Thursday, January 7, 2010

Modern Music: My Travel Casualty

I have no idea who Justin Bieber is. I mentioned this to one of my friends who immediately responded with, "Oh, you know, he's the guy that sings..." and I continued to stare blankly at her as she recited lyrics as foreign to me as any language. Okay sure, seeing that I’m not currently a teenage girl this shouldn’t be terribly detrimental to my life but when I start to hear him referenced in pop culture circles directed at my own age group and completely don’t get the joke, I’m clearly missing something.

The decline of my musical knowledge began its downward spiral when I moved to New York City. Without a car stereo dial to spin on the subway I got in the habit of shuffling my iPod and suddenly discovered that it is possible to get sick of your favorite songs. Luckily, the city that never sleeps is also full of aspiring musicians so I took pride in adding a few of my favorite indie artists to the rotation on a regular basis.

This trend held strong until I jetted off to New Zealand to conditions with zero access to MTV or the Billboard Hot 100. There I discovered a few local favorites, but was more likely found dancing to slightly outdated dance music in the clubs or singing classic power ballads in the car on road trips. Nothing bonds a group like discovering a song that you all know the words to. I even found travelers’ playlists from numerous countries to be surprisingly similar – this Seattlite traveled halfway around the world to be inundated with Pearl Jam (no disrespect intended).

One of my advertising classes once told us that every generation tends to gravitate towards the music that they come of age to, and that as we get older we become less and less likely to branch out. Although some music is inescapable (somehow overseas, I still managed to learn the words to every Lady Gaga song….), I need to approach music the way I do the sights of the world. There are some timeless songs and cities that I may revisit over and over, but in doing so I accept missing out on the undiscovered joys of the unknown.

What recent additions have made it onto your travel playlist?