Depending on what tunes you listen to, your perceptions of love can be totally different. We’re taught that love is a battlefield, yet loving is easy. Everybody knows that love will keep us together, but apparently it will also tear us apart.
For music lovers, having someone by your side who’s up for the rave or getting stuck into the moshpit can be a big part of the relationship. There’s also the bickering over the Bluetooth speaker, that soppy song that’s special to both of you and the cringe-worthy artist your other half inexplicably loves.
There are some music-based dating apps out there, such as Tastebuds and Turn Up, but none have massively taken off. This seems strange because 70% of Brits think a shared music taste is one of the most important qualities in a partner.
Other studies around love and music taste, such as this 1989 psychological study, have even gone so far as to claim that being into country music makes people less attractive and that liking heavy metal “greatly enhanced the appeal of men”. But have things changed since then?
Author and psychologist Dr Paulette Sherman – who also hosts The Love Psychologist podcast – believes that shared music taste can only get you so far. She says that “long term, you need to be compatible in terms of your lifestyle, values, your joint life vision and much more, including communication styles.”
Do you have to be into the same music for your relationship to work? Is music patter just an ice-breaker for the first date or an essential component for lasting love? I decided to speak to music-loving couples across the UK to find out exactly what role tunes play in their relationship.
Spike, 25, and Nikki, 24
Been together for nine months
How would you describe your music taste?
Spike: Mine is eclectic but… not in a cool way! I like everything, including the shit stuff.
Nikki: Your favourites are the shit stuff!
Spike: I love cool stuff like classic rock, punk, indie, the ’70s and ’80s stuff. But if I’m getting ready or going on a long journey I’d probably listen to Harry Styles and Little Mix. I fucking love Little Mix. [They] make me happy, I feel excited, hyped-up.
Nikki: I’m quite opposite in that sense. If you asked me what was in the charts I’d have no clue. I like old pop, like Michael Jackson… eek… sorry! And that old school era of pop – Prince, Bowie. I’m more into neo-punk, like Fontaines DC, Idles, Fat White Family, I’m also into neo-soul; up-and-coming female solo singers, like Cleo Sol.
Does having different tastes ever cause problems?
Spike: I have quite a bad habit of just putting the music on when we have friends round. It means that Nikki isn’t musically fulfilled when we’re socialising.
Nikki: Yeah I’m not because we always listen to Miley Cyrus! It’s that same cover of Blondie over and over again.
Spike: I often take control and I should be more considerate.
Do you have any pop star crushes?
Spike: So many. Being bisexual, there are many!
Nikki: How long have you got?! Harry Styles definitely. He is just objectively good looking.
Spike: Little Simz! Phwoar. She’s beautiful and she’s cool as fuck.
Nikki: Yeah Little Simz for sure.
Any band you really disagree on?
Spike: I fucking love The 1975! I think they’re sick, I love their melodies and the musicality. Matty Healy is a great frontman; the band are phenomenally talented. I love them. And Nikki can’t stand them.
Nikki: I do not want to listen to them, ever. But, in my defence, I put them on for you sometimes, don’t I?
Spike: Yeah, if I’m having a bad day… Being trans, when I’m getting ready to go out I feel really self-conscious because I don’t like what I’m wearing or how I look. Nikki is so attentive to that that she’ll put on The 1975 because she knows they make me happy. She hates them but she puts them on because she knows how it’s going to make me feel.
Is music a big part of your relationship?
Nikki: Music is, respectively, a big part of our individual lives. So what we’ve found in common ground is enough to satiate us in our relationship. I always said that I needed my partner to have the same music taste as me, but now I realise that shared music is not actually as ‘make or break’ as I regarded it to be.
Do you two have a ‘song’?
Spike: My favourite song is I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith. Huge tune. When we were talking on Hinge, Nikki said she’d listen to this song in the shower. From then it’s kind of been our song. We’ve even talked about it being what we’d have for our first dance.
Do any lyrics stand out?
Spike: The bit that gets me is when he says, “I kiss your eyes and thank God we’re together.” It’s just so sweet! I’m not a religious person but it’s always felt like there’s a higher power that has brought me and Nikki together. Our love is divine.
Ella Joy, 23 and Grove, 24
Been together for just over nine months
Ella: A few of those things crossover, but I’m hopping around Amnesia Scanner, goth, Trad… I like the Japanese style like Asa-Chang & Junray – beautiful sounds. And some of the Bristol sound, like Shackleton.
Grove: In general, bass-heavy is our go-to. When we first met, FKA twigs and Sevdaliza were our common ground. Sultry, divine, feminine energies.
Did you meet through music?
Ella: Quite literally! I’m a graphic designer and Grove [who is a musician] got in touch with me to design a logo. After a few projects together we decided to hang out.
Any music you disagree on?
Grove: Ella can’t stand house in any form.
Ella: House or disco! I can move to techno, no worries. I like techno a lot. Just not house.
Grove: I can appreciate good house music.
What do you sing in the shower?
Grove: Today I sang High School Musical 2! I was singing Fabulous by Sharpay and Ryan!
Grove: [sings] “I want fabulous, that is my simple request, all things fabulous… Ice tea imported from England!”
Ella: … Maybe this is where we differ again? [laughs]
First gig together?
Ella: It was a big dub night.
Grove: Croydub. It was so good, we were both in our element.
Ella: It was so special and there was an amazing sound system that you could actually feel.
Adryan, 29, and Eóin, 27
Been together four and a half years
Adryan: I’m not a pop person, per se. I’m mostly drawn to jazz and R&B.
Do you go to gigs together?
Adryan: We went to see Kim Petras do a sit down, singalong intimate concert. It was really good.
Eóin: We’re not big club people. I don’t really like going to concerts that much, but this Kim Petras thing was incredible. She’s so talented and she complimented my eyebrows, which I’ll never forget!
Is there an artist that you both love together?
Eóin: There’s a group called Men I Trust. We always really appreciate them, particularly around the start of the pandemic. We were split for three months because of the safety and the unknowing around that time. We had the album Oncle Jazz on loop, it’s really relaxing and calming.
Are there any artists that you disagree on?
Eóin: Some of Charli XCX’s songs are really noisy, and I really love them, but when I look over at Adryan I can see that I need to skip it.
Adryan: There are definitely songs that I feel you’ll never latch onto. The ballads. There are Celine Dion songs I like, because I listened to them when I was younger. Eóin hates the ballads!
Eóin: I mostly listen to bops.
Do disagreements on music ever cause problems?
Adryan: It has. Once I said that Sky Ferreira was mediocre and Eóin nearly stopped speaking to me.
Eóin: Yeah, you shouldn’t have reminded me of that because now I’m reliving it!
Adryan: It was three years ago and it’s something that we’re still working on now!
What do you listen to while cooking?
Adryan: I listen to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and those kinds of artists. It really sets the tone. It makes me feel like I’m really cheffing it up in the kitchen and being flavourful.
Eóin: The unspoken rule is whoever is cooking has free reign over the speaker. We need our own entertainment when we’re cooking.
Do you have a ‘song’?
Adryan: A Kiss Goodbye by Tei Shi. It really set the tone for when we went to Lisbon in 2019.
What would your first dance be?
Eóin: Oh my god… what would that be? That’s the one exception I would make to ballads. I can’t really dance, so I’d need something really slow that I’m able to do something to.
Adryan: A Long Walk by Jill Scott. That song is timeless.
Daniel 20, Gabby, 19
Been together for a year and a half
So how did you guys meet?
Daniel: We met at my friend’s party. Fall Out Boy was on and I’m a massive Fall Out Boy fan. Gabby made a comment about it and immediately I was like, “Woah, hang on!” We talked a lot that evening, a lot about music, and we had our first date a year after that.
When did you start dressing in the same clothes?
Daniel: I guess it was that Gabby has always been a lot more out-there with clothing. When we started to get to know each other more there were a lot of clothes that I’d always wanted to wear but never had the confidence to. Then she was like, “Lets both do it!” She’s still one step ahead of me with her earrings though! [laughs]
Gabby: I’ve got my love ducks in at the moment. My rubber duck earrings.
What music are you into?
Daniel: I really like country music. I love a bit of Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash… I really like rap too, Tyler, the Creator just dropped an album that I think is wicked.
Gabby: I will not listen to that at all! They’re just not for me. I’m just into pop-punk, really.
What do you listen to in the kitchen together?
Gabby: Enter Shikari.
What’s your ‘song’?
Gabby: Annabelle by Creeper.
Daniel: We had our first kiss to that. It’s not really a romantic song though.
Any lyrics that resonate with you?
Gabby: Life Is A Highway?
Daniel: From the Cars movie! “Life is a highway and I want to ride it all night long.” We’ll go with that! [laughs].
What does music mean to you and your relationship?
Daniel: I’d say it’s like 95% of our relationship. If we’re not sending each other music or listening to albums together, then we’re comparing our Spotifys. There are websites that show you your most listened to tracks for the last four weeks and we sit there in the evening and compare ours. We are always telling each other about gigs or albums we’re excited for. I don’t know if we’d be together if it wasn’t for music. If [it wasn’t for] Fall Out Boy then we might never have spoken!
Tom and Poppy, both 19
Been together for one month
How did you meet?
Tom: At uni, we’re in the same halls.
What music are you into?
Poppy: It depends. If I’m doing my make-up and I’m by myself I like women-empowered music. When I’m walking somewhere I like fast-paced music. If I’m on a journey or at a party I like jungle and stuff.
Tom: I listen to a lot of different music, but my go-to is drum ‘n’ bass.
Poppy: I can’t stand drum ‘n’ bass. If I’m fucked enough at a party or a rave, I’ll happily bop along to it, but I couldn’t just sit there and listen to it.
Is there an artist or band that you agree on?
Poppy: We both like Kanye West.
If you’ve got mates coming over, who picks the music?
Poppy: I choose the music.
Tom: I’m more likely to like the music that she puts on rather than the other way round. So I’m not going to impose it on anyone.
What’ll be your first gig together?
Poppy: We just booked a Warehouse Project ticket. It’s a jungle and garage night. Rudimental, Shy FX and Goldie.
Do you think sharing music taste is important for dating?
Tom: I think it’s a big positive if you have exactly the same music taste. You can talk about it and it’s a bonding point. But if you don’t like the same music, it’s not the end of the world.
Do you have a ‘song’?
Poppy: At parties we always put on Fireflies by Owl City. It’s such a weird song! We always laugh and sing our hearts out to it when it comes on with our friends. It’s more of a joke than a meaningful song though!