Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Talking 'bout my generation

Some friends and I played trivia last night (and won, of course. Woot woot!) and one of the categories was The Beatles. It’s widely accepted that they’re the defining band of our parents’ generation, and that got us wondering: What is the defining band of our generation?

“Our generation” for this particular group of people is the Gen Y/Millennial generation. We were all born between 1980 and 1984. For my money, our defining band is Radiohead. They came out when we were roughly in junior high, at the age where you start obsessing over music; they grew with us, putting out increasingly adventurous albums; and they have mass appeal.

The only other band that comes close is Pearl Jam, but they really had their height in the mid-to the late ‘90s, and haven’t been as relevant this decade (sorry, Beckeye). Our generation is also arguably the first that could have a hip hop star as its “defining artist,” like Jay-Z, but we all know I’m hopelessly white and can’t really speak to that.

So what do you think? Also, I know some of you guys are more Gen X-ers (I'm kind of on the cusp), so maybe you have your own defining band/artist. The stock answer is Nirvana, got a different one?

Remember, this isn’t necessarily your favorite band, but the one that will soundtrack the inevitable remake of the Big Chill that will come out in 2018 and discuss the woes of people who graduated from high school around the turn of the 21st Century.

28 comments:

red said...

See, as much as we all love Radiohead, their songs are not very singable...which I think is a big requirement for a "defining band" (is any band more singable than The Beatles?) Like, I can't see a 40 year-old ScarJo dancing around a kitchen with Natalie Portman singing "Creep," but I could totally see them rocking out to PJ's "Alive."

That said, I have no idea who would be my "defining band." I failed.

McGone said...

As a card-carrying Gen X-er (that card being my driver's license), I would say that Nirvana is hard to argue against as the defining band. While that's perfectly fine with me, others may have a problem with this (again, apologies to Beckeye. I don't know if she's a Gen X-er, but I do know she's no Nirvana fan).

Closest runner up - Spin Doctors.

Just kidding. That made me gag a little bit.

Garney said...

Radiohead of course. Well done, Liz.

BeckEye said...

A) I like Nirvana, just not as much as Pearl Jam. My occasional "hatred" for them was actually a by-product of the media's ass hattery.

B) McGone and I are going to put on our flannel shirts and kick some butts.

C) Sadly, the defining band of your generation is probably the Dave Matthews Band. I was a few years older than most of the people I went to college with (not because I was dumb, but because I took a few years off) and they ALL loved DMB. They probably still do.

words...words...words... said...

I love this concept. But I think it's harder to pick out a defining band when music has become so splintered. There are almost NO bands anymore that everyone listens to.

For your generation, I'm going to nominate Beck. He's more popular than Radiohead, and he embodied so many trends of the 90s and 00s while still being original. Radiohead isn't really representative of anything but themselves. And in my totally biased personal opinion, I don't like Radiohead. There, I said it.

For Gen X, four come to mind right away. U2, Nirvana, R.E.M. and The Police. U2 is out because they're too mass appeal/brand name anymore to represent anything (even though they did at the time). Nirvana is out, because despite all the revisionist history, they were just never all that popular except for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (despite being a personal favorite). R.E.M. and The Police are both serious contenders, though. They had wide appeal, they defined their time musically, and they hold up.

Also, I should win an award for longest comment ever.

Malcolm said...

For the Gen Y crowd, Green Day has to be considered. In addition to having a long and highly successful career, Green Day has some singable tunes for a pop/punk band. I can see the cast of the Big Chill remake rocking out to songs like "Longview" and "Basket Case". Plus, they have a song that is tailor made for a soundtrack to a Big Chill-like movie: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).

As for Gen X, I have just one word... Prince.

Dave H said...

Toad the Wet Sprocket...bar-fukin-none...

Liz said...

Some of the ones we also considered that I should have mentioned:
- Weezer
- Green Day
- Beck
- Outkast
- White Stripes
- I think Justin Timberlake's name came up

God I hope its not DMB.

Your points about Radiohead not being catchy are worthwhile. However, I also agree with WWW's point that there is no ONE band or artist that everyone loves. If there was an obvious Beatles choice, we wouldn't need this discussion.

Of course, if you asked people this in the '60s, people probably argue against the Beatles for The Stones, The Who, the Supremes, Elvis, The Doors ... sometimes you can't judge until a few years later.

Maybe we'll all look back in 20 years and say, "Duh, Everclear, obvs."

Brand New said...

Radiohead? Really?

Dave H said...

Weezer might be #1 they invented being a hipster

Dave H said...

Beckeye WHY did u have to bring DMB into this conversation?

Dave H said...

Who is Malcolm?

Liz said...

Weezer did invent the hipster! I'm always shocked at how littel attention Rivers Cuomo gets for influencing male fashion in the '00s.

Malcolm is one of our awesome readers!

Dave H said...

Yes I am already impressed by Malcolm...welcome to the fam

Dave H said...

NER NER "TIGHT JEANS", NER NER "HORNED RIMS", SAY IT AIN'T SOOOO-OH-OH-WHOA-WHOOOOOAAA

Dave H said...

And what about that band EVERYONE knows and says that they hate (but was ALL over the place)?

"I don't eva wanna feeeeel...like I did that day..."

There is an argument out there for them AND the Beastie Boys technically they played instruments and WERE a band...

words...words...words... said...

I am an unabashed fan of RHCP. However, that's probably my least favorite of their hits.

BeckEye said...

I don't know why I didn't before, but I must insist that Pearl Jam was the defining Gen X band. The reasons that they beat out Nirvana are: longevity and accessibility. Obviously, Nirvana was an important band and will make it to the HOF before PJ. But let's face it, whether you love, hate or are indifferent to Nirvana, much of their success and popularity is due to being in the right place at the right time and because the singer went out in a blaze of glory.

If it's not Pearl Jam, there's only one other artist it can be. WEIRD MUTHAHUMPIN' AL.

I'm sorry I had to bring DMB into the conversation, but the fact remains that all of my Gen Y friends went ape-shit over them. They had (and maybe still have) one of those weird Deadhead type followings. Urrrgh.

Hey, at least I didn't say Hootie and the Blowfish. Oh dammit, I just did!!

BeckEye said...

Actually, if you consider that kids really started getting into music in junior high, as you said, the defining Gen X band would have to be Duran Duran. Hellz yeah.

Dave H said...

Beckeye, thank u for putting Simon LeBon and Co. in the coversation.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger, omg that album is STILL awesome to this day.

"The Chauffeur" most underrated 80's song..

Dave H said...

ALSO...I would say this, while Nirvana and Pearl Jam did more to define and create and entire new CULTURE...Radiohead has accomplished more in the realm of MUSIC...see where I'm headed here?

Jon said...

Damn kids today with their loud music and their Myspaces and whatnot. Back in my day, we used to crank up the ol' stereophonic machine for a little band called Guns N Roses.

Now all you young whippersnappers need to get the hell off my lawn.

Malcolm said...

@ Dave H: Thanks for the kind words and the welcome.

red said...

Malcolm - I guess Dave missed that you've been around for, oh I dunno, a year now :)

Dave H said...

Red what are you, Colbert, trying to "nail" me on these facts?

Dave H said...

"facts"

Mathdude said...

Obsess much about GITW, Dave H? WWW has it right. There is no defining artist these days. The music world is about finding your niche these days. If you read Bob Lefsetz, he talks about this constantly.

Del-V said...

I'm a Gen Xer and I think it is Nirvana or Prince.

Also I am super late to the conversation!