Gatekeeping in music is like grilled cheese to tomato soup. They just go together. It’s how the world has always been. If you like an artist (like REALLY like them), you can’t believe that anyone else likes them nearly as much as you like them especially someone who likes something other than all the things you like because you can’t possibly imagine a person like THAT who likes the same things that YOU like because you are so obviously way cooler than that other person who only likes stupid lame music and shit. I’m honestly exhausted having to jump through those mental gymnastics you’re jumping through in order to Gatekeep some artist who doesn’t know you exist and gladly takes the money of any and all people, musical tastes be damned. But you do you, boo.
Picture it. It’s 2003 and you’re going to a Catholic high school in the Bay Area of California. You’re a young woman and you hear a group of guys talking about the band Queen. You’re a big fan of Queen. In fact, one of your early crushes was Freddie Mercury’s voice (you can 1000% have a crush on a voice). You casually go over to these guys, thinking you’re going to make some new friends because you have something in common. Instead, you’re assaulted with things like:
“Oh, is your favorite song Bohemian Rhapsody?”
“You’re a fan of Queen? Okay, what’s your favorite album?”
“I bet you don’t even know any of their names.”
“You can’t like Queen.” (that’s it, that’s the quote)
Mmmm, high school is so fun. Enter in literally the rest of my life. And the life of so many people (especially women). I grew up in a household that pretty much always had music playing and it was usually (Classic) Rock or Country (specifically Johnny, Patsy, and Dwight) because that’s the music my dad listened to. I knew all his music and created my own musical tastes as I got older. I saw other lovers’ of the music I loved as potential friends, not enemies. I never felt threatened by people who loved the same things I loved because omg they might love it more than me and therefore my love is diminished annnnnd I think I just figured something out about people who do this…
I remember buying Britney Spears’ first album at the same time I bought Blink 182’s “Enema of the State” because I like the music that I like and the music that I like actually can be diverse. Over the years, I would hide any and all evidence that I still listened to Britney Spears or any pop music because now I was an emo kid and you’re just simply not allowed to like any other type of music. You get to stick to one genre. And if you don’t, you’ll be crucified. Besides, it was really hard to get all that black makeup off everyday so I guess it was easier to just stick to being an emo kid. If you go to a concert or own a music related t-shirt, you better know every single song this person (or people) have ever sung, who is on the writing credits, what years all their albums came out, the name of their dogs, how many of them have hooked up with underaged girls (hint: if they performed at Warped Tour, the answer is all of them), what city they started out in, and what musical instrument(s) they play. If you actually do get all those right, I’m sure that they’ll throw another question at you like “what is the lead singers’ favorite chip flavor”. If not, you’re absolutely fucked. Good luck with the rest of your social life and I hope you enjoy only being able to listen to Top 40 for the rest of your existence.
In 2006, Taylor Swift’s first album came out. I remember hearing “Teardrops on my Guitar” and relating to it immediately. Who hasn’t had a crush on a friend who didn’t like them back? It’s a shitty place to be, especially when you’re a teenager with teenage hormones. From day one, I loved Taylor Swift. And from day one, I hid the shit out of it. It was such a faux pas because ew, gross, Taylor only writes about break up songs and no one ever has ever been broken up with anyone and written a song about it because clearly this entire group of humans hasn’t heard of “Rumours” or “Hi-Infidelity” but here we are, bashing people for writing about their lives (and then bashing people for… not writing songs, I’m so confused). I spent so much energy hiding the Pop music I liked from my friends (and especially guys I dated) because I was tired of the judgement. I was tired of my friends trying to act superior because they only listened to artists no one has ever heard of and will call them sell outs if they get popular. And don’t even try to argue with these people because the minute you even admit that you like an artist who has actually been on the radio (gross), you’re just seen as an idiot with no taste in music. Classic. Why do you have to yuck other peoples’ yums?
Genuine question to the people who act like this: Who hurt you?
I’m serious. The older I’ve gotten, the more I understand the whole “hurt people hurt people” dynamic. Especially women who have this attitude. As a former, “I’m not like other girls” girl (pls I know, I want to kill myself thinking about how disgusting that phrase is), I get it. It’s dog eat dog world out there! If you’re a girly girl, you get shit on. If you’re a tomboy, you get shit on. So what do you do? Stay with the girly girl life, avoid what you can, cry when you can’t and make fun of the tomboy girls? Or go with the tomboy route where you act tough as shit (but cry when you’re alone) and make fun of the girls who took the girly girl route? Maybe I’m just tried of pretending I don’t like some things that I actually do love and like things that I actually can’t stand just so that I can fit into some imagined category in some assholes’ head so they can figure out if I’m cool enough or intelligent enough to actually talk to. It’s gross. You’re gross. I guarantee there’s not some special part of heaven you get into after you die simply because of your musical tastes. But if there was, you’d probably have to name at least 5 Taylor Swift songs to get in so see you in hell, suckers.