I have been designated the official office baby.
I know this because whenever there’s food during pitch meetings, they give it to me with the concerned look of titas and titos who worry their apo isn’t eating well. And when I mention I’m in my mid-20s they either guffaw, or spiral into a state of Gen X anguish. Millennials aren’t even that young anymore, but in meetings I’m as good as a flush-faced toddler sucking on a pacifier, and have thus been tasked with keeping my ears to the pulse on pop culture which — let’s be honest with ourselves — belongs to the kids.
More on music today:
- The sound of Barbie Almalbis’ new EP is the sound of a free spirit in fine form
- Review: With Happiness Begins, maybe it’s time to start taking the Jonas Brothers seriously
- The Ravelos are a punk band with superpowers—and they’re for real
- How the age of streaming is transforming songwriters and the making of OPM
I say this so that I can prove that this article—which is to tell parents who are maybe ten or fifteen years older than me what kind of music their kids are listening to—comes from a place of authority. I’m also a musician who used to work for a youth-oriented publication, so yeah.
If you’re a parent struggling to understand your kids’ inner worlds, well, I can’t help you with stuff like Minecraft or TikTok or whatever newfangled thing is wedging itself between you and your hyperactive child. But I cantell you a little bit about what they might be listening to on Spotify, even though this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Let’s just get the whole genre out of the way before we go any further. K-pop has become so ubiquitous that nobody needs to be a hardcore Koreaboo to get into it. The fact is, the pop music coming out of South Korea is so meticulously produced and polished that it blows most American mainstream Billboard stuff out of the water.
It could be that your kid is listening to a bunch of acts, including but not limited to Blackpink, Twice, Red Velvet, Exo, Mamamoo, whoever. It’s just that BTS happens to be the biggest, most zeitgeist-defining K-pop act out there right now. Just check out their live performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which asserts a direct analog between them and the freakin’ Beatles.
Carly Rae Jepsen
There is a surprising number of plebs across generations who still think of Carly Rae Jepsen as the “Call Me Maybe” girl. To them, I extend my pity. In 2015, she released Emotion, probably one of the strongest pop albums that year, a shimmering tribute to the sound of the 80s and the transcendent (yes, transcendent) qualities of love and desire. This year she released her full-length follow-up Dedicated, an album of soft bops that further solidifies Carly Rae’s place as one of the most influential songstresses of our time. So, get outta here with that reductive, “Call Me Maybe” dismissal BS.
Lil Nas X
Okay so, Lil Nas X is interesting. He’s a rapper but he released a song late last year called “Old Town Road” that references riding horses and stuff, so it’s country. And it climbed up on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart until it was disqualified for not fitting the genre, which is probably due to the fact that Lil Nas X is black, and most of the country genre is white, and I guess a lot of old hoagies couldn’t swallow the fact that black people could make country music with 808 beats. And then a remix of the song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus was released in order to legitimize its standing as a country song.
It’s a lot, dude, I know. Old Town Road discourse is surprisingly rich and deep, and if your kid is in high school and grade school, I doubt they’re thinking much about this little contemporary renaissance that country music is having right now, what with artists like Solange and Mitski redefining the cowboy myth in their own POC image, and yeehaw queen Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hourwinning Album of the Year at the 61st Grammy Awards. But yeah, if your kid is saying stuff like yeehaw and referencing horses, it’s probably because of Lil Nas X.
You can start with: The original “Old Town Road,” then move on to the remixes.
The past few years have seen the advent of young bedroom beatmakers taking electronic music into their own hands, and wresting pop music domination from record labels and studio executives. You could say that such a movement was what allowed the 17-year-old Billie Eilish, who has gold and platinum singles under her belt, to exist and thrive the way she does.
To be honest, we as a culture aren’t quite sure yet of what to make of Billie Eilish. I know millennials are getting old and cranky because most of us don’t get her, but most Gen Z kids do. All I ask of you, as I’ve been doing this whole article, is to be charitable.
You can start with:“bad guy”