After 30 minutes of conversation, most people learn that I love writing, science, food, beer and music. Give me a little bit more time, and I’ll spill—I listen to a lot of trashy pop music. With an hour to kill in my car every weekday, most of the time is dedicated to filling my NPR fix, but some of it gets eaten by the local Top 40 stations.
In my defense, I work with high schoolers part time. I have recommended new pop songs (most notably Girl Talk, which is great for workouts!) for cheerleaders’ routines and breakups. For others, talking music involves Mutemath, Young the Giant, Jason Isbell and Imagine Dragons. It balances out, right?
Pop music also gave me a way to connect with my peers in high school and college. After many years saturated with Bach, Beethoven and the best bands you’ve never heard of, pop music was my way in. It was easy. Before I knew it, it was the soundtrack for my workouts and drive time.
The lyrics and rhythm of Top 40 music also lend themselves to memes and Star Wars parodies. They also inspired my favorite blog, Snacks and Shit, which I discovered during my John Wesley and the People Called Methodists class a few years back. Suffice it to say that reading through the posts during a lecture on the persecution of Methodists is not the best idea I’ve ever had. Enjoy with discretion.
When it comes down to it, the music is a break. In those moments, I get to shut down the part of my brain that moves at 290 m/s from the other bits that actually function rationally. Though I love NPR, I yell myself hoarse pretty regularly on national political matters. Pop music lets me escape to a world where it’s “complicated,” but after three minutes, something new cycles through.
These little breaks give me the mental space I need to do (all of) my jobs. It allows me to crawl out of my head and connect with people I wouldn’t before. It may be a deeply guilty pleasure, but it’s mine. All mine.
Title from an Architecture in Helsinki song.