Month: August 2020

Some Bullet Points – luvtheheaven’s Aro Thoughts On Music

This is my (late) submission for the Carnival of Aros in July 2020 hosted by Zazz. The Call for Submissions was here, and the theme was “Music”.

I forgot to write a coherent post on this theme while there was still time in the month, and now it’s 3 AM in my time zone on August 1st and I’m just now starting the post. But here is something because I did really want to participate.

My bullet points idea was short one sentence things and then I wrote this mess below. Lol oh well.

  • Music is something that often conveys emotions, and connecting strongly to certain emotions expressed in swelling instrumentals or passionately sung lines is a way that some aromantic people can prove to both themselves and to others just how emotional they are as human beings.
    • Conversely, not relating or caring about extremely emotional music is stigmatized and people are even dehumanized sometimes for not appreciating certain musical things, whether the person is aro or not. Music is not as universal as many would like to believe.
    • Not relating to romantic songs, not feeling those feelings, could be a good sign you’re aro
  • Amatonormativity is perhaps more strongly evident in the songs on a typical radio station or playing in the shopping mall than almost anywhere else in life, although fictional stories in movies, television, entire libraries and bookstores do compete. But musical lyrics are often harder to curate your life around avoiding the specifics of when they are played in public even, and reminders of specific amatonormative ideas are not just prevalent but truly pervasive.
    • Taylor Swift just came out with a new album, and the first song on it is “The 1”, which by using the numeral digit instead of the word “One” is differentiating it in part from SO MANY other songs you could find on iTunes called “The One”. Although at least one other artist already has one using the numeral and calling it “The 1” as well. There is a monogamous romantic ideal of “The One” you’ll get a happily ever after with that people keep writing songs about – I wish these artists would name the songs over a more unique phrase or couple of words in their songs lol.
      • I feel like an imposter/fraud at being an aro when I relate to songs like this. The lyrics are about “And if my wishes came true / It would’ve been you” kind of stuff, about someone you wanted to be “The one”, and I’ve had that twice now in my life. First with my former queerplatonic partner I call Robert on this blog, then with my more recent alterous partner who I use the pseudonym Asher for. I wished each of them could have been the person I built a life with as a co-parenting partner, and it’s… not romantic to me but it’s still clearly a romantic-adjacent idea.
    • I’m frustrated by how often kissing comes up in the lyrics to songs, because for me it’s the one main “romantic” actions that people engage in, in a way that fills them with positive emotions, that I just cannot relate to because of my orientation(s) and aversions. I can twist a lot of lyrics into a platonic or alterous kind of love that works for what I can experience. But when I’ve tried kissing, it’s been upsetting and extremely uncomfortable and lessens the intimacy I feel between me and the person who was interested in kissing, and I never miss with longing what it was like to kiss someone, etc. It reminds me how different I am from the rest of the allo world more than most things do when I hear lyrics about kissing, which I do hear more often than lyrics about explicitly sexual things, because of my taste in musical artists and what they tend to focus on.
    • There often feels like a frustratingly low percentage of songs on certain topics. For instance: why do people sing about the deaths of loved ones so infrequently that many grievers find themselves re-interpreting some breakup songs as about bereavement? Yes, there are quite a lot of songs about grief, but percentage-wise it feels like so little.
      • There are not enough songs about cutting abusive parents out of your life, so for the past 12+ years I’ve tended to relate to breakup songs in the not-intended way of many lyrics applying to cutting my mom out of my life, or relating to the anger I would feel towards her as someone who treated me poorly and I’m glad it’s my past now.
      • Relatedly, most of the songs about abusive relationships I would come across, such as “No Love” by Simple Plan, “99 Biker Friends” by Bowling For Soup, and “Face Down” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were all very heteronormative stories of romantic partner-abuse, even “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri mentions the abusive/hurtful person being someone she once “kissed” on a regular basis, but where are the songs about abuse occurring in other types of relationship dynamics?
        • I can think of about two songs that are pretty clearly about abusive parents in my mind, although the implication is not actually all that explicit – “Numb” by Linkin Park and “Just Like You” by Three Days Grace. I also love how non-specific Taylor Swift’s “Tell Me Why” song is on who the abuser is, so it could easily fit a non-romantic dynamic too.
    • It’s not just each individual song that contributes to amatonormativity. It’s them all together to form a societal “norm” of what the vast majority feels and wants and experiences. The stories told in these songs collectively explain what common threads are, and cause young aros who don’t yet know they’re aro to assume this will be their future, because they aren’t hearing songs on the radio about the experience of being aro.
    • There are also countless songs that incorporate amatonormative generalizations into the lyrics.
      • “Everybody” by Ingrid Michaelson claims: “Everybody, everybody wants to love / Everybody, everybody wants to be loved”, continuing into the bridge:
        Oh, everybody knows the love
        Everybody holds the love
        Everybody folds for love
        Everybody feels the love
        Everybody steals the love
        Everybody heals with love

        And I, before I knew I was aro (over a decade ago actually), vidded this song for Valentine’s Day because it felt super romantic to me. I still don’t feel like this is really the kind of song where you could re-interpret love intended to be non-romantic, although maybe that’s just my bias of what my video was:

        Regardless, I think even re-interpreting generously the love described as possibly as platonic, claiming that “everybody” knows this love excludes people who don’t feel things they describe as “love” for their friends or family, some aplatonic people, etc.

      • I love the song “Moonlight” by Thriving Ivory, as another example. I feel like I still relate in my way I experience longing for partnership etc when they include the lyrics:
        See we’re all looking
        For something, for someone
        For anything. For anyone
        But I’m, I’m still looking for you

        And yet they do strike me as amatonormative nonetheless, like everyone is seeking a partner when that’s not true.

      • “Gotta Be Somebody” by Nickelback starts off right away with the opening lyrics:

        This time I wonder what it feels like
        To find the one in this life
        The one we all dream of

        As if “we all” dream of “the one”, and the song continues to discuss “the one that I’ll spend forever with”, making the bold claims that:

        “nobody wants to go it on their own” throughout the choruses.

      • Obviously there are countless songs like these. These songs convinced me I would relate one day because they so confidently discuss “everybody”. I really wasn’t prepared for the fact that some people might be exceptions to these rules and not want the same things or feel the same attractions etc.
  • Being both aro and ace opens my eyes to the amatonormativity in music even if I’m possibly aegoromantic (often feeling excited by romantic narratives even if I don’t feel romantic myself, enjoying “shipping” in fandoms, etc), even if I do date and partner with people, even if I relate more to romantic songs than many aros do – I’m still more aware of the amatonormativity than I probably would be if this wasn’t my identity. It affects how I listen to music so much so that I was considering years ago starting a series of blog posts on discussing the lyrics to songs from a gray-aro ace perspective, because I think about it with such a high percentage of songs I listen to.
  • I think there are more songs that aren’t about romance than people realize, because even songs meant to be about friendship, or a Christian love for God, or familial, etc our amatonormative culture tends to hear as romantic, but part of that is intentionally vague lyrics about “love” in many cases because of marketability. Like it’s a self-fulfilling cycle of too many songs about romance and people being afraid non-romance songs won’t do well.

I probably have a lot of other thoughts and feelings on music but… This is what I’ve got for you at now 4 AM on a Friday night/Saturday morning lol.

Sometimes I wish I never had stopped practicing playing a musical instrument. I’ve played guitar, and piano. I also sung in school choruses 6 separate years of my life plus an all-county middle school chorus, and sung in a couple middle school musicals. Most of this has nothing to do with my aromanticism or my asexuality, as far as I’m aware.

I edit fanvideos and have for about 14 years now. I have written already on ways it might intersect with my asexuality, but the two part post also applies to my aromanticism.

Please let me know if you have thoughts, comments, curiosities, etc after reading this post today. Thanks!