Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Music kids love, not kids' music

I may scoff at the labeling of my generation as "grups" and "indie yuppies" by the media, but one of the cool things I see with "indie yuppies" in particular is what kind of music they play for their children. Sure, there might be some Barney and Sesame Street songs in the mix, but that's not even half of the music they hear.

In general, the music that the parents listen to is the music that their children listen to. The kind of music they listen to often sheds a lot of light onto their personalities. So, with people that came of age in the '80s and '90s with the mass appeal of alternative rock, I don't find it surprising that "good" music is being played for their kids.

I in no way ever thought the music I was first introduced to via my parents (big band to soft rock AM gold) was bad. Sure, frequently hearing "The Tonight Show Theme" in the car drove me bonkers for a while, but I still like a number of the artists I first heard growing up. Saying that I like select cuts from Neil Diamond, John Denver, James Taylor and Carole King may very well drive somebody who came from '70s punk rock mad, but I didn't know what punk was in '79. I was learning to talk and roll over at that time. I was not of age to feel cynical about music in general.

My parents have never had "hip" music tastes, but that's not a reason for me to cast stones. They listen to the music that fits their personalities, just like the music that I listen to. They might not understand how I can enjoy a band like Converge, but then again, I don't really understand how my mom can enjoy the Dixie Chicks.

Anyway, the point is that I think about what might happen with children raised on the Replacements and Built to Spill instead of James Blunt and American Idol. I highly doubt I will hear something along the lines of, "When I was a kid, my parents played me horrible music, like the Cure and the Clash."

But the fact remains, certain kinds of personalities, regardless of age, just do not have the mental capacity to understand music like this. I don't find any fault with that, but this can be annoying at times. Sure, hearing an SUV full of tweens sing off-key along to Avril Lavigne's Let Go as I pump my gas annoys me, but I gotta remember where I came from. I came from the easy-to-swallow world of pop music and searched farther out after I had enough. I still really have to search for the stuff that I like as I'm often barraged by stuff I don't like.

I think about people like Eric and Amy, who are my age, and have an 8-month-old daughter. While she may not groove to the apocalyptic sounds of Converge's You Fail Me just yet, Eric tells me that she gets excited and bounces around when she hears the pop-punk of the Loved Ones. Eric and Amy appear to be stereotypical suburbanites on the outside, but they are definitely not Stepford husbands or wives. There is no, "Well, we're here in the suburbs now with a kid. I guess we have to stop listening to Screeching Weasel and Wilco and listen to Radio Disney all the time."

With people I've talked to over the years, there almost always was an older sibling that introduced them to "good" and "cool" music. The music of choice by the parents was not as strong, but now I'm seeing that changing. Was this something anyone could have predicted back when Nirvana broke through in '92? Absolutely not, but I'm glad that alternative rock did break through. Now as far what the mainstream version of emo will do with its audience as they grow up, the jury's still out.


amy said...

see, what we do is go out of our way to find cool people who cover children's music. we actually found an album of punk songs turned lullaby. i can't remember the site but here is one for 80's rock songs:

i'm with hailey 24/7, since eric is at work and school. we go out out virtually every single day; to the store, the park, playgroups, etc. i always have my ipod with me and am always playing punk rock. she is comfortable enough with it to actually doze off in her car seat. the wailing of the guitars doesn't even phase her. i can't be one of those parents who throws on the raffi cd and we all sing along in the car. uh-uh, ain't gon' happin'.

whenever that annoyingly happy purple beast or those disturbing "uh-ooohhh" aliens come on pbs, I TURN THE CHANNEL.

she can watch sesame street and mister rogers like i did.

amy said...

i found it:

Eric said...

Our friends have a 20 month old daughter who just happened to be singing the new Flaming Lips song "Yeah" for 15 minutes straight. It was pretty awesome.