musical subcultures and the decline of what used to be

i’m currently listening to music defined as steampunk all the while trying to make sense of the world. or maybe i’ve known what’s up this entire time. maybe i just don’t want to confront that everything’s changing.

– – – – – – – –

hey everyone! i needed to get this off my chest because sometimes it seems like the world has been drowned in a black, swirling pool of pessimism. you’ll see what i mean by the end of this post.



my music taste is w a c. at least to me, it seems like i can never identify with any specific group. (yes, i’m looking at YOU subreddits). musical theatre? alternative?? bluegrass??? but in all honesty, i know deep down that identifying oneself with a genre or a subgenre is entirely crapola because the whole reason they were created in the first place is so that people, a.k.a. people who breathe music like it’s oxygen needed to find a way to organize their world. this world. i also know that the whole reason that we explore further and create subgenres is to feel comfortable with ourselves. it’s why gender labels exist. one can argue it’s why we do anything.

personally, i like the system of organization that comes with filing away a song into a broad genre. i like things to be neat to make sense. heck, i color code my lists based on topic! HOWEVER, when things get too specific, that’s where i draw the line. these systems are wonderful, but more importantly, music. why strip away every part of a song so it can adhere to a specific subgenre? if anything, i believe that musical artists and/or songs can be their own genre. and yes, i can imagine someone listening to a newly released album and typing away furiously to the rest of the “music community” on what genre they think a song should be. who runs google’s genre search anyway?

power punk: exists
me: pumpkin juice?? oh wait i thought we were listing random things-

to me, this ruins the intent of listening to music. it’s nice to think, “hmm, i feel more in the mood to listen to some psychedelic rock– like tame impala vibes?” or “tame impala seems to imploding, i want to listen to something chill like vance joy. it’s been a while.”

both postulates have their own arguments– do we agree to genres or not? of course, music genres are so much more than simply organization. every one of them comes with a specific history. i saw a question the other day asking if the author of a book really matters after they are long gone and if the work produced by them is what really does. this can easily be referenced to music. there’s a bit of every creator in their creation, and when those creators find like-minded people, they use similar themes in their music. it’s the creation of something brilliant, called a genre! this brings me to the second point~



because without human interaction, we’d have nothing. it’s another reason why genres exist, and in my opinion, the most prevalent. we form groups consisting of like-minded people. here, we fangirl and gush for hours endlessly about the utter genius of radiohead’s “kid a” album and talk about why the music appeals to us in the first place. i would be lying if i didn’t become friends with people because of the music they listened to, hiding behind the reason that everything has a purpose and people listen to music for a very specific reason.

A) "i'm like, totally obsessed with depressing music and i don't know why."
B) "oh my gosh, YES. have you listened to "teen idle"?

or maybe something along the lines of:

A) music is like my outlet. i love the positivity it brings, especially more on the folky side!
B) *softly cries* me. TOO. fleet foxes are my jam.
A) *dies*

you see the point.  human connections are SO vital, and they make me feel so much better about the world. i’ve experienced people befriending one another originally from their taste in music. heck, i know two people who even fell in love with each other! and it seems like things couldn’t get any better… except there’s one teensy problem.



YES, every one of them is different for those of you scratching your heads. i was a bit confused about it for a while, so i decided to do some researching myself when the wonderful people of reddit came up with this gem. (if you don’t have a reddit, get it right now! it’s ah-mazing). if you want an over-simplified version, look below, or if you’re more interested, ask me or do some research! i dare you to go down a rabbit hole.

emo: translates to emotional hardcore music for emotional people. it started in the 80s to 90s with four different eras/subcultures (SO MANY SUBCULTURES!!). the songs are crammed with feelings of hurt, pain, love, or anger.
i.e. american football, dead poetic, the usen

punk: aggressive rock, such as green day. not only is it a genre, but it was an actual movement in britain and america in the 1970’s. it grew out of a like-minded rejection for mainstream music and led to the creation of much rebellious and political music.
i.e. joy division, sex pistols (trust me, no one was more surprised than i was), the clash

goth: originating from punk, in the 80s, it emphasizes re-created guitar and heavy bass resulting in an overall, “gloomy” mood. this video explains it pretty nicely:

i.e. the cure, the 69 eyes, siouxsie & the banshees

grunge: personally, i don’t really consider this a genre as much as a style or a “way to be”. but who am i to argue with the masterpiece themselves: nirvana?

there is SO much to know, and i’ll never get bored of learning more. however, as i was learning about each genre, i noticed an obvious division. there were two types of people:

  1. people who were very emphatic that every subculture of a genre presents a different kind of music.
  2. the people that don’t care and/or reject this.

looking back on that original subreddit, the original user admitted they thought they were a mix of all of them– they just needed a response when people called them “emo” as such assumptions. now, a lot of people feel this way. i feel this way. it’s the result of human connections gone slightly wrong. people who can’t identify with any of these groups, defeating their very purpose. i don’t know which one to relate to because i’m mixed: on one hand, i listen to a lot of ____ bands, yet i really love ____ band from _____ genre. does music influence pop culture? the way a certain group of people act or dress? because then, i certainly wouldn’t be counted.

for the sake of “fitting in”, these can make us feel more alone. this made me shake my head– how can something matter so much yet not at all when one is encouraged to just be themselves? like i said before, music isn’t just a product. it’s the hopes and dreams and raw emotions of its endower, and everything that inspired it. it’s pop culture.



the music has been made. it’s been boxed into genres and ready for the world to enjoy. its sparked movements. yet it will never be the same as it used to be. if music is the product of experiences circling around its time, then by fact, these experiences cannot be replicated. we can never truly pinpoint a band’s subgenre or say that punk music now is what it used to be. music is constantly changing– for example, panic! at the disco.

i love this band. its music, what it represents. “pray for the wicked” was brilliant though very different from the band’s early music. its early “emo” phases of high school however, it was created by only brendon urie. after all the band members of PANIC! left, it’s music was merely a copy of what it used to be. many of its o.g. fans say that the music doesn’t feel genuine. personally, i appreciate this new cycle of change. things can’t and shouldn’t stay the same– they change, and the music is still pretty awesome if i do say so myself. at the same time, PANIC! represents the end of an era, bringing on the next and final point~



i find myself asking this question more and more these past few weeks. not just in music, but everywhere.

  1. the end of an era: ruins: victorian mansions to dead malls
  2. the end of an era: the evolution of hot topic

what i love is that music is anarchy and that’s why i love it so much. fluid and free. changing and limitless. however, is it still as important to preserve the history of a certain piece of media? one can come up with a third argument: if everything is always changing, does the intent of the original creation still matter? at the beginning, i would have firmly said yes, but the evidence grows bleaker and bleaker. how can we say that something is temporary without saying that none of this ever mattered?

music is the way millions of people express themselves in a never-changing world. for bookworms, it’s the classics that have shaped the modern works such as dystopian literature. it’s how anything in history came into being.

so we arrive to the question that’s been haunting me since the beginning of the post: what happens next? what do you think?

p.s. excuse me while i jam out to screamo ukelele
p.p.s. music is one of the best things ever~

xx vaishnavi

20 thoughts on “musical subcultures and the decline of what used to be

  1. Gracie says:

    This is an amazing post! I totally agree about the human connections – music brings our souls together. I like so many different artists and songs from so many different genres and each them is part of me and my memories and who I am and how I’m feeling at one moment in time 💙💙

    Liked by 2 people

    • vaishnavi says:

      my gosh, yes, i couldn’t have put it better myself! as much as its the creator that matters, the people listening to the creator have so much to offer and learn and love. it’s like all of that mismatched music is a map to the person, y’know? your comment def made me see the more positive side of things, so thank you! :)) i’m SO grateful for your comment!! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. banditø10059793 says:

    I’ve had so many of those thoughts too, vaish! Especially when Spotify wrapped told me that one of my top genres was “vapor soul” … I’d never even heard of that in my life!
    but your discussion of genres and subcultures hit home. I’m not sure I have a definite conclusion, but I agree with a lot of your thoughts. *and it was very helpful to learn the difference between emo punk and grunge* 😂
    I’m gonna have to ponder this now! 🙂
    power to the local dreamer ||-//

    Liked by 1 person

    • vaishnavi says:

      yay, i’m not alone in questioning the world and its tactics! 🥰 SPOTIFY WRAPPED YESSS. it was my first year on spotify and i loved going through every slide– one of the genres i listened to the most was otacore, which is actually music for heavy basis in fandoms like animes?? i’m not complaining though! vapor soul sounds way out tho– i sense a lot of electronic yet r&b vibes which i absolutely love! :)) (and trust me, i loved learning about the different genres. maybe i’ll start wearing eyeliner now- that would be pretty gnarly, haha).

      thank you for your kind comment! they alwayssss make my day 😊


    • vaishnavi says:

      yay becky– that’s SUPER cool of you. it shows that a person is diverse and has many sides to them! it’s true for me, for sure. my brother was actually asking me if he listened to a specific genre more than another– maybe your favorite can be the bands and individual artists you listen to :)) awh, that makes me so happy! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sophie @ Me and Ink says:

    I love this post and you put so much thought into it!!
    I don’t think too much of music genre but it is a really valid point as some people would define themselves by a genre as a place to belong but it isn’t so clear cut as I love so many different genres because 1) I change 2) I attach myself to different parts in music. So really it can leave you with no place to claim your identity. But it could also mean you can connect to more people as you can connect through one genre to one person then use a different genre connects you to someone else. So this could open up to more people which I think it is so cool!!

    But you are right that not only has the audience changed but so have the artists. I feel like Panic! was a great example because of how much the band has changed so this means genres aren’t so much a limitation but different paths to be explored and different ways to reach other people. Also it reflects more of a journey because if you look at one direction when they split they all went into different types of music which I thought was really interesting!!

    I’m not sure whats next which I kind of love but it also scares me but I like the idea that is open for many possibilities. I like the fact that it will build on ‘what has been’ to become ‘what it is’. I love the idea that one inspiration from years ago can lead to new inspiration today. You never know where inspiration might end when it has started. It is like the quote Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” meaning he used past scientists to reach further depth and knowledge. And I like that approach with musicians too!!
    I can listen to loads of music, music can represent who you are, not just a genre. That applies to the artists too!!
    Sorry for the long comment, I really got into it 😂😂
    p.s. I love the you included Marina!! I love her so much!! She was my number one artist on Spotify!! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • vaishnavi says:

      MY GOD, YOUR COMMENT IS WONDERFUL AND I AM s H o O k E t H. I MAY JUST FRAME IT 😂 gah, sophie, thank you for reading!!

      it’s amazing that you listen to all sorts of music. your words really opened my eyes to what listening to different sorts of music MEANS. the music we listen to is like a map of where we are and where we’ve been– in playlist form! i’m slightly- okay VERY- obsessed with the idea >.< it's similar to another feeling i get while listening to music– sometimes it's not the song i love as much as the experience of listening to it. there are different parts i love just as you said! maybe it's that awesome guitar riff or that heart-breaking verse… either way, i've definitely learned to accept all parts which is probably why you're talking to a lunatic right now. meeting even MORE people who feel the same way is one of the best feelings ever, right??

      omg, YES. panic! is a gorgeously diverse band, and i'm grateful that you opened my eyes towards the fact that every type of music an artist chooses to explore is a pathway to another dimension! or at least a new place to delve into. it really opens your eyes to how much you can truly do with music like the different colors of nebulas or the number of chess openings one can use. i think the splitting and revival of 1D was amazing due to the fact that each of them truly got to experience (pretty deeply!) a type of music that appealed to them. it makes me super curious at to what the band's new music is going to sound like. my god, we should totally do a collab on an album review for their new music or anything similar! it would be gnarly for sure :))

      maybe the forgettence of the past will never really come since it will always be incorporated into new music, as you said; it's like a rollercoaster someone has ridden a dozen times yet they still find themselves amazed every time it drops. or a main battle scene in a book you've read a dozen times yet you still find yourself biting your nails in anticipation (i live for this, haha).i definitely do want to get more into marina as well! her music has an almost nostalgic feel to it, which i LOVE.
      p.s. 💙 your comment made me so happy, you don't even know. tbh, if i saw you irl right now, i would hug you! more hearts~ 💙💙💙💙

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie @ Me and Ink says:

        Aw… that makes me smile so much!! Thank you, that’s so sweet!! And of course, I loved reading it!!
        I love that ‘the music we listen to is like a map of where we are and where we’ve been’ as it is so true and when you share your playlist with someone it can be really personal!! And so true that you can love different parts– it is like what they say about books no one ever reads the same book and no one ever listens to the same song!!
        And yes that connection is always magical!

        Yes I loved that as you really get to see the artists explore lots of different things and not feel limited at all!!
        I know I thought it was interesting to see what happened with 1D as they all took really different paths but as they started as solo singers it kind of makes sense as well!! Haha that would be amazing!?! 😂

        Yes I like that idea as nothing can be lost that way and like you said we can still feel excited by new songs like it is the first time we have heard this!!
        I definitely get the nostalgic feel to Marina!! I love her voice!
        Aww.. that makes me so happy to hear that!! Thank you *sends virtual hug* ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Mukta says:

    Oh my goddd this post was amazing <333 My music taste has always been very different from most people’s. I come from a multilingual family with a love for classical music, and I’ve grown up in a society that idolises pop. My whole life I’ve been conflicted about what kind of music “represented me”, but I guess by now I’ve realised that I’m a lot of different things. And I can love a lot of different kinds of music too. 🙂
    When you said “there’s a bit of every creator in their creation” I,,,, felt that. Music is a huge part of me, and there’s never a day that passes without a tune spiralling in my head.
    Gahhh I love this post so freaking much and I’m going to go find a playlist to bop to now, bye.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. vaishnavi says:

    aaa, it’s a mukta comment!! thanks for popping by here and for your kind comment 😁 i totally understand where you’re coming from. feel the same way, and i’m glad to hear i’m not alone XD. i’ve grown up around heavy influences of bollywood music while jamming out to khalid! the whole sense of identity is warped because they both seem like complete opposite sides of the spectrum, almost near impossible to be represented side by side. humans are like different types pies filled with all sorts of melodies and lyrics! aaa… sorry. i’m kind of obsessed with the idea of pies right now 😂 it’s amazing that you accepted both are equally important to yourself. the struggle is ALL to real, haha. maybe try two tunes. or four! (all of which i had stuck in my head while taking a test– oops).

    I’VE INSPIRED SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO MORE MUSIC, YAHOO!! i’m the happiest person you’ll find right now! yayyy :))

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ash Ronnel says:

    ok first of all I am SO SO SO SO sorry for missing this gem of a post, Vaishnavi!! I don’t know how it happened and I am so glad I found it today. anyways, this is so deep and quotable and ok I just have to talk about 2 of your stunning statements –

    “i also know that the whole reason that we explore further and create subgenres is to feel comfortable with ourselves.” < this hit me HARD because I hadn't ever thought about it that way… but you are so right! subgenres and labels and stereotypes aren't something I like, but I still find myself submitting to them because I honestly want to feel belonged.

    "it’s the hopes and dreams and raw emotions of its endower, and everything that inspired it. it’s pop culture." < YOU HAVE READ MY MIND. asfdsalf this is so beautiful and I want to frame it because music is something i love from the very bottom of my heart. you described it so perfectly!!

    goodness, this post hit hard because I hadn't even thought about any of this in the way I realize now! in a way, I think subgenres and cultures were created as a way to bring people together, but they've succeeded more in tearing them apart. like you said, the world is a pessimistic place to live and people can take things in such a wrong way. there are so many existing opinions, and sometimes a simple argument over whether you're listening to ___ or ___ can get heatedly horrible.

    but your sentence "after some contemplation~ maybe it’s us, the onlookers and the listeners and the people who fall in love with it that constructs the music and orchestrates its effects." brought a smile to my face because you are just so right! maybe there is hope after all…

    thank you SO much for this eye opening post!! I adored reading it and fleshing out my thoughts (sorry for the monster comment XDD) ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • vaishnavi says:

      noooo, you don’t have to be sorry! your comments are always appreciated around here ;))

      actually, that’s pretty much EXACTLY what i had in mind when i was writing this. i don’t want these labels! *the world continues shoving them in our faces* *we all eventually die because we’re buried under a ton of stereotypes* :[ but in all reality– the world would be a much better place if we used labels as a way to create communities rather than exclude ppl, y’know?

      moving on to the second quote, first of all, if i could blush i’d be a tomato right now, and second of all, i’m soooo glad to see that you feel the same way! it’s basically my response when someone asks me “why do you like music?” *dives into a three-minute speech* 😹

      this whole topic is extremely subjective for sure, so i only brushed the surface– even so, i was so surprised at how many people got into a discussion– looking at youtube comments alone, there’s a lot of hate going on and stereotyping. are those labels really necessary at all? i’m so glad i could bring some hope into the situation tho, because the world truly isn’t that dark! there is positivity out there! *pumps a fist into the air*

      aww, no problem! cookie monster comments are thebest thing ever *hugs* so glad i could inspire a new train of thought, ash!!

      Liked by 1 person

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