the way i listen to music is unsatisfying

By Laura Gao • 9 min read
July 2023

i should listen to more french songs. when balance ton quoi comes up in my shuffle it is so satisfyinggg to hear the french et je compris !! tout le monde devrait apprendre une deuxieme langue.

maybe i only find meditations and confucius so refreshing and HUMAN to listen to bc the majority of the media i consume are shitty pop songs. i wonder how listening to shitty pop songs for multiple hours per day influences me in subtle ways over the long term. im sure there are some effects but idk what and i kinda doubt there are studies on this or whether reading studies is the best way to understand

i also cant pinpoint atm what exactly about shitty pop songs makes them so shitty. like i can feel that overall this media is more [shallow? focused on frivolous things? no that's not right. it's more like the frames they use to analyze situations are like immature?]

to illustrate with an example:

Olivia Rodrigo - vampire

released 2 weeks ago, vampire is an amazing piece musically and lyrically. I LOVE U OLIVIA UR VOICE IS A GODDESS BUT holy shit girl it's been 2 years since Sour and you still havent changed?? personal development, what's that? it's been 2 years and ur still writing angry songs blaming men for relationship problems??

like. ok yes, the song is relateable. I CAN RELATE TO IT. but like. "oh these are things that i couldve done better. here are some warning signs that were apparent in the first week, or first month, of this toxic relationship. i noticed them but if i had better judgement or was more vigilant about flagging bad patterns, i couldve left a few months earlier than i did and saved myself some emotional turmoil. but it's okay, that was my first relationship, i rlly had no idea what to look for and didn't talk to other people about it bc i thought it was best not to make my friends potentially hate my partner, so yeah i did my best and im proud of it. but now i know to look for these next time and if you made this goddamn mistake again, uh that is more stupid." idk like olivia rodrigo im sorry but ur attitude is unhelpful

anyways, i write this after i had my "liked songs" on shuffle play for the last like. 9 hours. including, having listened to vampire like 40 times since it was released. probably more. that song is addicting im sorrrry

more examples

epistemic status of this post: i am vaugely dissatisfied with pop songs and like the way i listen to music in general? and here is a fuckton of thought dumps while i try to better understand how i feel. all of these things are mere guesses at how i feel and like. i think in 2 days i wont agree with some things i write here. so YEAH take grains of salt.

taylor swift is objectively a wonderful storyteller. the imagery. "glass shattered on the white cloth, everybody moved on, but i sit here, dust collected on my pinned up hair." i lived like 5 other lives through her albums. but IDK MAN like across multiple years of albums, there are so many songs about the smae themes? lots of lovesick songs. lots of angry at men in relationships songs. idk it's just so sameeeee how do you write 10 songs about the smae thing??

ok actually i take that back at this point ive probably written 10 pieces on how kids are treated like shit.

ok hm that's not it either.

then what does bother me?

balance ton quoi is a song about feminism. idk i guess i feel like it presents. a rlly shallow ass stereotypical viewpoint? like. "no means no." "men, go fuck yourself." the shaved armptis scene of the music video was a rlly nice touch i love its execution <3 but like the msg about women being socially pressured into shaving is also a stereotypical, unpersonal one. (or maybe i just find it unpersonal bc i havent experienced it and havent been made to feel that shaving is something i should pay attention to.) the line where angele talks about people saying her success is due to her brother helping her is p nice but idk there arent many lines like that also it just feels stereotypical and like a good song to belt out as you shake your fists and let your anger channel through. but not like nuanced or helps you better understand why i should care about womens issues ??

like guys. i am a biological woman. and ?? 0% of media ive consumed has made me believe that i should care about womens issues. or be angry at men for relationship problems.

i feel like this hints at some larger unsatisfaction with pop media that i am not able to pinpoint rn.

oh there's also a thing where the fact that before dating, 50% of my beliefs about relationships came from POP SONGS has like deeply fucked up my brain. in some ways i cant fully articulate.

like for instance. idk it made love seem like a huuuuuge deal to me ?? i was doing things in relationships that i hear artists sing about in music videos and it's like performative, the way that having sex copying porn positions is performative and not like feeeeeling what you want and noticing whether you want things and

and like when ur young and in ur first relationship most of the time you. dont rlly. uh. idk. have that deep of a bond with the person ur dating. like as soon as i slap a label on a relationship it feels dfiferent which is why rn im happy being poly and not dating anyone and just fucking around idk. (i am. not articulating this point clearly. read this instead)

aaaa this also like isnt anything wrong with pop songs tho. like people are just making art about their experience in relationships which is fuzzy and human !!

BUT idk like, all the love songs present the same viewpoint of relationships? like literally all of them. yeah the specifics are different but like literally most songs about romance are "fuck you partner" "breakup is sad i lsot everything :(" "i am so in love" and idk it doesnt talk about hte nuances of love enough for you to actually see what a relationship is like on the day to day it's just aaaaaaaaaaa

idk what im trying to say. just dont do what i did. touch grass dont base ur relationship viewpoint on music or books, they are so fucking incomplete.

BOOKS TOO. like even self help relationships books and love philosophy and "deep" shit. is like. useless for you to read before you get into a relationship it's just smtn you cant know unless you feel it ?? the tao that can be spoken is not the tao. and ESP W RELATIONSHIPS WHICH IS SO SO SO MUCH BASED ON FEELINGS, the knowledge/experiences that can be translated into words are usually bullshit if U HAVNET FELT IT

closed hearts make closed minds

bullshit lines that sound all profound and deep but are based on bullshit.

happy hungry sad by mr beard is a good mockery of it. listen to the song. yeah it seems to say nothing other than basic sentiments like "snails taste rlly bad, bad things make me sad". BUT LIKE most pop songs if you strip away the artsy language and visual storytelling, it's not saying more than sentiments on that calibre?

i guess i kinda find the standard of pop song lyrics are like. low. any bullshit i write out on a mediocre day can be pop song lyrics if they are fit to a tune. like sure the music being emotional compensates for the lyrics being shit.

idk it just feels vaguely low standards. like if i wrote a piece like a pop song lyrics, it would NOT work as a standalone writing piece. at best id send it to 3 friends and be like "lol that's daily reflection #258, i kinda used some craft moves this time and it felt cute".

ok ykw maybe this is nothing against popsongs and more of a general vague unarticulateable feeling about how words mean a whole lot of nothing. like

Diagnosed with OCD, what does that mean? Well, gather 'round
That means I obsessively obsess on things I think about
That means I might take a normal thought and think it's so profound (Leave me alone)
Ruminating, filled balloons full of doubts
Do the same things, if I don't, I'm overwhelmed (Leave me alone)
Thoughts are pacing, they go 'round and 'round and 'round
It's so draining, let's move onto something else, fine

means a whole lot of nothing to someone who hasnt experienced this ??? (me)

i can try to guess how it feels but rlly im j tryna map my experiences and it's like im sure im not accurately understanding how he feels.

i spent SO MUCH OF MY CHILDHOOD reading books like. my dad says i probs read like 1000 novels between the ages of like. 8 and 13 or smtn. like reading more was always encouraged but

idkkkk i think it mightve fucked up my social life that i experienced it all vicariously before touching grass and having friends irl. like around 4 months ago i felt like i understood what it means to vibe with someone without the convo being intellecutal, when i RLLY FELT IT and aaaa degeneracy is so fun

it's dangerous to read philosophy before you have the experience to understand what it meanssss

also rules for life bad. i am skeptical of absolute rules. most things are judgement calls and golden means and situation-dependent. as n says, you only have general vague ass guiding principles.

look at the billobard top 10 hits right fucking now. what are their themes

it wouldb efun maybe to make playlists of all taylor swift songs by theme

leave a msg for laura

i respect your emotional rawness. keep introspecting, maybe a little less inspirational quote posting...

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