Music is a prominent structure in our society. The kind of music that we listen to puts us into different groups, and we are sometimes stereotyped based on our musical interests. For example, if you listen to country music, people are likely to believe that you act like a "redneck". But how do we classify people who listen to music that we aren't familiar with? What do we call them? Some of you might be muttering the word "hipsters" to yourselves right now. And maybe you're right. I don't know. I'll let you figure it out for yourselves.
When I was young, I always listened to whatever music my parents (read: my mom) had on. This was most commonly some mixture of music from the 1970s and 1980s, with maybe a dash of early 1990s music. We're talking songs from 1990 or 1991 at the absolute latest. The very first song that I remember listening to is Jim Croce's "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" from a "Greatest Hits from the '70s" CD. I listened to it again for the first time in years after deciding to write about this topic, and I still know the words quite well.
This trend of being an entire generation behind on music has continued throughout my life. Some of my favorite bands growing up were popular hair metal bands from the 1980s, such as Twisted Sister. When we had to name our favorite band in music class when I was in the sixth grade, I paused for a moment, before definitively answering "Def Leppard", which elicited some giggles from my classmates, who all answered with whatever bands and artists were popular at the time (see, I can't even remember who they were now!).
This trend would begin to shift when I began to play sports in high school, when we would play music during our two hour long practices. I finally started becoming acquainted with names like CeeLo Green, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga. By this point, I had also made my own way up to the late '90s and early 2000s- boy bands in particular. I'd finally made my way from being 20 years behind the trend to only being 10 years behind the current trend. I was quite proud of myself, because I could now be a part of the conversation about what music was "cool", even if only to say "Yes, that's a good one" or "Ew no get that outta here". Around the same time, a strange event began that would throw my poor musical brain into even further confusion.
I'll be honest here. I didn't actually watch Glee until I went to college, around the time season four or five was coming out. It was because of this that my friends would give me blank looks when I asked them when they had heard of [insert band here], and they'd always respond with "That song was on Glee this week. Didn't you see it?!" No. The answer was always no. If I said that this didn't leave me with something of the "I knew about that before it was 'mainstream'" mentality, I'd be lying. But I guess I couldn't be too harsh about it. If I didn't know modern music, they didn't have to know about "old" music. Or, as Bowling for Soup said in their song "1985", "When did Mötley Crüe become classic rock?" See? A reference to a song that's only 12 years old. I must be getting better!
I also can't help but admit that I was very proud of myself when the movie "Rock of Ages" (based on the musical that was first performed in 2005) came out in 2012 and there were only two songs on the entire soundtrack that I didn't know. Even though I didn't know the songs, I did at least also know their artists, so I still felt quite validated.
Despite being born and raised with music from the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, I am finally catching up with the music that is my generation's music. I'm not doing very well at it, since I'm still stuck in the mid- to late 2000s, but I'm getting there.
However, sometimes I don't feel particularly compelled to catch up. Sometimes, I'll try to tease my hair out as much as I can, and just say- well, sing- "I Wanna Rock".
One last note: take five minutes to actually watch the music video for "I Wanna Rock".
You'll thank me later.