According to this report, we basically stop caring about new music sometime in our 30s. That sounds about right to me, though it could probably be adjusted for gender: My wife, who is a little younger than me, still follows popular music, more or less. Meanwhile, I just turned 40, and I stopped caring about popular music several years ago. I know who Taylor Swift is, but I’ll be damned if I could recognize a single song she’s done.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that I don’t listen to popular music: I think I’ve got at least a couple of 2015 tunes on my iPhone playlist. I just don’t trouble myself to seek out new music any more. If I hear a new song and it sounds fun and catchy, I’ll download it, but I no longer go out of my way to listen to new stuff. I’d wager that 90 percent of my iPhone songs fall in the 40-year period between the mid-1960s and the mid-2000s — in other words, stuff that was popular during the first 30 or so years of my life. Interestingly, most of the pre-1960s stuff I listen to is either hardcore blues or heavily blues-flavored jazz and country (think Etta James and Hank Williams Sr.) — the immediate precursors to the rock sound that has been popular for most of my life. There has been very little music since I turned 30 back in 2005 that I’ve found very compelling.
And I should mention, by the way, that I have never stopped being interested in music that is “new to me.” I am discovering new-to-me music all the time; not long ago I stumbled upon Orang-Utan, a British rock group that only released one album back in 1971 — but what an album! It’s full of absolutely face-melting 1970s guitar wizardry. But again, even though it’s “new to me,” it still falls in the range of “stuff popular during my younger years.”
Another potentially interesting fact: So far, my lack of enthusiasm for post-2005 music has little to do with a fuddy-duddy sense that I don’t understand all this new stuff and kids these days are just crazy and out of control.
I mean, dude: The Sex Pistols and 2 Live Crew both happened during my lifetime. I am not easily shocked.
No, my blasé attitude towards newer acts is more a result of “been there, done that.” I think the last really big music trend during my lifetime was techno, which happened around my mid-20s. And even that was nothing more than an outgrowth of rap music — which is itself a genre that traces part of its roots back to the disco that was popular when I was a toddler. So, yeah: It’s not like I’m sitting here as some old fart with his pants up to his chest, saying “you kids turn down that noise!” It’s more like I’m sitting here looking at these kids today, thinking, “they think that stuff they’re listening to is NEW? Ha!”