critics have absolutely panned it, but I haven’t had a chance to listen yet.

      And Shinedown are completely new to me. Where should I start with them?

      1. the new foo fighters album is just a slight different then they used to make but ones you get used to that idea its veryyy nice in my opinion.
        as for shinedown they even coverd a foo fighters song times like these from the latest album. you might wanna check the shinedown album the sound of madness.

  5. Love your post. I was 12 when I got MTV. My teen years were in the 80s and that is very influential. Also the 90s alternative scene. Some of my favorites are the albums my mom had. Joni Mitchell, we both loved. Last year I wrote 2 posts on the earliest albums I listened to as a child. It was fun to explore that.

    1. Quite a faithful cover, but is that a steel guitar in there? It adds a nice touch.

      I’ve listened to a couple more Shinedown tracks on YouTube. Nice heavy rock. Thanks for introducing me Patricia!

  6. I was a 90s teenager too and really started to listen to music a lot in the Britpop period (which was also the period when I got a radio with tapedeck, and a later a CD player, in my own room). Slightly earlier I watched the Chart Show, which was on British telly on Saturday mornings – I remember Bryan Adams “Everything I Do” being number one for about a million years, and hating it! But I think I struggled for a long time with disentangling my own tastes from the miasma of what other people thought I should like, or what I thought they thought I should like. The mid-90s was a period with some rather rigid ideas of what was acceptable, at least as manifested in the NME (which I read religiously). Plus I was shy about liking pop music at all, and about how intensely it affected me, since (a) my mum didn’t like it and (b) much pop music is emotionally and physically stirring, and I was arriving uncomfortably in my sexual body, as an uncool teenager that nobody fancied. (Then I went to university and suddenly got sharked by lots of second years who hadn’t noticed I wasn’t cool.)

    My taste in music has developed in several bursts, as I’ve been exposed to new things, and as relationships, the associations evoked by particular sounds, and my own sense of myself have changed. Boyfriends have been a big factor and have introduced me to different things and given me different roles to try out (e.g. arm-candy rock-chick girlfriend, when I was a 22-year-old going out with a 28-year-old rock fan). I have never been someone who was encyclopedic about current or previous music, and I rarely win coolness points by liking anything obscure, but haphazardly I’ve got into a fairly wide range of things.

    So what do I like? These are the layers in roughly chronological order:

    Stuff my dad played – Beatles (but only really early Beatles, I still don’t know the later albums well), Simon & Garfunkel, other 60s pop and folk
    Hair rock and 80s radio fluff – Bon Jovi (my shameful weakness in the Britpop years, as they were Not Cool), Cher, Roxette etc
    Of the 90s stuff, what has stayed with me is not really the central Britpop bands (I did like Blur) but triphop (I love Massive Attack) and things I got into because Britpop bands cited them, like U2. Also some other bands who were around at that time but weren’t Britpop as such, especially the Manic Street Preachers and REM. I was a huge Oasis fan but went off them rather violently
    Grunge, especially Pearl Jam. I was into Nirvana fairly early but didn’t expand my range until later
    Classic rock and metal and some nu-metal. Aerosmith, AC/DC, Guns n Roses (only Appetite for Destruction), Van Halen, Judas Priest, Linkin Park and some others. Other classic but much less heavy bands such as Fleetwood Mac
    A group I’ll call ‘strong women’: Kate Bush, Alison Moyet, Kirsty MacColl, Annie Lennox
    Some New Country. I like very little country music sung by men, but I was introduced to people like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucinda Williams, and Trisha Yearwood by a musical lesbian who taught me Old English for a bit.
    Kiwi bands – Crowded House, Mutton Birds, Dave Dobbyn, are there any others? 🙂

    Now of course my passion for Gotye is leading me in all sorts of odd directions, so I have CDs I’ve had to order from abroad because I can’t get the albums on the Irish version of iTunes, but at the same time I still wouldn’t call myself well-informed about current music. Still, I bought more new albums and EPs last year than I had in the previous ten, I think. I’m particularly enjoying exploring more electronica and experimental stuff, while still being a sucker for a catchy tune and an emotional lyric.

    You, know I should probably have just written a blog post rather than that comment…but indeed I did write a rather similar blog post back around May.

    Enjoying your posts!

      1. Felt after writing it that was a very long rambly comment that went off the point of your post, so I’m planning to write a new post myself. The older post was studiedly dull – was trying not to be too rabidly over-enthusiastic about my new favourite artist!

    1. “musical lesbian” – damn you autocorrect? Or, “no seriously, a musical lesbian”?

      Oh, and what a terrific list of artists. Great playlists to be created there.

      1. Yes, seriously, a musical lesbian. She played the guitar, was my Old English teacher for a bit, and kissed me once at a party (before getting together with one of my friends, to whom she is now happily married). (Well, civil partnership thing – I’m not sure they’ve upgraded, as it were.)

    1. Terrific post Dot!

      And I only like “Slice of Heaven” by Mr Dobbyn. I understand he’s a legend in NZ, but that’s the only song Australian radio ever decided to play. Great song. Guilty pleasure 🙂

  7. I like all kinds. It can only be certain songs in the genres because some rock is a bit much for me, some hip hop is too repetitive, or some country is to winey. 🙂 Just depends on my mood I guess.

  8. Enjoyed your blog. Wishing the “Stephen” in my life would follow your path – his narrow range of music which, in part, is from his high school days (think the late 1960’s) drives me nuts because his playlist is so short. House rule is he must wear headphones at all times when he’s playing his music so that I don’t feel like banging my head against the walls (I never was a mosh pit type of person).

    Don’t get me wrong – I had some favorites from the 60’s – Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth written by Stephen Stills was my favorite. While it doesn’t move me in the same way now, I have an immediate flashback to 1967 when I hear it. At the time, I didn’t understand why my friends didn’t share my enthusiasm for the song. It didn’t bother me, I didn’t care – because I loved it.

    My early exposure to music was TV’s American Bandstand with Dick Clark on Saturday afternoon and a Chicago radio station which I think was WLS (I could pick up late at night on the kitchen radio). I moved to NYC when I was 21 and it was WNEW-FM’s DJs that kept me going. A couple of whom are still around and I catch them on the Fordham University’s station WFUV.

    My eclectic tastes take me from guitar (Jesse Cook) to fiddles (Allison Kraus). Some of my favorites are Talking Heads, Dire Straits, John Prine, the Clash. Broken Bells, Laura Marling, etc. Right now, I’m head over heels with Lucinda Williams’ latest and anything by Anne Brun.

    Some of the Aussie tunes on my playlists are from Angus & Julia Stone, the Waifs and John Butler (with or without the Trio). For me the ultimate is Nick Cave (loving that Netflix series “Peaky Blinders” uses his songs).

    The advice from one of my friends is “good music, good food & good friends translates into a great life.”

    I look forward to pulling some new tunes from your blog.


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