Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Lilly. Lilly Wonders, “Why do we like some music and not others?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Lilly!

Think of your favorite song. What do you like about it? Does it make you want to dance? Maybe it improves your mood. It might express an idea that you really connect with. Whatever the reason, your reaction to that song is to turn the volume up and listen.

Have you ever shared your favorite song with a friend or family member? Did they listen to it and have the same reaction? Maybe so. Or perhaps the song didn’t affect them in the same way. In fact, you may find that your music taste is quite different from that of other people.

What makes us like some styles of music but not others? Your choice to listen to rap instead of country or jazz instead of R&B may seem simple to you. But if you dig deeper, it becomes more complicated. Your music preferences are influenced by several factors.

It may not surprise you that your personality affects your taste in music. Would you describe yourself as calm or energetic? Quiet or outspoken? Often, people prefer music that matches their personality. While you may choose to listen to something new now and then, you’re most likely to hit the “repeat” button for tunes that fit with your unique traits.

Age is also a factor. Your favorite songs are likely not the same as your adult family members’ top choices. The music you listen to in your childhood and teen years shapes your preferences for the rest of your life. However, it’s also common for these preferences to change as you get older. 

Of course, your surroundings also tend to influence the styles of music you enjoy. The culture you grow up in can affect both your preferences and which songs and musicians you’re exposed to. This is another factor that can cause your preferences to change, as well. When people move to new places or meet new people, they often hear different styles of music that can shape their taste.

Do you listen to the same songs every day? Probably not! Your music choices can change based on your mood. You might prefer quiet songs one day and loud, heart-thumping tempos the next. These choices can be influenced by your mood and by the identity you want to communicate to the outside world. 

All of these factors can influence what you look for in the songs you listen to. One 2012 study of music preferences identified five qualities in music that may affect our choices. These are Mellow, Urban, Sophisticated, Intense, and Campestral (MUSIC). Would you use any of these words to describe your favorite song?

Do you have unique taste in music? It’s normal for everyone’s preferences to be a bit different. If you and a friend have different tastes, that’s okay. Always remember to respect others’ choices—after all, you want the same from them!

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.6, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

We’ll have a HOWLing good time tomorrow in Wonderopolis!