Jon of All Trades

Post-Youth Music (and Post Malone)

As I drove my daughters to school this morning, I had SiriusXM’s 90s on 9 station playing. “Comedown” by Bush came on, and Grace (my 4 year-old) asked me what the song was called. She does this all the time, so this is nothing unusual. She’s very curious about the world, about music, and asks me to play songs by name whenever we’re in the car. Her recall is incredible, but that’s not surprising consider both her mother and I have incredibly strong memories as well.

“Grace, this is called ‘Comedown’ by a band named Bush,” I told her. “This was daddy’s very first concert he ever saw.” She enjoyed learning that little tidbit about me, similar to how she’ll sometimes ask me what my favorite song is and then delight when I play “Audience of One” by Rise Against.

We listened to the song and my mind began to wander. Let’s see here… I saw Bush at Red Rocks for the KBPI Birthday Bash in… OH GOD, 1995. Jesus, that’s almost 25 years ago. Christ, I’m old.

To properly bum myself out, 25 years before 1995 was 1970 which, when it comes to anything more than 5 years before the year you were born might as well feel like 100. Popular that year were the songs “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel, “American Woman” by The Guess Who (a song I I’ve always fucking loathed, and made somehow worse by Lenny Kravitz’s god-awful version in like 2001), “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by BJ Thomas, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross.

Except for “American Woman,” I’m somewhere between mild-to-moderate enjoyment and complete apathy about those songs. But I wondered how the people of 1970 viewed the music of 1995 whose top acts included a variety of grunge bands, Coolio, TLC, and Montell Jordan. The sensibility seems further apart than the distance between 1995 and 2019.

Right?

***

In this week’s Deadspin Funbag, someone posed a hypothetical wherein Appetite for Destruction by Guns N Roses never existed, until a bunch of 40 year-olds record it so it sounds exactly like the original and release it 2019. How successful is the album?

After some requisite self-deprecation about how no one could handle Axl’s 1987 voice coming out of Drew’s self-avowed look of a “rejected stock photo,” he gets to this point:

“Even if Drew N’ Roses got signed and the album came out for the masses, I don’t think anyone would give a shit in 2019. Getting people to care about rock of any kind is an uphill battle right now, and having me sing about a heroin addiction I don’t have isn’t gonna make the job any easier. I love The Struts and I believe that, if this were 1987, they’d be the biggest band on Earth right now. But it’s not 1987, and I need to get the fuck over it. Rock still has its place in this world but it’s not as big of a place as it used to be. And I’m not the right man to give it the cred it needs to win over all the fickle TEENS out there. Teens like Post Malone now. They’re fucking stupid. I’ll bash them on the head with a Stratocaster, I will!”

Lot to unpack here, but I’ll make two quick asides before I get to my main point more than 500 words into this thing. 1. The Struts fucking rule, and you need to check them out. 2. The continued cultural marginalization of rock music is neither good nor bad, but extremely disorienting for me personally. As a DAD who’s place in this culture is to be annoyed by inconsequential shit like this, I don’t care for it.

But most importantly, Post Malone is fucking terrible.

I had no idea who this person was until about 4 months ago, and when I saw all the ugly face tattoos this goober was rocking, I got all excited about him. Why? Because I grew up when Marilyn Manson and White Zombie and Prodigy and weirdo industrial music was popular. These people looked like creatures out of a nightmare, and had a musical aesthetic to match. Not to sound too Gran Torino here, but popular music back in my day was HARD. A lot of it was rough as fuck, and maybe I’m forever 14, but I still think that’s cool.

So I saw Post Malone looking like he wasn’t afraid to shank a prison guard, and then I listened to his music and what did I find? Just the groggiest, shittiest, boringest, most derivative hip hop you could ever imagine. You’re wasting that lunatic façade on some unholy musical union of the worst parts of Lil Wayne and Asher Roth?

Drew’s right. Teens are fucking stupid.

***

While we were in Phoenix, my best friend Jason and I were drinking on the patio of our Airbnb listening to some tunes and talking about music, as we often do.

“I don’t understand these kids who list Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith as their favorite artists,” I told him. “It’s like, you have your whole damn life to listen to secretary rock. Get into something that confuses and angers old people, not something you’re both happy come on while you’re at the dentist. That’s why I always appreciated dubstep. Don’t get me wrong, I fucking hate dubstep and think it’s awful, but that’s the point. My parents refused to buy me a Rage Against the Machine album, so I recognize that dubstep isn’t for me, and I think that’s great.”

It wasn’t until I was thinking about how that Bush concert was 25 years ago that Post Malone started to make sense to me. I’m not supposed to like Post Malone. I’m a 37 year-old father of two who runs his own business. He’s 23, makes terrible fucking music and looks like an asshole. I may as well be on Mars in terms of how far I am from his ideal demographic.

Realizing you no longer have to give a shit about youth culture is incredibly liberating, but I think is also difficult for many people as they age. Whereas once everything is created to cater to your whims, tastes, and sensibilities, now you’re old and a far fewer subset of people are seeking your validation. I’ve heard cast members of The Real World describe a much more intense version of this feeling when they come off the show. For five months people are pointing a camera at you asking for your reaction to every single that happened that day, and then all of a sudden, no one gives a shit again and you’re essentially nobody.

I maintain that I will NEVER understand kids who list The Beatles and Van Morrison and Simon & Garfunkel as their favorite artists, though. That shit is timeless and will always be waiting for you to discover. But you have a very small window to really dig into music that confuses and angers adults and inspires 1,200 word blog posts about it.

So dig into your shitty music, enjoy the hell out of it, and when it comes time to, revel in writing that blog post about how much the 2033 version of Post Malone sucks.  

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