They say everything old is new again. But the opposite is also true: Everything new gets old.
This is especially true in pop culture, where the longevity of the product is built right into its effervescent name. But it’s always amusing to watch as each new generation realizes its icons will eventually be supplanted. A new set of interlopers who care not – and know even less – about those we once worshipped will be the ones deciding what pops and what has popped.
This new year has already given us two prime examples of this phenomenon, which has been amplified through the immediacy of social media. The first was in early January when fans of rap superstar Kanye West wondered – or more like typed – aloud their confusion about this “newcomer” Paul McCartney who collaborated with the “Yeezus” rapper on a new song.
The tidal wave of cluelessness about Sir Paul was followed by a tsunami of incredulity. Dear sweet merciful Zeus, who are these children who have never heard of the Beatles? The Fab Four. The British Invasion. Beatlemania. Hey, Jude – how can you not know who The Beatles are?
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Then last weekend, the cycle repeated itself, albeit it a somewhat more contemporary version. After pop princess Katy Perry rode into the stadium on a golden tiger (lion? liger?) during the Super Bowl halftime show, she brought out surprise guest Missy Elliott for a mini-comeback. Predictably, the “Who even is Missy Elliott?” tweets began.
Though, if you think about it, it makes sense. Some of the hip-hop artist’s biggest hits – including “Get Ur Freak On” and “Work It,” which she performed in her big game medley – came out in 2001 and 2002, respectively. So a high school student today was still in preschool when those songs were on the radio. Yeah, you feel old now, don’t you?
Elliott actually took the bewilderment in stride, tweeting out: “I think it’s cool new kids think I’m a new artist that goes to show u that I’m still on (fire) & will rip down stages 20 yrs later.”
A reciprocal outrage cloud revved up against the whippersnappers, with fans of Elliott and anyone older than a high school senior expressing disbelief at these youngsters’ lack of basic music knowledge.
But what this repeating process really shows us is how our collective short-term memory works when it comes to entertainment culture. Today’s hitmakers are tomorrow’s has-beens. But even more so, it tells us something about us. Today’s taste makers are tomorrow’s relics.
There always will be another younger, hipper generation coming up to take over. Our time atop the trend heap is always short. Knowing that our inevitable fall is coming doesn’t make it hurt any less. But, we can cushion the blow with the fact that at least we know who the Beatles are.
Elsewhere around the scene:
When you’re watching the Grammy Awards this Sunday, keep a close eye out for the bluegrass category.
Modesto native Frank Solivan II, who now lives in Virginia, and his band are up for best bluegrass album this year. His group, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, was nominated for its album “Cold Spell.” This is the Turlock High graduate’s first Grammy nomination, but he has had a distinguished career in the music business already. Before starting Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, he served as part of the U.S. Navy band Country Current.
Solivan’s father, Frank Solivan Sr., still lives in Modesto.
Find out more about the younger Solivan’s music at http://dirtykitchenband.com.
And finally, tune in Tuesday to see a Modesto resident on the popular game show “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Kelsey Myers will appear on the wheeling-and-dealing show hosted by Wayne Brady. The program airs in daytime on CBS. Check your local listings for the exact airtime so you can see if Myers gets deals or zonks.