Opinion Column


Teen tunes to terrify parents

By Victor Schukov

Crowd surfing at WayBold during A Tribe Called Red. PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES

Crowd surfing at WayBold during A Tribe Called Red. PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES

Music has been around ever since the first caveman discovered that the bones of the xylosaurous, when arranged and hammered in a particular sequence, make pleasing sounds. (See www.origonofthexylophone.com)

A recent magazine poll (that I made up) of 60,000 teens revealed that 79% said that they listened to music while doing their chores. If that was the only time they listened, I think Sing Along With Mitch would still be riding the charts and it would be more practical to simply bulldoze rather that clean their rooms.

The survey (that I made up) goes on to say that 72% listen while doing their homework, 33% while eating and - might I personally add - 99% imagine deafening music in their head every time a parent lectures them.

After the lecture is over, my teens always used to lock themselves in their rooms and crank up anarchistic "tunes" that sound like someone screaming at a taxi that is driving away, at decibels capable of stripping concrete.

Music expresses each age generation's identity, and so it only makes sense that my son listened to lyrics equivalent to "As long as I go to school and don't pay taxes, the world owes me big time and I will play this at volumes intended to be heard in New Zealand, and drown out your Yanni and Beethoven." I, on the other hand, still prefer soothing strains that lull me into forgetting that my mortgage is up for renewal.

Popular music has always influenced teenagers' fashion trends. Madonna introduced lingerie as formal wear, Britny proved that you can wear your belt just over your knees and Marilyn Manson fans have kept the Halloween shops in business all year round. When I was a teen, all you needed to do in order to rebel was grow your hair half way over your ears and tie-dye everything you owned (eg. T-shirts, pants, the dog, etc.) and play the Beatles at your parents.

Today, bands elicit differing responses along the lines of gender: I used to go to concerts staged by 17-year-old musicians. They are all now all subject to the same naps I require in the middle of the day. ("Musicians" defined by "adolescents without shirts, aware of how to correctly hold their instruments.") Of course swooning still exists amongst swarms of girls who still like to park themselves outside of the music venue, a week before the doors open, and then scream hysterically through the autograph session during which most of them weep as if they've just been crowned Miss Solar System.

Alternatively, my son would return home after three hours of being horizontally swept over the heads of the crowd, a highly rebellious act called "moshing." At this moment, the bottom half of his shirt and pants are still being moshed across the country by his befuddled peers. Music has always expressed the liberated feelings of the young spirit, be it the first touch of the waltz to the knee-crossing Charleston to swooning over Sinatra's baby blues to pelvic Elvis and then seemingly hairy Beatles, up to today's stars like (I cannot honestly name one) and bands whose names are put together by a roomful of monkeys with typewriters.

Strangely enough, because the baby boomers came out of a golden period of musical innovation and revolution (my totally biased opinion) I find that they are remarkably more appreciative and understanding of their children's music. This of course is unacceptable to teenagers who require that their icons' tunes be offensive to parents. And so, we see the necessity of rap music.

It makes you wonder what it will take to upset our teens when they grow up and raise their own little anarchists. I know "¦ by then, reprises of Lawrence Welk should do the trick. How cruel is that?

Victor Schukov's column appears each Thursday.