I know what sort of music I like. I grew up with folk music from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, listened to about two Nirvana songs when I was 15, branched out at 19 and added some old 80s classics, had a brief flirtation with electronic music in my mid twenties, cottoned on to the fact that country music was just American folk and therefore there was no reason why I should hate it so irrationally, and then found myself in my late twenties struggling to explain to the Swiss that I love folk music most of all. It's not cool here. Mainly because their traditional music doesn't have the youth and inspiration that mine does — our traditional music is always being rewritten, restyled, rejuvenated. The Young Folk Musician of the Year, a competition run by BBC Radio 2, is just one of the ways for young people to interact with traditional folk music and make it their own.
Obviously, I play my housemates some tracks. Often the bouncy jigs and reels and saucy sea shanties, sometimes more melancholy tales. I'm in love with 'The Witch of the Westmoreland' by Kate Rusby right now, and play it while I make soup in the kitchen. And they like it — I think they can even feel some of the history and roots in it that draws me to folk music more and more over the years, and even more so now I don't live at home. But my housemates are into something different. Don't get me wrong, you can put cheesy pop on and I'll dance until 5 am with the best of them, but when I was invited to a concert where the music was 'emo screamo crust with violins', I didn't quite know what to say. (Is crust even a type of music?! I thought it was that bit of bread that children won't eat.)
I was pretty sure this wasn't my thing, but my housemate said these were her friends from Belgium, they were really very talented and, besides, I get in for free because I live in the community. Surely I could walk ten metres across the courtyard and listen for an hour? I could, I just wasn't sure I wanted to.
The first thing I noticed was that there was a bowl of ear plugs on the bar. Ear plugs, usually used to shut out unwanted noise, were being given to the concert goers. I did the same as everyone else and took a pair and put them in.
I needed them. Emo screamo crust with violins is quite screamy and loud. The guy on the stage was shouty and angry during what I tentatively call the verse and then the violin came in during the chorus, with a surprising amount of melody. I actually quite liked the switch between the two and thought perhaps some of the attraction is that people like having to work hard to find the melody in the screamy bits and relaxing during the violin bits. I even began to feel some of the rhythm come through the shouting. People were dancing, listening intently to the words (I assume there were words) and enjoying the beat.
I stayed until the end of the concert. Mostly by choice, although a lot of other people had come in by then and getting back out before the end would have been difficult. I can't say I'm a convert but I can say that once I gave something new a try, I was pleasantly surprised.
Now when my housemates invite me to a strange-sounding concert, I usually go. Especially when it's ten metres away, free, and I can go back to my folk and pyjamas if I don't like it!
What sort of music is popular where you are? What sort of music is unpopular? Have you ever tried something you didn't think you'd like?