Musical Preference Decoder

I hate being asked the question, “What kind of music do you listen to?”

It’s one of those impossible situations where you’re asked to describe something that’s probably impossible to summarize in a single sentance, knowing full well that the person who asked is preparing to make important character judgements based solely on your answer. Here, for the benefit of all of us, is the decoding system used by people who ask these questions. Now you can know the significance of your answers!

Note – I fall into many of these categories myself.

“I listen to anything besides country.” = I have no discerning taste and I’ll listen to whatever’s on the radio.

“I love U2.” = I’m a Christian, but I’m too cool to listen to Christian music. (note: this person is not as cool as they think they are)

“I listen to a lot of indie stuff.” = If you’ve heard of a band, then I hate them.

“I’m a big Elliot Smith fan” = I have been prescribed Zoloft.

“Mostly Led Zeppelin.” = I am in my mid-40’s, but my musical pallatte stopped growing at age 18.

“I like Nickelback and Three Doors Down.” = I lead an utterly pointless existance.

“I love Bob Dylan.” = I’ve grown good at post-rationalizing.

“I listen to a lot of acoustic singer-songwriters.” = I am lonely and wish to be married as soon a possible. As a bonus, I am also incredibly pretentious.

“I love Rush and Yes” – My priorities are hopelessly out of line.

“I like Bon Jovi” = I am a boring woman.

“Coldplay is my new favorite band.” = I like my rock ‘n’ roll as safe as possible.

“I own mostly movie soundtracks.” = I do not understand how to listen to an album.

“I love Neil Diamond.” = I am a 52 year old divorced woman.

“Pearl Jam is probably my favorite band” = I am a white male who was aged between 13-21 in 1992.

“I love EELS” – I am sad and often feel underappreciated.

“I like REM’s early stuff.” = Regardless of the band, I prefer their first album.”

“I’m a big Radiohead fan” = I am not as intelligent as I think I am.

So what do I say when asked this question? Simple. I tell them that I listen to mostly Dutch music. That seems to leave them confounded.

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26 Responses to Musical Preference Decoder

  1. MJ says:

    Hey Peter, check out the debut album by Keane, it’s out today and only $6.99 @ best buy. Great melodies, only a piano, drums and vocal. Definitely safer than Coldplay but pretty enjoyable.

  2. Burt Reynolds says:

    “I like Bon Jovi” = I am a boring woman.”
    Where did this come from!? ha.

    Also, I believe you would not deny that YOU are a
    big Neil Diamond fan…what does that mean for you?

  3. Adam says:

    Oh man I loved this post!

    I am a big Elliot Smith fan AND I have been prescribed Zoloft.

    I do love the Eels AND I feel sad and underapreciated.

    I am a big Radiohead fan AND I am not as smart as I think I am.

    Thank you Peter, I may blog about this one fine day!

  4. peter says:


    I am a Neil Diamond fan, and I’m a 52 year old divorced woman at heart. I am currently wearing an oversized Garfield t-shirt to prove it.

  5. megan says:

    oh my gosh, this is hilarious. i’ve never known how to answer this question, but i think from now on, i will use your dutch line. that is the greatest!

  6. *tami* says:

    hey, i like neil diamond (i am neither 52, nor divorced), but i can’t say i would ever include neil diamond in my classification of music styles. i usually just say my taste in music is rather eclectic. what does that mean, peter?

  7. Kari says:

    I like polka.

  8. Carla Jean says:

    Was there any question about my pretension? :)

  9. peter says:

    Tami, that is a good question. Saying that your taste in music is eclectic is thoroughly meaningless because EVERYBODY thinks that about their music collection (including myself). I would venture to guess that only 5% of people who claim to have an eclectic music collection actually do.

  10. Chrissy says:

    Peter…you have outdone yourself. This is my favorite post of yours.

    All that aside, I like Menudo. Please, Dr. Welle, analyze my musical brain.

  11. Rachel says:

    Peter, this is great. I was just asked that exact question recently on a trip to see my family. My cousin asked it of me. We haven’t been close in like 18 or 19 years. And we haven’t had communication in like 3. Knowing she would judge me the instant my answer was uttered, I was flustered, floundering for an answer. Then, it came out. I like all music. Dang. That sucked. Why couldn’t you have blogged this 3 weeks ago? And when did you add Spymob to your links?

  12. Matt T. says:

    You once described yourself as a musical does this fit in the above equations? Latent racism and an addiction to Guinness?

  13. peter says:

    My Anglophile tendancies are a combination of the “indie music” and Coldplay translations. I like obscure music that is atmospheric and melodic and safe.

    And I like it when bands have members with names like Ian and Heath.

    P.S. Rachel, I added Spymob a few months back – I love that band.

  14. MJ says:

    I’ve stopped treading water with the Son of Sam

  15. kevin sawyer says:

    “I like mostly Tori Amos and Sarah Mclaughlin” = I am militantly gay.

    “Christina Aguilera and 50 cent ared my favorites” = I am a 14 year old girl who is not a virgin.

    “I like reggae” = I pretend to like reggae

    “Classical mostly” = I would rather be at home listening to NPR until 3:00 in the morning then associating with people. Please help me.

    “I love Sting and Peter Gabriel” = I am obsolete.

    “I like the oldies” = I equate frequency of having heard a song with the quality of that particular song.

  16. peter says:

    Kevin, those are hysterical. Very good additions!

  17. Jamie says:

    i like air supply and journey oh and brain adams

  18. Michaela says:




  19. megan says:

    “i like obscure music that is atmospheric, melodic, and safe.”

    this TOTALLY describes me.

  20. Jason says:

    Michaela is definately obsolete with her new boyfriend.

    Peter, my man, you’re my new hero.

  21. Rhonda says:

    I am boring and lonely and wish to be married as soon as possible.

    That is a fantastic analyzer of the psyche.

  22. Guy Incognito says:

    Ill Mitch is my favorite.
    Oh, and Welmore Mile, of course.

  23. dave says:

    “I listen to talk radio.” = I am an evil right-wing conservative plotting to distribute loaded handguns from the back of my SUV. Music is for sissies.

  24. Geof says:

    I am not pretenti… shit.

  25. Jason says:

    “Welmore Mile is my favorite band, and Peter is my favorite musician”: I like musicians in proportion to their physical size, not musical talent.

  26. Unknown says:

    I listen to Gothic music, i live for it! I love the way of expressing love in a stronger and darker way. i love comparing strong love feelings with the heavyness of death. I love that is agressive but slow, and that it shows how textwriter really shows.
    Bur in general, more general way,i listen to Heavy Metal (and Gothic is a part of it – for uninformed ones).

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