Havens: Differing musical tastes build roommate relationships

Opposites attract.

We’ve all heard it before. We often use the phrase to justify and cope with the annoying antics of our counterparts, whether they are our best friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, or in this case, our roommates. When it comes to sharing a space with someone, being complete opposites may be problematic – messy vs. organized, morning vs. night person, studious vs. slacker – however, when it comes to music, having different taste than your roommate can actually be a good thing.
Listening to different music than your roommate can introduce you to new artists and bands that you may have never heard or considered before – but that’s obvious. Although broadening your musical knowledge is a good thing, a secondary benefit to having opposing tastes is that being exposed to different sounds and genres can help improve your mood.

According to a study done by Emporia State, music has a strong influence on mood, and will often enhance a positive or negative emotion. I certainly can’t be the only one who puts on The National’s soothing songs when it’s raining out and my bed is the only place I want to be. In this particular situation, I listen to this music for a reason – I’m not looking for a song to try and brighten my day but rather make me want to eat ice cream out of the carton even though I’m lactose intolerant.

To be honest, I listen to The National even on the sunniest of days. I just happen to love melancholy music and indie melodies that would put most people to sleep. Not to say I don’t love upbeat music as well, I just have a preference. My roommate has a preference too, though hers happens to be country and pop music – two genres that share the trait of being (for the most part) cheerful and optimistic.

Perhaps I find country songs hard to relate to considering I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, or perhaps I simply never got over the fact that I was thrown off a horse at age 7. Either way, I’m not a fan. My dislike for country music aside, the songs generally have decent lyrics with a catchy guitar twang in the background. Pop music is much the same, with somewhat less decent lyrics, but boasts a strong backbeat, usually incorporating an electronic bass that makes me feel like I’m stuck inside of a pinball machine.

While I wouldn’t be likely to choose a country or pop song on my own, I will say that I have never complained when my roommate puts one on. Rather than inducing my (occasional) mopey mood with music that drones on, the change of pace is often appreciated. Going from The National to Icona Pop is surely a 180, but it serves as a nice reminder that I am in fact a 90s chick and have not yet retired to a rocking chair. At times it’s okay to simply say, “I don’t care, I love it.”
Recently while in the car with a friend, I realized that he too had encountered this music mayhem. I noticed that we were listening to the crooning voices of artists like Dave Matthews and Matt Nathanson for a while and so I asked what had caused him to replace his hip-hop and rap. He simply replied, “Blame my roommate.”

He told me how after living with someone who only played the type of music that Starbucks sells at the registers – as if people flock to Starbucks for their CD selection – it started to grow on him. He admitted that while he still loves the type of music that The Cave plays on a loop, listening to more mellow music has helped him to feel just that, more mellow. He proved my theory to be true.

Some roommates share clothes, some share food, so why not share music? Even if your roommate’s taste in music – whatever it may be – falls on the other end of the spectrum from your own, don’t dismiss it just yet. Music, like most things, should be consumed with an open mind… or in this case, an open ear.

Lyndsey Havens is a journalism major from Chicago, Ill. Read more from .

  • Updated Aug. 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm
  • Edited by Will Webber
  • Frankie Graham

    Reminds me a lot of my roomates and I. Super relatable article. Keep up the good work!

  • Gay Abarbanell

    Hi Lyndsey,
    Congrads on this very good article and your ‘open ear’.
    Love, Aunt Gay