Musical differences – meet the people whose romantic relationships were torn apart by pop

You meet a new person. Everything about them is perfect. Then they pick you up in their car and they're rocking out to a Nickelback CD. What do you do? You may very well dump them, finds Nick Levine

Any music lover knows that when you start dating someone, you want them to like the same kind of stuff as you do. One of my boyfriends infuriated me endlessly by insisting that my absolute favourite pop star, Madonna, was “past it” and “overrated”. I always took great pleasure in seeing him lose his shit whenever he’d had a few drinks and ‘Like A Prayer’ or ‘Hung Up’ came on in the club.

Another former boyf heard an album I really love, Siobhán Donaghy’s cult classic ‘Ghosts’, and said he’d rather listen to “I dunno, Hayley Evetts”. You probably don’t know who Hayley Evetts is because she’s a singer who came fifth on Pop Idol in 2002. Hayley Evetts! I’m getting angry again now just thinking about it, and this is a conversation that happened about 10 years ago.

Still, I’m not sure I’ve ever had it as bad as these music fans, who all had a relationships full-on ruined by a partner’s incompatible music taste. Read on and think yourself very, very lucky.

The one in an intolerable hip hop/rock fusion band

Kim, London: “Pretending to like his band’s music became a chore”


“I’d been in London for about four or five months when I met this guy on a dating site. Actually, one of his profile photos showed him playing the drums, which for a young music journalist was really appealing – we had shared interests and he had good arms! So we started dating and at first it was cool going along to his gigs, but I was really into Girls Aloud and Charlotte Church at the time, so his band’s hip-hop/rock fusion didn’t really appeal to me very much. I always had to pretend to like his music and it just got to the point where I couldn’t do it any more. Forcing myself to listen to the CD he gave me and going to his shows all the time just sucked the fun out of the relationship. It ran its course for other reasons too, but the huge divide in our music taste was a major part of it breaking down. I ended things, drunk, at a bus stop in Acton.”

The one who spoiled my favourite song

Lars, Brighton: “He sang ‘Call The Shots’ by Girls Aloud very loudly and very out of tune as often as possible”

“I used to go out with someone who sang ‘Call The Shots’ by Girls Aloud very loudly and very out of tune as often as possible. Looking back, I think that might be the main reason we split up. I still can’t listen to that song to this day. He knew how painful I found it hearing him sing that song, and as our relationship deteriorated he’d sing it right in my face to wind me up. That said, maybe this isn’t so much a ‘taste in music’ thing as it’s a ‘him being a cunt’ thing.”

The one who didn’t like any kind of music. At all. 

Scott, Glasgow: “He said that when he went to clubs, he just danced because he was out”

“I once dated a guy who didn’t listen to music. Like, at all. I met him in a club, fancied the hell out of him and thought I wasn’t in with a chance. But I ended up going home with him – something I wasn’t used to – and it was all good, so I stuck around the next day and being a massive music fan, tried to talk about my favourite bands and singers. But he barely responded and just seemed bored. We went on a few dates and I tried to get him into the stuff I had on in the car, but he wasn’t interested at all. I just couldn’t understand why someone wouldn’t even have, like, a go-to band. He said that when he went to clubs, he just danced because he was out and had no idea what anything was. Eventually I was just like, ‘No pal, sorry, we have nothing in common!’ And that was that.”

The one who didn’t respect Luther Vandross

Anna, London: “I was incredulous and  angry. He had to go.”

“I had a very hot boyfriend who I felt a major sexual attraction to. We dated on and off for about eight months, and even went on holiday together. But one day he said he didn’t like Luther Vandross and his posturing ‘ladies’ man’ style. I pointed out that Luther was in fact gay and suggested that my boyfriend check out his fantastic cover of ‘A House Is Not A Home’. He replied that he didn’t like Burt Bacharach, which left me incredulous and really made me angry, so obviously he had to go. I also mentioned that Teddy Pendergrass was more of a ladies’ man, at least on stage, but that just went over his head altogether.”

The one who listened to Disney songs

Clara, Margate: “She told me she couldn’t stand Kate Bush’s voice”


“I dated a girl for a while in uni who had the worst taste in music. Actually, we were never an item or anything, but we did kind of hang out and hook up for a few months and it was always quite fun. Anyway, all she would listen to was Disney songs or the most basic pop songs – I’m not a snob or anything, I love Little Mix and Dua Lipa, but literally she would only ever put on the most generic radio shit. One day she came round to mine to watch a film and I was playing Kate Bush songs on Spotify. She literally winced as she walked into the room and heard the song, which I think was ‘Babooshka’. She explained that her mum was a big Kate Bush fan and played loads of her music when she was growing up, but personally she could never stand her voice. I was like, how could someone who grew up listening to Kate Bush not fall in love with her? By this point I’d already realised me and this girl didn’t really have very much in common, but slagging off Kate Bush was probably the final straw. We only hung out one or two more times after that.”

The one who liked dadrock

Callum, Staines: “He was a Rufus Wainwright stan”

“When I was at uni I dated a guy who was very dashing but kept saying he “wasn’t into gay music” – by which he meant anything that was “too pop”. I tried to convert him with some success – I know he liked coming to a Robyn gig with me during her ‘With Every Heartbeat’ era. But his love of Rufus Wainwright and all manner of dad rock pretty much sealed his fate. Well, that added to his tendency to slag off Girls Aloud whenever possible. At his core he was a Rufus Wainwright stan and that became exhausting for me – by the end it just wasn’t worth the sex.”

The one who didn’t become a goth

Jasmin, London: “I still feel sad about what happened. I actually really like Mariah Carey”

“We’d been best friends all through primary school, and had a shared love of Kylie and Sonia thanks to daily after-school discos on our Fisher Price tape decks. But when I got into the local grammar school we were separated and I went down a dark path of being a wannabe goth. We stayed BFFs for a couple of years but our shifting musical tastes just proved too much for our friendship to cope with. She got massively into Mariah Carey, but I started listening to Nirvana and Hole and any old generic grunge music. I think it really highlighted how far we’d grown apart and really, it was more than our relationship could take. I still feel sad about what happened, especially as I actually really like Mariah Carey!”

The one who hated Belle & Sebastian

James, London: “I still hate Belle & Sebastian to this day”

“I once went back to someone’s after a date. And this was the date – you know, the date before we spent the rest of our lives at organic farmers’ markets together. As he leaned in, I said, ‘Actually, could you change the radio? I really like you and that’s Belle & Sebastian and I know it sounds weird but I really, really hate Belle & Sebastian.’ He just froze and said: ‘They’re my favourite band.’ Not unreasonably, he then threw me out. It was mad, really, but I remember thinking at the time, ‘He’s going to kiss me and we’re going to be together forever and I don’t want my memory of this magical moment to be the fucking boy with the fucking Arab strap.’ I still hate Belle & Sebastian to this day.