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Will your kids like the music you like? Maybe… maybe not

singing family

I’m pretty sure that Babble writer Kirk Pynchon is exaggerating JUST A LITTLE when he describes the objections of his kids to, say, Prince, or Duran Duran, or Paula Abdul. Or maybe it’s just that I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying Prince because I, like Pynchon, and most of my age cohort, have hit the age of “taste freeze.”

It’s no surprise that people have the strongest attachment to music heard during their teen years, but the phrase “taste freeze” comes from a recent Spotify study:

“Ajay Kalia, Product Owner for Taste Profiles at Spotify, analyzed the music streaming site’s user data. He found that teens tend to listen to whatever is considered popular at the moment. By the time they hit their 20s, though, they are increasingly more interested in exploring the broader music world, hoping to make their own musical discoveries. He told Huff/Post50 that events like having a child — at any age — disrupt one’s music-listening habits, mainly because those with children have less time to listen to music.

“Working with Spotify user data, and allowing for the fact that not everyone uses their real birthdate when registering for the site — and that they did not pull listening-pattern data from anyone 50 or older — Kalia found that people start scratching their heads at the more popular tunes by the time they reach their mid-30s.”

During the period in which those musical tastes are solidified, kids react to a lot of cultural forces, and a primary one is their peers: their likelihood to love One Direction and sneer at, say, Nirvana, can depend on how badly they want to fit in. A study from Emory University had kids ages 12-17 rate a short clip of a song based on familiarity and how much they liked it… and then showed them a popularity rating for each song. 79% of the time, kids said they liked the song better if it was popular!

So their reaction to your music may be more based on their perception that it’s “uncool.” This is backed up by another musical study at Cornell, that found that when they analyzed the tastes of a group of students in their early twenties, not only did the young adults love the music of their own time, but they also had strong emotional attachments to music from the ‘80s, and even from the ‘60s.

Finally: just to get some real-world views on this issue, I polled some of my friends who have kids. The initial results were a little grim: a friend who’s about the age of my parents says that she tried to get her kids to listen to the Beatles, but they preferred the New Kids on the Block. And a friend who’s in his thirties says that his kids loved the same rock music as he did until they hit the “tween” phase, and now his daughter prefers Taylor Swift and his son prefers “songs he hears on cartoons or really annoying things he found on YouTube.”

On the other hand, another friend in her thirties says that her kids are currently loving Led Zeppelin, the Ramones, and Bollywood soundtracks. Another friend’s daughter is “completely bonkers for Bjork” and is a huge fan of the 1978 Billboard Top 100. And another pal, bursting with pride, told me that his four-year-old “can name all the Beatles, and likes big guitars.” (She also has her own shiny little drum kit!)

So… how about your family? What do you listen to in the car together? Do they complain about your ’80s hits or ’90s grunge, or is your entire family united in a love for Taylor Swift, or the Beatles, or Green Day? Tell us about it in the comments!

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