A New York Times analysis using Spotify data shows that what we listen to as teens sets our musical tastes as adults.
For men, musical taste is between the ages of 13 to 16. Men were, on average, aged 14 when their favorite song was released. For women it’s between 11 and 14, with 13 being the most likely age for when their favorite song came out. It also found that childhood influences were stronger for women than men and the key years for shaping taste were tied to the end of puberty.
The NYT analyzed every Billboard chart-topping song released between 1960 and 2000. Citing Radiohead’s “Creep” as an example, the NYT found the song is the 164th most popular song among 38-year-old men. These men would have been around 14 years old at the time the song was released in 1993, making that selection consistent with the analysis. “Creep” isn’t even in the top 300 songs for those born 10 years earlier or 10 years later. Meanwhile, “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure was released in 1987 and is popular with women aged 41, who would have been 11 at the time of the song’s release.