Music Generational Gap

Throughout different generations, music has changed tremendously, and the older generation and younger generation have separated and created their own journeys in music. Now in 2021, I’ve set out to see who actually knows the other better. 

In today’s world, older music is something brought up a lot in pop culture, especially with social media where many users have different opinions about it. When asked, 4 out of 5 adults think the younger generation is better acquainted with the older generations music. The sample of the younger generation I interviewed (12-14 year olds) agree with this as well. Their argument is that parents and social media have made older generations’ music more popular and “trendy.” 

Social media has played a huge part in making music popular, arguably the biggest, and many people have differing opinions on it, “social media has changed… that’s the difference between my generation and your generation,” Millennium’s own Physics and Engineering teacher Mr. O’Neill says in his interview. “It’s hurt music, because now we are ‘sound-bites’- Tiktok is a soundbite, my daughter will talk about a song from the 70s and she’ll say oh that’s from tiktok.” Tiktok, a social media platform which uses songs for a majority of its content, primarily consists of 15-30 second videos, which makes O’Neill say that “social media has destroyed music as it stands.”

On the other hand many say social media has boosted music gain, as mother of a teenager, Denise Winchester explains that, “Older people act younger nowadays… we have a lot of still access to a lot of younger people and tiktok and songs.” It’s easier to hear songs that are popular now, versus older songs which do not often play on the radio or social media. Winchester says, “I don’t think that… [parents] have a lot of time to teach their children about the stuff from our era and music, I think you have to really be into it and really want to teach your kid about [older] music.”  

Although it’s been agreed upon that social media has made a bigger quantity of songs popular, the quality of those songs are debatable. “When I was young… it was more emphasis on the music, but now it’s… a little bit less emphasis on actual songwriting, I think it’s a little bit more kind of just for the hit, there was more thought put into it back in the day,” Winchester says. Now, many songs are created for the soul purpose of becoming popular and trending. This is true for some songs, but not all. Another interviewee was Millennium’s Ms. Peterkin, who listened to Olivia Rodrigo’s 2020 album, ‘Sour’ front to back, and “really ended up liking one song, Favorite Crime; she’s a really good singer, who cares if she’s 17? She’s a great singer.” 

60% of the top songs and artists from the past two years are recognized by the older generation. Many say they know these songs from radio stations, social media, and their family members. My mother says “[I’ll listen to] whatever my children play for me.” She also says that she herself doesn’t put in effort to listen to popular hits. My father also says he wasn’t as aware of popular music for a while, “I didn’t have my kids going around and telling me what the latest musical thing that’s happened… I wouldn’t have known many things.” Different from that outlook, Ms. Peterkin says she actively sought out music, wanting to “be in the loop” about what was going on with the younger generation and their pop culture references. This may be because Ms. Peterkin is younger than the majority of the older interviewees. 

So now the question we’ve all been waiting for, who actually knows the other generation’s music better? Older or younger? And the answer is… Older! 

This may seem shocking, but by only 1% does the older generation know the younger generation’s music better when we look at the statistics collected. However, the younger generation is familiar with songs from the 80s and 90s.

So what do you think? Which side are you on? And maybe in the future we can do another survey with a larger range of people.  


Top40Weekly Staff:

Top40Weekly Staff: Top 10 artists 80s

Music Outfitters Staff: Top 10 Songs 1970

Music Outfitters Staff: Top 10 songs 1980  

Music Outfitters Staff: Top ten songs 1990

Music Outfitters Staff: Top 10 songs 2000

Rate Your Music: Top 10 artists from 1990s

Rock on the Net Staff: Top 10 artists of 2000s 

Wikipedia Staff: Top 10 songs of 2020 

Rob Copsey, Official Charts: Top 10 artists 2020 

Thank you to all the people who contributed to this article including; Olivia Piper, Lila Piel, Thomas McNarmara, Pema Choenzom, Bj Piel, Stav Birnbaum, Mr. O’Neill, Ms. Peterkin and Denise Winchester.