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Mama Swifties need to grow up Excitable parents should leave those kids alone

A fantastic advertisement for the National Trust. (Kevin Mazur/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management )

A fantastic advertisement for the National Trust. (Kevin Mazur/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management )


June 14, 2024   5 mins

It’s been a bumper week for middle-aged journalists enthusing about Taylor Swift. Broadsheet music critics attending the Edinburgh leg of her ongoing Eras tour seemed positively high on second-hand oestrogen fumes as they filed their encomiums. And there were further excitable contributions from parents, writing about the joys of taking teenagers to the show.

In the Times, correspondent Ben Hoyle wrote that going to the concert with his wife and children had acted as a bonding experience for the family, during which he realised “he couldn’t be happier”. An accompanying picture showed him resplendent in a hot pink feather boa, which he said had been urged upon him by his teenage daughters. Meanwhile, in the Mail on Sunday Bryony Gordon recounted the story of what was, for both her and her 11-year-old, “the best night of our lives — and made all the more magical for getting to enjoy it together”.  According to Gordon, the concert had “united the generations in sparklingly spectacular glory”.

Less cynical minds than mine probably read this stuff with approval. Assuming that parents and children are increasingly mutually alienated, lost in different online worlds, isn’t it refreshing to read about a relatively innocent communal activity taking place in the open air? But I’m afraid I’m going to be the voice of doom. If you want that sort of thing, do a Parkrun together. In my ideal world, adults would get their vampiric mitts off young people’s music and leave them to it.

Reality is not ideal, however; and I’m as guilty as the next Gen X-er of having a Spotify playlist that ill behoves my advancing years. In fact, with my own kids, it is as if the poles have reversed — when my 18-year-old tells me he has an “absolute banger” he wants me to listen to, more often than not it’s by Fats Waller. It’s all a far cry from the late 20th century, where an informal social contract still existed between teenagers and their parents, dictating that the right and proper attitude towards the other party’s music should be suspicion bordering upon downright contempt.

Youngsters could feel rebellious in virtue of whatever fresh aural hell was emitting from turntables and tape recorders, while adults in the vicinity would mutter gratifyingly about the culturally impenetrable noise. Concerts and raves were places for older kids to engage in Dionysian excess — dancing, moshing, screaming, crying, snogging, crowdsurfing, ingesting stimulants, and acquiring eardrum injuries — as their parents worried about them impotently, far removed from the action.

But then the mobile phone came along, spoiling live music in a number of ways — and not just because now, at emotionally charged moments, you had to wave your phone torch aloft instead of a lighter. Soon, certain brains would automatically translate nascent feelings of excitement into an imperative to film something; to adopt a shrewd directorial eye towards incoming sensory experience, treating it as a product to be sold on later to others. This also meant it was no longer possible to dance like no one was watching. Another result was that now young people were never very far away from their parents, psychologically speaking — only a call away, in fact, which seems at some point in the 2010s to have morphed into “only a few feet away” instead.

Nowadays, there is much talk about helicopter parenting, but in the case of music, the metaphor should probably be that of a grasping hook — though one which steals nice things from teenage girls not boys, since the latter still seem able to go to rap and rock gigs without chaperoning. The main site of familial musical appreciation is commercial pop music like Swift’s: consumed by vastly more females than males, and scarcely much of a prospect for adolescent defiance anyway, either in terms of decibel level or parental advisory warnings. Instead, what pop music does best is give visceral melodic form to desperate feelings of love and heartbreak, topics very close to young hearts. Doubtless such themes are perennial. Still, when you are belting out a ballad along with your idol, pouring forth all that rejection and self-doubt like an exorcism, do you really want to hear your mother singing it too?

That music has become so horribly inclusive is not entirely the fault of us oldies, though. As others have noted, largely thanks to internet streaming we seem to have arrived at the doldrums phase of musical history: stuck in an eternal present with no forward momentum. All musical periods are available all the time, and artists — even great ones like Swift — don’t so much create new styles as put old ones in quotation marks. It’s also impossible for youth subcultures to get going in quite the same way, since an infinity of choice atomises listeners.

Globally, there might be lots of fans of a particular act, but locally there are unlikely to be enough to feel part of something meaningful. And even when you stumble across something you love, there’s a relative lack of physical objects in which to ground the intense feeling: fewer records and CDs, music venues and record shops; no weekly music papers to pore over; virtual fandoms rather than organised fan clubs. Sounds float weightlessly, easily accessed and more easily lost. Megastars like Swift, capable of filling stadiums and shifting merch at scale, hoover up the surplus adoration.

Though it sounds fogeyish to say it, musical quality has also definitely deteriorated, as record companies aim for whatever is most likely to achieve virality on TikTok. Songs are getting shorter and also simpler, lyrically and melodically; the album format is dying; the “loudness war” continues, reducing aural dynamics; human composition and performance are now indistinguishable from AI. New bands make practically no money from streaming and can’t afford to tour. Perhaps it isn’t surprising, then, that this year’s festivals include headliners whose heydays were decades ago: Coldplay at Glastonbury; Pet Shop Boys at the Isle of Wight; Liam Gallagher and Blink 182 at Leeds and Reading.

Some may protest that great tunes speak to everyone; and anyway, the absence of aesthetic boundaries between family members is not all bad. Given the state of the housing market, you will probably all be living together forever anyway — so why not lean into the psychic enmeshment? At least that way you won’t be fighting over what comes out of the speakers.

Still, I suspect the lack of generational differentiation — musical or otherwise — has a cost. In a reboot of The Picture of Dorian Gray, as adults refuse to grow up, Gen Z-ers seem to get ever more straight-faced and anhedonic in compensation. Booze and sex are out, apparently; antidepressants and staycations in the Cotswolds are in. It’s as if they are desperate to make a psychic break with older generations, and have concluded that moderation, responsibility, and excessive worry about the future are their only options. Every time a political leader arses about on a waterslide, a 20-something on Love Island gets enough facial fillers to make her look like a Milf.

“Booze and sex are out, apparently; antidepressants and staycations in the Cotswolds are in.”

A perhaps healthier means of mentally detaching from your elders — and perhaps of getting a bit of revenge too — is by featuring them in your social media content, in order to make them look endearingly foolish and pet-like. That seems to be what 24-year-old Francesca Scorsese, daughter of film director Martin, has been doing for a while now: getting her famous and apparently compliant 81-year-old father to pronounce upon the function of various “feminine items” of hers, or otherwise clown around, then putting the outputs to ironic music. A recent TikTok trend which also mines the narcissistic tendencies of parents involves getting them to dance to Bronski Beat like they “would have danced in the 80s” and then filming the results.

Parents might think they look cutely uninhibited, but the kids are presumably watching a whole different show. After all, “cool” is an attributive adjective, changing its standards of application relative to context. Just as a “large” mouse still looks small next to an elephant, a “cool” parent — at least in the eyes of other parents — can still be a source of high mirth or mortification to subsequent generations.

It’s almost enough to give the unselfconscious concert-going mum and dad a dose of paranoia. While you were uploading those happy family selfies for Instagram, who knows what your darling offspring were posting about you on Snapchat? Maybe next time, instead of playing the glitter-strewn ghost at the feast, try to restore the natural order of things: drop them off at the venue if you must, but with the parting shot that whatever they are about to hear is a load of rubbish. And then go and take selfies at a National Trust property instead.


Kathleen Stock is an UnHerd columnist and a co-director of The Lesbian Project.
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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
1 month ago

I can only admit that pop music is no longer for me with a sense of sadness, but it’s a vague, distant sadness; I fell out of touch with the music scene when I got my first in-car CD player and no longer had any reason to put up with the inane chatter of disc jockeys. I still discover new groups and artists, but they’re far out of the mainstream. My news feed occasionally mentions celebrities, but apparently solely for the amusement of prompting me to say, “Who the hell are these people?” I’m officially old, I guess.
Also I hate, on principle, the idea of streaming music, which is just radio you have to pay for, so I’m one of the last people on earth who collects CDs. They can take my Hawkwind albums when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 month ago

The streaming music scene seems to be having a deleterious affect on modern music. I was talking to a yoga teacher recently, who uses Pandora to stream some background music during her classes. Usually, there is a “style” preferred for classes like that, but – dare to be different – this woman was playing late-sixties through early-eighties rock. For awhile. After she stopped I asked her why and she said the licensing fees had become astronomical. She was paying for it out of her own pocket. I guess Pandora has a cheap license for individuals; but she couldn’t use that – because it was in a commercial setting. Way too expensive. She couldn’t select stuff, only “categories”. She tried several and found one that played a few of her old favorites – called “lite oldies” or something like that. But the selection is very thin. You hear the same five pieces now every hour, with a few more random ones thrown in. So I’m figuring these are the ones with the lowest royalty fees. And these five are lame – Hall and Oats, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Van Morrison (guess which one). Nothing great from that era – ever – by anyone’s metrics. It’s similar to the Netflix phenomena. When they started, it was DVDs and they had at least 30,000 different titles in their inventory before they went streaming. Initially, their streaming inventory was also pretty large. But they’ve reduced both of them dramatically. I read a while back that they keep the streaming collection down under 4000 titles now. Don’t know what the DVD collection amounts to – if that’s still operating.
The whole copyright thing has become a cancerous growth. The social contract on copyrights is basically granting originators a temporary — TEMPORARY – exclusive right to market what they’ve created, along with all the enforcement weight the government (of the people, remember) brings to bear. And what the people are supposed to get in return is the right to free access after this temporary period. What we’re getting now is nothing. They’ve set up a system where they can keep telescoping the time periods out farther and farther. Or like Zeno’s paradox. You never get there. They effectively never expire.
The music companies tried to tie radio up that way but the courts sided with the people, and only granted them a small royalty for playing copyrighted songs. The music companies said it would kill their profits and dry up the industry. Instead, during the fifties, sixties and seventies it exploded. Streaming rights are treated differently. And the opposite seems to be happening. It’s drying up. A smaller set of material being played all the time. Great if you’re one of the designated artists. Sucks for new talent.
Isn’t it more than a little weird to hear young people listening to the same music you did forty or fifty years earlier?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago

Yes, it sucks if you’re new talent in music or in acting. It’s the same musicians and actors who get awards over and over. It’s obscene. They’re loaded with money and recognition and they don’t need more accalades for any reason.

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Established music (and artists) are extant commodity-products that can be owned, controlled and milked by the ongoing manipulation of royalty and copyright laws. New music is not much use to the leviathan corporations like Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group, unless and until whoever is making it has been picked by them as their latest winner (ie Tay Tay).
The historical window in which musical artists had a shot a huge fortunes was brief: probably Jan 1968 (when the Beatles got financially ‘woke’ and kicked off Apple Corps as a fumbling attempt for proper control of their assets) to Sep 1999 (when Napster upended everything). In any case most of the really rich artists have got properly so by turning big musical profits into huge non-musical ones, via property, financial assets and non-music enterprises that aggressively monetise their branding.
Artists whinge about big corporations ‘ripping them off’ and ‘squeezing them out’ all the time, but the blunt truth is that that’s a grizzle that’s always been a bit of a functional non-sequitur. Big profits for individual creative acts – in both senses – are, solely and wholly, the result of mass production and distribution capacity in the first place. That applies to the mature internet no less than the pre-digital days, given that accumulated streaming ‘hits’ and ‘clicks’ are the result of banal algorithmic domination, in exactly the same way that free-broadcast radio airplays and vinyl production and shipping capacity were what truly underpinned ‘mass popularity’.
No matter how talented, an artist can’t expect to make a $billion from their smash hit song without a ‘big company’ getting behind it. The ‘music business’ has always been far more about the business than the music. You can find original artists of the calibre and productivity of Taylor Swift in every second LA troubadour nightclub. And dare I utter the blasphemy – as a fan – that even the best music of the Fab Four would only turn the head of one in ten casual listeners if mass media marketing (which is a nicer way fo saying ‘mass taste manipulation’) hadn’t catapulted it into the stratosphere of timeless historical genius.
One good thing the internet is doing is diluting the very concept of ‘fame’ itself, which among much else across the ‘mass media century’ (Christmas Eve 1906 – Nov 30 2022) was guilty of over-amplifying epic mountains of truly sh*thouse ‘art’. Musicians these days are like the minstrels of old: to make an honest living, you have to get out and do your job of work: playing live gigs to a live audience, where any real ‘art of and in the moment’ can’t be faked, predicted or stolen. Or, sadly for the musos but happily for their audiences, financially gouged! You don’t have to pay a thousand quid to go to a Swift concert; most of that admission price is for her fame, after all, not her musical originality or performance skills. Buy 100 ten quid door cover charges at your local music venue instead.

Rob Macf
Rob Macf
1 month ago

You were paying before, when listening to those DJs, with your time – which is about the most precious thing you own.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago

She’s only gone and absolutely nailed it again.
With too many outstanding lines to pick out, the overall idea that KS writes about here just rings true. “Getting down with the kids” is literally bringing them down.
What’s really interesting is the consequences. It’s been assumed that each generation would produce it’s own distinct form of youthful rebellion, accompanied by a musical soundtrack which creates dissonance in the ears of parents and elders. That’s only been happening for three or four generations at most though, since about 1950.
So will we just revert to how things were before this era? The major differences are that parents didn’t try to emulate their children, rather the other way round; and there wasn’t a constant analysis taking place of how the generations interacted. We really are living through unprecedented times, heralded by KS with deliciously precise observations.
OK, i’ll have to give one example:

Every time a political leader arses about on a waterslide, a 20-something on Love Island gets enough facial fillers to make her look like a Milf.

Brilliant!

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I suspect that in humiliating an old man Francesca Coppola is getting her revenge for not having an old man for a father.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I couldn’t disagree more.
My 7 year old has introduced me to BlackPink and I am determined to ‘Dad on the Dancefloor’ until she facepalms. Blackpink in your area – eh-yo!
Furthermore, dad’s getting down to their kid’s music and causing said kids to facepalm is a venerable tradition – I remember it from my youth.
Also, there has always been a constant analysis of how the generations interacted. You can read it in Thackery novels, for goodness’ sake.
Perhaps KS is getting Stockholm Syndrome from reading too many comments written by the UnHerd grump-etariat?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Good for you. There’s no such thing as ‘young people’s music’. It’s great that there are still a few things that families can do together. Completely vacuous article.

laura m
laura m
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

the pop genre can be age stratified, especially nowadays. but I totally agree, exploring art and culture as a family is an obvious match. I still recall the fabulous Ed Sullivan show on sunday night, a feast for family, in one hour we would hear the great Lena Horn followed by Jefferson Airplane featuring Grace Slick. Everyone admired their creativity and talent.

laura m
laura m
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

who would downvote this observation?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

Grateful Dead fans??

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Just fyi, i still go clubbing… but not with the kids, that’d just be ridiculous.
Maybe if you didn’t have such a lack of imagination, you wouldn’t pigeon-hole people that live beyond the norm?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I can’t imagine not pigeon-holing people…

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

You’re poor child! It Seems she will never be able to get away from you and develop her own personality and lifestyle.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Perhaps not, but with my strict adherence to Grammar Nazidom, I have high hopes that she’ll learn the difference between the second person possessive pronoun, and the contraction of the second person personal pronoun and its corresponding conjugation of the verb ‘to be’.
Your [sic] a lost cause!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Just let it go and stop before your child gets to the age that you are embarrassing…

Pedro the Exile
Pedro the Exile
1 month ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

So in the next week or so and completely separately:
Youngest daughter-Travis Scott (an American rapper apparently)
Eldest Daughter-Girls aloud
Me-Nick mason sSaucerful of Secrets
Seems about right

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

God! I feel a bit sick. So many thinking in terms generations yet posing as individuals! Habitual participation in Unheard comments is like clubbing when you are already too old to yet want to pretend you’re not? I’m so cool I’m not with the herd kind of thing. I’m still in.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

When, exactly, is “too old”? My partner and i love dancing, and yes, having been involved in clubbing in the 90s/00s, do you seriously think we should just stop and grow fat? We’re both fit as hell. And you can go to hell. The clubs we go to are for the older crowd anyway, but you, in your judgementalism, already have more than one foot in the grave.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

The exercise is a good point, assuming you do actually cut the rug up most of the night and don’t just sink a load of bevvy. I might even be tempted back as there’s a fair few decent nights on where my old muckers from the 90s dust their decks and vinyl off (unless they’ve gone digital). Young people are welcome and tolerated. That’s fine, in moderation of course.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Thinking of older generations of my family growing up in the Scottish Highlands, if there was a ceilidh on then people came from far and wide, young and old. These were often wild affairs with no alcohol licence and everyone was complicit in not attracting the attention of the constabulary and avoiding the gaze of the Minister come Sunday. So, maybe this is a return to older ways.

On the other hand, I’m a product of my time. For my cohort, the big one was when a wee bunch of us who used to frequent the pub near school decided to go and see Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour in Wembley Stadium. All aged 17 (three girls and two lads) off we went to London, armed with little more than thirty quid a piece, our tickets and a tube map. Parents assumed we would be ok and find our way back, which we did. The idea of my DAD standing behind me in a feather boa as I sang along to Vogue makes my skin crawl even now (and I’m dearly fond of Pfarti Senior). He did pick us up from the station at 3:00 am though, so thanks Dad and happy Father’s Day ;0)

Thomas Pinder
Thomas Pinder
1 month ago

Best writer out there. Kathleen Stock would be my number 1 least favourite person to have a debate with. I’d feel like a Frenchman in the Maginot Line.

Amelia Melkinthorpe
Amelia Melkinthorpe
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Pinder

She is good, but her assertion that the Swift creature is “a great artist” makes me wonder about her judgement.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago

Yes, few days ago female chief content officer of Russian comic (London Evening Standard) said that people enjoying Swift music have intellect of a worm.
Sounds unfair to worms.
The same goes for Adale and Ed Sheeran.
Vacuous music for morons.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew F

It’s spelled Adele.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Ye ye

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
1 month ago

Dare I say that Ms Stock has read too much into those articles by Hoyle and Gordon?

Paul Ten
Paul Ten
1 month ago

I have a theory that this phenomenon is one factor driving the increase in gender anxiety and fluidity among teenagers.  Your mum and dad dress the same as you do, listen to the same music and go to the same concerts, so what are you to do? Gender fluidity fulfils the role that teenage youth cults did in my day. It provides a framework in which to define your emerging identity and is just subversive enough to be incomprehensible and upsetting to your parents. Of course, young people are immersed in it through the culture, and it has a very harmful side, but I do wonder if many will leave it behind as they get older, like we did our purple flares and prog-rock LPs.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Ten

There have been ‘genderfluid’ popstars since the 60s. Except they didn’t use that term. Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan, anyone with long hair when everyone outside music still had short hair, David Bowie, Glam Rock, Boy George.

ERIC PERBET
ERIC PERBET
1 month ago

The original UK sleeve of Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World’s remains to this day the best example of gender-bending aesthetics in pop.
In those days, it was done with class, humour and in a cultured way with a nod to Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
Today, it’s done in a pedestrian way by brain-washed half wits.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  ERIC PERBET

with a nod to Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

And Lauren Bacall

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Ten

Very good. It’s a better way to understand the phenomenon; certainly less divisive. In fact, if you think about it, it’s the meddling of the adults that caused the bad feelings. We should have just ignored it all.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 month ago

Pop music today simply doesn’t hold the cultural place for young ones that it had for us boomers and to a lesser extent the GenX and millennials. Comparisons are pointless.

Fafa Fafa
Fafa Fafa
1 month ago

An interesting take on why modern pop music is so awful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVME_l4IwII

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 month ago

Nah, I think the cross-generational bonding over Taylor Swift thing is nice. Happy kids, happy parents, happy memories – it’s more happiness in the world and – if you’re going to get a tad philosophical about it – Jeremy Bentham would approve.
On a separate note, I had to laugh at the phrase “absolute banger” – this is such a Gen X phrase! Currently engaged in an ongoing WhatsApp thread with my Gen X sister about “absolute bangers from the early 90s” where we try to outdo each other every day with a new hit from that lost time. So far, I think I’m winning with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZcMgZYnN20
(Also discovered on my early 90s trip that it’s not a good idea to write anything while listening to the Prodigy – unless what you are writing is a very snippy customer complaint…)

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I almost wish I agreed with you.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Great advice. Next time I’m dissatisfied with goods or services, on goes Smack My b***h Up!

Chris Whybrow
Chris Whybrow
1 month ago

Um… is this really an issue? It’s not like civilisation depends on children rebelling against their parents. One might even dare to think that the exact opposite is a sign of a healthy society.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Whybrow

It’s not like civilisation depends on children rebelling against their parents

It might depend on adults growing up and developing a more sophisticated view of life than that contained in the average pop song though.

JOHN B
JOHN B
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

If the author had made this point, I would have agreed with the thrust of the article

JOHN B
JOHN B
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Whybrow

If taken too far its a disaster. Afterall, a culture surely needs norms and traditions that survive generational change. And the hedonism of the past 50 years has led to birth rates in accelerating, exponential decline and when there is family formation its unstable. That said, without sufficient friction/ innovation/rebellion also bad.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 month ago

The main issue for me is the inability of musicians (as opposed to wannabe celebrities who make money lip-synching) to earn enough money from music to make a living from it and to develop as musicians. By refusing to spend money on records, the young generation has deprived itself of musicians who speak for that generation and write its anthems. Instead they have to put up with the music the music industry wants to output.

Glynis Roache
Glynis Roache
1 month ago

I agree about the development of musicians. Napster and its descendants in the file sharing business deprived record companies of the finances to take on up and coming bands and give them time to develop. Along with some managerial conflict, it certainly contributed to the dissolution of our sons’ band which was on the rise. Still, it was fun for a while having Virgin Records etc ringing up. 
    I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift – but then I was at student union dances in the days when Pink Floyd etc used to play at them. Never ending guitar solos improvised on stage with nothing for embellishment but a strange film of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse flitting across the wall behind them. 
    That said, the mother and daughter expeditions to see the Swift ‘phenomenon’ seem a lot more healthy than some mother and daughter groupie combos that apparently peopled the live scene in our sons’ day. Sounded most unedifying. Even the bands thought so.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

Francoise Hardy died on Tuesday at age 80 from cancer. Such a crystal clear voice and uncluttered performances. She epitomized all that was French.

Utter
Utter
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Ye ye.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Glynis Roache

We practiced in the garage, paid for our own recordings, did our own management and distribution, played every crap basement bar east of the Mississippi for eight years before we got a record deal. The label didn’t develop squat. The label got us on the radio but they also tried to shoe horn four under-achievers into a marketable package, one we didn’t fit in. They wrecked it. One record later it was over. Most of the crap basement bars are closed. Kids don’t get home from school and practice guitar until dinner and then after dinner. The whole rock and roll model is gone, and with it rock and roll.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Taylor Swift is a woman in her 30s writing about complex sexual and romantic relationships as well as complex business relationships. Her early music was for teens but her recent music is for adults. Taylor Swift isn’t making music that’s targeted at teens anymore. Many adults with teens (myself included) have been fans for 20 years now.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Any chance of a lyric sample to back that up?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

There are so many. But one stanza I am relating to right now as a gender critical feminist and classic liberal is this one taken from her song Cassandra, which is based on the Greek myth.

“They knew, they knew, they knew the whole time
That I was onto something
The family, the pure greed, the Christian chorus line
They all said nothing
Blood’s thick but nothing like a payroll
Bet they never spared a prayer for my soul
You can mark my words that I said it first
In a morning warning, no one heard“

Same song, final stanza

“When the first stone’s thrown, there’s screaming
In the streets, there’s a raging riot
When it’s “Burn the b***h, ” they’re shrieking
When the truth comes out, it’s quiet
It’s so quiet“

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I’ll have to listen to it. Pop song lyrics rarely stand up without the music. Honestly it sounds a little overwrought to me, but I’ll give it a listen.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Honestly – and it’s just my view of course – bland, uninspired and pretentious.

J C
J C
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

But the question was not, “Does David Morley like it?” The question was, “Is it so adolescent and vacuous that grown women shouldn’t allow themselves to enjoy it?”

There is a lot of music that I don’t enjoy but I don’t begrudge or judge others for doing so. What’s pretentious and boring to me is being judgmental about what other adults enjoy listening to.

Plenty of responsible well-educated adults with mortgages, teenage children, and highly paid jobs enjoy Taylor Swift’s music. I’m no Disney adult but I’m not a snob either.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  J C

And my answer was not that I don’t like it. That would be to say something about me, not about the music. I made a judgement about the music. I realise that we live in an age which is nervous about making judgements.

J C
J C
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Sure you don’t like the music but do you agree with Kathleen Stock that adult women shouldn’t listen to it because it’s too juvenile and is a sign that adults have stopped embracing their adult roles in society?

J C
J C
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes, YOU made a judgement. It’s a subjective opinion you have offered. You judge the music as pretentious and bland. But you aren’t the objective arbiter of truth around what music is worthy of respect.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Maybe – but Joni Mitchell she definitely ain’t.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Nor Regina Spektor, to come a bit more up to date. Nor, I guess, even Lana del Rey.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

She doesn’t need to be, It’s nice to have both, not either/or, both.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

as adults refuse to grow up, Gen Z-ers seem to get ever more straight-faced and anhedonic in compensation

Who knows, perhaps they’ll start listening to string quartets.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

In my thirties my father asked me if I listened to classical music. I said no. He said ‘don’t leave it too late’. I left it too late. One of my biggest regrets.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

But you’re still alive, why is it too late?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Adults seem to have become incapable of any pleasure deeper than “fun”. They just don’t seem to be able to grow up. My prejudice, but women do seem to be worse – but men aren’t that much better. It’s embarrassing, and also hard to keep your mouth shut and not criticise.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

You’re suggesting life should be joyless?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Not at all.

I’m suggesting that childishness is not the only route to joy. And joy does not have to be childish. In fact for adults it’s the route to unhappiness and lack of fulfilment. If you want an image, I would call it the disneyfication of joy.

It’s a feature of our society that we associate joy with childish pleasures rather than mature ones – while our image of maturity seems to be dragging your aging body round national trust properties every weekend.

Also, while they may protest the opposite, there is always something desperate and slightly dysfunctional about people who are still behaving like children in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Probably because emotional immaturity doesn’t make for happiness.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I replied with a few entirely unobjectionable paragraphs, but Unherd seems to have swallowed them.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Surely there is joy in overcoming challenges :managing to climb the rockface which one did not think possible, winning a match a match from behind, solving a technical problem, achieving somnething which one felt impossible, etc.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
1 month ago

I think the good doctor is mistaken on this one. A distinct youth culture is a historical aberration. Moms, dads, children, and grandchildren all going to a Taylor Swift concert together might just be a reversion to the historical norm.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago

That’s the same point i was making, except to point out that “the historical norm” would involve children following the tastes of their elders, not the other way round; therefore hardly a “norm”.

JOHN B
JOHN B
1 month ago

I agree. Taken too far, the idea that each generation should bring forward something entirely new is dangerous and destabilising. And not to mention impossible.

Dillon Eliassen
Dillon Eliassen
1 month ago

Part of proper parenting is embarrassing your kids by how uncool you are, so attending a rave or concert with your kids subverts the established order! But it seems like today’s younger generation is afraid of the world and so prefer to have their parents with them at shows. It should be normal to be embarrassed to have your parents with you at a show, but some of that, I suspect, is due to the kind of music. Our parents had their own pop music, which going back to the 1950s has evolved in only very small ways, so kids, teens, 20somethings going to Taylor Swift with their parents doesn’t seem as weird as if I wanted my parents to tag along with me to see Deerhunter, Broken Social Scene, Leftover Crack, Minor Threat, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, The Sea and Cake, etc.

Susan Nourse
Susan Nourse
1 month ago

Terrible article. My kids are not swifties, nor am I. But many teenagers had only their mums to dance with during the pandemic. Parents and kids are allowed to enjoy the same entertainment and to want to see it together: added to that that many swifties are too young to go to these huge stadium gigs on their own.
Joy should not be confined to the young: if I am to be consigned to National Trust properties at the age of 53 then shoot me now. If you want to feel young you need to live young: why should you move on from activities you enjoyed as a teen / young adult?
Middle aged woman, know your place.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan Nourse

You’ve got two things mixed up. There’s a difference between “living young” at any age and “getting down with the kids” – especially your own. Leave them to their own activities, with their peers, whilst pursuing whatever takes your fancy at any age.

Susan Nourse
Susan Nourse
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I don’t believe so. There is a difference between trying to be their mate rather than their parent and being allowed to enjoy the same activities and enjoy them together.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan Nourse

Both apply.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Surely if the kids want their parents to share in the fun, why not?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan Nourse

Actually no one is telling you what to do – but they are saying that some behaviours show maturity and some do not. If you don’t want to grow up, don’t. The idea that youthful activities are best is a product of the sixties.

The whole point is that Taylor Swift and the National Trust are not all that is on offer. Nor are childish pleasures the only joy on offer. I think that at your age if all you read was Enid Blyton most people would think that was pretty limiting.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan Nourse

If you want to feel young you need to live young

But being stuck in a rut is not what intelligent young people do. Their tastes develop at a quite remarkable rate, so that music they liked a year ago seems embarrassingly childish. Books they used to like start to appear ridiculous.

The difference today is that some adults have failed to continue that development into adulthood. Living young means continuing to develop as you grow older, seeking out genuinely new experiences – not getting stuck with the tastes of a sixteen year old.

A D Kent
A D Kent
1 month ago

I would grow up, but moshing is to much fun.

Jamie
Jamie
1 month ago

This feels like the resentment of an aging boomer; do we really have such a proliferation of joy in the world that we can sneer at parents and kids having fun at a Taylor Swift concert? Perhaps you would banish Scott and Andrea too? Taylor models affectionate bonds and sets a great model. Nostalgia for alienation is not what the world needs now; but rather:love. To quote a nice old boomer tune.

nadnadnerb
nadnadnerb
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie

At age 52, Kathleen is a “Gen X” I guess.
No Boomers were born after midnight , Dec 31st, 1964.
Time magazine said so. Roughly.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago

Teenagerdom is a luxury lifestyle that emerged at the end of the 19th century in New York (where else ?) to.pander to the ‘needs’ of a new breed of wealthy, bored kids with too much time and money on their hands, and has since become a full time industry.

My mother-in-law left school at 14 on a Friday and started a full-time job on Monday in the mill, thereby becoming an adult. No teenage dramas for her or worrying about Taylor Swift.

The more time and money most people have, the sillier and more narcissistic they become – and probably less grounded and happy to boot.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Excellent comments. Some children were working at the age of 12 years. One could go to sea a powder monkey on the lower decks or as a midshipman such as Nelson. One would take exams to be made Lieutenant after 7 years. Theoretically one could be captain of a small vessel at the age of nineteeen years and already have seven years of combat and tavern life. After seven years of visiting docks there would not be much of life one had not experienced.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

As a male.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

In fact there were women on ships.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

The more time and money most people have, the sillier and more narcissistic they become

And this is a great shame. First, because life should not be all toil, and second because life is very rich if you can grow past silliness and narcissism.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

I don’t think poverty and soul-destroying work are the path to happiness.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Work will set you free

Utter
Utter
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Ah yes, that’d be a good motto to put above the gates of a factory, or some such…..

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

There is a golden mean. Unless a person is tempered by adversity and tested they atrophy. Humans need to overcome challenges. Newton and C Darwin lived the life of country gentlemen yet used their lives to make the greatest breakthroughs in the history of science.
Arnold Toynbee says if life is too hard civilisation does not develop but neither does it if it is too easy. Challenges to be overcome but no be too great.

Daniel P
Daniel P
1 month ago

K…on this one I am gonna have to disagree.
I hooked my kids early on great music from the 70’s and 80’s. Still remember my daughter in her car seat clapping her legs and hands to “We Will Rock You” and my son jamming to George Thoroughgood.

My son’s first concert was Dave Mathews and that is now an annual tradition for us.

Then too, I have always loved all kinds of music from classic rock to choral ensembles and I am always on the lookout for something new that I like such as Hozier who I also happened to introduce my kids to and who now my daughter loves.

On the flip side, my kids have pointed out artists to me or specific songs that they think I might like such as Kaleo who my son and I have seen twice. Picked that up from the soundtrack to FIFA 2018 I think.

Really good music tends to hit something in all people. Think Oliver Anthony and “Rich Men North of Richmond” which hit a nerve globally and across generations. Think “Bach Cello Suite #1”.

I think you have to think of this like a Ven Diagram. There is teen music and there is music from the life of adults and parents. There is room for overlap and a shared experience.

I personally do not see Taylor Swift in that category but then I have never really listened to her music.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Dave Matthews – honestly the best concert I ever went to.
I knew him because I had a penfriend from the US and he sent me a mix tape (as you did back in the 90s). It had “Satellite” and “Crash Into Me” on it, and from that moment, I was hooked.
No-one in the UK knew who Matthews was, but he tried to “break into” the UK in about 2003. There was a one-off gig in the Union Chapel in Islington and my housemate managed to win a ticket in a radio competition, which she passed onto me.
I’m telling you, it was incredible – I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Even getting in was crazy, there were Yanks queuing around the block offering absurd money to buy the tickets. I could have funded my uni tuition on the spot…but I was seeing that gig come hell or high water!
It was Dave playing on his own in that lovely church for just a couple of hundred people and it was absolutely sublime.

Daniel P
Daniel P
1 month ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Damn….couple hundred? That is cool.

I live in VA, the band started in Charlottesville VA where DM was a bartender near UVA.

He plays at two different venues here each summer. Then, they usually do a show in Charlottesville. Some years I catch him twice.

Only show I can think of where I have danced that much.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Yep, it was super intimate, I’ll never forget it. A day later or so, DM set up as a busker on Leicester Square and just started playing. One of the world’s biggest acts, a proper arena-filler just standing out there, reeling off some songs…and all the Brits just walked on by, I think he made just a couple of quid!
Then some Americans saw him, the word spread and he had to leave before he was mobbed. So funny how in this case, a huge American act just fell through the cracks completely and didn’t even scratch the British musical consciousness. It’s almost always the other way round.
Say, if you like guitar music, check out Mike Dawes. An absolute virtuoso. I saw him live in Vienna and was so ecstatic, I basically threw myself on him at the merch stand afterwards. Check out his rendition of Jump by Van Halen, incredible stuff.

Daniel P
Daniel P
1 month ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I’ll give you a suggestion for a great trip.

Buy DMB tickets for Jiffy Lube Live in Va. Fly over for the concert and book a few days on each side so you can hit DC and wine country. You will not regret it.

Days out in the Shenandoah Valley, out at a winery, and then nights of live music!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Why not?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

I couldn’t identify a Swift song on pain of death, but what’s the problem here? If parents attend a concert with their kids and everyone enjoys themselves, good for them. My husband and another dad took our daughters to see Good Charlotte when they were still a thing. The dads had a great time, as did the girls.
My son was eight when he fell in love with Jethro Tull – and that was in 2002. We took him to see Ian Anderson in concert – twice – and it was a blast. He’s into Jacob Collier these days – just saw him live a couple of weeks ago in LA.
Point is, not every d*mn thing needs to be scrutinized and dissected. And if I want to dance like an old lady to Uptown Funk and someone laughs at it on Insta, then go ahead, and you’re welcome.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

I noticed some parents had brought their kids to a Too Many Zoos concert, which I thought was great. But thats not a teenybopper concert.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 month ago

Kathleen Stock, a modern Addison.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Who he/she/they/those/them?

John Croteau
John Croteau
1 month ago

Kathleen, you’ve done well documenting the dysfunction of your and other recent generations. Throughout history parents, children, and grandparents functioned as cohesive units building lives and livelihoods. There was no need for teenage rebellion because the Industrial Revolution hadn’t yet broken bonds between the generations. Modern parents seem to be recovering respect for children and their interests as that of miniature adults, which is entirely healthy. History will look back at Gen X and Boomers as dysfunctional generations at war with their forebears.

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
1 month ago

In 2009, I took my then 12 year old son to see Coldplay at Wembley.
He loved Green Day and Coldplay at the time, as did I.
As the Scientist was playing 4 hours into a magnificent 5 hours of music, he turned to me and said “Dad, this has been the best day of my life”.
Precious moment. I don’t care if it’s not cool.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Johnston

Had he been living in Gaza until then?

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Johnston

At least you went to listen to some good bands, nothing wrong with that

Nick Kanuru
Nick Kanuru
1 month ago

Outstanding and a delight to read. Ms. Stock has been (again) insightful and incisive.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick Kanuru

In what way is it “a delight to read”?

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
1 month ago

I cannot see the attraction of this lady’s writing style, which is often praised here. She is funny and perceptive yes but seems obsessed with inserting obscure words and quasi-intellectual abstractions for the sake of, well, what? Looking clever? As Wittgenstein pointed out “All that can be said can be said clearly.” Why go past clarity?
Why say A+C-C+D-D+E-E+F-F = B+C-C+D-D+E-E+F-F when you can just say A=B?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

Why go past clarity?

To provide pleasure in reading surely – and also in writing. And a propos of the current subject, mature adult pleasure.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

Bob Dylan did it.

Y Chromosome
Y Chromosome
1 month ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

You’re not wrong. There are different tastes. I enjoy many of the Unherd articles, but, too often, I find the styles of certain writers (such as Ms. Stock) to include wandering forays into pretentious fluff that are generally unnecessary.

Sean G
Sean G
1 month ago

There may be some worthwhile points made about a few things in this article, but I’m tired of reading about Taylor Swift and other celebrities at UnHerd. It’s depressing enough that an ‘artist’ as bland as Taylor Swift is as popular as she is. But it’s even more depressing that writers who can do far better are expending their energy on consideration of pablum art. In a world in which the most vapid kind of celebrity rakes in millions of dollars while many other, very worthwhile artists have to hold down regular day jobs because their work is being ignored… Well, I’d rather UnHerd’s attention be paid to the latter kind of artist.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean G

Half agree, but how else do we develop an understanding of our culture as it actually is?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean G

You don’t have to read it, there are plenty of other articles on Unherd.

laura m
laura m
1 month ago

I am reaching 70 years, never heard a TS pop song, nor intend to, however…. getting down and seriously funky when my son’s band has a show is a joy unparalleled in life. Particularly finding the moves to match his bass solos. Ecstasy without drugs. and extremely good exercise for proprioception.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

Hope you had your son very early in life. So, I imagine, does he.

laura m
laura m
1 month ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

You wish…. you must not like your body and think aging is something to be embarrassed/afraid of. I am doing great, same weight as 19, and I dress properly. The only problem is the admiring comments from young folks can interfere with losing myself in zone.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

I’m more than ten years your senior. Very fit and active thank you. I do not have any evaluative relationship to my body. It simply gets my brain to the places I wish to go. I was being a tad frivolous, enjoy!

laura m
laura m
1 month ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

Brain and body are fully connected. The joy of dancing provides a great experience of this reality. My son loves that I can interpret and anticipate his music. He ain’t a bore.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

Trying to imagine a bloke saying that about a game of footy 🙂

laura m
laura m
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

wtf.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Bored Writer

Exactly. My body exists to carry my head around.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

Great words, and same here.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

Yikes!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  laura m

I’m surprised you’re not curious and open-minded enough to just want to check out Taylor Swift and then make a judgment.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I checked her out. She cannot sing for toffee.

Edward Seymour
Edward Seymour
1 month ago

Not only are adults emulating their kids, many even seem to dress like them. We’re used to seeing Americans dressed in toddler clothes, from baseball caps back to front down to “sneakers” but in Europe too even the grown ups wear cheap leisure wear (jogging bottoms?) and pyjamas to Aldi. I guess it’s the monoculture of an infantilised society where world Leaders also genuflect to a disturbed child as they did with Thunberg. Soon we’ll be giving votes to 16 year old children – but not cigarettes of course.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Edward Seymour

I think that’s the thing – it seems to be part of a general infantilisation of our culture.

Interesting comment to another article about American culture lacking a sense of shame – thus people a feel free to do what they like without embarrassment, even if it’s childish. Its liberation of a kind, of course, but embarrassing viewed from the outside.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 month ago
Reply to  Edward Seymour

It is sad to see the same kind of clothes worn all over the world.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

Every word is true. I think if my parents wanted to have bonded with me over teenage culture, I would have immediately thrown up in a bucket and run off!

Dave Canuck
Dave Canuck
1 month ago

I just can’t imagine having gone to a The Cars concert around 1980 with my parents, and being stoned to boot. It’s so alien to me. You wouldn’t catch me at a Swift show even if my tickets were free, never did like this kind of “pop” anyways, give me good rock any day. There are actually some decent rock songs out there if you try to find them whichare current, although the bands usually don’t last long .

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Canuck

I’m guessing there is a lot going on outside the mainstream, whose listeners find Taylor Swift embarrassing, and wouldn’t be seen at one of her concerts. Every now and again I discover some of it, and it’s pretty good. God knows what they think of grown adult journalists gushing over her.

Bored Writer
Bored Writer
1 month ago

The eternal sunshine of the arrested mind. If I suggested doing this my kids would put a contract out on me. In truth I’d put one out on myself.

Bina Shah
Bina Shah
1 month ago

I feel that the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester has a lot of parents scared, subconsciously if not consciously. Understandable that parents wouldn’t want to let their beautiful children run that risk ever again.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
1 month ago

Zźzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

Y Chromosome
Y Chromosome
1 month ago

This article, and the conversation that follows, are magnificent examples of over-thinking something. A musical experience either works for you, or it doesn’t. If it does, dance. If it doesn’t, go do something else.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago

None of this mentions that Swift can’t sing. Well maybe it does but I can’t wade through another article on her. Sorry Kathleen. I was never a teeny bopper Madonna fan, but at least she could sing.

Stephen Sheridan
Stephen Sheridan
1 month ago

A great article filled with humour, wry observation and wisdom. The invariably pathetic attempts of us oldsters to appear cool to our offspring are off-putting for all involved, be old and be proud!

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

FYI to some of the older readers who are unaware of sh*t posters like “UnHerd Reader”. Their purpose is to derail intelligent discussion. Pity them. And ignore.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago

UnHerd Reader is multiple people I believe. It’s the generic username given by the site

Robert White
Robert White
1 month ago

To me, it says a lot that there now exists somewhere in Soho called the Museum of Youth Culture.
Does anyone else remember a series in the 90s on TV called The Rock’n’Roll Years? That was an early morbid symptom. If you can curate it, it’s all over.

Zaph Mann
Zaph Mann
1 month ago

When you see the acronym MSM think also of Main Stream Music, because although KS article is largely on point it’s general criticism of contemporary music applies ONLY to commercial/corporate music, which dominates all music styles and is exasperated by streaming. I know because despite being as old as the hills I never lost my thirst for new music and it’s my job – I challenge all of you criticising modern music to listen to any of my 950+ shows and tell me there wasn’t something that struck you or even amazed you. And if you want albums there’s a service called bandcamp that’s infinitely better than #neverspotify

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
1 month ago

So I shouldn’t have taught my son about Bob Dylan? He has had quite a successful music career, which started with him listening to what his parents loved and played.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

I’m not connecting easily with this thesis because years back now, friends used to take their 8-year-old daughters to see la Taylor and that, in effect, was her position in the culture. The shame nowadays is the Ms Swift has become a cultural signifier for a generation of 20- and 30-something Anglo women.
The media has encouraged this generational identification crossing Y and Z, not only owing to the infamous group-think of young liberal liberal women but through this mythology that they all identify with her (manufactured) relationship problems. Well, she’s certainly flogged that brand USP to them, and with a vengeance it would appear…

Mick James
Mick James
1 month ago

Surely 43-year-old Bryony Gordon has more business at 34-year old Swift’s concert than her 11-year old daughter? They are both Millennials after all, and who are lines like “It’s supposed to be fun/Turning 21” and the endless breakup sagas more likely to resonate with?
Taylor is also pretty sweary for a pre-teen audience. Currently working on my NWA or Taylor Swift? lyrics quiz.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 month ago

In fact, with my own kids, it is as if the poles have reversed — when my 18-year-old tells me he has an “absolute banger” he wants me to listen to, more often than not it’s by Fats Waller.

That made me laugh. The phenomenon of Gen Z doing a deep dive into the great music of the 20th century is revealing. On the four hour drive to my younger daughter’s college orientation last fall, I discovered just how the 20th century’s music dominates the modern pop, rock, and emo in the Gen Z Spotify playlist. Both my daughters love Queen, with my amazement and approval. My oldest daughter defaults always to Chet Baker. Her second favorite artist is Dinosaur Jr. My younger daughter regularly plays a couple of Billy Joel deep cuts that are actually good. I get it. I’m in the music industry. Music began to die in 2012 and the stench has only gotten worse. The greatest music was made between 1954 and 2008, IMO, and most of it was before the millennium. So it makes sense that my girls, both musical, smart with a good ear for quality, would reject modern music. It’s awful. Except Ed Sheeran. They both love Ed Sheeran for some reason.
Taylor Swift is something altogether different. Her popularity, at this stage, is unconnected to the music. The music is a backdrop. The product is membership in the cult. In 1956, the parents who thought Elvis was subverting a generation could certainly identify Hound Dog as the vehicle of subversion. Name one song off of Swift’s last two records (if you don’t have a Swifty in the house.) You can’t do it.

Mike MacCormack
Mike MacCormack
12 days ago

To anybody who’d like to read a cogent analysis of modern music and why it’s as dull as it is should google a man called Rick Beato, a music industry guru as well as a superb musician, and look for
The Real Reason Why Music Is Getting Worse