Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The future for rebellion through music

On a Slate Culture Gabfest episode a while back they discussed how for the first time in 55 years of the Hot 100 no black artists topped that chart in 2014. Whether this was merely an aberration in pop culture or a larger trend signaling the end of hip hop's dominance was difficult to say.

Something that was suggested (although this post is not an attempt at defining music history): Hip hop became mainstream by appealing to a middle class white audience of teens who were looking for a type of music they could use to rebel against their parents who came of age in the rock era.

However, now that generation has come of age and now the next one must rebel by turning to something else (as quipped by one of the panelists: "When your parents listened to Public Enemy you rebel by listening to the Lumineers").

I've pondered in the past what our son, in about 15 years or so, To what could our son listen in order to try to rebel, or make us tell him to turn that crap off?

Hardcore rap? Nope. Thrash metal? No. Country? Not as such. Smooth jazz? Eh, that's just slow funk. Insipid pop? I'm sure it would be catchy. Experimental neo-classical? We should be so lucky.

It's not that we, his parents, actively like all music but the stuff we turn away from tends to be from some bad personal association (such as some guy who couldn't shut up about a given band, or some moron who blasted an album over and over from the apartment next door), not because of the music itself; most anything we could at least find tolerable. Even if he was drawn to semi-mediocre douchebag rock (we're looking at you, Maroon 5) or the whatever-the-heck-you-wanna-call-it stylings of Insane Clown Posse we could just tell him to put on his headphones.

Sorry, my son. You won't have it as simple as we did with your grandparents.

But I'm sure you'll figure out some way to get to us. You are our child, after all.

(It's quaint I think it will take you until you're a teenager.)


Granted, it's impossible to say what changes in the music landscape will occur in the next decade and a half, or even to be able to say whether there'll still be a music landscape then.

Heck, in a way that seems likeliest: that he'd simply turn away from music as something he's into. Sure, he'll listen to whatever will be the equivalent of the radio like all his friends will, but it will be a casual appreciation.

His rebellion may be an ostensible lack of rebelling. Clever lad.

The kids of that day will have it rough by having it too easy.

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