Being the head of a society, and also as a student, I ask a lot of stupid questions. I also get asked a lot of stupid questions. Or sensible ones but I’m normally drunk and don’t notice them. Either way, the classic “How can you enjoy listening to heavy metal? X, Y or Z is wrong with it!” is one that constantly has me scratching my head.
It’s never been something I can explain in coherent sentences, which for a journalism student is very frustrating. It’s the same as enjoying the taste of bacon but detesting the texture of raw tomato. Or why I laugh at some jokes but not others.
I’m not saying I don’t like pop music – quite frankly, if you don’t like Taylor Swift, you and I are going to have a fight.
My point is, it all comes down to the brain. A study recently found that people who listen to heavy metal are, generally, happier than people who don’t. When I read this study, something pinged in my head. The proverbial lightbulb lit up my synapses with a wash of cognitive realisation. Could I have found the answer to the question that I never had an answer to? Could it be that I like heavy music because I’m actually an incredibly happy person?
Growing up, society had always been telling me that people who like heavy metal were always pale goths who say in dark rooms and painted black pentagrams on everything. Now, these people absolutely do exist, there are quite a few who are members of my society, but for the most part, I’ve always found them to be very agreeable and never to be excessively negative. Indeed, it was always people who told me not to listen to heavy metal growing up that brought my life more negativity than the people who welcomed me into their sub-culture.
So maybe that’s it, maybe I like heavy metal because I tend to be a very happy person and I recognise the energy in the fast-paced, shouty world of heavy metal? I think I would tend to say the same about the people I see every week at our socials and the people I shared Download Festival with this year.
But I’m still not satisfied.
Another study was published saying that certain music attracts certain personality types. It found that people who didn’t obey the rules and undermined systems were more likely to be attracted to punk and heavy metal. No surprises there; a lot of punk and metal music lyrics are about the quest for individuality, the rejection of those who seek to make you to conform, and especially to find a group of people who will cherish you for who you are and not simply for how useful you may be to the system.
Whilst pondering this over my 9th cup of coffee I came to a rather annoying conclusion – you cannot boil down why someone likes something to simply because of one reason. This annoyed me because it meant that there wasn’t an easy answer to give to the next person who asked me how I can stand having someone scream into my ears every day. But you simply cannot define what makes someone like something just because of a few aspects of their personality. Some people like heavy metal and that’s ok; some people like classical music and that’s ok too; but to simply say that this person only likes that kind of music because of one aspect of their personality is to melt down what can be a fantastic journey exploring what a person enjoys and doesn’t enjoy into a pointless line of over-simplified psychology. So you’ll have to make do with my traditional answer – “I guess I just like it.”