The musical preference of today’s youth is usually centered on the much praised mainstream idols, rappers, and boy bands that inhibit typical radio stations, and can sometimes be seen in their underwear on billboards. Mostly what everyone hears about are the ones that are constantly projected into the media, fostering new fads, and forging the stereotype of what is blaring from Generation Z’s headphones. However, nestled within the hallways of middle school, there still lie the few who praise less notable artists, and don’t conform to this pop image.
“I’m not impressed by the pop, boy bands, individual artists; it’s not intriguing,” eighth grader Dylan Sweidan said. He has drifted toward rock and roll, and mainly due to his father’s influence, and listens to bands such as the Foo Fighters, the Rolling Stones, and Nirvana. “My dad and I started listening to the Rolling Stones, and that sort of introduced me [to rock],” Sweidan said.
He feels as if rock music has completely changed his life. “I wouldn’t be who I am without rock music,” Sweidan said.
Rock has been the main source of some of his hobbies and what he does in his free time, such as learning some of the music he listens to. “I listen to rock, and then I want to learn [the music] on my own,” Sweidan said.
Eighth grader Diego Martinez has also found rock and roll more appealing than present day pop. However, he said that he doesn’t mind what’s most popular now, but rock is just what he prefers. His stimulus happened to be a video game, “Guitar Hero: Metallica,” and this guided him toward bands such as Metallica, and then Blink 182, and Nirvana. “It was one of the first video games I ever played, and it led me to Metallica,” Martinez said.
His father’s musical preference also rubbed off on him, and at an early age he began listening to bands he still listens to today. “My dad would always play [what he listens to] in the car, and I guess [it] just sort of stuck in my head,” Martinez said.
How students find artists that aren’t on talk shows or performing at the Super Bowl halftime show varies from person to person. For instance, eighth grader Quinn Link, who opts to listen to a fairly eclectic mix of both popular and less popular music, uses the Spotify “discover” playlist. The playlist recommends songs based on your liking, and can help you find artists related to your music. This could be helpful for Spotify users searching for new music, and is under the “browse” section. Apple Music has a similar feature that recommends content based on what you like.
Another common way that some stumble upon new music that they like is their parents’ preference, and what they play. Eighth grade student Anna Kopfler, who mostly listens to mainstream music, said she still enjoys older tunes she listened to as a kid. “When I was pretty little I would hear it [the music],” she said.
Martinez’s musical influence was also largely impacted by his father, and likewise for Sweidan. So, while synthesized sound and auto tuned pop take the music world by storm, these students plug in their noise cancelling headphones and live through yesterday’s hits.