“It’s a Bop”


Ludia Kim

There are 1,264 genres of music, and 7.53 billion people with different music tastes. 

It is obvious the music taste of individuals may be influenced by the decade they lived through and their environment. Gen X, 1961-1980 birthdays, tend to enjoy disco and heavy metal or hip hop and grunge pop since it was trendy during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

According to a July 2018 survey, out of 300%, 16-24 year olds make up 102% of those who say hip hop/rap is their favorite genre. As 65+ year olds only make up 1%. Younger generations tend to favor rap, due to the trend from the 2010s, contrary to older generations who listened to funk.  

There are neurological explanations why environment impacts music taste.

Valorie Salimpoor, a neurologist at McGill University, “used fMRI to track brain activity while participants in the study listened to the first 30 seconds of 60 songs they were unfamiliar with,” during her experiment to discover the reason why taste in music differs. 

Salimpoor found that the brain has musical memory templates which, “depending on what styles of music your brain has recorded, it will choose to reactivate them or not when listening to a new piece of music. Basically, your brain’s pleasure center predicts how you’ll feel from a song based on similar music you’ve heard.”

Salimpoor’s experiment also explains why there are different phases of music taste in the individual, and it correlates with sociology. She claimed, “when people around you—family, friends, or coworkers—are repetitively listening to a certain style of music, you will eventually catch on, and your brain will create a musical template for that style.”

According to Wired, these familiarities or pleasure is a result from dopamine released in the brain. “Immediately before the climax of emotional responses there was evidence for relatively greater dopamine activity in the caudate. This subregion of the striatum is interconnected with sensory, motor and associative regions of the brain and has been typically implicated in learning of stimulus-response associations and in mediating the reinforcing qualities of rewarding stimuli such as food.”

Personality is another contributor to having a certain music taste.

A study from Heriot-Watt University, surveyed 36,000 individuals globally on their musical preferences and personality. Adrian North, a researcher, claimed that, “the reason people sometimes feel defensive about their taste in music might be related to how much it relates to attitudes and personality.” 

Senior John Ku said, “what makes good music good is the song has to have some connection like emotion or thoughts through the lyrics. If the song doesn’t have any thought on the lyrics makes it considered bad music.”

Senior Toto Kang claimed, “meaningful lyrics make me enjoy a song more because of that connection I have. I can relate to it.”

Sophomore Carsyn Hall said, “I think good music means having a good beat/rhythm behind the lyrics. Something I can vibe to and enjoy when there are no lyrics in the song. The music I listen to most is probably regular pop or indie. I love all music genres but I listen to those the most.”

Sophomore Megan Dinkins, a close friend of Hall, explained, “I think good music is a song that has a good meaning behind it and a good sound. I like all types of music though.”

Juniors Abbie Slatton, Skyler Anton, Kristy Koelsch, and Maya Moran are all in the same friend group. All the girls explained their similar music types, which had a sad vibe. Anton, Koelsch and Moran especially have seemingly similar musical preferences as their favorite artists include Khalid and Harry Styles.

The appreciation of certain music is personal as the person is considering all of the biological and environmental factors that influence music choice.