Almost anyone in my life will tell you that I listen to horrible music. To be fair, I think they all listen to horrible music too. The difference being that their music is more widely accepted by the masses. Whereas my music is more widely accepted by teenage girls.

I really only love pop

I don’t like rap music, I especially hate anything that resembles EDM (or is it house? I can’t keep track), and I can’t stand alternative rock or any of that hippie music-festival-type-music that all sounds the same (I’m talking to you bluegrass jam bands). Needless to say, going to concerts that feature any/all of the above is not my idea of a good time.

What I do like is pop. Almost exclusively. And I prefer my pop music to have that special brand of sixteen-year-old soul. Yep, I’m talking about Taylor Swift, Adele, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Justin Bieber, and the like. And I will gladly join fan clubs and attend sold-out stadium shows just to see any and all of the above. Yes, I’m part of Ed Sheeran’s fan club, and yes I bought tickets the second his concert tour went on sale (I know, I can’t even believe my good fortune!).

I only listen to one album at a time

To make matters worse, I don’t really listen to playlists or songs. I only listen to albums. Actually album (singular). I only listen to one album at a time on repeat for an extended period of time (usually until the next album that I like comes out). That means that on any given day, I have probably listened to Ed Sheeran’s newest album Divide three to four times at home plus once while working out—for a total of about four or five times a day (on a light day).

Whenever I’m working out in the gym and someone else walks in, they try to be nice and say something along the lines of “you can keep your music on, it’s no big deal.” But I turn my music off anyway because they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. Ed Sheeran again, they’ll inevitably think. Yep. I was going to listen to that album on repeat until my workout was over, and you weren’t going to like it.

And if you’re wondering, but don’t you ever get sick of the album? The answer is no I don’t. The albums I like I tend to like for eternity. I have no idea why, it’s just the way I was made!

But I’m not a big fan of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, or Beyonce

That being said, many are surprised to hear that despite my unadulterated adoration of pop, I’ve never been a big fan of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or Beyonce. You know, queens of pop and all that. Hear me out on this one…

There is actually a reason I fall in love with some albums and not others—and it’s why I listen to my albums from start to finish (none of that shuffle business for me). It’s because a good album tells a story. Not just of the album, but of a specific phase in that artist’s life. As Taylor Swift says, each of her albums represents a two year period of her life. Adele says the same and that’s why all of her albums were named after the age in which she went through all those ballad-worthy blues.

Lady Gaga and Katy Perry albums don’t tell a story. Their songs are all written to make it into the top 40, to get people to dance at night clubs, and to keep their outrageous lifestyles relevant. When you listen to their albums there is no depth there. The songs don’t really go together or spell out any kind of progression. And they certainly don’t tell a story of their lives. They are simply poppy hits meant to be enjoyed one song at a time. And though there’s something to be said for that (Who doesn’t love Katy Perry’s Roar), I will never feel connected to those artists for that reason.

And though Beyonce’s music definitely tells a story (and a very powerful one at that) the core message of her music has a lot to do with oppression and rising up out of it, and I just don’t particularly relate to that. Probably because I’ve never really been oppressed. Not the way others may have. So though I acknowledge Beyonce for her powerful music (and her spectacular dancing!) the only reason I don’t listen to her on repeat is because I don’t personally relate to her story. And also because how in the world are you supposed to watch Lemonade online? I cannot for the life of me figure it out (and that’s why I still haven’t seen it. I know, I know).

Each album I listen to tells the story of my life at a particular moment in time

On the other hand, I do relate to Taylor Swift’s 1989 and Ed Sheeran’s Divide (the last two albums I listened to on repeat). 1989 is all about Taylor Swift moving to New York and reinventing herself, and it came out right when my husband and I moved to Salt Lake City and started the process of reinventing ourselves. That album was the background music as I started over, cut off my hair, started a new business, and built my #girlsquad in a new city. It was an empowering time in my life, when everything was brand new, and nothing was impossible. And Taylor’s album mirrored that journey.

My current phase of life has everything to do with Ed Sheeran’s new album Divide. The album is about Ed’s disillusionment with fame and the search for greater meaning in his life. Half of the songs on the album talk about the life he created for himself as a singer, and how, though it was the life he had spent so many years creating for himself, it wasn’t the dream he’d imagined it to be. He found fame and fortune to be meaningless, devoid of all soul.

The other half of the songs on the album talk about how he found meaning in love and in community. After getting back together with his high school girlfriend, Ed and his girlfriend Cherry decided to quit their jobs and spend a year traveling and spending time with one another. He sings about their love, about his mother, his maternal grandparents and his paternal grandparents, and in so doing, his life (and his album) beautifully transitions from dark to light. From meaningless to meaning. From fame and fortune to community and family.

This is something I have been exploring in my own life. That really the only things that truly matter to me are my husband, my family, and my best friends. And so, rather than designing a life based around my career (as I’ve done in the past), I’ve recently quit my job in the corporate world to go back to working remotely as a freelance writer. I did this so that I could spend more time with my husband who travels a lot on business (and now I can go with him too) and more time with my friends and family (and now I can stay with them for weeks at a time).

Which is why I also love Broadway show tunes

For this reason, my second favorite genre is Broadway show tunes. Talk about telling a story! For every pop music album I listen to, the soundtrack to one of my favorite Broadway shows often follows close behind, and all of the same rules apply: I only listen to one Broadway album at a time, from start to finish, because it tells a story that particularly inspires me. The last three I’ve listened to on repeat have been: Hamilton (and the Hamilton Mix Tape), Finding Neverland, and Les Miserables (which has reappeared several times in my life).

To me, Hamilton is about power and perseverance (a current theme in my life), Finding Neverland is all about honoring your creativity (a reoccurring theme in my life), and Les Miserables is all about finding God in yourself (which never stops being relevant in my life).

But sometimes I listen to radio stations or playlists

As you can imagine, my style of music is not very complementary to my husband’s kind of music. He generally can’t stand to listen to my music, and I generally can’t stand to listen to his. There are only two genres in which our music tastes overlap: jazz music & french music. Which is why whenever we are both home you can find us listening to either Miles Davis radio or Madeleine Peyreux radio on Spotify.

There are also a couple of artists that we both like, those being Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson, Matisyahu, John Butler Trio, and Dave Matthews Band. Mostly because they remind us of concerts we have attended together and loved (sidenote: remember how good Matisyahu was back in his orthodox jewish days? Now not so much).

When I’m home alone and just want some background music, I listen to a Spotify radio station I created based on Caila Quinn’s Acoustic Love playlist. It’s just lovely on a Sunday morning while you’re sipping a matcha latte and reading The New York Times.

And that’s it. That’s all the music I listen to and how I listen to it. But I’d love to know, are there any albums you think I need to try?