Music Habits at the Peak

Music is known as a universal language that binds us together. While it is used in vastly different ways, listened to little or a lot, the impact it has is insurmountable. Even here, at Apex High School, the impact of music is very high. With an overwhelming usage of streaming services, especially Spotify and Apple music, students are using music to help de-stress, motivate studying while likewise procrastinating doing so all at the same time, and using it as a means to feel seen in their emotions. 

Popular artists at Apex High School include Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, The Weeknd, Kanye West, and Ariana Grande. When not listening to Billboard’s top charters though, students are finding songs from smaller artists all around TikTok. In fact, a large portion of the music listened to by today’s teenagers stems from one-off finds from the popular app. Artists who have been around for a long time in the industry are finding their way along with beginners and utilizing the app’s potential to make anything go viral. Artists like Steve Lacy have been making music since 2017 but are now experiencing an overwhelming boom from attraction in viral snippets. His song “Bad Habit” now resides on thousands of playlists and has been streamed over 377 million times. The influence of Tiktok has made him a household name.  

Overwhelmingly, pop and indie genres seem to be the most dominantly listened to at Apex High, followed by rap and some r&b. Interestingly enough, when asked many students had told me they listen to most genres, yet exclude country music. A very small percentage of students had named it as their favorite. Those who did felt very passionate about that fact. Student Charlotte Zanone said, “Country music just has a nostalgic and heartfelt sound to it. Gives me a little pep in my step.” The fact that it is so unpopular is not so surprising, as the genre has been on the decline for years. This could also be due to the virality factor and how the most popularized genres on the internet are pop and rap. From the biggest names in the studio, many try to emulate their sound at home, and some find their success doing just that. You may find many “soundcloud rappers” or “underground indie pop musicians,” but rarely will you find someone our age trying to make their own country record. 

Teachers at Apex are able to play music in their classrooms, and many take to doing just so. When asked about the music played in his classroom, Mr. Oltmans said, “I play a variety of things, and it depends on the mood I’m in. It depends if it’s like an instrumental day, like a test day or maybe indie rock because that’s just what I like to listen to, some days it’s 90s, but, um, sometimes I pick a song based on the lesson of the day.” Others may play it as background so that the silence in some classrooms isn’t deafening, or keep it on to set a desired ambiance for students to focus on their work and studies. Either way and in any case, music has found its way in the classroom setting not just by the students listening to it.

Live music is a momentous deal when talking about listening to music and people’s habits. Some especially popular concerts this year have been held on school nights. Last year, when Harry Styles played in Raleigh, his concert was held on a Tuesday. This led to many students exhausted at school and even gave reason for some to simply not come. The concert was insanely popular among students, but it only serves as one example. Tours have been picking up in the wake of the widespread COVID pandemic and will continue to be scheduled. Taylor Swift very recently announced her “Era’s Tour,” leading to students registering for their presale in class. The tour is expected to have very competitive tickets and will most likely not be the first time an announcement may cause a stir in class. 

Overall, summarizing an entire school’s listening habits is very difficult. Music is such a subjective and personal experience that trying to generalize a whole population is not only near impossible but excludes some amazing music. It’s important to be respectful, no matter what you or your friends listen to or covet as your own. 

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