Monday, 1 April 2013

Music Videos of Innocence and of Experience

In light of an earlier post concerning the torpid state of pop music being made by youngsters and middle-aged producers that continue to pedal out vapid chart songs (think Taylor Swift et al), it has become apparent that we haven’t had a proper generational shift in over a decade.
Generational shifts are sociologically very important. Kids and the things they get up tothe clothes they wear, movies they watch, language they use and the music they listen toshould be specific to their era of adolescence and ought to be very much viewed with suspicion by elders. Nowadays it is not uncommon for kids and their parents to watch the same reality television shows, read the same books, use the same slang (bling!) and listen to the same records. This is a disappointing reality and at odds with the way things have been for the last fifty years. Who can forget James Dean accusing his elders of tearing him apart in the 1950s, or The Breakfast Club pinning all its depression on parental figures in the 1980s, yet this current generation has no snarling animosity to the very group they traditionally rebelled against: adults.
The Millennium Generation consists of people born between the late 1970s and mid-1990s, which probably encapsulates most of those reading this blog, has been bereft of generational angst the way its predecessors were. They have grown up in an era where nihilism and aimlessness have not been defining characteristics, not in the way it was for beatniks in the ‘50s, punks in the ‘70s, or slackers in the early ‘90s.
Times have changed and it’s not surprising that the occurrences of recognisable generational shifts, which materialised in post-war Europe and America when greater affluence and detached nuclear family living became standard, have now pretty much vanished. The post-war way of life put money into youth cultures and enabled them to create independent collective identities.  The Millennium Generation is potentially the first group of people that are more dependent on their parents for financial/ emotional support even into early adulthood, perhaps having to engage in intergenerational living in order to make ends meet. In that sense it’s no wonder the Millennium Generation has failed make its cultural mark on history. It hasn’t had the money or space to find itself, and has been further stifled by new methods of parenting where mums and dads want to be their child’s best friends instead of authoritarian figures. Who knows, but you can’t help feeling that this generation has really missed out on not having had its moment in the spotlight.
Before we lose all hope, below are two new music videos from emerging talents that showcase this generation’s ability to counter conventions and produce material of admirable originality.
This band consists of a bunch of 22-year-olds (same age as Taylor Swift) that have taken their love of ‘60s psychedelic pop tunes and irksome Wes Anderson movies to another level. San Francisco is their new song which both satirises a love of all things retro while also honouring it in an honest way. Its tongue may be firmly in cheek but there is no doubting their passion for everything that has inspired them. It’s a lovely song.

Anja Plaschg is a 22-year-old Austrian musician (also the same age as Taylor Swift), but her output is the antithesis of most of the music her generation is celebrated for. In fact, Plaschg is an entirely different beast, where the very look of her provokes unease. Sugarbread is her new song and video, but a word of warning is needed. While the video doesn’t feature anything egregiously brutal, the way it is edited and spliced together with stock footage from various European silent films and documentaries makes the viewer believe they’re witnessing something more unpleasant than what it actually is. It’s a massively powerful artistic piece, and the experimental nature of the music further heightens discomfort levels. It’s a frighteningly good construction, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re of nervous disposition then perhaps you ought to skip it completely, but gosh, will you be missing out on something exceptional.


  1. Powerful imagery in that last one.

    I love retro anything and enjoyed Foxygen.

  2. Perhaps things have a different view point from the other side of the pond? As an American I can say that (US) millennials have developed a very war-like culture. Though many of us were born well before 9/11/01, I would argue that we would be hard-pressed to remember an America before the "war on terror". We are the generation of social media - our very own millennials created Facebook, Google, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.

    We are of the information age, we are the entrepreneurial body of this country. Sure, we may be hiding out in our parents basements, but there is a good chance that the new app we're creating will later pay their mortgage. If it is the angst that is missing, I assure you it's there! The angst can be found in the frustrations with government, and the Occupy Wall St. movement, the Great Recession, and the educational system.
    We are a generation of "politically correct" phrases, and passive aggression.

    One thing that the millennials have succeeded at is bridging the generational gap; the children of the 50's and 60's had strong parental figures. Perhaps too strong. Whereas our generation was birthed to parents who wanted a hand in every aspect of our lives. They wanted to perfect their child in every way possible - the trophy kid. We grew up being spoken to as "adults", and in turn changed the way our parents spoke to us. As you said, both parties now use the same lingo, and in some small way we have thought ourselves as adults long before our time.

    One vice I have about my generation? We are so post modern in our post modernism that we often like to make cultural references to references - even if we have no idea as to which reference we're making a reference to. Or if our reference was even a reference to begin with!

    I think the words of warning for the second video were for me yes? (We're also a very egocentric generation too.)

    Fun post!!

  3. Mental whiplash is cetainly nothing to play with! I hear the perfect rememdy for such conditions is to repose, and surround oneself with good music that defined a generation.

    You are right: This era really doesn't seem to have a "sound" that defines it. Of course in my college years there was the rather perplexing "emo rock", where boys wore girls skinny jeans, and enough make up to even make KISS proud. But that quickly faded before my graduation march.

    I think perhaps why the Millennials do not have a defining sound because of the cross-genre movement. Pop-stars got with rap artists, rap artists got with country singers, country singers got with R&B. Jay-Z and Linkin Park. Eminem and Dido. Fiona Apple covering the Beatles. Perhaps that is this generations music defined: a post modern nod to the cross genre becoming its own.