Another striking fact of today's society, in addition to the death of sub-cultures circa 2010, is the absence of other cultural "content" about sub-cultures -- naturally, if the thing they would be commenting on no longer exists.
This hit home when I was thinking of writing new lyrics to adapt older sub-cultural anthems to today's landscape. But why should I have to do that in the first place? Don't the songwriters and performers already feel inspired to compose anthems about today's exciting sub-cultures? Well, not if there are no such things to sing about.
I'm not going to catalog the entire history of examples, but just to provide some from the not-too-distant past, the early 2000s had a few about the skater / punk scene of the time. "The Anthem" by Good Charlotte and "Fatlip" by Sum 41 were both about rejecting mainstream culture and joining a sub-culture. Note the difference with today's pseudo-sub-cultures -- they were actual social groups that people joined and participated in, not just a personal aesthetic and an individually curated playlist. Check out the music videos to see that the members were just as female as male.
As for the emo / scene kids of the late 2000s and after, I don't recall many popular songs about them. However, Fall Out Boy did release an anti-anthem "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" on their 2007 album, which tried to deflate the in-group-iness of the scene by saying it was no such thing, it's over, it's boring, or whatever. But whether it's self-effacing or a rowdy celebration, it's still a meta-commentary on the sub-culture that it comes from.
During the 2010s, the only songs about something resembling a sub-culture are danceclub anthems, i.e. about the experience of regularly going out to party in clubs. "Tik Tok" by Kesha, "All Night" by Icona Pop, "Take My Hand" and "Famous" by Charli XCX, "New Romantics" by Taylor Swift, "Habits" by Tove Lo, etc. And yet these are not about a social group whose members have enduring bonds and an awareness of belonging to a larger group than just themselves and their narrow friend circle. Rather, they're all about the individual, or at most their friends, going out to clubs to have fun. We don't have labels for the people they're singing about (a la emo, goth, punk, skater, prep, jock, etc.) because they're not genuine sub-cultures -- just people who have similar leisure and lifestyle inclinations.
By the 2020s, things have sunk into such a Dark Age that even the party club "scene" will not inspire anthems. It'll be more about online "communities" like Alt TikTok, Twitch streamers' fandoms, fitness Instagram, heaven forbid weird Twitter, etc. -- and perhaps there will be no more anthems about today's pseudo-sub-cultures at all (other than ones that random anons like me write on the internet, never to be performed, recorded, or widely distributed).
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Aside from overall anthems about sub-cultures, there were also songs about the prospect of forming a romantic relationship within the sub-culture. Any thriving cultural community, whether a church or a music scene, has to be compatible with the other large domains of social life, like dating, mating, and family formation. If joining a sub-culture means you'll get no dates, no attention, no sex, no marriage, and no kids -- it's DOA.
Note how inverted this logic is with the pseudo-sub-cultures of the online world -- there are all sorts of them that not only attract people with poor romantic and sexual prospects, but degrade the prospects of anyone who comes into their orbit. Some of them are even meta about that whole predicament, like the incels.
Contemporary songs about crushing on a sub-cultural girl? Not that I'm aware of. Again I'd have to write my own by adapting earlier examples.
Relating to the gender skew of pseudo-sub-cultures, I just could not put myself in the place of a young guy today, who would be singing about some girl he's following on Alt TikTok. Straight guys have dropped out of sub-cultures altogether, while there are still a fair number of young girls trying to make them happen. If there are no straight guys in the scene, of course there will be no guys singing about the girls in the scene.
In fact, I felt like to make it honest to today's climate, the voice would have to be a girl singing about her crush on another girl in their pseudo-sub-culture. If girls are the only ones showing up, and they have romantic desires, that's going to find an outlet somehow -- and with no guys around, that means each other.
(The more autistic-leaning male brain channels those desires into video games and porn, plus male sexuality is not plastic like female sexuality is, so "gay out of curiosi-tay" is not an option.)
I'm sure there are straight guys out there who are pining away for the girls they scroll through on Tik Tok, or the IRL examples they see on the rare occasion that they leave the house. As the girls' Tik Tok videos show, they dress up and record these videos everywhere, including the most banal gathering spot like the nearest Walmart. So it's not as though the guys couldn't also get dressed up, go to the Walmart, and flirt or at least talk to and hang out with the alt girls who reliably show up.
That's why I have trouble writing a song from their perspective -- they're not going to talk to, or otherwise interact with, those girls IRL. And that would reduce the song to how he's going to work up the courage to DM a girl on the internet, maybe text her, and in his wildest dreams, receive some of her nudes. I'd like to bring the perspective back to IRL, not online, and these guys just do not exist in the real world anymore.
What examples do I have in mind? Just to name a few...
"Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys
"Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" by the Ramones (not overtly about a crush, but feels implied)
"He's the Greatest Dancer" by Sister Sledge (it's specifically about the disco sub-culture, not merely being a good dancer)
"Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen
"Sheena's in a Goth Gang" by the Cramps
"Sk8er Boi" by Avril Lavigne
"The Rock Show" by Blink-182
"Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus
"Riot Girl" by Good Charlotte (deep cut, not big hit)
"Girl All the Bad Guys Want" by Bowling for Soup
Before going further, I just want to point out the inversion of meaning that has taken place with "Sk8er Boi," whose opening lines have provided a meme format for the past several years. "He was a boy, she was a girl -- can I make it any more obvious?" In the meme, "boy vs. girl" is taken to mean members of opposite groups, akin to "Democrat vs. Republican," and the meme is about unlikely opposites attracting.
But that's entirely backwards from the original song, in which there is an unlikely pairing -- the skater boy and a popular ballet girl -- but the girl dumps him under peer pressure from her own in-group. The singer is a new girl who is from the same sub-culture as the skater boy, and they are the ones who live happily ever after -- not those from opposing groups. The singer downright disses the other girl from outside their sub-culture. It's a "Rah Rah, Team Us!" anthem, not a celebration of unlikely opposites attracting.
As with the anthems about the sub-culture overall, I don't recall any popular crush songs from the late 2000s and after about emo girls, scene queens, MySpace cuties, etc. I'm thinking of adapting "Punk Rock Girl" into "Mall Goth Girl," though.
Also in line with the overall anthems, there seems to be a peak in the early 2000s. That's not my selective memory, since I was never heavily into that music at the time, or since. Why that might be, is a separate post.
There is one major genre from the late 2000s that fits the pattern, however -- rap songs about crushing on a stripper / go-go dancer, and by implication the kind of girls who were into that club culture and had similar dance moves, style, appearance, musical tastes, and hang-out spots. "Low" by Flo Rida (with the most extensive sub-cultural details), "I Wanna Love You" and "Smack That" by Akon, "Bartender" and "I'm 'n Luv (wit a Stripper)" by T-Pain, "Cyclone" by Baby Bash, etc.
"Dear Maria, Count Me In" by All Time Low doesn't count, despite being about a stripper and being released in the late 2000s. It's not about crushing on her, but trying to make her a big star, and not about the members of the wider sub-culture of nightclubs.
I don't know of any big examples from the 2010s, including quasi-examples from the "club party" scene-but-not-a-sub-culture. Because there were no enduring social bonds there, no one individual would crush on another one, and pine for them over time, hoping to someday work up the nerve to approach them and get to know them.
Apparently, not even the regulars who work there, like the bartenders or the hired dancers, could convince the 2010s club-goers to crush on familiar members of their non-sub-culture. If you're not going to a club as part of a sub-culture, then the bartenders and dancers are not familiar fellow members of the sub-culture, but servants meant to wait on you while you do your leisure / lifestyle activity (which they are not, being at work). Or at best mild background entertainment (not the main reason you went there -- they're not like a band you pay to see perform live).
Which brings us back to the current year. We'll see how well I can adapt the older models, but anons should not have to. And yet, that's where we are -- in a new Dark Age.