When my son was ten, he began to develop his own taste in music in earnest. At first I was excited, and created a Pandora account for him so that he could explore different types of music without being limited to his father’s collection. Then from his room I heard sounds like this:
And I was like, “Wait, what?!”
I mean, there’s nothing wrong with industrial rock and whatever The Browning are (Wikipedia says “electronicore,” but at some point we’re just throwing words together, aren’t we?), and if they’re you’re thing, that’s cool. But he was ten. Ten. At ten I was listening to some combination of Jim Croce, Three Dog Night, The Band, Steve Winwood (solo, not even Blind Faith), and Billy Ocean. “Get out of my dreams, get into my car!” Needless to say, I freaked out a little.
I’m not sure what my issue was, really, but I suppose it had something to do with not realizing that his emotional life might be sophisticated enough for music that… hard. I mean, maybe he just liked loud things, or maybe I was missing something. Then he went through a Linkin Park period, a Korn period, a Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave period, and all along I kept thinking, “What the hell?!” and occasionally, “I think I hung out with my son in high school.”
Around thirteen, his musical tastes began to diversify, much to my relief. Hip hop and R&B entered his catalogue, as did some classic rock (he has Boston and Bon Jovi stations on Pandora). Then at around 14, dubstep. Lots and lots of dubstep. Sooooo much dubstep. I started to hear that wub wub sub-bass in my dreams, I shit you not.
Finally, I think he’s reached some sort of equilibrium over the last year or so. Every once in a while I’ll ask him to send me a list of some songs that he’s into at the moment, and he’ll quickly oblige me. I’ll listen to them, think “Cool!” or “Oh brother” alternately, and get a sense of who he’s becoming. Sometimes I even learn about new music.
Here are the tracks on his latest list. It’s not all my groove, but I can’t lie, I am a little relieved the electronicore thing is mostly over. Does that make me an old man? So be it.
Trap! That I can handle. Hell, it’s got a beat; I can dance to it.
That I even like. In fact, I’d never heard of Overwerk (I’ll be damned if I know where he heard of him), but I’ve now listened to the whole EP a few times, and it’s pretty awesome if you like electronica. It’s a little Daft Punk, a little Deadmau5, a little house, a little dubstep, and not at all bad. Not great, but good while you’re writing a post, say.
Ah, he’s my son. Kendrick Lamar is the King of New York.
Yeah, he still really likes dubstep. By the way, the only way to properly listen to that is to jump up and down with your hands held high, bouncing your head like your neck muscles are atrophied.
Umm… yeah, apparently he’s R.’s son as well, because she’s the Drake fan. I’m pretty sure she is the one who made him a fan. Lord knows it wasn’t me. The video’s pretty fun, though.
Hahahaha… wait a minute, wait a minute… hahahahahaha… Oh man, let me catch my breath. OK, he’s definitely my son. I am on record as saying that is the best pop song ever. Apparently Michael Jackson thought so too.
Now that’s going to be stuck in my head for days. It has 87 million views, so he’s clearly not alone in liking this song. And it is pretty damned catchy. Teenagers’ll be teenagers, right?
Are all Skrillex videos in slow motion? Here he’s playing with dubstep’s roots, I suppose. It’s still Skrillex. I’m only supposed to say nice things, so I’ll leave it there. On the bright side, my son tells me that between Shaggy and this song, he’s become a reggae fan.
215 million views. Damn is it catchy. Makes me want to put on animal masks and go to the club. I will forget it five minutes after listening to it, though.
And finally, he’s my son again! I hope he doesn’t understand all of the lyrics, though (man do a lot of songs mention “molly”). If you’re not familiar with the state of hip hop today, those verses in order are by Big Sean, Pusha T (who was all over SXSW), Yeezus, and 2 Chainzs. I admit that if I were in strict parent mode, I would be unhappy with him listening to a song like this, but then I remember that I was listening to NWA and 2 Live Crew by his age, and feel much better about this song.
If he’s anything like me, and I think he’s a lot like me, his musical taste will go through multiple stages of evolution over the next couple years, and at 18 he’ll look upon much of the music he’s listening to at 16 as awful, even embarrassing. But I like that he’s developing his own taste, for the most part independent of his parents’, and even of his friends’ (who, from what I can tell, do dubstep and hip hop only). That’s pretty cool, right? Maybe in a couple years I’ll write another one of these with ten songs from 18 year old Chris’ son. I bet it will be quite different.