TTYL Rex Orange County: Why People Stop Listening To Musical Artists
It’s 2 a.m. on a Saturday and I’m trying to organize my Spotify library again. So far I’ve managed to make a miserable morning playlist and finish my 20th listening to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”. Glancing at the time on my phone, I sigh and close my laptop screen to get ready for bed, knowing full well that I won’t be pushing ahead tomorrow.
I do this routine every month. Part of the reason I’ve never been good at maintaining an organized collection of music is that my musical tastes change so frequently. One day, I became obsessed with an artist; in a year, there will be no trace of it in my library. Usually this process is gradual, but there have been times when I have let an artist down all at once. Whenever I get a new music streaming app, I usually make an effort not to add artists that I’m no longer interested in. Sometimes when I create my account I forget that a group even exists. I take this as a sign that they’re probably not worth putting them back into my playlists.
I always wondered if other people had experienced the same movements. Do people make a conscious effort to stop listening to musical artists? If yes, why? Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked students from three different universities about their experiences with music and abandoned artists.
Rachel – University of Wisconsin-Madison
The first person I spoke to was my close friend, Rachel. She and I had spoken briefly on the subject before, so when I asked her if she had stopped listening to anyone in the past year or so, I wasn’t surprised when she mentioned Panic! At the disco.
“Panic! Was my favorite band, and I still listen to their old music, but for several reasons, since the band only had Brendon Urie as the original member, I stopped listening. He has a lot of problems with his music. be problematic, and there’s just been a general drop in quality, ”Rachel told me.
Brendon Urie is the lead singer of Panic! At the disco. According to the viral content site Distract, he was allegedly embroiled in several controversies for his comments on race and the LGBTQ + community. He has also been charged with sexually assaulting a minor fan.
Besides driving Uriah, Rachel also cited a change in her sound as the reason she decided to skip the group’s new releases. She was disappointed that they were straying from their pop-punk roots, blaming the departure of guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Dallon Weekes from the band.
“Now their stuff sounds so ‘radio worthy’. There is nothing inherently wrong with pop music today, but it feels more like grabbing money than making music to make music, ”Rachel said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you watch their top five songs on Spotify, that’ll tell you almost everything you need to know.”
Lyla – Northwestern University
A high school friend of mine, Lyla, took the opposite view. While many fans are invested in the daily lives of their favorite performers, she refrains from becoming attached to musical artists as persons, basing her enjoyment entirely on the music itself. Therefore, while those fans, including Rachel, may stop listening to an artist because they disagree with her behavior, Lyla actively avoids delving into an artist’s personal life, rarely reading to about it or watching their interviews unless they are already deceased.
“I do this because basically everyone has done or said something wrong at some point in their career. I listen to certain artists who are obviously problematic, but I won’t make a point of defending them because I refuse to have a personal connection with them beyond art. The only time the artist’s behavior prevents me from listening to his music is when his problematic behavior or his ideology makes some kind of appearance in his art, ”she said.
When I asked Lyla to name a musical artist she had stopped listening to, she replied that she had recently turned her back on Nirvana. In keeping with her philosophy of music, she simply said that “their music is a bit too conventional for [her], “and that she craves sounds that are” more extravagant “.
Austen – Princeton University
Unlike the other people I interviewed, Austen was the only person I had never spoken at length about music to. Its taste is quite eclectic. Originally a fan of pop rock, he recently dabbled in country, K-pop and classical music. Interestingly, this journey through different musical genres is the reason he quit listening to Sugar Ray and Coldplay. I don’t have a strong opinion on either band, but I’m sure a lot of music snobs are happy.
Aside from moving to new genres, Austen says he “personally [has] never stopped listening to music due to issues surrounding the artists themselves. He also believes that “for the most part the work can be separated from the creator,” and that people shouldn’t feel guilty about appreciating good music, even if the artist is a problem.
However, like Lyla, he draws the line when an artist’s bad behavior begins to spill over into his music, citing R. Kelly as an example.
“I tend to avoid R. Kelly’s sex songs, or at the very least, I try to see them in the context of his personal history,” he said. “However, I consider his other songs, like ‘I Believe I Can Fly’, to be generally inspiring and distinct from his despicable actions, so I have no qualms about listening to such music.”
I have found it interesting to observe the nuances in people’s opinions, especially when they relate to specific artists. While it seemed that the three students had pretty crystallized positions, they made exceptions for certain songs or stories, demonstrating that the decision to stop supporting an artist is often a personal one.
Savannah – Northwestern University
So far, the responses I have received from the people I interviewed suggest that it is the artist – whether it is their demeanor or the quality of their music – that causes people to stop listening to them. However, changes on the listener’s side can also lead to a change in taste.
The last person I spoke to was my friend Savannah, who had decided to quit listening to Rex Orange County, one of our favorite songs from our group of high school friends. She did not stop listening to an artist because of a scandal worthy of cancellation or a decline in quality. Instead, the feelings that initially linked her to Rex Orange Country’s music simply faded away.
“I listened to his recent album, ‘Pony’, when I went through it after losing a friend, and it comforted me because a lot of it was about changing and learning to love yourself, ”she said. “It was very vulnerable and reminded me that I was not alone in my feelings. It’s really an album to cry on but with a little bit of hope afterwards. I stopped listening to it because I found other ways to cope and left that headspace. I still revisit songs from time to time, but it’s not something I rely on anymore.
After discussing the album with Savannah, I decided to go back to some of the older Rex Orange County music. I hadn’t actively listened to him since graduating from high school and found myself understanding a lot of what Savannah had shared. When I listen to songs like “Television / So Far So Good” and “Untitled”, I squirm. Not because they are bad songs, but because they remind me of a version of myself that I no longer identify with.
I’m not a very sentimental person, and I generally believe in the value of moving on. Whatever the reason, I think being able to let go and revisit artists is part of the fun of listening to music. I gave up organizing my Spotify. From now on, I’ll let my music library grow wildly, weeding and planting as I please.