Up until I was 11, I was completely and blissfully unaware of 95% of pop culture. One of my first CDs ever was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (still one of my favorite albums of all time, by the way). Aside from Full House, the Power Rangers, and Disney animated features, I knew next to nothing about what was hot and what was not. (Oh, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He was dreamy.)
Then I discovered Hanson (because, confession, my grandmother, an elementary school secretary, told me all the girls my age were listening to them) and I was done. Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, NSYNC, and Britney Spears all entered my Discman. I started watching Friends and Will & Grace. I can’t watch Gotham now without thinking about Ryan Atwood from The O.C. My poor parents suffered through radio battles that ended with them listening to Nickelback and Three Doors Down (sorry mom and dad…). I read Seventeen and CosmoGirl and whatever other teen magazines were out there.
But I always kept to my “roots,” such as they were. Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen were right alongside Ricky Martin and Matchbox Twenty in my CD rack. And I never was an “early adopter,” not when it came to POGS or Tamagotchies or even Beanie Babies, and not for Facebook (stubbornly refused to join until June 2005) or Pinterest or blogging or Serial (I think I started listening about six weeks in).
I always wanted to be cool, but now? I’ve accepted and embraced my complete cluelessness about all things considered hip. To wit:
My fifteen-year-old cousins have tried to explain Snapchat to me multiple times, and I still don’t get it.
Until recently, I had literally no idea who Iggy Azalea or Arianna Grande were. I mean, I’d heard their names, and I’d probably heard their songs, but I can’t connect the two. (This happens a lot. I think it took at least four months for me to connect the catchy song I heard on the radio that went “now you’re just somebody that I used to know…” with the name “Gotye.”)
The last five concerts I’ve been to are, in reverse order: Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton, Journey/Steve Miller Band, Hanson, and Fleetwood Mac. (And I’m beyond bummed we weren’t able to see them again last December when they toured with Christine McVie.) (And Stevie Nicks is a goddess. Watch this if you don’t believe me.)
This is my favorite Spotify playlist. Zeppelin, Stones, Hendrix, Dylan, CCR, The Who, CSN&Y, The Band, Tom Petty? I’m in heaven.
I had to Google “what is a basic bitch” a couple months ago when I started seeing the phrase pop up in blogs and on social media.
Spotify is currently recommending I listen to David Crosby, Alanis Morissette, John David Kent, Arlo Guthrie, James Taylor, and Van Morrison. (Also, Amazon recently recommended I get a Barry Manilow CD, but that’s because I got a Barbra Streisand CD for my mom for Christmas.)
I refused to buy maxi dresses or a chambray shirt until last summer.
I try listening to Top 40 radio stations every now and then, but can’t handle more than a couple songs before switching to classic rock, country (that doesn’t last long either because San Diego’s only country station is horrible) or public access radio.
I’ve never, ever watched a complete episode of The Bachelor/ette.
When I read People magazine these days, more often than not I’m going “who’s that?”
It’s an ongoing struggle, isn’t it? To determine “Do I like this because I really do like it, or because I’m being told to like it?” I’m very much past caring whether or not people judge me for my likes and dislikes, but my challenge now is to give things a chance and not just automatically write them off because they’re popular. It’s all too easy for me to throw up my hands and say “I’m not hip — I don’t know or care about current pop culture” but obviously I get great enjoyment from The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Downton Abbey, and Gotham. I’m actually kinda into Aloe Blacc (though I may have head to look up the correct spelling…) and Bastille. And of course I gotta shake it off for T. Swift. But isn’t it both easier and harder to just like what you like, without worrying about whether others like it or not?