I have a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, and they listen to whatever music I listen to, and they like it, most of the time. But I live in fear. We're not the only influences in the kids' lives, and the older they get, the larger the chance of them coming home from school one day, humming a new Katy Perry song. Or Bieber. Or whatever manufactured teen sensation of the day they're innocent enough to consume and think of as their own.
When parents find out their kids have crappy taste in music, they either roll their eyes or start a Good Music 101 class, and I had always considered myself in the second group. I've had it all planned out:
When the first crappy music makes it into our house, I will sit my kids down, play the entire Pink Floyd discography, then The Beatles, then Simon & Garfunkel. And Bjork. And Death Cab for Cutie. And Arcade Fire. Then The Velvet Underground. Then Talking Heads. Radiohead. Flaming Lips. Yo La Tengo. Then Robyn Hitchcock. Then we'll take a short break and start our Bruce Springsteen lesson with Nebraska. When we're done, the only thing left to say will be, "Any questions?" And they'll know they've made a mistake, and that they're destined for better things.
Or maybe I will roll my eyes and know it's only a phase?
Recently, I got to drive a rental car, which came with satellite radio. And like many people from my generation, my first choice when I turned on XM Radio was the '80s station.
This song was the first one to play, and I couldn't be happier:
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away...
If you're a child of the '70s or the '80s, you've just repeated "gave it away" in Andrew Ridgeley's voice. That's what we do, because we listened to Wham! religiously as kids, and now as adults, we sing along and remember the good old days.
And that's the point. There were great songs in the '80s, but most of us listened to crap and we ended up fine-ish. Maybe people who talk about the good old days are just afraid of becoming irrelevant. So they look back and imagine a time when everything made sense, and then they compare it to what young people face today: Snapchats, and twerking, and sexting, and terrible, terrible music.
We weren't better than them, though, and us old men and women need to remember that. They listen to Bieber? You listened to George Michael. Their songs are all about sex? Didn't you sing along to "My Toot Toot"? Aren't you singing it on your head right now?
I have to remind myself to lay off the next generation. They will make their own mistakes, whether it comes from twerking of by listening to One Direction, but along the way, they will create their own culture and change the world in their own ways. And one day, 30 years from now, our kids will drive their hybrid jetpacks and a Bieber song will start playing and they will sing along, remembering those crazy 2010s.
We're not the first generation to pretend we're musical snobs, and we won't be the last. Our kids -- the same ones who put up Miley Cyrus posters on their bedroom ceilings -- will react to their own kids' favorite music with disgust, and try to convert them away from the dark side of manufactured crap, but in the end, crap will forever continue to be manufactured, kids will forever like it, and they will forever grow up listening to it with a nostalgic smile, singing along to bland lyrics with the same terrible rhymes repeating themselves one generation after another, and they will then lecture their kids about the golden age of music.
So when the inevitable happens and my kids come home singing songs that offend all that is good and beautiful and edgy in the world, maybe I will choose to roll my eyes and move on after all. I mean, I had a poster of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley wearing unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts and short-shorts in my room. I don't get to preach.
This post first appeared on A Blogger and a Father