June 9, 2022

Gen-Z echo-ing Gen-X in having mature tastes, not perpetual adolescents

As often happens, I started riffing in the comments section until it turned into a full post, starting with this comment. Read it all there.

I've noted before how charming it is to hear Gura performing mature songs during karaoke, and not only youth-culture hits. But I think it's part of a broader difference between Zoomers like her and Millennials, while being quite similar to Gen X-ers. Another example of the generational pendulum swinging.

Inspired by her recent inclusion of "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia. BTW, if the sharky chanteuse is looking for a similar song for next time -- or just her own enjoyment -- there's "Sway" from 1997 by Bic Runga (New Zealand rather than Australia, but close enough). It was not an international hit like "Torn," and I first heard it from a YouTuber covering it in the late 2000s (Ana Free).

In general, the adult contempo side of the '90s doesn't get enough awareness. But I think Zoomers would resonate with it, perhaps more than the Eurodance anthems of the time that they're familiar with.

The '90s were such a chilled-out decade, I spent far more hours watching the iconic video for "Take a Bow" by Madonna than any house / Eurodance / techno hit. The latter simply were not as ubiquitous on MTV, while Madonna was. And she was not in high-energy danceclub mode at that time. I didn't pick up on the song's Far Eastern motif back then, but it's comforting to hear some good ol' multiculturalism from the pre-wokeness era, which would have prevented it as an example of "cultural appropriation". Enjoy it before it gets retroactively scrubbed by Silicon Valley censors:


  1. I checked Kronii's and Bae's karaoke streams, and they also are Zoomers with mature songs included. Train, Adele, Jason Mraz, Frank Sinatra, "Beyond the Sea," and so on.

    They sing teen / youth culture songs as well (Bae had a lot of late 2000s / early 2010s club bangers in her setlist). But that's to be expected for girls in their early 20s. The unexpected part is how much adult-oriented stuff there is, going back many decades.

    I'm pretty sure Fauna and Calli are the very end of the Millennials, not Zoomers, because they both have entire karaoke streams for emo / angst rock. Probably Kiara, too, but focused more on rap / R&B / disco of the 2000s (like the Black Eyed Peas).

    They're all born within a few years of each other, right at the border between Millennials and Zoomers. But it's striking how different their tastes are on either side of that border.

    And it has nothing to do with their personalities. Fauna has the big sister / unflappable personality, but when it comes time to sing, her inner angsty teen takes over. Bae and Gura are both hyperactive, but at karaoke time they both channel Adele, Jason Mraz, and "Beyond the Sea". Those are generational differences, not individual personalities.

    And in case it needs to be said, since Millennials have very thin skin about being "called out" as a generation, it doesn't affect how good they are at singing, or whether their karaoke streams are enjoyable, etc. They're just different, not necessarily one better than the other.

    Although as the very end of Gen X, I of course like hearing the mature stuff included along with the danceclub bangers. Especially coming from such young girls, it makes it all the more dizzying and captivating -- just like Mariah Carey belting out "Without You" in her early 20s.

    Nor does it affect how much I watch their overall streams. The two I watch regularly are Gura and Fauna, one Zoomer and one Millennial. :)

  2. Is this what the Red Scare ladies mean by "Grammy music" in their pejorative sense? Something meant for those stuffy old out-of-touch grown-ups, and not for us hip youngsters (both of whom are 30-somethings). I love them both to death, but c'mon now.

    Millennials don't mind music that is slow in tempo, moody, contemplative, etc. But it has to be of the teenage / college-student type, wallowing in their moodiness and glorifying their doomed future. Oh my god, what a looong future I'm sacrificing to be so sad here and now. How beautifully and abjectly tragic -- looks like I just might join the 27 Club (still thinking this past the 30-year marker).

    That's what the youth-obsessed generations think of as mature music -- adolescent / young adult moodiness. But for an adolescent generation, that *is* as mature as they'll grow.

    The stuff that lies beyond that, they write off in sour grapes fashion as Grammy music, Boomer music (actually Boomers have always derided mature music), etc. Boomers were just like Millennials, but their term of derision was "easy listening", as though their adolescent music was so much more challenging on an intellectual, emotional, or purely musical level (LOL).

    When we say someone is well-adjusted, we mean they've grown out of, or grown past their adolescent moodiness. They're psychologically over 25 or 30. That's the demographic you have to please when you're making mature music. Doesn't mean there aren't any more negative emotions and experiences in life, but that their nature, and your reaction to them, are different than when you were a teen or young adult. And all of the good things, too!

    Sneering at that kind of music, like "Oh. Well. Aren't they just soooo well-fucking-adjusted...." means you're still in an adolescent mindset.

  3. It's not that Grammy music is cheesy -- Adele and John Mayer aren't cheesy, although Train and especially Jason Mraz have some cheesy lines. No more cheesy as a genre than punk or rap -- talk about cheesy. It's just "fuck you, Mom / society" in song form.

    And it's not about mainstream / normie vs. art-y / sub-cultural. Lana Del Rey was an immediate megastar all over America, you don't get more normie than that. Emo being available at any Hot Topic across America, also makes it mainstream.

    Millennials even try to make Britney Spears into some obscure, sub-cultural subversive artist that you're probably too pedestrian to really appreciate. You mean, "It's Britney, bitch"? I think we've heard of her -- and were into her way before you were, BTW. We didn't need to slave away for years crafting an ironic "take" on her, and could just appreciate her non-ironically from the get-go.

    The art-y kids had no idea whether they were permitted to like a hoe anthem like "Gimme More" when it came out, meanwhile the normies were dry-humping each other to it every weekend on the dancefloor.

    But eventually the adolescent types could come around to "Gimme More," since it's a club banger and therefore suitable to an adolescent / young adult mindset. But those that cater to well-adjusted people over 25, both the good and bad parts of that life, are a bridge too far. There will never be an ironic re-appraisal of Train, Adele, John Mayer, and the like.

  4. That feeds directly into the massive Millennial mid-life crisis they're currently undergoing. Ten years ago, they could simply write off criticism of their generation, its ticks and its tastes, as fuddy-duddies being jealous of the hip young cool generation.

    But now that Millennials are over 30, and the late teens and 20-somethings are a different generation that doesn't identify with them, chafing at Millennial-isms cannot be written off as jealous old people.

    No, now it's jealous old people AND jealous young people -- "why is everyone so jealousssss??!?!?!" An entire generation of AOC's.

    It's not a joke with them, either, they really think everyone's jealous of them, but for different reasons. No, it's the same reason -- Millennials are an over-the-top, spotlight-hogging generation, and the generations on either side of them are the opposite. They're not obsessed with Millennials, they find them annoying.

    Narcissism levels are just off the charts with a Millennial and Boomer kind of generation. And naturally, The Culture of Narcissism was written by a Silent Gen member, who couldn't stand Boomer-isms.

  5. Back to the anime girls who play video games, maybe these generational differences apply there as well, not just music.

    I haven't watched yet, but I see that Kronii has been playing Mega Man X. That came out years before she was born, is pretty difficult compared to what she grew up with, and is a proper game rather than a narrative medium or a simulator.

    Gura played Super Metroid last year.

    I doubt they're familiar with the Super Nintendo console as a whole, making it more of a challenge to get into.

    I give props to anyone who tries out the hard video games from before they were born / didn't grow up with. That's what initially got me hooked on Gura's channel. I was only listening to her karaoke before then. But taking a crack at Super Metroid? OK Zoomer, I'll give this whole Vtuber thing a chance. And I'm glad I did! I was missing out before then. :)

    I don't think Millennials did this before, or do this now. They were raised on Super Nintendo, so the analogy would be tackling games that are "Nintendo hard," i.e. the original NES. I can't recall that happening, from the early YouTube days through the live-streamers now.

    I do remember Pete Dorr, a Millennial from the defunct All Gen Gamers podcast, being into the NES. But he grew up with it, he wasn't venturing off into unfamiliar and challenging territory like Gura and Kronii are when they play the Super Nintendo.

    The let's-players from way back when, who played NES games, were Gen X-ers who had already wrestled with hard games when they were growing up.

  6. If Millennials aren't up to the challenge, maybe Zoomers could instead? I think if they stuck to classics, that are challenging but not crazy, and that had better-than-average graphics for their time, it could go over well for a short series of streams.

    Mario 3? Mega Man 2? Original Legend of Zelda? Original Metroid would be too much to ask, ditto the Castlevania games.

    If they like puzzle games, they would totally fall in love with the Adventures of Lolo series on NES. Mix of spatial logic, and action-timing. Cutesy / kawaii Japanese aesthetics, to boot. I recall the 3rd game getting a bit crazy, so the 1st or 2nd one.

    The Fantasy Zone series, for side-scrolling ship shooters. Very kawaii. Or any of the "cute 'em up" shooters.

    Or the Kirby games. They were just playing the new one, why not use its popularity to get into some of the older ones? Not the one on Super Nintendo (boring). But the two from the Game Boy Advance -- (googling...) Nightmare in Dream Land (remake of the NES game), and Kirby & the Amazing Mirror. I know those are Millennial games from the 2000s, but would be another way to hit the nostalgia buttons of the audience.

    Or Legendary Starfy for the DS, if they want to get even more recent, while still being nostalgic. Any 2-D platformer comes off as old-school anyway.

    Just some food for thought. The most timeless appeal I think are puzzle games, so the first two Adventures of Lolo games on NES. Even if they don't play them live on stream, it would be a great way to dip their toes into the NES pool. Very addicting, and they gradually increase the difficulty of the puzzles, so they don't get controller-throwing until the later levels. Hehe.

  7. As an early millennial who grew up with the NES (and still goes back and replays retro games from childhood), don't forget a lot of mid-to-late millennials came of age in the time of emulators. NESticle in particular opened the world of retro gaming to the later millennials... "Oh, Super Metroid is awesome, now let's check out the original!".

    Pete Dorr is a good guy, I've had the pleasure of meeting him in person a few times. Very knowledgeable about even the most obscure game consoles/releases. And probably the only Philips CD-i fan I know.

  8. Surprisingly, only Calli has sung "You're Beautiful" during karaoke. At least the only one preserved on YouTube:


    You'd think it would be more up the alley of the adult-contempo-friendly Zoomers, but it has a nice contrasting effect coming from the Millennial whose persona is the tough, angsty rocker / rapper chick.

    Reminds me of Joan Jett's cover of "Crimson and Clover," originally a soft pining ballad from a boy band (Tommy James and the Shondells).

    Her hard-rock cover does not come off as trying to change the original, to give a hard edge to something soft. It's more like that song has softened or weakened her tough-girl exterior, and she can't help but open up and show her vulnerable side because of it.


    Is there any woman-in-music today who has the tough hard-edged persona to make a contrasting cover of "You're Beautiful" work in this way? I think the last one was Courtney Love, back in the '90s. She and Joan Jett are both Boomers, so it would probably be a Millennial like Calli.

    Miley Cyrus? She's taken up a hard-edged rocker persona lately, and has been doing lots of covers. She could cover either "You're Beautiful" or Joan Jett's cover of "Crimson and Clover," and make it work. But she already has a vulnerable soft side to her persona, from the beginning.

    Rock as a genre has been in decline for awhile, so I'm struggling to think of "female rock lead singer". Gen X-er Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, about 20 years ago, specifically with her own song "Maps". What's she up to these days?

  9. Looks like Miley & Joan Jett already had that idea! I should've known to check first. From 2015, when Joan Jett was inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame, with Miley singing back-up vocals toward the end, and Tommy James singing the lead:


    And both of them on tour in 2015, with Miley singing the whole thing:


    Still, it would be worth it to do wholly on her own today, now that she's taken on the hard-edge rocker chick persona, which she did not have in 2015.

  10. I don't mean to sound so prickly when talking about Millennials, but as a generation, they've deserved it for so long.

    Especially for all the glib, dismissive smack-talk directed toward Gen X -- only to find out that they're now the aging, out-of-touch ones, and the new hip young cool generation doesn't identify with them, and finds their talk about "adulting" annoying.

    Gen X-ers had to do this on the other side during the '90s, to roast the Boomers as perpetual adolescents, from the younger direction. The Silents, elders to the Boomers, had been saying that for decades, but Boomers could dismiss it as fuddy-duddies jealous of the youth. But by the '90s, Boomers were old, and Gen X was already sick of their crap.

    It didn't change the Boomers' nature, just as this current tag-team between X-ers and Zoomers will not change Millennials' nature. But it was successful at de-branding Boomers as the hip cool youthquake generation, and re-branding them as lifelong adolescents. The same de / re-branding of Millennials is already under way, and will succeed as well.

  11. Millennials themselves are aware of how trash their brand is, and are desperate to escape it, by re-labeling themselves as a portmanteau generation, if they can at all manage it.

    If they're born between 1985 and '94, or whatever, they're out of luck. They're unalloyed Millennials. No other way to spin it.

    But if they're born a few years before '85, they opt for X-ennial, or X / Millennial cusp, or Gen Y, or XY, or some other attempt to grasp onto Gen X's branding. Refugees trying to cross the border between X and Millennial nations.

    And the same is true on the other end! If you're born in '95 or '96, you might opt for Zillennial, Millennial / Zoomer cusp, or some other way to flee that border toward safety on the Zoomer side.

    Already there is typical Millennial grade inflation, where they're trying to pass off '93 and '94 births as Zillennial, when they're just straight-up Millennials.

    But who can blame them for trying? You'd be fleeing your generation's branding, too, if you were them.

    Pretty soon, the refugee / grade inflation effect will have gone so far that only those born in the single year of 1988 will be left with no plausible route of escape.

  12. Gen X has the opposite "problem," where everyone wants to be them -- both the early '60s births on one side, and a good share of '80s births on the other side.

    But not being an attention-seeking generation, X-ers have opted not to welcome these refugees, but to police the hell out of their borders.

    That doesn't mean we can't be friends, colleagues, etc. -- you're just not one of us, generationally.

    And in true fashion, it's those at the borders who have to police the strongest -- like moi, at the tail-end of the X-ers. I was born in '80, but every definition I've seen from nerds, as well as overall social / cultural acceptance, puts me as an X-er.

    But that's always come with the implicit understanding that since I'm graciously being allowed into the X nation, rather than be cut off to fend for myself in the Millennial wastelands, I have to repay the favor by acting as the fierce border patrol against Millennial refugees.

    Sorry, Millennials, it's nothing personal, just comes with the territory, so to speak. On a private level, I was willing to extend X membership up through the '84 births. It's plausible, although debatable. But if the core of Gen X says don't do that, and try to keep the membership smaller rather than larger, then that's what I have to do.

    I'm sure the '65 births feel the same intense pressure from the other side -- they were granted X membership, in exchange for keeping the late Boomers at bay. Again, nothing personal against Courtney Love and other '64 births, who are plausible / debatable X-ers. But if the majority of the generation votes to keep out '64 and earlier births, then that's the decision we have to uphold.

  13. My advice to '97 and '98 births: get into the unqualified Zoomer brand right now, early. Not Zillennial, not Millennial / Zoomer cusp, just straight-up Zoomer. You're going to wind up as the border guards inevitably, you might as well get used to it.

    On a private level, you'll feel sympathy for the '95 and '96 births, but I'm sure the core of your generation, born during the 2000s, is not going to want that, and they'll threaten you with exile into Millennial-dom unless you police your side of the border HARD.

    That doesn't mean hating Millennials as people, playing down the good things they have done, not welcoming them as friends, colleagues, etc.

    It just means don't let them grasp onto your generation's brand, because before you know it, you'll be over-run with refugees on both sides, and there will be nothing left to your group's identity.

  14. Anyway, to wrap up, go show Fauna some love. I'm loathe to plug Millennial stuff as a concluding truce, since they're so unwilling to make nice and play up the good parts of X-ers and Zoomers. It has to be reciprocal.

    But Fauna is one of the furthest edge cases, not a stereotypical Millennial, and has never said anything bad about X-ers or Zoomers. She's too chill, almost like a Zoomer herself, hehe. But then when you tune into the secret late-night karaoke stream, and it's wall-to-wall emo and "Mom's spaghetti," you catch a glimpse of her Millennial tribal membership badge. :)

    And she does "lifelong teen" in a charming and endearing way, by creating a fairytale land for her online fandom, and supervising or mentoring over them. "Eternally young at heart," instead of "perpetual brat who whines about adulting every day".

    Part of the fairytale land she has created and inhabits online is her new song, "Let Me Stay Here". It's fairly childlike, but tinged with the sadness or wistfulness of the stage in life when you realize dreams aren't real. It's a sincere memorializing of that stage, rather than "Uggh, childhood's over, guess it's nothing but ADULTING ahead, might as well check out now..."

    And such a catchy bossa nova beat! That only adds to the maturity of it all. Great capturing of all those stages of life in a single song, childhood, adolescence, and maturity. :)



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