The Joy of Random Tastes in Music

James Walpole/ December 18, 2018

Every year when Spotify releases our Top 100 Songs playlist, we each learn a little something about ourselves.

If you’re anything like me, you learned that you have weird tastes in music. And that’s just the rub: it’s becoming increasingly normal to have weird, odd, random tastes.

Streaming services and personalized music players have made highly customized (and therefore unique) tastes in music possible for more people to a greater extent than ever before. Listeners cross genres, seek out niches (and create them), and build playlists or listening habits or music collections which make no sense at all to the outside observer.

Consider for instance a few of my top 100 – all of these have rhymes and reasons for being such a big part of my rotation (but you wouldn’t be able to guess them):

  • One Way Ticket (Because I Can) by Lee Ann Rimes – one of the fist-pumping songs of my 2018
  • The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakov – an ethereal folk song and an old favorite that apparently got a lot of play this year.
  • “You Are My Lucky Star by Nacio Brown, Arthur Freed, Alan Silvestri – a swing music tune from the film score for the movie Allied. Part of my budding interest in swing music from this year.
  • Man In the Mirror by Michael Jackson – my anthem of self-improvement/world improvement
  • Stars by Russell Crowe – yes, I dig the Russell Crowe song from Les Miserables, in all of its insistence on justice
  • Rising Sun by All Sons and Daughters – a favorite song played by the band at Eastside Church
  • I Melt With You by Modern English – perhaps my favorite 80s song of all time, brought back to my attention by the show Stranger Things
  • Captain America Marchby Alan Silvestri – film scores play a big part of my top 100. This was a part of my running/driving playlist that had a showing at my first 5K and on many other runs this year. What can I say? I want to be Captain America.
  • Centering Prayer by the Liturgists – from my meditation stint earlier this year

Makes no sense, right? I had the same thought. And yet all of these songs featured strongly in a meaningful and music-filled year in a way that worked for me.

While the shared experience of music is still worth pursuing, the individualization of music has made some fascinating “mixtapes” possible – ones that (like mixtapes of days gone by) sink into our psyches and help us face life. So celebrate the apparent randomness of the songs you love – that same randomness is a sign that you’re finding just the music you need.


James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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