I would like to share what the ideal experience all music fanatics should go through when anticipating new material from a favorite artist. Here’s how the plan goes: you wait around for the new material to be announced, the artist announces new music to be released soon, you become excited because you’ve waited so long, the album is published and everyone who waited loves it so much because it’s everything they’ve ever wanted to hear. Sadly, it just never seems to go that way, especially when you would like it to. The good news is that neither of these possibilities are nearly as real as they seem.
In order to overcome this phenomenon, one must be aware of why they are disappointed. I want you to think of one of your favorite artists you have grown up listening to. I imagine you feel some sort of nostalgia from the time when you first discovered them. You might have liked them so much because you found them so relatable in one way or another. Identifying with an artist’s persona or lyrics can really help you feel a sense of belonging, which is one of the most important things to have at a young age. The music we discover at the young ages of middle and high school has an impact on what else we consider to be good music. This collection of artists that you follow can make it easier to relate to other people your age who listen to the same genre of music. These musicians you have never met give you a comfortable sense of identity, especially at an age when you need it most. With this in mind, it is easy to see why people hold high expectations for these artists.
That being said, with some songs, you really do need to be in a certain state of mind or situation to relate to. The timing must be right; both when an artist decides to release music and when a person hears it in order to fall in love with it. As time progresses and this person ages, however, there are likely other ideas that they care about now as opposed to what they did a few years in the past. Likewise, the artist might want to carry on a new persona or write a different style of music than they did previously. So when the time comes to follow up with new material, both parties have matured into different people. Now it becomes very unlikely for the artist to be just as impactful on the individual as they were just a few years ago. But all too often, we make the mistake of believing they are still the same person they were previously. Even more so, we fail to notice when we have changed over time as well. It’s common to be less than pleased with new songs.
Knowing this, listeners should be respectful of artists’ new material. Not only is it quite naive to expect the artist to make as big of an impact on their lives as they did in the past, but it is only normal for people to change constantly throughout the course of their lives. Rather than go into a new album with the mindset that the artist will leave as big of an influence on you as discovering them years ago did, go in curious to hear how they have changed, or maybe listen for what elements of their previous releases have stayed the same. Acknowledge that listening to this extension of their discography will not be as meaningful as the first one; instead, be more excited to see what the next chapter of their career will look like. It will feel like seeing an old friend after a while.