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 to―the clothes they wear, movies they watch, language they use and the music they listen to―should 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.
FOXYGEN’S SAN FRANCISCO
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.