As I crash into middle age with my hair transforming from a lavish mane into a power alley, I face an internal crisis. My radio listening should focus on “the hits of the ’90’s and early ‘00’s.” I should live in a musical purgatory consisting of Blink 182, talking about how Smashing Pumpkins should have stayed broken up, and wondering why bars don’t end the night with Semisonic’s “Closing Time” anymore. Whenever I hear the song, “Tubthumping” I think of my college roommate, Anthony Baldwin throwing himself to the ground of filthy bar only to get back up again.
The idea of holding a lighter in the air while your band plays its signature power ballad is gone, and the last great guitar solo happened in the pre-Internet age. Our generation had upbeat songs like Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper”, REM’s “Everybody hurts”, and Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy”. This new generation has its pulse fixed on 128 beats per minute in some over-sampled deep house baseline while vaping teenagers wave their lit cell phones to nearest speaker in a erratic flood of misguided solidarity.
Indulging in today’s pop music by listening to Justin’s latest hit, I have crossed the generational bridge into an era where teenagers pay hundreds of dollars to watch a “musician” walk on stage and press the play button on his iPod while kids do designer drugs, cover themselves in spray paint, and throw beach balls throughout the venue. It sounds like a nightmare for the cleaning crew, but I guess this is the concert experience today.
Should I dislike a pop star who was learning how to use his My Little Potty when I was failing my Spanish final freshman year? Au contraire, a boy who was crashing Lamborghinis and destroying rental houses at the same age when I was struggling to get a girl to go to a pledge dance is the admired one. Would I want to hang out with the spoiled brat? No way. However, I’ll give the kid credit for writing a catchy tune. For that, he earns my respect.
As my contemporaries get ‘jiggy wit it’ picking up their kids from school in the hip, yet cost effective, Subaru Forrester, I can pull up next to a car full of college kids and relive my youth knowing that we both enjoy the same song. For the duration of Justin’s song cranking out of my car’s stereo, I represent youth again. I embrace a total disregard for my own physical well being, personal finances, and employment outlook. I am the youth of today with the experience of a guy approaching the back nine. Looking through the eyes of a Gen Z’er, the world isn’t that bad. I’ll even say I’ll become a democrat; “Sorry” that’s not going to happen; I got caught up in the moment.
If you know any disillusioned youths or old dudes in the middle of a mid-life crisis, please forward this to them.