When I was five years old (1985-86) I really liked Michael Jackson and the Police. The Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right” was one of my favorite songs. All I listened to until fourth or fifth grade was my parents stuff and the music on the radio. Then I got into Bon Jovi, and New Jersey was the first tape I owned. I was into the illegal music swapping quite early, as I made a copy of this in exchange for a copy of Slippery When Wet from a friend of mine. From this, I branched out into Skid Row, Motley Crue and Poison pretty quickly. I was by no means limited to hair metal (though I liked way too much of it.) I also liked some crappy pop songs I saw on MTV from the likes of Paula Abdul and Technotronic (though I never bought anything by them.) Whatever rap they were willing to show on MTV was also quite thrilling to me, but that meant I was limited to MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice pretty much.
From this point on, my tape collection began to gain respectability. I remember seeing the video for “Welcome to the Jungle” the first time on MTV, and realizing this blew Bon Jovi out of the water. Listening to Guns n Roses (Appetite for Destruction) was a much better release for my elementary school angst. I began to notice Metallica around this time too, but “One” was way too scary and dark for me, so I waited until the Black Album to become a fan.
In my middle schools years, I shed the watered down metal and rap I had been listening to and started liking the real stuff. By seventh grade Metallica and Pantera were my favorite bands. I think Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven was the first CD I ever bought the day it came out. I got into lots of other metal based on these bands, and thanks to Columbia House I owned way too many back-catalog Megadeth and Anthrax CD’s before I realized that most of them sucked. I also managed to get into some more alternative stuff, like Nirvana, Helmet, and Ramones while seeking out the angriest metal there was. And my dad listened to classic rock radio all the time, so I began to like Zeppelin and Hendrix around then.
The Chronic was a watershed album at my middle school. All of the sudden us suburban white kids realized there was more to rap that “U Can’t Touch This.” Between us, me and my friends eventually owned a lot of NWA, Ice Cube, 2Pac, and whatever else gangsta rap we could find. While bored on an 8th grade class trip, we sang Snoop Dogg’s first CD start to finish.
In high school I started to get into punk, thanks to the MTV punk explosion of Rancid, Green Day, and the Offspring (hey, they used to sound like a punk band!) Rancid was my favorite band for a while (Let’s Go era), so I got into lots of other stuff from the Epitaph label, like Bad Religion and NOFX. I started watching 120 Minutes instead of Headbanger’s Ball, which turned me on to more alternative music like Ash and Everclear (who got really popular right after that (and then really bad with their next album.)) I got into the Pixies and Sonic Youth because of my increasing devotion to Nirvana.
The next big addition to my music collection was alt-country. When Wilco’s Being There came out, I was amazed I could like anything that sounded country. Shortly thereafter, I bought up all the old Uncle Tupelo CD’s and lots of other good stuff like Son Volt, Whiskeytown, and Steve Earle. This also helped get me into old Neil Young, Big Star, and Bob Dylan.
By my senior year of high school I had expanded into indie rock thanks to a free email account, the Subpop-L, and Black Love by the Afghan Whigs. I wrote reviews of Sebadoh and Pavement albums for the school paper, and I started liking tons of bands that now make up a huge chunk of my CD collection.
In college my tastes didn’t change that much. My appreciation for different genres of music widened and deepened. I started being able to go to shows, and see local bands. I got into some bands I had sort of missed out on the first time around, like Weezer and Radiohead.
But the only thing that really evolved was my taste in rap music. Until 2000, all I really liked was gangsta rap. I hated that R&B crap, and any rap song popular enough for me to hear was either gangsta or “crossover.” But once I heard Stankonia from OutKast, I slapped myself on the forehead for not seeking out the good rap music, like I had to do with every other genre. Then I started to get into Blackalicious, Automator, and the Roots.
I still listen to pretty much everything I started liking in high school. The metal obsession has long since faded, but I’ll still put in some old Metallica sometimes. I’ll listen to pretty much anything these days, which makes it hard to keep up with new stuff. I hear all these indie-rock kids talking about bands I’ve never heard of, which never would have happened from 97-00. But I’m rarely lacking for new music of some sort to listen to. And I still like “Fight For Your Right,” but I appreciate it on a different level now than I did 17 years ago.