O verhearing someone’s music can be exactly as annoying or entertaining as overhearing a personal conversation.
That dude on the bus yelling at someone on the phone is just as annoying as the girl whose headphones are leaking the sounds of Ke$ha. The girl not-so-subtly recounting a bad one-night stand is exactly as amusing as the bro who’s headphones are blasting Robyn.
I have my standard iPhone earbuds, but I much prefer my giant, shiny gold, higher quality headphones. The one problem with these beasts is that when the music is loud enough, people around me can definitely hear what I’m listening to. This is kind of rude, but it’s also something I really do not want.
Sometimes, the music I’m listening to when I think no one else can hear it is embarrassing. This goes for the music I play alone in my apartment, too. My walls are so thin that I can pretty clearly hear my neighbors’ television on one side and acoustic guitar strumming on the other. Naturally, this means that they can hear when I’m blasting Beyonce. (Also, my floors creak a lot, so my downtstairs neighbor must suffer from my dancing.)
These poor souls who share walls with me probably think I have very bad, or at least painfully mainstream, taste in music. I’m pretty much never home and spend most of my time out of the apartment listening to great music, at work and at shows, so my guilty pleasure music happens on buses and in my living room.
This is true for most people and that’s pretty wonderful. Middle-aged men in bland suits are listening to dubstep. Some dudes driving down Broadway are passionately singing along to “Somebody That I Used To Know.” A tiny girl in a sundress is mean-mugging on the light rail while RZA pumps out of her headphones.
Our headphones especially are our private music space. Close your eyes and turn up the volume, and you can totally forget you’re on crowded bus with a mentally unstable man trying to explain to you that Obama isn’t even from Kenya, he’s from Libya. But they’re also good at keeping your musical secrets. I can listen to that new Janelle Monae song 10 times in a row on the bus and no one will know. (Until now. That totally happened.)
I sang along loudly to “Ho Hey” at my friend’s place the other day. I listened to the new Wavves album on Spotify several times yesterday. “Diane Young” was on repeat in my apartment for a solid 20 minutes on Tuesday and I’ll do it again when I get home tonight. Now you know.
I’m not saying we should all just forgo the earbuds and let the iPhone speakers do the work. That would be anarchy. But maybe instead of getting huffy over a little overheard music, we should try to embrace it. The world is full of noise pollution, after all, so is a little music really the worst thing to hit your ears? I don’t care how much you hate Rihanna, it’s still better than a screaming baby.
This is a pretty pointless thing for me to rally over, but wouldn’t you feel a lot better if you stopped worrying about what everyone thought of your music? Let the world see what you’re listening to on Spotify. Brazenly rock out to Tom Petty with the car windows down. It’s downright liberating.