If I never heard a new song on commercial radio, I’d be ok. I am only really happy listening to the music that I know. Angus and Julia Stone. Bob Evans. Crowded House. Darren Hayes. Fleetwood Mac. Genevieve Maynard. Kings of Leon. Matchbox Twenty. Motorace. Nirvana. Roxette. Sia. Silverchair. U2 prior to everything they released since All That You Can’t Leave Behind. You Am I. Shuffle and repeat.
Hold on. Woah. That can’t be right. I’m the girl who alphabetised the lyrics cut carefully from TV Hits magazine in the late 80s and right through to the mid 90s. If I can’t see a band from the front row, it’s not worth being there. And I once scraped through Statistics 101 at uni because I analysed two years of Australian music on the ARIA Charts. I can’t be falling out of love with music.
But seriously. I turned 31 last December and my only sign of ageing is that I can’t tolerate most of the new music played on commercial radio. I see heaps of bands. I have a large and varied CD collection (yes my 85 Savage Garden and Darren Hayes CDs are very varied, thanks). But I am just not warming to the commercial music of today. In fact I feel that my needle is stuck between 1997 and 1999, and the mid 2000s. And I really like the bogan Aussie rock that my parents never listened to when I was a kid (I saw Cold Chisel on my 30th birthday and it was a dream come true, singing along (badly) to Barnesy).
I had to babysit my friends’ kids the other day. Perhaps not babysit, because they are 11 and 13. The night before, I asked Facebook what I should talk to these kids about. I need to relate to the yoof. Facebook gave me some suggestions. Sport (hate it). Dolls (the 11 year old girl is a tomboy). Food (yep, the love is universal). Talk to them about bedtime (probably not a good idea). Reece Mastin. One Direction. Who??
So 7 pm came. Their parents were off to watch Pseudo Echo. Who?? I settled down with the kids in front of the computer, and the eldest was showing me iTunes. Perhaps he thought I was too old to use iTunes? He told me how he makes a decision to purchase songs. He samples the 90 seconds of the songs numerous times and weighs up whether he’s willing to part with $1.69. He started playing a whole heap of doof-doof. I pretended to be enthused. He played me some Aveci. “Mad as” he described the song. Then Rhianna. She was also “mad as”. I just hoped he hadn’t seen what she was (not) wearing in that song. And Skrillex. Yep. Mad as. I can’t pronounce their name. Like my parents did when I begged them to play Kylie’s Enjoy Yourself the whole car trip from Albury to Melbourne, I feigned interest. I feigned it hard. The music he played me sounded horrible.
“So how do you find out about music?” I asked him. He told me it’s usually Nova or his mates. Now this kid’s parents used to look after me when I was a little older than he is now. They introduced me to some fantastic music – The Verve, The Whitlams, Garbage, U2. I loved looking through their CD collection when I went to stay at their place. I asked the kid whether he still likes the music his parents listen to. “No way, hate it”, he told me. This is a kid who prides himself sitting through the 12 hour bushfire appeal concert at the MCG age 10, revelling in Crowded House, Midnight Oil and Kinds of Leon. What happened?
I’m down with technology. I am digitally literate. I’ve been using the internet for half of my life. I tweet like an addict. I blog most days. My arm was twisted into using Instagram. And now I photograph every single meal. I am an early adopter. But I feel myself straddling generations of audio technology. From records to cassingles to CDs to MP3s, I’ve had them … can you really have an MP3 though?
When I went on a hospital camp with young people a couple of years back, I had to supervise the back of the bus. The driver asked me to relay the following information: seatbelts on, lids on drinks, no feet on seats, and there was a cassette tape player if anyone wanted music over the speakers. What? A cassette tape? What’s a cassette tape? “A cassette tape came before CDs. It looks like an iPod, sort of. But only plays one album, and you have to turn it over when side one is finished” I told them. Nuh. They didn’t get it. Whatevs. They went back to talking to each other with one earphone in their ear.
I am getting to the point in my life where I truly understand what annoyed me about my parents. When I wanted to listen to the Top 40, they wanted to listen to The Bee Gees. My Dad feels modern thanks to the Best Of Crowded House CD I gave him in 2008. Mum asked me to buy her Adele for Mothers Day.
I prefer to listen to ABC radio podcasts rather than to new music. I change the radio station whenever I hear Bruno Mars. I find out about new music when I see live bands. I just don’t enjoy what’s being churned out (or autotuned out) on commercial radio or TV these days. And then I had my half yearly year check in conversation with a colleague about what would be on my Hottest 100 list. Um… I shyly told him I haven’t really listened to the radio or bought new music since late last year. “Shame on you” he told me. I felt like I’d let someone down. I’d let myself down.
So that night I got in the car and drove across the city. I tuned the channel to the yoof station. And I loved so many songs. When I got home, I signed into the iTunes store and purchased three EPs of new music. Like actual stuff that was released in 2013. Alright, it may sound remarkably similar to the music I’ve already got. But I’m dusting myself off and not letting myself get too set in the ways of my parents.
Plus, Mum told me the other day that she thinks Gotye is really cool. Yep, I gotta find the next best thing before my parents overtake me.
Has your taste in music changed? Do you find you’re listening to stuff produced years ago?