Have you ever returned to a piece of media you initially criticized, only to discover it being much better than you remembered? Perhaps it was revisiting Homer’s “Iliad” in Lit Trad I, or rewatching a movie at a friend’s behest. A little over a year ago, I experienced this phenomenon while revisiting an album, and it permanently changed the way I engage with music.
Songs are typically consumed differently than other forms of media. While a book, TV show, or social media feed usually commands one’s full attention, music in today’s age is primarily a passive activity.
The ability to engage with music passively is one of the art form’s greatest strengths, but it can also facilitate mindlessness or “autopilot.” Although there is comfort in familiarity, its cost is high when one considers the alternative: broadening your horizons.
In some cases, engaging with an artist demands your full attention. Yet, many people are not prepared to give it. A few years ago, I would have counted myself among that group. What changed?
A defining factor in my newfound appreciation for music is UD’s Core curriculum. The beauty of the Core is how the courses align to change your worldview and make connections to which you were previously oblivious.
While I hesitate to compare most music, let alone my preferred music, to the texts read in the Core, the analytical and comprehension skills I gained truly changed my character, and my music taste has organically shifted to represent that.
The album that forever changed my listening habits was one that I originally overlooked. Released in 2018 during my first semester, I listened to “Care For Me” by Saba and quickly forgot it. It sounded different, and I only half-heartedly tried to make out the lyrics.
Three years later, in fall 2021, I tried again. I’d listened to a lot more music by this point. I’d also studied in Rome, fallen in and out of love, and welcomed my first nephew into the world. So, bored of my current music, I decided to give “Care For Me” another shot.
I loved it. “Care For Me” is now one of my all-time favorites, along with Saba as an artist. But it is not as though I was wrong in my initial assessment of the project. Both were valid, because they were assessed by two different people: myself in 2018 and myself in 2021.
The stark contrast that three years made in my opinion encouraged me to give a second chance to other artists which I’d previously judged as not for me. The results over the last year have been spectacular: I’ve discovered music that has brought me joy and changed my perception for the better.
According to a series of articles published by CNN’s Nina Avramova, music also has the ability to change one’s perception of the world in both negative and positive ways.
Because music is so impactful, and we often listen to the same songs multiple times, it is important to consider whether listening to a certain artist is the right decision, and even more so when it comes to supporting artists via attending concerts.
At times, deciding to support an artist can be a difficult ethical decision. For me, the key question is one of hypocrisy. The Second Vatican Council’s “Gaudium Et Spes” discusses one of the largest challenges of living ethically in the modern world: a divided life, or “the split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives.”
Over the last year, I’ve discovered that a great deal of artists do not pass the hypocrisy test. The ones that do, however, tend to be exceptional people. And I hope that all can relate to the priceless reward: singing along to an artist that you not only enjoy, but wholeheartedly respect.