As I plod through my 20s, I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon: The music I loved as a teenager means more to me than ever—but with each passing year, the new songs on the radio sound like noisy nonsense. On an objective level, I know this makes no sense. I cannot seriously assert that Ludacris’ “Rollout” is artistically superior to Katy Perry’s “Roar,” yet I treasure every second of the former and reject the latter as yelping pablum. If I listen to the Top 10 hits of 2013, I get a headache. If I listen to the Top 10 hits of 2003, I get happy.
You get that? This whippersnapper, poor schlub that he is, "plodding through his 20s," is nostalgic for that good, old-time music of 10 years ago. I remember being a little self-absorbed and cluless in my 20s, but, Jeez. He has no evidence that Ludacris is artistically surperior to Katy Perry? Well, I guess not.
He's got it all figured out, though:
Why do the songs I heard when I was teenager sound sweeter than anything I listen to as an adult? I’m happy to report that my own failures of discernment as a music critic may not be entirely to blame. In recent years, psychologists and neuroscientists have confirmed that these songs hold disproportionate power over our emotions. And researchers have uncovered evidence that suggests our brains bind us to the music we heard as teenagers more tightly than anything we’ll hear as adults—a connection that doesn’t weaken as we age.
Thank God we have psychologists and neuroscientists to explain that we keep liking the music we liked as a kid for the rest of our lives. Go figure.
Dylan. Rolling Stones. Beatles. Beach Boys. The Band. Neil Young. Judy Collins. Just sayin'.