Lost in Suburbia: New kids on the (old) block

Tracy Beckerman

When you have teenagers, it’s usually in your best interest to keep up with the latest trends in music, lest someone accuse you of being tragically old and uncool.

Clearly, it was a lot easier when the kids were younger and their tastes ran more to Barney the dinosaur and Raffi. But fortunately I happen to like a lot of the same music as my kids, so this is not as much of a challenge as you would think. However, there are a lot of new artists who all happen to be around the same age and sound suspiciously alike, and this can sometimes make it difficult to know who you’re listening to. It might be the fact that they all have autotune on them, or it might just be that they all are about 16 years old and sound like a certain young boy with awesome hair from Canada.

“Is that Justin Bieber?” I asked my daughter when a song came on the radio. I wanted to prove that even though I knew every song in the Billy Joel catalog, I was still a cool mom.

She looked at me with disgust.  “No.” she said definitively. “This guy sounds nothing like Justin Bieber.”

“I dunno,” I said. “He sounds pretty similar to me.”

She shook her head. “He wishes he were as good as Justin Bieber,” she said. “But he is just a Wannabieber.”

I cracked up.

We continued on in silence until another song came on the radio. This time I was sure that I knew who the singer was.

“I know who this is,” I said. “This is Lady Gaga.”

My daughter rolled her eyes.

“Isn’t it Lady Gaga?” I repeated, a little less sure.

“It is,” she said, sighing.

“What, you don’t like Lady Gaga?” I asked.

“She’s OK,” she responded. “But she’s kind of a Madonna-be.”

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Someone who is trying to be like Madonna,” she said.

I cracked up again. It was becoming clear to me that when it came to discussing current pop trends with my teenage daughter, I was way out of my league.

I guess I could understand. I remember when I was her age, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and I used to try to talk to my parents about music. No matter how cool my parents thought they were, there was no way they could ever understand the greatness that was The Human League, and I would never understand the appeal of Paul Anka. Still, I wanted to connect with my daughter and prove that even though I was from another generation, I was not from another planet, and I did actually know the difference between Eminem and M&M’s.

“Hey did you hear that there is going to be another TV show launching that is going to be just like ‘Glee’?” I blurted out.

My daughter looked at me with sudden interest.

“Really?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I exclaimed, “So I guess that would make it kind of a Wannaglee.”

She stared at me and then shook her head.

“Nice try, Mom,” she said. “But don’t quit your day job.”

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