Music taste and the seasons

Hi, all!

I recently made a minor discovery about myself and thought about looking it up. I discovered that my music preference always changes as I change countries (info: I’ve been moving around the globe since I was little). And there’s a trend that I discovered within myself: the playlist changes according to the season. So, I thought to myself, “Is this a common psychological phenomenon or does this happen to me only?” — of course, the former is the answer. I’ve attached links at the end of this post & embedded videos of my favorite songs.

As stated in this wonderful article, the magic age of our musical exploration is between the ages 14-24, so I’ll narrow down my musical taste and preferences to those ages.

When I was 14-15, I lived in Singapore and was a fan of animes and mangas. I came to like anime and manga soundtracks, but I disliked the pop genre very much. I was more into the rock songs of anime soundtracks. That might be explained by me being a fan of Linkin Park and Avenged Sevenfold during this period, so I was more into rock than pop. I was already quite a hipster haha, as I disliked the mainstream music that were usually featured on MTV, though I was a fan of Hilary Duff’s music at this time (her being the only mainstream western artist I like).

Musicians I liked: YUI, Mika Nakashima, Hilary Duff, Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold, High & Mighty Color.

I moved back to Jakarta, Indonesia, when I was 15 and lived there until I turned 18. During my final high school years, I still listened to Japanese music, but now adding more folk (but upbeat) music into the playlist. I remember being a huge fan of Vanessa Carlton at this time. I also incorporated more pop, mainstream music at this time. The highlight was, of course, Kesha’s Tik Tok. I was exposed to 30 Seconds to Mars and Coldplay around this time and quickly liked them. A little later, in my first year of college, I was exposed to the indie/folk scene, and quickly became a fan of The Trees & The Wild.

Musicians I liked: Coldplay, The Trees & The Wild

I moved to Madrid before I turned 19 and stayed there until I was 23. I still listened to my previous playlists, with Japanese folk (Rie Fu!), pop rock, mainstream pop, and hard rock from the musicians I came to like in the period before. Going to a design school, I was exposed to more of the indie scene, especially with the appearance of Spotify and 8tracks. I enjoyed more folk/rock/indie music while in Madrid, constantly avoiding the mainstream pop because it was always played on the radio that I got sick of it.

Musicians I liked: The Black Keys, alt-J, Of Monsters and Men, The Neighborhood, One OK Rock, Amaranthe

So… how did the seasons affect all this?

First of all, during my “rebel” period, I was in Singapore, which has a tropical climate. I constantly listened to rock music (in its many sub-genres) and the songs I listened to were upbeat songs (almost all of them). The only mellow songs I listened to were from FictionJunction YUUKA. The rest? Head-banging or, at least, head-nodding.

Then, I moved back to Indonesia, which also has a tropical climate. I lived in Jakarta and it’s very hot and humid there. I wasn’t really into browsing the web at that time, except for studying, so I didn’t discover a lot of music, except those featured on the radios or TV. Yet, the songs I chose to listen to were upbeat songs, with certain mellow ones. They weren’t the type of songs you’d typically listen to as you lay on your bed with the rain pouring hard outside, reflecting on life.

Spain has 4 seasons in a year. During the summer, I would usually listen to upbeat songs. My playlist was filled with The Black Keys, Florrie, and One OK Rock. When the cold came, the playlists I’d look up in Spotify are “Acoustic Indie” or “When the rain pours” or “A sad heart looking out the window”. Really, I looked like a broken-hearted person, listening to songs like Emeli Sande’s “Mountains” or Civil Twilight’s “Letters from the Sky”.

I currently live in Bandung, Indonesia, a cooler city than Jakarta with rains pouring almost on a daily basis and freezing nights to accompany the sleep. It’s sunny and hot during my working hours. Guess what music I listen to? Upbeat K-Pop. Tune in SNSD or Shinee and I’m good to go. Or pop/electronic music, like anything by Calvin Harris. However, it’s here where I also developed a taste for older music. Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Bee Gees… I find them the best songs to listen to when waking up or painting.

As written by Terry F. Pettijohn II, Greg M. Williams, & Tiffany C. Carter in their article “Music for the Seasons: Seasonal Music Preferences in College Students“:

Music that was slow, comforting, and covers meaningful content, was especially attractive during challenging conditions […]

With winter being an ideal challenging condition, “with respect to cold weather changes and less sunlight”. They also wrote:

[…] music that was fast, less comforting, and less meaningful was more appealing when social and economic conditions were more positive and stable, as a reflection of a worry free time of jubilation and festivity.

Which reflects what summer is about.

It’s interesting to discover such things based on a personal experience. Music does have a big effect on our lives, yet they, themselves, are affected by the season we’re in. It gives reason why there are these stereotypical “winter playlist”, “summer playlist”, etc. It’s because what we listen to is affected by our surroundings.

Now that it’s sunny here and I’m about to work, I’d like to play myself “Hey Stoopid” by Alice Cooper, please 🙂



Interesting to read:


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