I Hope I Die…: People over 30 are too old

Well, that’s according to a voluntary survey, anyway.  I turn 53 next month and I’m still dancing until all hours at clubs, though I couldn’t name you a single hit song of the past ten years.

Deezer, a music streaming service, said (in 2018) that on average people hit the wall around 30. I was still into new music and listened to everything until I moved abroad at age 34 (2001) and got “set in my ways” around 37-38.  I was physically isolated from new Canadian or foreign music for years. After I started clubbing again, I thought, “This ‘music’ sucks!” but I still dance anyway.

I live for 1980s parties.

Something Strange Happens To Your Taste In Music At Age 30

There’s a reason your grandparents still listen to Elvis, your mom still loves Bon Jovi, and you still have a strange affiliation with the crap bands you liked when you were 14.

A recent survey by the music streaming service Deezer asked 1,000 people in the UK about their musical preferences and their streaming habits. According to their findings, people tend to experience a “musical paralysis” at around the age of 30.5, whereby they stop listening to new artists or genres and tend to stick to what they know.

Musical discovery peaks at an average age of 24 years and five months, although women generally hit this peak around a year earlier. At this age, almost 75 percent of respondents said they checked out 10 or more new tracks per week, and 64 percent said they listened to five or more new artists every month. Around 60 percent of people feel like they are in a music rut and struggle to break out of playing the same old artists over and over again.


There is possibly another factor at play. During our younger years, especially as teenagers, we are the most influenced by the music around us. In The New York Times, data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz wrote about how the songs that were popular in our teenage years, particularly between the ages of 11 to 14, tends to remain our most streamed songs on Spotify.

One funny thing: I’ve heard it said that the number 1 song on your 14th birthday defines your life.  I thought it was a load of codswallop until I found out what mine was.  It turns out to be true for most people I know.

“The Tide Is High” was #1 in Canada, the middle of February, 1981:


  1. brucegee1962 says

    I’m 57, and my experience is a bit different, I think. I agree with you that songs nowadays don’t make the impression on me that the ones of my youth did. A big part of that, though, is that I don’t have the chance to interact with music the way I used to. I don’t go to clubs (never did, actually) and my radio habits are now mostly NPR, when I’m not listening to audiobooks. Having a teenaged daughter is no help — of course she listens to music all the time, but always with her earbuds on. I just don’t tend to be in places where current music gets played.

    I remember a few years ago, I read an article that said “Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve gotten very familiar with this year’s song of the summer, ‘Despacito.’ Well, apparently I was living under a rock, because that article was the first time I’d ever heard of it. The same thing happened in 2019 with ‘Old Town Road’ — I read plenty of articles that mentioned how it had taken over the airwaves, but I’ve never actually heard the song. To this day, I don’t think I’d recognize either song if I actually did hear one of them.

    When I do happen to stumble across a new Taylor Swift or Beyonce, I like them well enough. I just don’t make an effort to seek them out.

    (Top song at 14: “Let your love flow” by the Bellamy Brothers. Not a very memorable song.)

    • says

      Too bad it wasn’t Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good”. Now there’s a classic.


      I loved South Korea’s indie / underground / alternative scenes when I was there, but after moving to Taiwan there’s been precious little. Everything here is safe and dull pop other than Chthonic (see the post on Taiwan’s election and politician Freddie Lim).

      Nearly all the new acts I’ve been interested in since 2005 have been in Jazz, people like Céu, Esperanza Spalding, Ingrid Jensen, among others. The only weird one is still Jazz, the Diablo Swing Orchestra (jazz/metal).


  2. Jazzlet says

    It doesn’t work for me, “When Will I See You Again” by the Three Degrees never seemed like it was a song that was anything to do with me. In fact there isn’t much from that year’s number ones that I liked back then, and nothing I like now. But my tastes had been distorted by the tastes of my older brothers, I’d already seen The Who live at that point and they took a lot of living up to. Though looking over the UK number ones from that time (the seventies) I am reminded that inbetween some songs that I do still like were some truly awful ones that make me cringe to this day, so I guess there’s that way of affecting a person’s musical taste …