Just like forcing my kids to eat vegetables, I force my kids to listen to ‘80s music. “Force” is the operative word here, because they do not voluntarily listen to any music that is not new. They grumble and moan and look at me sullenly, but I am their parent and I know what’s best for them … and what is best for them is music with a lot of synth, preferably from a key-tar.
I do not care if my kids’ think the music of Prince sounds boring and old. They are going to listen to Prince because it’s good for them, he is a musical genius and the man plays over 9,000 musical instruments. They need to understand that Purple Rain is a masterpiece and the Batman soundtrack isn’t that bad. So I will continue to “torture” (their word, not mine) them with his music, even though they hate it. It’s good for them. They might not think so, but kids don’t know anything.
It’s not easy to acknowledge that your musical tastes are now old, near obsolete even. It is more of statement that your youth is long gone than if a hipster millennial walked up to you and said, ‘Bro, you are ancient.” But that doesn’t mean we should put a nail in the coffin of ‘80s music. It must be celebrated and taught to the younger generation, whether they like it or not. Seriously, are we just going to let the legacy of Wham! just wither up and die?
Of course, my parents did the same thing to me when I was a kid. They tried to inoculate me with music from the ‘60s and I wasn’t having any of it. I did not take to the music of Bob Dylan or The Beatles or The Doors in any way, shape, or form. But that was a completely different set of circumstances. ’60s music sucks. ’80s music rules. Anyone can see that. And I know that one day, when my kids are older, they will come up to me and say, “Dad, I was wrong about New Edition. They are amazing. Sorry I doubted you.” (I of course never did this with my folks but, as we’ve already established, music from the ‘60s blows.)
Yes, I am trying to hold on to my youth by making my kids listen to my music. I figure if they like it then it not only validates me, but it makes me feel less old. It’s not a great plan, but I got no other so I am sticking to it. So when my kids complain that music from the ‘80s sounds old, they are not wrong. Hell, it sounds old to me. But listening to it makes me feel young, and that is the exact opposite feeling I get whenever I hear a One Direction song for the seventeen-thousandth time.
Now, contrary to popular belief, I am not a crotchety old man who is stuck in a decade of my youth that I refuse to get out of. There is a lot of contemporary music that I am a big fan of. Mark Ronson, The Weeknd, Tuxedo, Redinho, Dam Funk, St. Vincent and Justin Timberlake are all artists that I think are doing some amazing work. I love listening to their music and will listen to any of it whenever my kids want to. You know why?
BECAUSE IT ALL SOUNDS LIKE IT COMES FROM THE ‘80S.
*Kirk drops the mic, grabs a Bartles & James Premium Wine Cooler and moonwalks off stage.*
Honestly, it would just make life so much more pleasurable if my kids understood the brilliance of ‘80s music. If they could just understand that Al B. Sure is so much better than Ed Sheeran and that The Thompson Twins kick the crap out of Fun., then things would best much better for all. And as much as everyone who breathes oxygen seems to love every song that comes off of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album, it is a proven historical fact that any song that came from the actual year 1989 is vastly superior.
So I continue to play the sounds of Scritti Politti, Duran Duran, Tribe Called Quest, Cameo, Ready For the World, The Cure, Big Daddy Kane, even a little Paula Abdul, and I get nothing but push back. But I soldier on. And when Spandau Ballet’s “True” comes on the radio (and it inevitably will because “True” is the ‘80s ballad version of Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”) and my kids call it “too slow” or “too boring” or “just plain dumb,” you know what I do?
I crank that s**t up … loud.