“This music is garbage. They aren't even using real instruments,” my mom said. It was 1994, and I was happy that my favorite song at the time — “The Sign” by Ace of Base — was on the radio. She would try to expose me to the music that she liked, which was all good music: Stevie Wonder, the Moody Blues, Pink Floyd. All that music I love today, but I wasn't open to it then, because I already resented her for hating on my music. I felt stupid, and so I vowed to never hate on the music of the younger generation, even if I didn't understand it.
Despite that promise, I found myself falling into this trap for while. I hated the music of the slightly younger generation. Why? Well, I’m not really sure. I think there is definitely a narcissistic element to declaring that the best music happened during your formative years. I didn’t like some of the newer music when I was unhappy with my life and I was bitter about everything. I couldn’t connect to anybody, let alone people who are not my peers. A lot of my hatred can be attributed to my own laziness; I didn’t take the time and effort to seek out new quality music and instead relied on whatever the pop machine is pumping out to gauge current trends.
Only liking the music that you grew up listening to is dumb. I can’t count how often I hear about how horrible the music of today is by people who were devoted to mainstream music when they were growing up. If you think music these days is crap, have you ever considered that you have only exposed yourself to pop or that your opinions aren't absolute? People didn’t just suddenly start sucking just because you starting aging. And just because you have more important things to do than seek out music that speaks to you doesn’t mean it’s not out there. There are plenty of talented and hard-working people making music. Most likely, there are more than before, because many musical and creative tools are now cheaper and more available to the public. If anything, the market is now over-saturated with new independent artists of every genre imaginable.
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It’s a sign of letting yourself go when all you have to offer in a conversation about modern music is how bad it is now. It’s cranky and negative, and is a stubborn way of remaining in the past. This is all very parallel to not understanding the younger generation in general. I’m in my early thirties and I have had friends my age whine to me about how “slutty” the girls dress these days. “Back in our day, at least the girls wore clothes.” I think they may need to refresh their memories. Also, I’m pretty sure my grandparent’s generation said the same shit in the seventies when hot pants became popular. Equally disappointing is hearing some of my peers whine about what sissies the younger generation are because they are more aware of bullying and other social issues.
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I don’t know about anyone else, but back in my teen years gay and racial slurs were tossed around as if they were candy. Even I, who got mad at my bigot neighbors for putting up anti-gay signs when civil unions was being discussed, have a diary that is ridden with slurs for some horrible reason. I don’t remember any openly gay kids at my school. The younger generation is considerably more socially conscientious about GBLTQ issues, and social issues in general, and I think they have a lot to offer the world, musically and otherwise.
I think of myself as a forward-thinking person, but I’m certain that in ten years if anyone listens to how I talk now, they are bound to find something I said to be dated and horrible. That’s the great thing about the collective conscious; it tries to constantly improve itself.
Hating on a younger generation’s music is not only an elitist way of thinking. It's also isolating. Part of not growing emotionally old before your rocking chair era is remaining truly open-minded.