The Sound of a Generation

Right Now on All Songs Considered we're looking at the music that's defined passed generations. Bob Boilen talks with Carrie Brownstein (Monitor Mix blogger and former guitarist for Sleater-Kinney), Stephen Thompson (editor for NPR's Song of the Day), and Amy Phillips (senior editor with about the most memorable music of the past 40 years. We've got a lot of amazing music on the show, so be sure to check it out, then let us know what you think here.

Every generation has its own soundtrack. The Silent Generation (people born in the '20s and '30s) had big band and swing. Baby Boomers (born in the '40s and '50s) had rock and soul. Generation X (born in the '60s and '70s) had grunge and hip-hop. There's plenty of overlap, of course, and these are incredibly broad distinctions that don't take a lot of other genres into consideration. But it's probably fair to say that these were the most defining moments in music for each generation.

Big-band jazz and swing was the sound of a nation celebrating itself during and after the War. What's now called classic rock was the perfect soundtrack for a rebellion, while the mopey angst of grunge captured the, well, mopey angst of disillusioned teens and twentysomethings coming off the Reagan years.

Now it's the Millennials' turn. Also known as Generation Y, these are people born in the late '70s to early '90s.

I confess I don't listen to much Top 40 radio or watch much MTV. I do read a number of music magazines and music Web sites (Hype Machine, Stereogum, Pitchfork) and listen to the hundreds of CDs we get in the mail each week, so I'd like to think I have at least an inkling of what's going on. But I can't for the life of me figure out what the Millennial/Generation Y soundtrack is. Maybe it hasn't been defined yet. I've been talking with the other producers here — several of them Millennials themselves — and we're a little stumped.

What do you think it is? Or what will it be?



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I don't think that there is a definable sound yet for this generation, in fact I think that the lack thereof is in itself the sound of this generation. This generation hasn't had a defining moment or sound yet, we're searching, and that search so far encompasses all points of the music spectrum. The internet has brought so much music to our fingertips that we tend to browse and pick our music a la carte and that prevents one sound from rising to the forefront. When you're constantly on shuffle you don't remain in any one spot long enough for it to grab you.

Sent by Brian | 3:01 PM | 5-8-2008

I think it's difficult to define the music of an era without distance. I graduated high school in '81 - so the music I considered mine is all Billy Joel, Styx, Pat Benatar and then Duran Duran, R.E.M. and Squeeze in college. Does that fall into anyone's idea of defining bands? "Mix" stations always play album cuts that never saw the light of day on mainstream radio as landmark songs while Exile, who had the #1 Top 40 song of the year in 1978, have been "exiled" because the band went Country. I would say look to soundtracks like "Garden State" for the mix that we'll be attaching to Gen Y.

Sent by Ann V. | 3:32 PM | 5-8-2008

Postmodern. It doesn't have a definition, but that's just what it is.

Sent by Emory | 3:43 PM | 5-8-2008

I would say look to soundtracks like "Garden State" for the mix that we'll be attaching to Gen Y.

Gag me. If that's what will define my generation, I want out!

Sent by Lars | 3:50 PM | 5-8-2008

Instant gratification.

My grandmother only saw Elvis perform live on the Ed Sullivan show. I googled Britney Spears and found 148341 videos of her, alone. My mom shuffles through cassettes and cds, while I flip through my ipod for any random album I have. I use to attend "release parties" at record stores for big cd releases (Radiohead, Modest Mouse), but now I can preorder it on itunes, and not even put shoes on to get it. Its not so much the rebellion, its the laziness.

Sent by Angela | 3:55 PM | 5-8-2008

This generation's access to the internet has broadened our horizons well past the point where "the sound of a generation" can be defined. Most of us can PROVE that we listen to a little bit of everything.

Yesterday, I made a mixtape for a big move I'm making in a week. For every Velvet Underground track, there's a Camera Obscura. For Every Silver Jews, there's a Thin Lizzy track. For every Destroyer, Mulatu Astatke.

I can tell you what I like, what defines me, but most of that is the music of earlier generations - or music that draws heavily from them.

Take Okkervil River's "John Allyn Smith Sails" or "Plus Ones." Both songs depend on the work of earlier artists. This whole generation is like this. We are the whole of the 20th Century.

Sent by Matthew Trisler | 4:00 PM | 5-8-2008

I think perhaps this generation is not defined by a common sound, but by their fluency in many sounds.

Where I live in Roanoke, Virginia, a group of young musicians has formed The Magic Twig Community (see: Within this collective there are countless bands, all speaking their musical language fluently. From 60s psych rock to hip hop to jug band music to 80s synth pop, Magic Twig bands draw on a multitude of sounds and use them to inspire songs of their own.

Now that listeners have the power to choose what they want to hear it appears the drive to 'play what's popular' is rapidly subsiding.

I prefer creativity over imitation anyday!

Sent by rootsminer | 4:05 PM | 5-8-2008

Don't know what to call it but I think this generation's sound will be defined by the production techniques - things like the lack of dynamics in the mix and use of pitch correction. I'm talking specifically about mainstream radio here. That's what usually comes to define a generation, not the underground music.

Sent by John McAteer | 4:51 PM | 5-8-2008

first thought: hip hop. it is a global force for this generation, too.

the stylings and structure of hip hop is dovetailed with the re-mixed and globalized sounds affored by the web

Sent by dizzymslizzy | 4:55 PM | 5-8-2008

As a Gen Y, we want what's new, "original" and different. That's why the music acts have such a short shelf life. They are new for a season and then they are out.

Vampire Weekend is a great example of my generation. Pretty great music, unsigned, received a lot of press for being "underground" however their next album will be unheard of in the mainstream way.

The same "underground" status is even craved for other genres besides indie rock.

For example, hip-hop, Kanye blew up and was fresh and new and "original", but after all is said and done people are beginning to lose that admiration.

Another example, Mariah Carey, her label can put as much press on E=MC2 as they want, but she will never be what she was in the 90s because of her being around since the 90s.She's not original or fresh or underground. (However, artists that come back from the 90's means they are either being "ironic" or "retro" which gives them a novelty effect)

So it doesn't matter what the actual sound is, as long as it has a beat and has a new face to it, then it's cool.

As for Garden State, Juno and Napoleon Dynamite have done a similar thing to indie music. "Unique" and "originality" in films is as important as it is in music. (Their soundtracks give audience members music "cred". Juno is actually coming out with another soundtrack because a lot of that audience hasn't heard twee or anti-folk before)

There won't be a defined genre, there's just way too much music getting out there and growing at similar rates to have a chosen genre.

Sent by Sara Knee | 5:02 PM | 5-8-2008

Please let it not be "Crunk" music.
That's all I'm asking.

Sent by bryant | 6:32 PM | 5-8-2008

Indie, emo, acoustic stuff. I think we're sort of going back to the folk rock stuff, thank jesus! :)

Sent by desi | 7:04 PM | 5-8-2008

I think all the musical generations you listed share the commonality of being part of the progression of the music industry. All of those eras of music depended on the music industry giving them record deals. But as the industry began to take over the music, technology has served as the self correction.

Now for our generation (born 1979), anyone with a mac and a thousand bucks to buy equipment with can make a record that is halfway decent. That kind if change in the musical landscape has given rise to a growing disparity between music as an art and music as a business. It didn't used to be like that.

So I think the lasting musical legacy for our generation is going to be the "indie," for lack of a better word, scene. It's an awfully wide variety of styles, but the melding of styles is part of that same thing.

I don't think we'll have a style like swing or hip hop that defines us musically, but rather a rethinking of the music industry in general.

Sent by Wes Hunter | 11:20 PM | 5-8-2008

Genration "Y" as in "Why bother?
I think its not generation 'Y" but generation "z"
as in 'zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz's - being asleep.
As an art revolutionary its hard to wake anybody up in this century And perhaps none are safer than the media.
Z as in zombie!
We use to answer "what are you rebelling against/" with "What have you got". Now when asked "What are you rebelling against?" the reply is "Oh sorry didn't mean to make waves!" Ha ha!

Sent by Tom Hendricks | 12:44 AM | 5-9-2008

I forget who it was that said this to me, but I think it explains quite a bit:

"Your generation is the first generation that not only listens to (and likes) their parent's music, but their grandparents', too."

So much of what defined the music of prior generations was that generation having a teenage rebellion against their parents, and all that defined "old."

But now that music is so readily available, we grow up listening to music from every era, and can appreciate it on its own terms. So the music we love ends up being more evolutionary than revolutionary. Artists are experimenting with known forms, using electronic techniques in very organic ways, while trying to figure out what makes music good. And whenever that experimentation works, the Top 40 crowd grab hold of it, and reproduce it as best they can, trying to figure out why people like it.

So this generation's music is built on the music of the past, rather than a radical departure. Think of it like the Romantic period of music, taking the forms and themes of the Classical and Baroque periods' works, and making them more complex and robust. Keeping what worked, and discarding what didn't.

Which makes me happy, because I love stuff from the Romantic period, and I really like some the stuff that's coming out now. So I can only look with anticipation to what's coming next.

Sent by Ian | 2:01 AM | 5-9-2008

Democratic music? Past eras were easier to define in terms of genres because they were characterized by only one or at times a few styles of music...

This era is different in that it could only be defined BY the access to ALL forms of music by the listeners of the art form.

This is also in one way or another, the era of independent music ! Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Indi Hip Hop. The death of the old record industry and the birth of a new musical landscape where the music flows like water and is created by everyone.

Indeed this is the beginning of a new democratic era of the art form.

Sent by Ash Adil From Michigan | 2:29 AM | 5-9-2008

I believe generation Y is defined by EMO. It seems to be what most bands on the radio sound like.

Sent by Gary | 5:22 AM | 5-9-2008

I think it's wrong to say we're in a postmodern age without history and without a style. We've certainly moved beyond the downbeat, paranoid and ironic age of 90s rock, for instance. Developments like the introduction of dance into rock, or electronica into folk, suggest a new need for movement, colouration, experimentation, hybridisation - and fun. There's a childishness in music these days that you can hear in the yowling vocal deliveries and hand-clapping choruses of bands like Los Campesinos! (or indeed Clap Your Hands Say Yeah).

Sent by Robbie | 6:58 AM | 5-9-2008

You know the sound of typing on a keyboard. Thats generation Y.

Sent by Brendon | 8:46 AM | 5-9-2008

Unfortunately, I think it's hip hop. Not the good stuff like The Roots or Mos Def either but the top 40 MTV stuff. I think the sound that defines the generation has to be obvious - and hip hop has been incredibly popular for years now... ugh...

On the other hand, you can argue that there is no defined sound for this generation. If that's the case then I think it's because people have more choices available to them. There are so many different genres out there and thanks to technology, it's easy to expose yourself to music not found on the radio. Perhaps the days of a generational sound are over...?

Sent by David | 9:14 AM | 5-9-2008

I haven't listened to the radio in a few years. I think that says something about the sound of our generation. I find my music mostly through the internet i.e myspace, all songs, facebook. This generation is so open to new sounds and techniques, I don't think you can sum up our "sound" with one word or idea. I guess if I had to I would say "availability" is the sound of my generation.

P.S I love All Songs Considered. I wouldn't be listening to half the amazing music I do if it wasn't for you. Thank you!!!

Sent by Michael Fox | 9:26 AM | 5-9-2008

With the indie music evolution (revolution?), the music of generation Y in undefinable. And maybe that's just it, The Indie era.

Sent by jmj | 9:26 AM | 5-9-2008

I was born in 1978, right between Gen X and Y and now I teach highschool. For me and my friends, the democracy of the internet has overwhelmed the influence of tastemakers like MTV and radio, so we can listen to a little of everything or focus on some tiny obscure niche. But where I teach, it seems like every kid wears emo band shirts. So I'd say for middle class white kids it's either undefined or emo.

Sent by zebbart | 10:23 AM | 5-9-2008

I think something that hasn't been said is that, despite the internet's rising prevelance, lots of places don't have diverse media outlets that even tell kids anything exists to look for. All over America, the radio is sounding more and more the same, dominated by top-20 playlisting and demo-oriented marketing. For an awful lot of people my age, if they don't love what they hear on the radio or might get lost in the endless sea of obscurity fostered by the internet, a huge influence on our tastes has been wrought by a tired and true source for many generations: our parents.

Now, I was born in 1982 and I was lucky enough to grow up in Southern California- a major media market with lots of options and outlets tied to a culturally urban/suburban environment. I didn't have my own computer with internet access until I went off to college, but that didn't stop me from growing into a full-blown music nerd. I consumed back issues of Mojo and Spin and RS, and I would read collections of music journalism for fun (or I used to, anyway.) I would rent "The Last Waltz" and "Velvet Goldmine" every weekend. I started trading mix CDs with smart, hip friends and going to shows all the time. Even though my tastes were still maturing, in my teenage years I became exposed to not only the latest iterations of different genres and styles, but I had the ability to go back and hear where they came from.

"Emo" to a lot of us started with Jimmy Eat World, but became The Promise Ring and Jawbreaker, and then eventually Rites of Spring and DC hardcore. "Metal" might have been System of a Down, but soon became the Dillinger Escape Plan, Entombed, Metallica, Judas Priest and Sabbath.

Eventually, the internet and a healthy appetite for cultural minutae would lead me to establish a very well-rounded set of sensibilities and aethetic values that hopefully will help prevent my generation from being defined solely by what I listened to in high school.

But really, it all starts with the fact that I was lucky enough to steal the copy of "London Calling" my Dad bought in the 90s to appear cooler in his middle age, leading me to discover ska and reggae and punk and art rock and glam and eveything else. But he was, after all, from Canada, and I'd be lying if I said this wasn't the biggest reason that I STILL know the words to a dozen or so Bachman Turner Overdrive songs. And when nobody is around and my apartment is dark in the night, you just might still find me rocking out to "Ain't Seen Nothing Yet..."

Sent by Brendan K. | 10:29 AM | 5-9-2008

The Swell Season, the people who were in the film "Once" then went on to be a real couple/band, sold out a 3,000 seat hall here locally in just a few days(which is unusual). It's that kind of media synergy that defines what's pop now.
I was astonished a few years ago when an appearance by William Hung, the failed 'American Idol' contestant, created a long line for tickets at the local record store - while 'real' music often goes begging.

Sent by schlep | 11:08 AM | 5-9-2008

Schlep answered it correctly.

William Hung is the sound of this generation, end of story.

Sent by Skirkster Beetle | 11:13 AM | 5-9-2008

First it was Ian Curtis, then it was David Byrne, then it was David Bowie, then it was Bruce Springsteen, then it was Paul Simon.... the defining music of our generation is all mimicry of the past greats.

Sent by David W. | 11:14 AM | 5-9-2008

I was born in '83 and everyone my age agrees that the bands of the early '90s rock--Nirvana, Weezer, Pearl Jam, etc. define how we remember that era. As a counterpart, we remember huge commercial hip hop like puff was the final hey day for the major labels. Another defining moment was Napster. We all remember coming of age and experiencing music through napster. We all had some of the most random mixes of unrelated songs. And the process of downloading new stuff is unique to our generation. This ushered in a fragmentation of music and media in the 2000s that we're still dealing with today. Then Myspace broke and suddenly everyone is distributing music that they make in their home. Most of it is bad. But no true music fans, and most of our generation is not listening to radio or getting music on MTV. We're more likely to hear a new band like Vampire Weekend while watching Gossip Girl. It seems that the only defining theme is the minute personalization of our music...almost as a fashion accessories worn with an iPod. And in spite of all of this a few bands manage to reach a critical mass. I feel like I'll remember seminal albums by bands that reached a critical mass like Radiohead, Beck, Wilco, Arcade Fire, etc. But that's just my taste. We all have our own tastes and that's the only thing that binds us. I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess it is post-modern.

Sent by Lee | 11:24 AM | 5-9-2008

I'm going to sound like a grumpy old man, but the predominant sound I hear now is amateurishness. My college-age daughter at art school seems to like just about anything that isn't played (especially sung) competently (Kimya Dawson being a good example). There wasn't one song in your last All Songs Considered podcast, for instance, whose vocalist didn't make me cringe. Is this an American Idol backlash?

ok..try this, think Dylan, think Velvet Underground, think Kinks, think Neil Young.
need i go on. Those are the same aesthetics heard on this weeks show. Music now is about the personal not the flash. It's less rehearsed and I'd say better for it. What Dylan, Lou Reed and Neil Young had was a way to sing with raw emotion. True it is polar from American Idol I suppose, but not a reaction...because I'd imagine the singers on this weeks All Songs Considered couldn't care less about that show.

I'd also listen to a few of these songs a few times through and see if they don't grab you. Remember competence can be heard on the billboard 100, it doesn't make it lovable or better.
bob boilen

Sent by John | 12:09 PM | 5-9-2008

It's hip hop.

Sent by Devan | 12:21 PM | 5-9-2008

Death metal.

In all seriousness, there is no overriding sound of this generation. Alternative, boy band, Top 40, dance rock, emo, indie, gangsta rap, hip-hop, metal, techno, electronic, "retro" bands, what passes for punk these days, post-rock, prog-rock, experimental, and on and on. Unlike the previous generations, the landscape of popular music today contains many hills and no real mountains.

Sent by Bobby | 2:29 PM | 5-9-2008

For this generation it's the medium not the message.

Sent by dk | 2:53 PM | 5-9-2008

Dear All Songs Considered,

I am surprised to read that even the Millenials' at NPR were stumped on what is the sound of our generation. Listening to your show this morning of "The Great Unknowns" it seems only obvious. Though the catch is the music of our generation is an aesthetic, not a genre. The aesthetic being the undiscovered, or simply the underground. Within each underground genre whether it be some strange one person sub-subgenre or simply indie (suggesting independent), the defining factor for most is the intimacy the listener feels with the musicians or artist. In my prior example of indie music, it's Generation Lo-fi. Listeners opt for the surreality and noise of say Grizzly Bear or Neutral Milk Hotel over magazine faces and commercial success. It's the same with underground hip hop and all the subgenres of punk and hardcore and country and americana. A good song hits me mostly when I'm in my living room and I feel like the band is there with me or could be and not unreachable or infallible.

Sent by colin m. | 3:15 PM | 5-9-2008

I tried to think last night what music "kids listen to these days" that makes me want to scream, "Get off my lawn!" at them, but there's not a lot that I can't tolerate. Angry suburban rock (Korn, Lincoln Park, Evanescence, etc) is what comes to mind most, but even that I can tolerate in small doses.

Its already been brought up that Generation Y doesn't seem to be rebelling in anyway with a new sound, but I don't think the last couple of generations are letting them rebel too much. It's easy for me to see the difference in my taste of music compared with my Dad's. There's definitely a generational line there. There are some things I listen to that my Dad can't tolerate. But I don't see the same line with my younger relatives or some of the kids at work. You are more likely to hear, "Wow, that's sounds cool. Turn it up," from people now in their 30's and 40's hearing a new band then you are to hear, "turn that racket off!" And I don't think it is because they are trying to pretend they are still in their 20's.

The incredible accessibility to different types of bands and artists make it tougher for a generation to choose just one sound as well.

I think there is a trend of mixing genres that will be indicative of the Generation Y soundtrack. Gnarls Barkley and Gorillaz are examples of that. In fact, I think "Crazy" will be one of the songs that will induce a bar room full of reminiscent "Y"ers to spontaneously sing along out loud in a few years; the same way that folks my age would with "Living on a Prayer" (although we only sing that out loud to be ironic.)

I also think that a lot of the soundtrack will be reinvented older sounds. Mark Ronson is giving a real Motown sound to a lot of the stuff he produces and bands like The Futureheads have a real new wave sound to them. When I listen to Vampire Weekend, I hear a lot of The Police in their sound.

I don't see the Generation Y soundtrack breaking away from the music of older generations. I see it embracing those sounds and using them in their own musical voice, sort of like a grand remastering and remixing of whole genres.

Sent by Mac Coldwell | 4:25 PM | 5-9-2008

I tend to agree with most of the post that discuss how my generation mix and matches music. How my generation is breaking the the recorded industry. And did you notice that most of the post have been written by blokes that do not listen to the radio. The sound track of Y is created be each user for the time place, and feeling attached. Last week I went to a party, on the way there I was listening to Dylan. Not really party music right? It was Tupac and Biggy for the night, yet that morning on the way to starbucks I was walking to the tunes of "I wide awake, it's morning"

Sent by shawn | 8:55 PM | 5-9-2008

How would I define the music of today's generation? I'd describe it as end-user, individualistic and personal. I submit to you that, as a rule, music today does not serve to connect us as a large generational group. Instead, the music of this generation is something that defines us as people. I would also echo the comments that have stressed the importance of the Internet as a medium for finding music. But even these comments do not go to the heart of the matter, which is that the Internet has given us so much variety that we can no longer be a homogeneous generation.

Sent by Pablo | 11:02 PM | 5-9-2008

So many correct answers. For many (especially here, with your audience), the answer would include Nirvana, REM, and those that have been influenced by them. The notion of an 'underground' and the 'undiscovered' would certainly appeal to the crowd here as well.

For others, however, the answer might include former mouseketeers, boy bands, country, hair metal, Jimmy Buffet, Jay Z.

We're the generation of the narrowcast. We started with our radio divided along crispy clean enclaves - oldies, country, college rock, top 40. And then, the internet got involved. You can find your niche and you never have to leave it.

Wikipedia has an entry on "cello rock". While I don't honestly believe that's a genre, it's a sign of the times. See also the "indie-folk-tronica" referenced by Second Stage (which isn't even wikied yet), or "nerdcore".

Sent by jamesG | 12:29 AM | 5-10-2008

the Millenials i have known and observed fall into two basic types. type 1 are those who observe genre boundaries - i'd say amongst that type, Emo really is the defining music that gen Y will be remembered for. but the 2nd type is a new breed that ignores genre limitations and boundaries, both aesthetically and socially (observance of musical genre has always had a big social role) more than any prior generation - for instance, as a gen X type, i reflexively put a very different value on music that is played live on organic instruments vs. music composed in a computer, but gen Y isn't interested in that distinction.

Sent by slim moon | 8:09 PM | 5-10-2008

I'll start by mentioning I was born in '79, then agree with jamesG's response. I would also add that since the late 60's it seems that the basic music category 'Rock' has been (and will continue) spawning an infinitely expanding number of sub-categories (at least according to hipsters and slick music mags), bringing us to the current age, where people attach themselves to their favorite niche (one only needs to see the available musical style choices on myspace to verify, my favorite being 'Melodramatic Popular Song'). Although there are people out there, perhaps a small few from the new generation, that are putting everything back under the umbrella of Rock and listening to all of it. I'm also amused by the growing trend of people in their early-twenties liking music/musicians once considered lame or passe (Neil Diamond, ABBA, Journey, Styx... for instance) merely for the irony of liking them; "they're so bad, they're good."

Sent by Matt Hocker | 10:47 PM | 5-10-2008

Of course, we who listen to "All Songs Considered" want just that.... all songs considered for our generation (I was born in '83). And although that is slowly creeping into the popular opinion, I do not believe that can be considered our trademark. They may also purchase music online, but over half of the Gen Y'ers I know listen to Top 40, which I think is overrun with Hip Hop. Like others here have said, it's the mainstream culture that defines the soundtrack.

Sent by Tara | 8:54 AM | 5-11-2008

Commenting on the sound of my generation is a little strange for me. I will be graduating from college in a few weeks and in the fall I will be attending graduate school. I have been very reflective recently and this blog seems to fall into that theme; but I digress.

I would define our generation with a single song. Radiohead's recent album "In Rainbows" contains a gem of a song titled "All I need." It is as much a song to make out to as it is a song that truly epitomizes the social disconnect that our generation can experience in our digital world. Our lives can become dominated by blogs, facebook, and scanning 24 hour news web sites. It also helps that this song was distributed with the Radiohead online promotion/gimmick where the user could download the album and pay what they thought was fair. If that doesn't define a generation I don't know what does.

Sent by Jon Avery | 3:21 PM | 5-11-2008

This generation has no definite sound, as a few people mentioned, but rather an overwhelming sound of yesterday. Artists today assimilate sound of generations before to create a unique sound with empty nostalgia. However, some artists do this very well. My latest musical crushes have joined Folk, Motown, Show Tunes, and Rock to create a musical vernacular separate from the sound it derives from. Crushes like Sway (Boston), Pearl and the Beard (New York), and The Venn Diagrams (New York), linking grand sounds with fleeting loves and historic rebellion successfully tap into the lack of identity this generation has and made it their own.

Sent by Brad Silk | 4:22 PM | 5-12-2008

The underground brought into the foreground? Myspace is the postmodern record store.

Maybe our stylistic values are uncertainty. Maybe our identity is the loss of identity. Who needs a Patriot Act when our blogs tell 1) Our political and philosophical affiliations 2) Our reading habits (no need for library snooping!) 3) Who has made us mad, and what form of retribution we'd like to retaliate with, and 4) Why we did or did not like the specific color of nail polish, or fishnet stockings on our favorite (fe)male artist? (On a side note, I have contemplated this topic and enjoyed both accessories equally on Jolie Holland and Johnny Thunders.)

The rising sales of independent artists / independent record labels seems like an egalitarian reaction to the corporate dominance of the music market, which stems as far back as the 70's, or 50's or 20's, depending on who you ask. Artists like Wilco , Radiohead and others who have embraced the communicative abilities of the internet have reaped, above all, the immense benefits of artistic freedom.

If I am letting my optimist-self speak, I think we're in for a few more years of marketing and aesthetic innovation which will construct the atmosphere both the artist and the fan would like to exist within. If the pessimist speaks, we are in the musical equivalent of global warming, where so much noise pollution will corrupt our best sensibilities. Auto-Tune will suck the voice out of the heartland, leaving it a virtual dustbowl of talent. Pro Tools will become the anti-pacemaker, stealing the rhythms of life in our heartbeats and circadian habits. Simon Cowell will crown himself "Jesus 2.0" (or "Jesus Vista", whichever is more defunct) and call forth his legion of extraneously high-fructose pop music to drown out the coastal pockets of artistic communities in the U.S., so all that we are left with is that dustbowl that I mentioned earlier. And Simon Cowell.

So I think our generation exists in a middle state where we have yet to harness the immense powers of the internet into any worldwide collective good. And we're living with the consequences of being perpetual slackers. Here's to us.

Sent by EP | 10:33 PM | 5-12-2008

I quickly read through the earlier postings and agree with some. Based on the brief description in the Unknown Showcase show, a generation becomes defined by the "new" music created during that time. People are continuely inspired by what came before, but I think some of the most original sounds from our generation are Emo, and The many sounds that fall under Electronica. I personally think Weezer's Pinkerton was the mainstream start of Emo. I am not as deep into the Electronica scene, and so have no specific artist to offer.

But other artists from this time to consider: Radiohead, At the Drive In & Rage Against the Machine, They Might Be Giants, Cake, The Flaming Lips, Frank Black, Jon Spencer, Tori Amos, and Sonic Youth.

Sent by Kat | 1:38 PM | 5-13-2008

I personally refer to the born in 1980-90 generation the Dot Com generation. It's the defining characteristic of our lives. We have computers from kindergarten on. It's affected every bit of our lives.

So with that in mind, I would state that we are the first generation without a collective soundtrack. We witnessed the death of MTV, the rise of Napster, and basically a freedom to take in the music we like. As opposed to what record companies felt would sell the best. If you want to peg the music of our generation with a singular term I would use Indie. Of course it doesn't describe a type of music but it does explain it's deliver.

Consider this, while I was in college there were two songs that everyone I knew had on their computer. "Because I Got High" by Afroman and The Gourds version of "Gin and Juice". Neither song was formally sold and in the case of "Gin and Juice" most people still don't know who actually performed the song. These were two songs distributed solely on the internet.

Sent by Jeremy | 5:21 PM | 5-13-2008

well, if my tween daughter is any indication, it's hip hop and what would have been called hard rock in 70s and grunge in the 90s!

Sent by OlderMusicGeek | 7:17 PM | 5-13-2008

As a member of this generation, I do have to agree with the people that have acknowledged the difficulty in identifying a type of sound of this generation. With the introduction of the Internet, bands no longer have to depend on mediums like MTV or radio stations to promote their music. This allows for increasing experimentation with varieties of sounds because they do not have to seek anyone's approval before reaching audiences. Look at the success of Sara Bareilles, who by allowing a free download of her song "Love Song" on itunes, achieved mainstream success by the next month. Bands, with the simple aid of websites such as Myspace, can promote themselves, thus expanding the freedom for both artists' creativity and listeners' choice on sounds.

Sent by Tiffany | 12:16 PM | 5-14-2008

There is a strong difficulty level with identifiying a sound for this generation - at least as an outsider. I think they are less force-fed than my generation. I am 33 as we didn't have much choice. Instead, we were forced to listen to the music on the radio Casey Cason's Sunday Top 40 and MTV videos. We didn't have the listening luxury and freedom of downloads, internet archives, and ipods. Records got broken, tape reels broke, and cds got scratched. It was difficult to transport 100 cds. Do you remember the big black zippered bags? Access to 1000's of personal selections was impossible. This generation in all their freedom has the most diverse "sound track", a "sound track" with expansivness that I find difficult to quantify and even imagine. Lucky Generation Y, with their buffet of delictable tunes - no force feeding. Their music table is set with exactly what they want to devour.

Sent by Christy Hulsey | 3:35 PM | 5-14-2008

It is, in no particular order:
Radiohead: OK Computer
Death Cab For Cutie: Plans
The Strokes: Is This It?
Sufjan Stevens: Come on Feel the Illinoise
Beck: Odelay
Whitney Houston: Whitney
Snoop Dogg: Doggystyle
U2: Achtung Baby
Weezer: Weezer(the blue album)
The Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness
Coldplay: Parachutes
Mariah Carey: Music Box
Christina Aguilera: Self-Titled
The Beastie Boys: Ill Communication
Bjork: Homogenic
Broken Social Scene: You forgot it in People
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Nirvana: MTV Unplugged
Arcade Fire: Funeral
Outkast: Stankonia
Pearl Jam: Vs.
The White Stripes: White Blood Cells
Thursday: Full Collapse
The Get Up Kids: Something to Write Home About
John Mayer: Room for Squares
Justin Timberlake: Justified
Kanye West: College Dropout
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Green Day: Dookie
Guns n' Roses: Use Your Illusion Part I
That is all. If you put those albums in a time capsule, one hundred years from now, people would perfectly understand how screwed up we were. And Why.

Sent by J. Luke Webb | 3:37 PM | 5-14-2008

I think a lot of the responses so far have it right when the talk about the effects of the internet, an interest in our parents' and grandparents' music, and the lack of a distinct "sound". Nobody I know listens to music on the radio. Fewer and fewer people I know buy CDs. So there is no longer a sort of centralized, approved sound making it big the way there was in the good old days when Capitol could just put enough money behind a band and turn them into a household name.

But I think the biggest effect is that of the internet, specifically in the way that it globalizes much of our interaction. Going through the day, I'll listen to The Who, Smashing Pumpkins, and Run DMC along with local stuff in my area like Spaghetti Western String Co., but that'll all be followed by Fiamma Fumana's Modenese folk-techno, Orxata Sound System's Barcelonan "post-Bacalao", In Extremo's Old Norse metal covers coming out of Germany, and some Chilean pan flute albums from mix CDs I bought from Peruvians living in Madrid. And to top it off I might switch over to Gogol Bordello for some gypsy punk. Or maybe Tchaikowsky. Or John Lee Hooker.

This is the generation where barriers don't melt under the acid trip, or get torn down by the anarchists, or just get whined away by the grungers. This is the generations where barriers, where genres and categorized tastes, just AREN'T.

Sent by Colin | 4:22 PM | 5-14-2008

This generation's music is about sharing influences, that sharing assisted by the internet has put musical development in a warp drive. X&Y generation's music is about plurality, about being eclectic. The sounds reflect that, pulling back on a rich tapestry of music from the past, drawing on global influences and movements, as well as looking forward to what can be.

So much sound can be accepted as music these days. 20 years ago would people put up with what Wilco does live when they dip into their noisey passages? Noise is something that seems to come up often for me, its a musical element that bands will employ to create contrast in the arc of a song, Sonic Youth could be the grandaddy of this, but Wilco uses it, Deerhoof uses it, Radioheads goes there at times, Akron/Family, Liars... Noise is used differently by John Zorn as well as M83 and Man Man.

Extending the range of what is defined as musical or accessible is something that this generation has been really good at. There is a massive plurality of genres and interests, its not uncommon for someone to be interested in Annie from Sweden as well as Shalabi Effect from Montreal and at the same time have a special place in their heart for Biggie Smalls. In the past what you listened to defined who you were, now its the variety of what you listen to that rounds out the corners of your musical taste.

This generation brought Hip Hop! That alone...

Theres also endless varieties of electronic music [jungle, trance, ambient, IDM etc etc] We broke laws and stole music we loved and shared our discoveries with as many people that would listen. Theres the global musical cross pollenization, Beck was hip to the Japanese musical style of Shibuya-Key with bands like Buffalo Daughter and Cornelius. John freaking Zorn, tho technically a boomer, has done much for Jazz/rock/improv/noise/classical. Tim Berne has taken free jazz, funk, and downtown jazz and pushed the envelope of collective improvisation while maintaining a strong pulse and groove. Dave Douglas, The Bad Plus, Marc Ribot, MMW, David Torn, Jamie Saft, Jim Black, The Necks, Nels Cline, Vandermark5, major movers in jazz.

But these are just my opinions based on what Ive managed to wrap my ears around, theres so much more out there to be listened to.

Sent by Jay T | 11:27 PM | 5-14-2008

I think a lot of people have already hit the nail on the head, this is the musical generation of microtrends.

Where previously people found music through a limited number of channels, now there is an internet radio station or digital download store to suit any subgenre.

Forget pop music, these days are the end of the platinum artist and the arrival of widespread self-publishing.

Sent by Six | 4:54 AM | 5-15-2008

I think that our generation(my generation) has a very definable sound that started with the "The" bands of 2000-2002. Though most faded into obscurity or sold out hard, a couple of them kept it real. For example, The White Stripes or the band that I think is the most important of the 2000's; The Strokes. At the same time, I think there are other records that have defined this generation. "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" by Wilco is an album that instantly comes to mind or even "Neon Bible" by Arcade Fire.

Sent by Scott | 1:58 PM | 5-15-2008

apathetic eclecticism

Sent by sonokrug | 6:12 PM | 5-15-2008

I think an equally interesting new topic in relation to this one would be: What is (or can there be) the NEW sound in the history of Rock? Has everything been exhausted leaving modern musicians to mimic the sounds of past eras; i.e. garage rock of the 60's, electronica of the early 80's. Or is the only other option to mix and match genres; glam and garage, folk and techno, disco and country... ad infinitum. Or is there some sound, some style out there that is still waiting to be created?

Sent by Matt Hocker | 3:39 AM | 5-16-2008

The first time I heard "Staring At the Sun" by TV On the Radio, I knew I was listening to a band that was taking all of their many influences (as so many other posters have pointed out, the Millenials have A LOT of influences) and putting it together in a layered, textural, orchestral kind of way that I think at least lays the groundwork for a type of music that could define a generation.
While I love The Strokes and The White Stripes, they wear their influences on their sleeves. Which is why I like them I guess.
But bands like Animal Collective, Arcade Fire and TV On the Radio, to me, seem to be going above and beyond their influences and end up bringing more than just a certain style to the table.
It's their approach and attitude toward music making that really set them apart and can help define and influence a generation of music.

Sent by Talin | 10:07 AM | 5-16-2008

Bamboozled by the demographic BS of William Strauss and Neil Howe, not to mention the many marketing consultants and mainstream media journalists who've blindly followed their lead, Hilton has lumped together members of the Net Generation (1974-83) and the Millennials (1984-93).

Remember in the 1990s, when people in their 20s claimed they didn't feel like a member of the "Twentysomething" generation? That's because the same forces of generational BS had lumped together younger OGXers with older PCers. Later in the decade, members of the so-called Generation X rejected that label... because they were younger PCers lumped together with older Netters. Generation Y -- same thing: They were Netters lumped together with older Millennials.

So what's the soundtrack to these two distinct generations?

Our favorite Netter rock bands -- The Strokes, The White Stripes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs --- are garage-rock revivalists. British Netters, meanwhile, tend to be post-punk revivalists; consider Bloc Party, The Libertines, Editors, Interpol, Kaiser Chiefs, Babyshambles, and Franz Ferdinand. Netter chanteuses Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, and Amy Winehouse are soul revivalists.

As for the Disneyfied Millennials, well... so far, their music is Disneyfied. As kids they were into Jennifer Love Hewitt, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Justin Timberlake, all of whom got their start on Disney TV shows. Disney TV shows and movies have also produced the top-selling Millennial acts: Hilary Duff, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and the "High School Musical" soundtracks. NB: Mandy Moore and Joanna "JoJo" Levesque didn't need Disney to produce enormously popular Disneyfied pop; and although Lindsay Lohan's career began with Disney, she hasn't been very successful as a pop singer. Amanda Bynes' pop career, meanwhile, was kick-started by Nickelodeon.

What about Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, Joss Stone, and Lily Allen, you ask? They're not American, so although they've influenced the Millennials, they're not Millennials.

Trying to make sense of a "generation" whose favorite acts are The Strokes and Hannah Montana, the Black Keys and Mandy Moore, the White Stripes and Zac Efron, the Libertines and Lily Allen, is a fool's errand. Robin Hilton is no fool, but he's been led astray by wrongheaded generational periodization schemes.

Sent by Joshua Glenn | 10:10 AM | 5-18-2008

Generation y starts in 1983, not the late seventies.

Sent by Ian Ghent | 12:23 PM | 5-19-2008

neutral milk hotel

Sent by noah | 3:44 PM | 5-21-2008

All I have to say is The Strokes and The White Stripes.

Sent by Scott | 2:07 AM | 5-22-2008

I think the sound today is a combination of past and present. While I'm not specifically "of this generation," With the exception of Hip Hop, I do like the music coming out now, even if it's a little difficult at times to put it in a specific genre. Folk music seems to have seeped back into our music and the songs that really appear to do well have a story to tell. Ultimately, I think Indie is the sound. Check out Cheyenne (lead singer Beau Jennings) for a combination of the two.

Sent by Beth Muse | 12:02 PM | 5-25-2008

Of course we're talking in huge stereotypes anyway when we're talking about "generational music", but I think that saying Gen X's music was grunge and hip-hop is a bit limiting. There was also a huge range of proto-emo stuff, starting back with The Cure, The Smiths, and going through to people like Toad The Wet Sprocket, the Lemonheads (which I guess were sort of grungy to an extent). The soundtracks to "Reality Bites" and "My So Called Life" are good starting points for this, less-hyped sub-genre.

That being said... is Gen Y's music emo?

(born in '78)

Sent by Dave Donovan | 5:49 PM | 5-27-2008

It's obvious: the mash-up.

Sent by Aaron | 12:21 PM | 5-28-2008

I really think it's next to impossible to generalize. Because this generation has both exposure and access to so much music via the internet, individuals are able to find something that talk directly to them more than previous generations that relied so much on radio or cultural groups to spread new music. It's become much more compartmentalized.

For me (a white, tattooed semi-hipster) it would be "indie" and everything that entails, but that's not going to be the case for my coworkers or even my best friends.

There's too much out there for everyone to be into the same thing at once.

Sent by Jake Sutton | 9:56 AM | 6-4-2008

You all had a great discussion, but I think you missed the "new" genre of current generation. Bands like Vampire Weekend, Coldplay and other children of parents who grew up in the 80's are promoting a new type of music, call it what you will, but I sort of see it as "World Music 2.0". Kind of like a genre that was started in the sixties by the Beatles, perpetuated by George Harrison, incorporating eastern music into western styles. Then carrying the torch of world music was Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, then U2 began kind of a world music vibe on Achtung Baby, then with a band like Radiohead or the Flaming Lips, you have this psychadelic, computer age world wide vibe and now you have Coldplay passing the torch to Vampire Weekend and more good world music influenced torch bearers. Am I right or am I right?

Sent by JB Kunz | 8:07 PM | 6-5-2008

As a child of the 60's, I have given up on relying on others for music. I make my own now and am far more pleased with my musical experience, even though I am not as skilled as most. Is it time most young turned to making music together for each other instead of relying on the minority that work to be professional?

Sent by P. U. Wallpaper | 11:39 PM | 6-5-2008

Sent by ( ) | 1:00 AM | 6-6-2008

I'd agree that were are talking about Generation Z or whatever they are called.

Generation Y is the mid 90's to early 2000 musically Imo. In my mind the "sound" of the foward thinkers of the our generation is obviously electronic. Aphex Twin defines us. High-brow inverted art with a middle finger.

Once it hit 2003.. everything went plastic with fake nostalgia of the 80's. and went 70's in the case of rock.

That last truely "new" record I've heard was Oval's Diskont94. It's from 95.

Our parents killed art ... we killed music.

Sent by Daniel | 9:25 AM | 6-6-2008

I'm a Gen-Y music nut, I grew up as a punker then "sold out" later as I work in publishing now (I'm 21) so defining music to me really has evolved as time has gone on.

I think when you step back and really look at music during this generation its really hard to judge what it is... in reality its a major grab bag, and simply saying a genre like "emo" defines our music is a cop out, there's way to many notable sounds to really label the generation with just one type. Electronica, indie, hip hop, punk, rock, and nu metal have all had face lifts over the past 15 or so years, incorporating more sampling and found sound into works making them stand stronger by themselves. Just take a look at bands like Sky Eats Airplane, Mindless Self Indulgence, Chromeo, Radiohead, Outkast, Soul Coughing, hell even the early work of Sugar Ray had its own grungy feel yet mixed turn tables and samples into their work. We're the generation of the revival of synths and samples. Mixing generes and the ages to make new sounds. I think this generation is the official Electric age, where producing and mixing in some areas has made the music the way it is today.

Even then, this generation isn't even over yet, so its hard to say what will happen to our generation of music, it's certainly not set in stone at all.

Sent by Eben L. | 9:31 AM | 6-6-2008

"emo" starts with the band Slint and ends with the band Promise Ring. If it's not 90's .. it's not emo.

enough of that abused term! The Cure isn't emo... Fall Out Boy isn't emo.

Sent by Daniel | 9:32 AM | 6-6-2008

Look up these bands:

Horse The Band

Sky Eats Airplane

oh look at that, new genere, its metal with electro.... how bout that one?

THAT... is our sound. A mash up of nu metal and synth. That defines our culture and generation. IF some one says NIN, ya they did things like the discription. But listen to these two bands, they are a completely diffrent sound. Some people call it Electronicore, either way its loud in your face, and ours ;]

Sent by Xeb | 9:52 AM | 6-6-2008

neutral milk hotel

Sent by Jessie | 10:41 AM | 6-6-2008

In regards to the hip-hop segment, I think there is some great socially conscious rap going on now...from Talib Kweli, Mos Def and Common, but if you want to try something even less mainstream then check out Immortal Technique. He's half Dominican and half Peruvian (?) and his songs are diatribes on how the U.S. and the West raped South/Central American and the Carribean with the drug trade...he brings up some great points.

Sent by Tanya | 10:42 AM | 6-6-2008

Unless I am mistaken, the podcast seemed to categorize Radiohead as a "Gen Y" band but being that they first burst on the scene in the 90's and have evolved to what they are today, I question as to whether they are as beloved by the Y generation compared to Gen X'ers.

Sent by Jack | 11:03 AM | 6-6-2008

It's a sound that questions the very idea of "the sound of a generation". It's confluence and convergence of some sounds, revival and renewal of others, if it's anything at all. Thinking on it more, this makes sense. It's been said that ours is, to date, the most multicultural generation in the United States. The Internet, which we can barely remember being without, has given us unprecedented access to music of the past, and music styles around the world. If already we see beyond the boundaries of race, gender, and religion,it comes as no surprise that our "sound" would similarly be difficult to pin down. I don't think it's out of any sort of laziness, but from recognizing that to define one generation, one group of people, each with diverse experiences, is a difficult thing to do.

Sent by Karina | 11:30 AM | 6-6-2008

I might have to agree with Neutral Milk Hotel representing the bulk of the "2000" sound.

After they came up ... indie lost most of it's edge it had (not their fault). 20 year olds with beards trying to look 30 starting popping up all over the place.

pass the hummis

it's all just odd today because everyone is afraid to be something now... like ... not eating meat but also not calling yourself a vegetarian. This fear of being labeled. We're slowly becoming soft like the conservative liberal Gen X'ers before us.

There needs to be a new smart social movement with some edge. Something like the Mods meets Satanism... JK!

But really the main theme is pushing "tolerance". Our generation might be a failure .. but at least the good backlash to all this forced diversity... makes us seem nicer to each other and at least appear to be tolerant. It's a step in the right direction. Let's take another step and make it stick! Cause it can either go fowards or it can go backwards.


btw - an example of a conservative liberal is someone who listens to NPR yet censors their children from watching the news.

Sent by Daniel | 11:48 AM | 6-6-2008

It's kind of a glorious mess with great potential, like the inside of a pupa before a butterfly emerges.

Sent by Mike | 12:33 PM | 6-6-2008

Born in '82, the sound that defined my "coming-of-age" years (and that of my friends) was emo (while it was still underground) and indie rock. We rocked out to the first Dashboard Confessional EP's, Sunny Day Real Estate, Brandston and The Juliana Theory. Sure, some of my dormmates had 98 degrees posters in their rooms, but they redeemed themselved with OutKast, Destiny's Child 2nd album and Justin Timberlake's first solo album. (stop laughing!)

Sent by Tara | 12:47 PM | 6-6-2008

From an Ohio resident born in 1987:

One component of music that was left out of the radio discussion is the concept of an album as a complete work of art (i.e. Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and, more recently, Radiohead and the Roots). My generation's obsession with self and the individual is echoed in its infatuation with singles that don't devliver the same emotional, musical, and cultural experience as an entire album does. In short, the spirit of an entire body of work (the album itself) is lost in the modern listening community.

Furthermore, concert prices are so high now a days that, for the most part, listeners are content with experiencing music at a distance - their computers and iPods. Because of this the intimacy and communal aspect of a live concert is also lost. This was the origin of music as it is embodied in the chorus of ancient Greek theater (see Nietzsche). For my generation, music has mutated into a personal experience, which is fine because experiencing art is rather interior, but the next step of sharing thoughts, feelings, or interpretations of different tracks or performances has suddenly been deemed "useless" or "irrelevant." (In defense of my generation, however, there is very little intellectual material one can derive from horrendous songs such as Soldier Boy.) If one peers back into the history of music, however, he will see that music has a discernibly communal conception that brought people together because, utlimately, music reflects life and life reflects music. What happened to this idea?

I believe it died after the music of the 60's. Perhaps this is why Thom Yorke (who continually references the harsh loneliness of the postmodern world) sings in The Bends: "I wish it was the 60's. I wish I could be happy. I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen." Nowadays, there exists the infant stages of reviving the 1960's with festivals such as Bonnaroo, Lolla, Cochella, etc. that reflect Woodstock and Leeds. Having attended a majority of these festivals I can tell you they are awesome experiences founded on humanity's curiously universal obsession with the sounds of this world.

That being said, I have only one request as to the direction my generation decides to drive music: "Please, oh please, gods of music, don't ever let MTV put their Viacom-soiled hands on the steering wheel."

If I had to pick (in no particular order) five bands that will define my generation:

*None of these bands will be recognized as the leading musicians of my generation, but, as was pointed out in the radio discussion, this process of realization is usually retrospective.

1. Radiohead (I will admit that Radiohead transcends generations, but temporally speaking they will always be tied to the 90's, 00's, and, who knows, the 10's)
2. The Roots (They're an amazing and ORIGINAL blend of punk, blues, and hip-hop; they're pissed off at the current world situation; they have the best live act I have ever seen in my life. What is not to like? If you haven't seen them life, do it - immediately. You will pay about 40 bucks for three hours of non-stop beats and ecletic song seletions ranging from the Eurythmics to Sir Mix Alot.)
3. Wilco (Compare Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to Sky Blue Sky and you'll understand the diversity in this band's music.)
4. Eminem (The reasons for this are obvious.)
5. Nirvana (Dido. Remember when they came out playing Rape Me at the MTV Music Awards because MTV told them they had to play Smells Like Teen Spirit?)

Other bands to consider: Pearl Jam, The Talking Heads (perhaps too early), Beck, The Flaming Lips, SUBLIME, and Rufus Wainwright.

Sent by Stephen Kienzle | 12:50 PM | 6-6-2008

I liked it when ASC just played songs with a short introduction. Don't find these show with all this yacking as enjoyable.

Sent by Robert | 12:53 PM | 6-6-2008

Two other bands I forgot to mention but are certainly note-worthy: PHISH and Arcade Fire

Sent by Stephen Kienzle | 1:06 PM | 6-6-2008

I think the music of generation Y is really individualized mostly due to the accessibility of the internet. There are certain albums that literally changed my perception of reality and most of them are completely unrelated in genre or style. I keep the Clash's London Calling as close to my heart as Dr. Dre's Chronic. Neither of which were actually released during my youth.

Sent by maddie | 2:11 PM | 6-6-2008

To expand a bit on what was said about music today making people feel "smaller" in a certain sense, many new developments in music that are important to this generation are the sort of smaller, personal, and more intimate creations like Jandek, Neutral Milk Hotel, Brian Jonestown Massacre, etc. The mystery, intrigue and individuality of this family of music defines generation Y best, because it is only held together by certain family resemblances. There will never again be a monolithic movement in music that reaches any sort of hegemony in what people listen to. Instead we have the fantastic multi-everythingism that makes life today so distinct and at times so overwhelming. The music created and listened to today cannot escape from that situation, nor should it try.

Sent by Daniel Hultgren | 2:23 PM | 6-6-2008

it may seem like a generalization to try to pin down a particular sound, but i think it's just this generation's attempt to identify itself so eagerly with something- something that reflects our ability to absorb/throw away many different forms of information that's being thrown at us at great speeds without seeming to completely hijack a prior generation's musical contributions...wobbling between individualism and reinvention

Sent by Cynthia | 2:40 PM | 6-6-2008

Animal Collective and its individual members' solo efforts are making music that will be the music I will play for my kids one day and say "this is my age of folks were contributing to the larger musical culture." They seem to have been the one group, I think, that's come the closest to creating a new genre for the 2000s.

Sent by Leigh | 3:14 PM | 6-6-2008

I think there are many factors to consider when you are trying to define anything about a generation. If you look at my generation (born in 86) growing up we listened to Nsync and the Backstreet boys. What happened to these artists? They weren't even considered as contenders in the race to determine the sound of our generation. I agree with Brian that we will not be able to truly determine out generation's sound until we are "older."
Growing up it was always a battle with my parents as to who should have control over the radio. They wanted to listen to 'old' music and we wanted to listen to the 'cool' stuff.
One of the major questions is, 'What defines a classic?' Who are we to judge what will be listened to and what wont by our children? For instance, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Temptations, all really good music from "back in the day" but what about the lost songs? the songs that were huge hits then and now if you played them on the radio, most people would switch the station because they would have no idea what they were listening too. So how do you determine what is a classic and what is just "old school? As our generation gets older we have to look at what music from our musical generation will be the "classics" when we get older. Wouldn't it be ironic if N*Sync and the old Britney Spears became the classics of tomorrow. Can you see the station tagline, 'playing all the oldies from N*sync and the Backstreet boys to Brittney Spears.'
If we look back on the top 40 hits from 1970 many of the songs from that list have made a come back on ipods around the world. While names such as Simon and Garfunkel ring a bell and hold a place on some of my favorite play lists, it is easy for me to say that 'Vanity Fair' (Website unavailable) wont be making an appearance on my ipod anytime soon.

All of this leads me to believe that maybe we haven't completely said "bye, bye bye" to N*sync. Maybe one day I will be driving with my children telling them 'this is my car, meaning my radio don't touch' as Larger than Life by the backstreet boys resonates through my mini-van speakers.

Sent by Amelia | 3:23 PM | 6-6-2008

For me ('84) I would have to say the Indigo Girls define my early and adolescent years. It's what my friends and I sing on the front porch of the lake house and can, to this day, take me immediately to the days of my youth with just a few words. You could say that the IG are just the nineties equivalent to the singer-songwriter, but I think they really defined a break between the larger than life rock ballads of the 80's and and the bare-boned emotional songs we love today Iron & Wine, Death Cab for Cutie, etc.

Sent by Kyle | 3:32 PM | 6-6-2008

I think that You Were Right by Built to Spill would have been a good song to play and talk about...not because it defines a generation but draws an interesting conclusion about popular songs.

Sent by Evan Strouss | 3:50 PM | 6-6-2008

I feel that the tastes of this generation are more fractured than those previous because of two technologies:
1) cheap digital recording
2) the internet
It used to be that you needed mind-blowing innovations to the way the instruments were being played (e.g. Hendrix) or mammoth studio budgets (Beatles, Pink Floyd). Digital recording has enabled artists to make studio-quality recordings in their homes, and the internet has enabled audiences to find their music.

Illegal file sharing was a godsend during my formative years in high school (I'm 23, Napster became big my freshman year of HS). Thanks to that the technologies listed above, we didn't have to listen to the radio anymore. The decisions of what we listened to was no longer fueled by DJs (and by association, advertisers) and record execs. My tastes in elementary school were much more cut and dry because I only knew about bands that I heard on alternative radio, which by that point was hardly "alternative" to the mainstream. With podcasts, YouTube and streaming radio, people can hear all the alt-country, underground hip-hop, indie rock, and experimental electronic they want.

That's not to say our generation doesn't have a kind of music for which we'll be remembered. It'll probably be mainstream hip-hop and American Idol. It's probably harder to put a finger on it than previous generations.

Sent by Seth | 4:15 PM | 6-6-2008

I agree with some earlier posts that this generation cannot have a defining sound due to the rise of the internet which has replaced the dominance of pop radio with hundreds of niche markets. There will never be a band as universally influential as the Beatles or even Nirvana. We still have defining sounds and artists but they are confined to their own niche genres. Radiohead is a great example of a very influential band with a very influential sound but they will never shape the masses the way Nirvana did.

In indie music, I would list Bright Eyes as a major influence in that niche. His many albums and his record label played a large part in transforming Omaha, Nebraska into an indie music mecca.

In pop radio, it's the producers who are defining the sound of the generation. They write radio-friendly meaningless pop lyrics and lay it on a hip-hop beat. The artists performing the songs are interchangeable and are really only chosen for their looks, not their musical talent.

Sent by Jeremy | 4:44 PM | 6-6-2008

For the love of god please never mention Soulja Boy again on this show, unless by some miracle he releases a CD that isn't an abomination. I can see how the Crank That phenomenon can symbolize the character of the current generation but the actual song has little or anything to do with it. Crank That was brilliant in that it was a complete media blitz that involved everyone. The dance, the style, the song, all of it was incredibly easy to remember and perform in a group/party setting. It was that community aspect that was captivating (like American Idol's voting interaction)and is the reason for the song's popularity. Without that perspective the song is an embarassment to this generation and seeing as this podcast is a music podcast should never be mentioned again.

Sent by Ian Fulmer | 6:09 PM | 6-6-2008

I think this quote by a previous commentor hits the mark..."I forget who it was that said this to me, but I think it explains quite a bit: "Your generation is the first generation that not only listens to (and likes) their parent's music, but their grandparents', too." - Ian"

If I had to pick music that defines my Gen X life, it would be the 'Grosse Point Blank' Soundtrack.

Sent by Carlito | 6:14 PM | 6-6-2008

Thanks for a great program. I still remember the day sitting in my parents' kitchen as a 14-year-old boy seeing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the first time. It was a defining moment for my musical tastes and for my adolescence. I would be hard pressed to think of another song that has that same type of emotional energy and release as that song, but I hope a new movement of meaningful music awaits today's adolescents on the horizon.

Sent by Kevin Browne | 6:35 PM | 6-6-2008

I am a GenXer (born 1967). I feel my generation had many songs that could define our generation other than Nirvana (not that I don't love Nirvana). How about what came before Grunge there was New Wave and Post Punk Rock (bands like Human League, Flock of Seagulls, Police, REM, and the Cars...).

I argue that this millennium generation doesn't have an anthem yet because of how current technology delivers music instantly. People can access and preview large organized libraries of music on the Internet. Songs and albums don't have the special value it had before. The digital age is efficient, but it has diluted the magic of music discovery when independent radio, record stores and CDs use to be the sources for great music. I had to work harder to get my music so great songs held more value back in the 80's and 90's.

Sent by Contenthouse | 7:03 PM | 6-6-2008

I don't think that it's too much of a stretch to say that this generation can be defined by hip hop and glockenspeil.

Sent by Gerald | 9:07 PM | 6-6-2008

I feel that Amy Phillip was onto something with her opinions of a possible "next music genre". She mentioned that she feels technology is the reason we won't see a new genre. But technology is only one aspect of the issue. The biggest reason is more telling i think. "We", generation Y members, are not willing,interested, or able to expand out imaginations to include new ideas beyond the ones that we've received from the boomers and beyond. We are satisfied to reorganize rock n' roll, reorganize Blues, or reorganize country. Overall, Generation Y is more satisfied to accept its plight or ignore it rather than look beyond itself and change it. We see the idea of "rebellion" in music as a means of entertainment not a means of self realization.

Sent by D.H. Bennett | 10:44 PM | 6-6-2008

Some music that I think could define my generation (We won't really know for a couple more years). Beck, Sublime, Weezer, Outkast, Moby.... just to name a few.
I don't think there could be an anthem to cover all of the music that comes to mind. With Cable TV, Napster, Itunes, Satellite Radio/Internet Radio, and Youtube we all get to listen to whatever we want whenever we want. No one band let alone one song can define it all.

Sent by Satty | 10:56 PM | 6-6-2008

I am a member of the generation in question. As such, I have two slightly different ideas about this subject. Firstly, I personally enjoy many, many different kinds of music - when someone asks, I always say I enjoy 'good' music. But I mostly perceive my peers as listening to: modern hip-hop, American Idol, and 'Classic' rock(which doesn't really count). Those on the younger end of the generation say they listen to 'pop' (whatever that really means).

But I am really a classically trained musician. And as I look at music through formally trained eyes, I find it difficult to place any given piece of music in a given 'genre'. That is, you can pick a song, and say 'this is punk.' Than try to find another punk song - and you will find that is is ever so slightly more 'rock' than the first song. Or more jazz, or more blues, or more folk, etc. Due to(I assume) my classical perspective, I simply cannot see a given songs as being a certain style, except as people arbitrarily define it to be so.

Music is a continuum which cannot really be defined by a genre. The new generation is merely filling in the gaps between the recognized genres, while the improved technology allows each person to find music they enjoy the most. As time goes on, I predict(and hope) that even the extra popularity that certain songs and artists enjoy will disappear into the sea of individual expression.

Sent by Brianna | 11:10 PM | 6-6-2008

If there's any unifying link, it's that the sound of this generation is live and extremely local.

Look at Woodstock, for example. Everything about it helped to define that generation, and nothing after for that generation ever recaptured that same spark. The artists that headlined became the artists that defined that generation, and the experience from Woodstock was exported by those who attended to those who couldn't.

But our generation gets a half-dozen of those a year, at least -- SXSW, VooDoo, ACL, Pitchfork, Bonnaroo, Burning Man -- where masses of people with shared interests, in and out of music, converge across the nation. The cycle is no longer generational, not decannual, not even annual, and it's not tied to genre. There's no need to export the experience when another of the same magnitude is almost always a month or two away, relatively easy to attend, or viewable online among an online community.

We want intimate connections with our music, to localize our experiences in venue and act, and also in gatekeeper. Technology has largely bridged the gaps in production and distribution, to the point where more people are finding it acceptable to think a local independent band is at least as good as any mainstream act, but unlike the biggest acts, we can feel more closely connected to our local bands.

That feeling is not new, but the scale in which people are experiencing it really is. When any band can record any song and send it to anyone, anywhere, every band can be local. Every act can achieve that level of intimacy, every fan can experience that burst of joy from discovering something new and unique.

It's why MTV dropped out of music and promotes culture, it's why radio is fading into irrelevance, and it's why traditional music sales are falling. People aren't getting music beamed to them from a monolith anymore. The listeners have become the broadcasters. That's why the sound of our generation is so hard to define -- for the first time since broadcasting came about, it depends on whom you ask.

Sent by obo | 1:31 AM | 6-7-2008

what band will be considered the "next beatles"? i don't think that can happen again with a single band or artist. it doesn't matter if the band is 'good'(i.e.nirvana),or 'bad' (britney spears, perhaps?). there are now so many bands and 'sub-categories' of rock n roll music that even the most popular, well-known artists cannot become musical icons of their generation in the way that the beatles did. it didn't matter if you were a screaming adolescent girl or a disapproving old geezer,either way you would have heard of the beatles.they were known by anyone who was alive at the time (and to at least half of those deceased, too). but when 'reporting' the news of kurt cobain's suicide, "people" magazine had to explain to it's readers that nirvana was a hugely popular, multi-platinum $elling band which had even inspired the latest look on the paris runways ("grunge-chic"). they also printed photographs of massive crowds of sullen, plaid- shirted, greasy-haired fans mourning their loss as they were jonesing for their daily fix, just to prove the point that he was a bona fide celebrity, and thus justifying the coverage in their rag. so, yeah, i know lotsa music and listen to an eclectic mix of stuff, yet i still only know like one or two radiohead songs. but, then again, i just yesterday got my first computer (OK, computer! now i can know more to be confused about!). is it me, or is this 'youtube' thing a flash in the pan? just like that rock n roll music...

Sent by michelle castro | 1:55 AM | 6-7-2008

Thank you Joshua Glenn for better defining my generation (born in '80) than anyone else has. I have been lumped in the same generation as my brother ('67), and my cousin ('92), yet I feel no deep connection in terms of music with either. I'm convinced there is a 3- to 5-year generation gap ('78-'83) that people refuse to acknowledge.

But speaking in regards to this gap, I would say the music which defines it is from '91-'98, the years in which most of us were developing our personalities and musical tastes. Mainstream alternative and rock groups provided us with our "sound" would include: Nirvana ("Nevermind"), Metallica ("The Black Album"), Pearl Jam ("Ten", "Vs."), R.E.M. ("Automatic for the People"), Red Hot Chili Peppers ("Blood Sex Sugar Magik"), U2 ("Achtung Baby"), Green Day ("Dookie"), Smashing Pumpkins ("Siamese Dream", "Mellon Collie..."), Alanis Morissette ("Jagged Little Pill"), Radiohead ("The Bends", "OK Computer")...

(My musical tastes are slanted to the alternative and rock genres, so maybe someone else can speak for the Hip-Hop/Rap/R&B side. A few I can think of offhand might include Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and TLC.)

Take a look at some of the lineups from Lollapalooza (1992-95), Woodstock '94 and 99 or the Warped Tour (1995-1998). You'll see some bands that crossover between lineups. It is fair to say some of those artists had an impact on the time period if there were multiple appearances.

At the same time, because of the Internet, our tastes are much more eclectic. Napster came onto the scene during my sophomore year in college, but even before that, roommates and classmates were exchanging CDs loaded with MP3s.

I would say at least 40 percent of my music is from the 60s-80s compared to the 60 percent from the last two decades. I'm willing to guess a number of my peers have a similar makeup on their iPods. (I think Brendan K. alluded to this very point.) However, I would also hypothesize that my sibilings and cousin would not boast such a mix.

I think one way of pinpointing a generation's sound would be through cover songs. I think most those who become accustom to an orginal work, are hesitant to accept covers; younger listeners, however, may come to love a cover song over the original. Or taking it a step further, if someone finds both versions acceptable, it could assist one in establishing a range of that generation's "sound."

Sent by Erin | 2:09 AM | 6-7-2008

Bob, with much due respect, to discount the relevance or assume "country flavored" rock in the latter 60's was "redneck" or a rock phenomenon is incorrect. Rockabilly? Sounds pretty punk now. The "hippies" had been ignited by bands that played what they wanted to with what they had at hand (with acid). Woody Guthrie/Bob Dylan bled into The Band,(country w/out a pedal steel?) and a whole flood of influences poured together including Gram Parsons/Rolling Sones, Tupelo, Wilco/Son Volt and many more . I want a microphone.

Sent by T. | 3:27 AM | 6-7-2008

What about the drugs?

Every generation-defining music movement has their favorite mind-altering substance. Bebop, psych-rock, metal, hardcore, grunge, rave...they are all born from a mix of politics, technology and chemicals.

Maybe we won't know the sound of Gen-Y until they pick their drug of choice?

Sent by 1974 | 5:39 AM | 6-7-2008

I am 33, from GenX. There seems to a be a glaring oversight in many of these posts:

GenY is NOT listenting to Gen Y music, save for EMO; it is listening to the music made by GenX. Radiohead, Wilco, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, U2, Beck, etc. are all GenX. Radiohead came out with "Creep" in 1992, I believe; they aren't GenY at all. So GenY is clearly embracing and loving the GenX sound. Just about all of the bands mentioned above that GenY says it listens to were artists I listened to in college. Sufjan Stevens is on the border of both generations, i believe.

Gen Y music is anything created by those who are 28 yrs old and younger: that would be EMO and American Idol stuff--all these other bands mentioned above (the music of today) are actually in their 30's and up! Thus it obvious the sound of Gen Y music is just beginning to form, and it's obvious that it will be heavily influenced by all of the GenX music that is heard today.

Sent by CFA | 10:35 AM | 6-7-2008

Bob, I completely agree with what you said about my generation listening to their parents, grandparents, etc. music. I have friends that love The Beatles more than any "modern" band. Myself, I still listen to DC Punk. But, the internet has completely revolutionized the way we listen and find music. As a member of this generation, I don't think there's a general sound at all. And I don't think there ever will be. There is no all-encompassing American Culture anymore. The closest things we have to that would be songs like "soulja boy" or American Idol. And honestly, I do not want to be defined by either of those things.
I have to say, I take high offense to some of these comments. Emo did not start with us; it started with you Gen Xers. Emo started in the 80s, when we were all being born.
What I truly do love about my generation (at least the college music, "underground" scene) is how we borrow from absolutely everything before us- with the exception of noise (which would be so awesome if my generation was defined by that). We don't have the whole "throw everything out and start again" mindset that bands had in the other musical movements. I think that idea right there is going to make some great music, and already is.
There are way too many ideas I would like to elaborate on, and I can't put them down in to words very well. I do think it would've been great if you had an actual member of my generation on the show to talk with. (You've got interns, right? if not, I'll gladly take up the position.)

Overall, great show!

Sent by Lindsay | 11:45 AM | 6-7-2008

a transition toward new and non-traditional instrumentation usually in the form of a computer? maybe its the 'DJ' as a performer, either solo or part of a band? A theme from a number of posts is borrowing from previous generations, eclecticism, mash-ups etc. I guess DJs best exemplify this?

I don't claim this to be the only answer but I think it is an interesting part of the puzzle that I haven't seen yet on this thread: the lap-top apple computer as a musical instrument. I go to a lot of shows of many genres and I keep seeing laptops and other electronic devices being widely incorporated into every musical style...hip hop, electronica, various forms of jazz and indie rock, bringing electronics on stage alongside guitars/drums/bass. Of course previous generations didn't have laptops (and they might have used them had they existed) just a thought.

Sent by Steve | 11:56 AM | 6-7-2008

Warren Ellis hits on some of this:

"Not that it'll happen in a big wave next time. The other interesting thing is the immediacy and fractioning of musical movements. In (say) 1988, you could feel it coming. (In actual fact, there were two things coming -- in addition to acid, there was a reinvention of guitar music). Genesis P-Orridge has talked about this a little bit, the weird surge in the air that took him to Jack The Tab. In those days, big cultural shifts were a slow wave passing over the planet, moving at the speed of postage and club nights and the occasional phone call. And they came, at best, one or two at a time. And they caught up everybody.

What's changed is the speed of communication and the speed at which new music can be experienced. So today we no longer wait for the breakers to hit every 11 years (roughly: rock, 55. Psychedelia, 66. Punk, 77. Acid, 1988). Instead, micro-movements pop up every month. Some new eddy in the hardcore continuum, MySpacey chavpop, The Fonal Sound, British "dark folk," the spooktronics crowd being drawn to the Miasmah label (and too many more to mention)... far more plentiful than "scenes" in the past, geographically scattered and inspiring the sort of mad group inspiration and evolution that you used to only find at the top of big New Sound cultural events."

Sent by obo | 4:14 PM | 6-7-2008

I think that the selections on the site are AWFUL representations of the generations influences. It appears to be a mishmash of genres, with no particular theme or unifying feeling. Personally, some albums and artists that come to mind include:

(please note these are more early influences...albums and bands that sort of dictate the generations taste NOW)

weezer's blue album
green day's dookie
radiohead's ok computer
snoop dogg & dre
the stereo
smashing pumpkins
sunny day real estate
the rentals
nada surf

basically, the "charlie brown" type of bands and music that said to us twenty-somethings, "hey, we're nerdy, self-deprecating and kind of disillusioned, but we're really stoked about that." none of this talk about classic rock or electro-metal. seriously. these albums and artists have, when combined now with my listening to older music and more obscure stuff like 1920's blues field recordings, led me to bands like fleet foxes, okkervil river, sunset r1/2own, spokane, magnolia electric co., and beirut (who still owes me fifty bucks.) i think that's at least a little more appropriate.

Sent by matt | 6:15 PM | 6-7-2008

I'm 49, so I've been through..well, all of the generations discussed. I'd say today's generation is marked by musical diversity - not just the business in general, but what any given individual might listen to. They get it cheap (or free), consume it quickly, and move on to something else. It seems the relevant question should be whether ANY song or group of songs will actually define this generation. Just because its happened with previous generations may not necessarily mean it will happen with this one. As a long-time music lover, though, I think this diversity is fantastic! I find great new music all the time!

Sent by Blaine | 7:42 PM | 6-7-2008

There is a clear sound to this generation and it's called "Cut & Paste." I really didn't appreciate the focus on people like Soldier Boy and Kelly Clarkson, when they are pretty clearly not the ones who are influencing other musicians.
"Cut and Paste" can be seen in Hip Hop and punk and everything else. From Kanye West to Green day, who are both influencing other groups in the sound but borrowing a lot from past sounds. The trend is the imitation and the references that the musician drops like calling cards to other bands.
Bands like Weezer, Rilo Kiley, and even Kanye West. These groups sound like other bands that's why we like them, but the individual twist makes it fresh. Bands like Sigur R??s are the bands that are going to influence other generations not Kelly Clarkson. Even bands like belle & Sebastian and Modest Mouse are the blending of sounds that make this generations music so interesting.
Normally like your show but this episode was off. I recommend doing a little more research like check out websites like Last.FM to see what this generation listen. Don't ask a bunch of people who grew up in different generations to get your information. Because the trend as seen from the past from the Velvet Underground to the Replacements it's not what is popular necessarily that sets the trends and influences the next generation of musicians.

Sent by Daniel Virtue | 11:29 PM | 6-7-2008

Someone's got it all wrong...
Baby Boomers had DISCO...
Gen X-ers had New Age, New Wave, Pop, Punk, and the beginnings of RAP.
Gen Y has RAP, alternative, bubble-gum Pop, and "classic rock" meaning recycled 60's, 70s and 80s music.
No one new has come out with anything good in a decade so they just keep recycling the better old stuff.

Sent by Shar | 2:09 AM | 6-8-2008

I was born in '55, so,,, yes, I am part of the generation that created the debt, and global pollution. Sorry! But when I was in my formative years,,,, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Todd Rundgren (Todd Is Godd!) and from my formative Gay years,,,, The Divine Ms M! Yes, for a few years I was a WEHO Queer! And then morphed into ROQ of the Eighties! Now, in my 50's...... ughh, i do cruise iTunes, and All Songs Considered for something new,,,, but find it really hard to fall in love with anything new. I hope I find it!! NOw, when I need to hear some great music, I turn back to David Bowie, Lou Reed and Todd Rundgren (TODD is still GODD). I now live in Xiamen, China, and look forward to the new All Songs Download!!!!! And just last week, I discovered the BBC's Tom Robinson Introduces,,,,,,, (oh yeah, I still sing because I'm glad to be gay!!!!)

Sent by Joe Hoffman | 4:29 AM | 6-8-2008

I was born in 1980. Can I please be adopted by another generation? Please...I'll take any generation, just not mine! The first half of my generation is fine, but those younger kids? Their music is crap. Stale, boring and lifeless. I haven't bought anything new in a long time. I look to the bands of the 70s and 80s. The Faces, Stones, Bowie, T.Rex, New York Dolls. Only a few modern acts are worth the time it takes to download it!

I graduated high school in 1999, and without a doubt, Gangsta Rap was everywhere! Snoop and Dr. Dre were the soundtracks at EVERY party along with Biggie Smalls and Tupac.

My favorite bands were all British. How could the Brit-pop bands like Oasis, Pulp, Suede, the Verve and Blur be ignored? Remember Oasis selling out Wembley Stadium two days in a row? Or what about trip-hop? Certainly, artists like Tricky, Massive Attack and Portishead influence artists like MIA...but hasn't she already faded into obscurity with Franz Ferdinand and OK Go?

Sent by Erik | 4:09 PM | 6-8-2008

I was really disappointed by this presentation. This was like watching a bunch of 80 year old rich white men discuss what it's like to be a black person in America today. It was a poor choice to choose individuals who are not even part of the generation you are discussing. Instead of discussing the music of gen-y the discussion quickly turned into each commentators reasons why they thought their generation's music was better, purer, more "ong-st" driven (which I believe was an attempt to say angst driven) then what is around today.
Furthermore the discussion reached its height of irrelevance when the topic of hip-hop was brought up. At this point, the conversation did really turn into insulated people talking about something they had no reason to be discussing. The thought that Soulja boy defines what hip-hop is was the most ridiculous thing I have heard. It seemed strange how the discussion centered around how the pop-music is not defining of gen-ys music but yet you choose the fact that Soulja Boy, a top artist, defined the whole genera of hip-hop. At the same time individuals like Jay-Z, or Kanye west were completely ignored (also top artists who don't necessarily talk about how they get more hoes then everyone else) Furthermore, artists like Mos-def, the Roots, Jurassic 5 and even the infamous Eminem were completely ignored.
I often enjoy this program but this discussion seemed less like a discussion and more like a group of parents attempting to make sense of why their children think that the internets are so amazing.

boy, i think you listened to a different show.
no one thought Soulja boy defined hip hop.
it was simply an illustration of how a song goes from someone's home project to a phenomena, that's all.
and no one said their generation was better than another. I appreciate criticism, but i suggest you listen more carefully.


Sent by hata | 4:41 PM | 6-8-2008

why would we want to find one voice, or even ten voices, to categorize as "speaking for a generation"? Why would we become addicted to nostalgia and having answers even if they are arbitrarily constructed and falsified? Why would we try to shortchange ourselves, or let ourselves become overwhelmed by the way "love songs disappear before they're written"? Why wouldn't we have more voices of color on this show (problematic assumption on my part, but...)? Why would I even write this? Stupid Zach.

Sent by Zach | 6:14 PM | 6-8-2008

At first, I couldn't think of one. After a minute or two, though, I realized with a twinge of embarassment that it might indeed be hip-hop. I don't think it will be clear until we generation Y'ers are into our 30's and 40's, but I can't think of any genre that is more widely accepted by my peers than hip-hop.

Sent by Nick | 7:06 PM | 6-8-2008

I think that gen Y is still trying to define itself and until they do that will not be able to define the music that is associated with them. Gen X gave us not only great music, but also affected business and social consciousness. Business was redefined by Gen Xers and their willingness to push the envelope in the IT/ internet field. Music was redefined with the grunge and hip-hop movements and Gen Xers became active politically and seemed to be more socially aware of what was going on at an early age. Generation Y has become the generation of Paris Hilton and the "Me" movement. Whereas Gen X worked and brought innovation to the table, Gen Y feels that they are entitled to everything. Because there are a lot of families that have Gen Xers and Gen Y in them, it is the older, first born (overachieving) vs. baby (get everything, spoiled) phenomenon.

Sent by J.R. | 11:54 AM | 6-9-2008

I'm a late Boomer, born in the early 1960's. When playing guitars with my peers, the common musical language was Led Zeppelin.

My son was born in 1986, for him the one song all his musician friends know is "Smells Like Teen Spirit." by Nirvana.

My daughter, harder to pin down, may well be a child of the Maria Carey generation.

Sent by Norm H. | 11:54 AM | 6-9-2008

Perhaps a lot of today's music is cross-generational. I'm tail end of the boomer generation, but what i got out of it was not some nostalgic attachment to the music of my youth, but the joy of discovery. I came back from a long stint overseas and heard Nirvana in 1994 -- it was earthshattering. I can't get enough of Radiohead today. It varies because the music is a reflection of our where we are in time and place at a given moment. We're all part of the zeitgeist -- if we are willing to get out of habits and ruts and normality.

Sent by Kate G | 12:29 PM | 6-9-2008

Anybody who thinks a radio station playing a Nirvana song over and over again represented a "huge" moment is completely cut off from the reality of what's happening on this planet. I would equate such an event more with a new flavor of Bubble Yum coming out. And to bellyache about how we'll never be as successful as our parents? We have opportunities for financial success unknown to virtually any other culture now or in the past. If Nirvana is symbolic of anything, it's THAT.

Sent by Mworrell | 3:39 PM | 6-9-2008

As being a person who actually read the book Generation X and has hated this "labeling" of generations with X,Y and Z. My brother fit in the Gen X, but at the one end while I fell in the end of it, with the both of us being 10 years apart. We both listen to the same music and to this day still listen to indie music. I find that once alternative became "cool" it didn't become an alternative to the mainstream music out there. We had to start digging further into the music world to find something that didn't sound the same or try to copy each other. The 90's killed me in the music world. If i had to hear a band try to be like Pearl Jam and hear that whiny voice.... ugh. I listen to pretty much a wide range of music, but i do think it is dependent on where you grew up, around the type of people you hung out with and what you had as an influence. If i grew up in the midwest in some little town that had a music store in the mall and had only top 40 or country on the radio, I would most likely not be the same person I am today.

Sent by M. McKee | 4:00 PM | 6-9-2008

It seems to me that dumbing a generation down to a "sound" is clearly misguided - we all know it just isn't that simple. That said, we can talk about the musical movements of the time, what they were reacting to, what they were trying to achieve, what the major highlights of those major movements were, and which movements were in hindsight the most influential.

We clearly can't complete that whole definition for Gen Y purely because hindsight is such a key ingredient. But, if we were to try to define the current generation's most influential musical movements so far, I think we should start here:

A few good points have been made here, and I think the best is that this is the first generation that has widely embraced music of the 20th century on a grand scale - their parents' music and their grandparents' music. That is important. When you take that and you pair it with Gen Y's electronic advancements in not only musical access but also in sound recording and editing, you end up with a rich tapestry of sound. I like the choice of M.I.A. in this program because she is a great example of an artist that has seemingly used everything at her disposal - her music makes something new out of SO MANY different musical influences from different genres and different generations that there'd be no way to name them all. Also, M.I.A.'s music is HEAVILY produced, which is to say that an M.I.A. track is not a 4-track or 8-track song, but multiples and multiples of that all woven and layered until the end result is something new entirely.

Call it collaging. When you cut pictures from magazines and past them together in ways that no one thought matched up before and make a piece of art in this way, you are making something new out of all that was there before. This generation will be defined as the first generation that collaged music - made music out of everything musically at their disposal, mixing every style and genre and sound that came before them.

I'm happy to be a Gen Y-er

Sent by Conor | 5:38 PM | 6-9-2008

A few thoughts on Gen Y:
September 11th 2001 was not only was it the date of a generation defining terrorist attack, it was the release date for Jay-Z's, appropriately titled, Black Album. Certainly, it's just a coincidence. But even without the inopportune timing, I'd say Jay- Z is that guy for our time.

Jay-Z tells us over and over that he justs raps so he can make money, but the more he says the less I believe him. Maybe that sums up our generations response to capitalism and materialism. And H to the izzo is the first rap song I ever caught my parents singing. For me, that's a milestone.

Also a vote for Eminem, "my name is" was the first rap song I ever heard on my local rock station. They played it 3 times in a row. A week later I found out Eminem was white. I felt like it gave me the permission I need to really dig into hip hop and start going to hip hop shows. You saw the hip hop crowd visibly change.

Both moments where hip-hop broke out of its box.

Sent by Kyle | 5:49 PM | 6-9-2008

Born in 1978, so I'm kind of in-between generations. I know for me and friends my age, I can't say there is a defining sound. We listened to almost everything: Classic Rock, Early Rap, Hair Bands, Indie Rock, Brit-Rock, Boy Bands, etc. Its been said by numerous other people, I think the defining thing about the post-1990s until today is the sheer diversity of music. You no longer rely on the radio to define your listening universe, which greatly expanded the music choices.

Sent by ntb | 6:42 PM | 6-9-2008

Please, people, it's the Wiggles. Sheesh. Or those enchanting covers of Beatles songs I heard on American Idol.

But seriously, this must be the first generation that attempts to define its music by what soundtrack most captures the appropriate sound. "Hollywood" selling us our notions of culture, yet again.

Sent by JC Knettles | 7:07 PM | 6-9-2008

If all these posts prove anything it's that Millenials are more self aware than the broadcast acknowledged. I'm twenty-two and my friends and I spend far too much time asking ourselves about the sound of our generation. However, we also know our musicology, spending as much time on the sixties and the nineties as our current scene. Mostly we have a lot of anxiety that our generation will be remembered by the "bad stuff" and that the music defining our college moments will be lost in obscurity. Therefore, I'm going to throw in my hat that if even a smattering of the bands listed below (Radiohead probably already has a spot for future gens), several of which receive attention above, make it on to a radio program about the sound of generation 2030 as an example of things past, I will be happy.

Neutral Milk Hotel
The National
Animal Collective
Vampire Weekend
Arcade Fire
Bright Eyes
Modest Mouse
Rilo Kiley
Okkervil River

Sent by Emily-Ann | 8:14 PM | 6-9-2008

Nirvana has always been the easy answer to this question, but there's a reason for that. In a generation where styles ran wild and music shape-shifted every five minutes or so, we look back and easily see the diversity. However, if you can remember what was truly reformulating the DNA of music in the early '90s; the way it actually felt while it was happening, the answer is in fact Nirvana. More than just a nail in the coffin of the predominant styles of the time, Nirvana is the defining band in a genre that is still spawning reactions today.

Sent by Dave Curfman | 9:04 PM | 6-9-2008

Bob, were you kidding when you said "Sympathy for the Devil" was not blues? It is definitely a blues chord structure, and it's a song about the devil. I totally get an old Delta vibe from that one.

I definitely fall in the Gen X category and liked Nirvana and all, but they weren't as meaningful to me as they were a gateway to bands like Pixies, Husker Du, Pavement, Sonic Youth, and Mission of Burma. Doolittle was more my Nevermind than Nevermind. And those bands still still see regular rotation on my mp3 player, more than fifteen years later. Nirvana themselves? Only when I'm feeling nostalgic.

Sent by Joel | 9:54 PM | 6-9-2008

The Generation Y soundtrack is on YouTube. Ronald Jenkees, one of the most popular artists on YouTube defines a new generation of music! Listen, and you agree! He plays ALL genres of music and is fresh and original. Unlike many YouTubers, this guy is talented and one of the best musicians on the scene today! As an independent artist within the internet medium..he defines the new generation of music! This is it folks! You can close this discussion!

Sent by Casey Phillips | 10:19 PM | 6-9-2008

I mistakenly left out this link. Please post! You talkin old school soul music? No one, not even Ray Charles, has more heart, soul and jazz in their music than Ronald Jenkees!

Sent by Casey Phillips | 11:04 PM | 6-9-2008

You mentioned Radiohead and you mentioned hip hop, but you failed to mention the undercurrent of electronic music that has seeped into some of the most interesting music that has been released of late. Ladytron and The Knife co-opt 80s synth sounds and make great danceable music. LCD Soundsystem takes it a step further by pulling influences from a wider swath of genres in order to provide a dance party with a great live show. Broken Social Scene is another great example of how the use of technology can make for some interesting music that is not quite alternative rock and not quite electronic, but altogether great music

Girl Talk, while not wildly popular is a perfect example of what music is becoming - a mix-mash of unrelated sounds when thrown together become bigger than the sum of their parts. He incorporates hip hop, grunge, alternative, and pop along with some of his own homemade synthesized beats to create some of the best music that the world is just beginning to know exists today.

Sent by Jennson | 11:17 PM | 6-9-2008

As a Gen X-er, I didn't hear much about some of the influences and what came Before Nirvania. You kinda jumped from post-punk to Nirvania, never mentioning New Wave, Progressive Rock (now re-named Alternative Rock) and how that music also influenced groups like Nirvania and all that came along around that time. I am not talking strictly about the mainstream music of that time. There were looooots of bands on indie labels that playing at clubs all over the US. It was a very exciting time in music. Going to see live alternative bands was THE thing to do from the 80's to the mid 90's. Like today, there was alot of diversity in alternative music, you just had to seek it out. Today my taste is still eclectic and I enjoy ny retro-80's stuff to today's music. It is all good. I just want to be sure we don't forget my generations music too, as it had a large impact.

Sent by Sherri In the ATL | 12:35 AM | 6-10-2008

This 20-something thinks NPR did a pretty good job of summarizing our sound in the list they produced in terms of genre, though the bands may vary slightly ;)

Sent by Trevor | 2:41 AM | 6-10-2008

I just listened to this podcast and was a bit turned off by some of the snobbery I was hearing. I was born in 1975 and am a Gen X'r. I was wondering where mention of Pearl Jam and Alanis Morristte (just to name a couple) were when they were discussing Generation X? I agree that Nirvana was a huge force in representing (though they didn't want to) Generatoin X but so did Pearl Jam's music from Ten and Vs. as well as MOrrisette's Jagged Little Pill. As a woman, Jagged Little Pill seemed to make it alright to be pissed off and not take the bull anymore for the massess.

Sent by Karen @ Planet Books | 4:36 AM | 6-10-2008

Who cares, when I listen to asc I want to hear music. I don't want to hear what you erudite experts think execept in the form of tunes you send my way. Keep up the good work and have fun!

Sent by Randy L Vinecore | 9:48 AM | 6-10-2008

Doesn't anyone listen to instrumental surf music anymore? Give me Dick Dale & The Deltones, or the Challengers, or Ritchie Allen and the Pacific Surfers over the dreck that passes for music these days!

And as for rap? Turn down the bass---we get it already. Have you heard of a knob called "treble"? You should try it. Chuck Berry did. It might improve your sound.

Sent by Mr. Buddy Love | 10:20 AM | 6-10-2008

First, I would like to give props to Nine Inch Nails for doing its part in changing the path of music.

Second, I have a bunch of sentence fragments to describe music in the '90s and the new millenium thus far:

GNR, Limp Bizkit, KoRn, Linkin Park, NSYNC, Britney, Gwen, White Stripes, Outkast...

Romanticizing the past, beautifying the ugly, mixing everything from every genre to get the "perfect" sound, recorded the perfect way, maximizing clarity, tone, and timbre. Inserting technology with traditional music, or vice versa. Actively seeking the creation of a new Beatles/Nirvana/Poison/Sinatra amalgam that will satisfy everyone's craving for everything old and completely new.

Third, when "it" comes (I'm sure it will), this amalgam will sound nothing like what anyone expects. In fact, most people will probably hate the new genre in its primordial form. For it to be the sound of a generation, it will also need to be something that the previous generation (gen Xers) in general will despise and consider below the level of real music.

Perhaps the music that will define this latest generation will not be music at all. Or perhaps it will be that each person will have his own sound--not just his own list of songs on his ipod, but his own songs that he makes, either completely on his own, or with the help of bands like NIN (e.g. the Ghosts album). Who knows? No one. That's why it's so cool.

Sent by Nick Silhacek | 11:18 AM | 6-10-2008

I don't believe there is one song, band, or sound that can really define a generation. a lot of people would say that Nirvana is the defining band for the 90's, but all though Nirvana is a good group it I would not personally say it defined the 90's I experienced. There are so many groups that I loved through out the 90's that aren't just rock, or metal, or Rap, or whatever. I think the only people that will understand the true feel of the 90's are the people who really experienced it. While the other people can only try to enjoy the music and try to put them selves in the atmosphere.

Sent by Patrick Shay | 4:22 PM | 6-10-2008

Generation Y definitly has a soundtrack. It is trash-sexy, over produced, teach our kids about "how to be a slut," stripper music. The music's about getting drunk, naked, nasty and dirty.

Sent by Stacie Pryor | 5:24 PM | 6-10-2008

I was surprised Weezer didn't come up in the discussion on this week's show.

In many ways we bit off more than we could chew this week. As much as I liked the conversation it may have been better to just talk about this generation and save the conversation about other generations for other shows. But I did want there to be some context and some personal stories.And I loved hearing Carrie describe first hearing Nirvana.
I also think the best part of this show hearing people think about their generations music, and to that end, reading this blog, it has.
thanks for writing Eliza.

Sent by eliza | 12:24 AM | 6-11-2008

The only topic I think was missed was the influence of sampling in the y generation. if nothing else one of our own, d.j. shadow, set a guiness record for the first completely sampled album. :-)

Sent by Chad Hindman | 11:01 AM | 6-11-2008

I am GenX; born in 1969. There were two defining musical movements for me: MTV in the early 80s, and the Nirvana explosion. The 80s can be divided into the MTV megastars (Michael, Madonna, Duran Duran/new wave) and indie/college/alt rock typified by U2 and REM. U2 and REM really were the Beatles and Stones of the 80s for folks who cared about music. The effect of early MTV was really as big or bigger than the Nirvana explosion, and I think that's been forgotten about somewhat over time.

Obviously, the later alt wave of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Pumpkins, etc., along with the mainstreaming of U2 and REM was huge. But what U2 was doing at the time was monumental. They were the biggest band in the world but had continued to dramatically change their sound from War to Fire to Joshua Tree to Achtung. The Zoo TV tour was a mind blower that really set the tone for the cyberpunk/internet world that was soon to follow. As much as I loved the Nirvana supernova, U2 is far more soulful and lasting to me. When I think about GenX, I really think about U2.

What followed? Two words: Wilco and Radiohead.

Sent by Chris | 3:08 PM | 6-11-2008

"I just listened to this podcast and was a bit turned off by some of the snobbery I was hearing."

I would have to agree with Karen - it was the first NPR podcast I didn't really care for. Not due to the music, but due to a certain discussion member who spoke with such disdain, no wonder her preferred music choice was punk/grunge.

The sound of a generation can't be defined without appreciating and respecting those great music makers that have gone before.

Which is exactly why the trash-sexy, over produced music of this time period will be not even be in our musical memories in years to come.

Sent by Elle | 3:54 PM | 6-11-2008

the host on this show totally sounded like a stereotypical self-satisfied boomer when he said that "sympathy for the devil" didn't sound like anything before it, as if the stones and hendrix had completely left behind previous musical ventures in a way that no one in the current crop of bands had.

it's silly. "sympathy for the devil" is a folk ballad with a catchy beat and well-produced guitars. it was no more revolutionary than "smells like teen spirit" or "we tigers."

people always poke around with the materials they have at hand, and a certain percentage of the folks growing up with that music feel like it was a product of spontaneous generation.

not true. never has been.

...and my vote for "voice of the generation" will be whatever indie band marries electronica with the anarchic energy of all those indie rock bands. that band will be to "radiohead" what "nirvana" was to "jane's addiction."

What i was trying to get across was that not every generation built on what came before them. The music of my parents generation turned into crooning, over the top, moon-in-June tripe. There wasn't an embracing of the past. I find it so astonishing that any 15 year old would ever listen to the music of their parents. It is so much the opposite of how I felt as a 15 year old.

I love the music today, it may be the best music of any generation, so I take issue at with your "self satisfied boomer" comment. I'd never say we were the best generation, just that we were a generation looking for and finding a different way to be expressive. that's all.


Sent by meddlin' kid | 5:56 PM | 6-11-2008

Maybe I'm a little young for the discussion ('86er) But the artists that moved me were Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Red Hot Chili Peppers and TLC. I'm not quite sure what that says about my generation, except that I fondly recall the simple progressiveness of message from some of the women, and RHCP was awesome.

Sent by Kori Michele | 9:38 AM | 6-12-2008

"Generation X (born in the '60s and '70s) had grunge and hip-hop."

That annoys me. What about New Wave? That seems to be the first music we as a generation in the 80's could call our own. Depeche Mode, The Cure, Erasure . . . Was they not huge bands? They impacted TONS of today's artists. And there were alot of other big artists that don't fall into the "New Wave" category but I'm not quite sure where they fit. What about U2 and R.E.M.?

More Gen X thoughts here:

All great bands. That's why I made a point of saying "These are incredibly broad distinctions that don't take a lot of other genres into consideration." - rh

Sent by Rachel | 11:51 AM | 6-12-2008

thanks for taking on this subject for the show. As a GenXer(1972)I think music was prime in my life during the grunge/Gangsta rap period. Dont get me wrong, when the "Reflex" or "Sledgehammer" pops up on my Ipod I do crank it up! However I do look back fondly at the emergence of music from Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden, Primus, Billy Bragg, Beck, Neds Atomic, Wonderstuff (thankyou Mtv's 120 Minutes), as well rappers like Ice-T, Ice Cube, Das Efx, etc. I also remember falling for REM's Murmur (which I thought was classic at the time) and then picking up Automatic for The people and playing it over and over again. Gotta go! Rust in Peace just came up on the shuffle! Yes, I do love metal too!
Btw, does everyone still go through the Zeppelin phase?

Sent by Coy | 6:10 PM | 6-12-2008

"What i was trying to get across was that not every generation built on what came before them. I find it so astonishing that any 15 year old would ever listen to the music of their parents."

I love the music today, it may be the best music of any generation"

BINGO! This positive outlook is already proving itself. This music will be the best!

I am posting again to make a point of the positive ramifications of the internet on music. The creme rises to the top and in my above example of Ronald Jenkees, that is the case! This guy produces music out of his bedroom and has attracted millions of fans of all ages and followers of all genres of music, the world over. He is not a music snob. He is a melding of all eras of music. We are seeing the future of music in Ronald Jenkees.

Another cool point to note is the internet allows artists to join together to create added dimensions between music and art. For example Kori, an art student, produced animations to Ronald Jenkee's music and no one cannot be moved or amazed at these talented creations.

Through the internet, my appreciation and love of music has been restored!

Sent by Casey Phillips | 12:01 AM | 6-13-2008

Remixs and Indie that discards the influence of the Blues for Emo and MOR themes. The "sameness" of the music has been mentioned, the narcissism as well as the sheer amount of music that is manufactured away from the influence of record companies although not always away from record producers. How do you get a record producer interested? Follow his or her work and send something that sounds similar. The iPod may be more of a generational memory than the music on it.

Sent by Louis Abbott | 1:51 AM | 6-13-2008

Great show, although I find it mildly annoying that you have a podcast on the sound of generation Y and you spend half the show playing Nirvana, Public Enemy, and the Buzzcocks. I'm firmly in generation Y and a number of my friends spend vast amounts of time listening to music and making music. That said, basically no one listens to the radio, it's more about muxtape, sharing music, and podcasts and as a result there's rarely any band we're all listening to at the same time. The music that is important to us is rarely a big hit.

Also, the "radio stations" in Grand Theft Auto IV is probably the number one source of music distribution for my generation, not American Idol (isn't American Idol more about the storyline than the music anyway?). The game has over 2,000 songs and was bought by 3.6 million people on it's first day. GTA 3 sold 9.4 million units over all, so I'm sure GTA 4 will shatter that number.

Sent by Brian C. | 7:51 AM | 6-13-2008

I was born in 1985. On the show they talked about music that people attach to during their emotional development years- high school and college. Some defining genres that came to mind were folk rock, indie/emo and hip hop (acknowledging that these are broad genres encompassing lots of regional divisions...). Something they have in common is an emphasis on lyrics and poetry- perhaps a backlash from the uber electronic and detached lifestyle we were brough up in??
The show seemed to focus more on rock, however and to that I say: Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus are defining for my generation.
Country music also has a huge following, but that's a horse of a different color.

Sent by Laurel | 11:05 AM | 6-13-2008

First of all, nobody from Pitchfork Media has any right to discuss "generational music" because they have no respect for the past and no reverence for current bands who break through to the mainstream. They never give good reviews to anything that sells, and they are mostly pretentious fools.

Here are the 5 bands that have come to define the 00's, whether you like it or not.
The White Stripes
The Killers
(sadly) My Chemical Romance

Hip-hop artists:
Kanye West
Gnarls Barkley
Lil Wayne

Ultimately, I think this generation of music fans listens to bands from the 60's or 70's, or the early 90's or the late 70's. There has been so much awful pop music released this decade (Soulja Boy, American Idol...etc) that people of my generation have been forced to look to the past. Only in the past few years have we been able to enjoy new music that doesn't pale in comparison to the all time greats like Jimi, The Beatles and Led Zep. (certainly, the success of Guitar Hero/Rock Band is a testament to our love for classic rock)

I love your show, but this one was especially infuriating, considering your lack of respect and lack of knowledge about the post-Napster music generation. We're not all tools doing the soulja boy on YouTube. I promise you. Really, we're not that stupid.

I never thought Amy from Pitchfork was saying that you were tools doing the soulja boy thing. She was simply saying that making a song at home, uploading it, having it spread around and people reacting back with videos of their own and remixes and is a defining form for delivering music these days. She's not that stupid.


Sent by Dan | 12:15 PM | 6-13-2008

I listened to the show on the bus ride to work this morning and agree much more with some of the comments posted here from my co-GenXers than what either Stephen or Carrie played to represent. No dis to P.E. intended. Nirvana? eh.

I was born in 1969 and agree wholeheartedly with the previous posts about U2 and the (mostly British) new wave. For me, that was primarily defined by Echo, Depeche and the Smiths. Looking back, I'll take Mozza & Marr along with U2 as the voices of GenX.

I and all of my friends were totally under the spell of the sweep, stridency and grandeur of songs like "Gloria" and "New Year's Day." Then came the titanic "Unforgettable Fire" and "Joshua Tree" albums. And teen angst? "This Charming Man," "William it Was Really Nothing" and most everything on "Meat Is Murder" and "The Queen Is Dead." Enough said.

Props to Stephen for his comment in the show that most everyone is galvanized by the sounds when they came of age and no other era's music will measure up. My best friend's iPod is most nearly all Alt.80s all the time. I can barely get her to listen to musicians like Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand or Arctic Monkeys. She feels inherently that they won't measure up.

Sent by Tim F. | 1:16 PM | 6-13-2008

Great show. I think the mention of hybridity was particularly apt, although was not explored enough. Today's music is defined by the fact that it cannot be defined. I am especially intrigued by the way sound often does not converge with meaning in some of today's music, a feature that allows artists to constantly reinvent themselves and their ideas and to appeal on a variety of levels.

For example, "Crank That" is undeniably catchy, having sparked a dance phenomenon akin to the "Macarena." This pep, however, veils the misogynistic undertones of the song, which celebrates the speaker's sexual prowess and a perverse sexual act that many women would find offensive. Think of all the mainstream female artists that serve as sex symbols but that have written (or at least performed) pop songs with quasi-feminist or at least empowering messages. Indie artists also partake in this hybridization, performing ironic songs with personal sorrows, among countless other ways.

We no longer have bands like Public Enemy or the Byrds that sound and are the ideologies they promote. Today's artists refuse to be just one thing, taking part in a sort of post-modern hyphenation, and maybe that's why we haven't found the genre, the band, that defines us--perhaps we are refusing to be defined.

Also, thank you for including Carrie Brownstein in the show, whose band, Sleater-Kinney, has play a large role in defining my personal sense of the music of my generation. Their music, which is at once both defiant and hopeful, angry and buoyant, also toys with the edges of sound and meaning and brings complexity and nuance to social rebellion and commentary.

Sent by Felissa | 2:08 PM | 6-13-2008

When i think about what is significant i have to think about a recognizable sound that spawned other bands and gave us something new. To me the White Stripes are the only band that fits this bill. Starting out as a DIY operation and exploding to international fame and recognition, they also represent the 2 piece rock bands that are all over the place now. Multi-genre influenced all filtered through their distinctive style. You hear a White Stripes song that you've never heard before and you can probably tell right away its them. A reverence for the old that is mutated into something new is the mark of today's good music and Jack & Meg do it as well or better than anyone.

Sent by Fence Flatley | 4:31 PM | 6-13-2008

There were so many threads of discussion that i wanted to respond to during this podcast. I love All songs considered for exploring these questions. The main thread of discussion that I wanted to argue was the one regarding Radiohead. I was twelve when Nirvanas Nevermind came out, and the songs were huge, anthemic and cathartic for me then, but I was disappointed that both Amy and Carrie dismissed Radiohead as being less significant. I do agree that Radiohead are a very different group with different appeal, perhaps a more diverse group of listeners, but I think when talking about pop music history in a broader international and historical context, Ok Computer will be seen as the most vital and groundbreaking record of that era. When Radiohead in 1997 released OK Computer, all of that angst that had been lingering since Nevermind seemed to dissapear. Ok Computer changed the way i listened to music. When i first listened to Ok Computer, i ceased listening to most every other band i had previously been listening to. The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, grunge etc. It all suddenly seemed so meaningless. Ok Computer, as a record, seemed to rise above stylistic fixations and genre classifications that most of the American popular bands were concerned with at the time. Ok Computer was more cerebral, a meditation of the state of the world and the future. For me as a 17 year old, it was the most provocative piece of literature that i had encountered. Here was a rock band employing drum n bass and hip hop techniques, no other band at the time could have done this without sounding awkward. Radiohead were expressing uncertainty about the future lyrically, whilst embracing new technologies to express it. I think every serious music group or songwriter at the time may have reassessed how they approached their next record after hearing Ok Computer. It made leaps and bounds, it threw out the rule book, it broke down walls that separated music genres. I believe that the trajectory of the music world changed that year.

Sent by Ben Coady | 10:10 AM | 6-14-2008

Before listening to the show, I thought immediately of Nirvana and Radiohead, but felt that neither really were the standards of my generation. I would say that any discussion about the music of Gen. Y would have to pay a good deal of attention to Steve Albini. He was part of so many of the definitive albums of the generation from Nevermind and Jawbreaker 24 Hour Revenge Therapy to Yanqui U.X.O and Ocean Songs.

Also, where was talk of Creed?

Sent by Steve Webb | 2:56 AM | 6-15-2008

What about Sonic Youth? When I was 12, one night watching 120 minutes I saw Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit and fell in love. But, I also saw Sonic Youth, Cool Thing and I know that for me and a lot of other girls at the time that is the song/video that let me know this was "my" music.

Sent by Jade | 3:27 PM | 6-16-2008

Sort of related: I've dubbed a group of indie bands as Pastoral Rock. These bands include, but are not limited to: Shearwater, Midlake, Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes and Fields of Industry. One could also put Arcade Fire in that mix. The common thread of these bands is interesting instrumentation (banjos and accordions are popular), uber dramatic songs, pastoral lyrical themes, intricate arrangements, and beautiful singing. I absolutely love it.

I hope this sound becomes a sound of whatever generation I'm in. People born in 1978 don't fit into either Gen X or Gen Y.

Sent by Stacia | 3:29 PM | 6-16-2008


I don't think Amy Phillips did a very good job articulating a Generation Y's perception of baby boomer's music on this week's podcast. No offense to her, but she could not articulate the reasons she did or did not like boomer music - other than to basically say "everyone thinks hippie music from the 60's is awesome, so I'll say I hate it." I can't say I'm shocked to see a Pitchfork editor write-off an entire two decades of music rather than shed her coolness, be honest with herself, and admit that Rumors is a pretty great record.

I was born in '82 and my parents are on the young end of boomers, having been born in '58. I see the boomer's music in basically three categories:

One, the great music of 60's and early 70's consisting of the folk revival, psychedelic rock, country rock, British Invasion, etc. My picks from that time are obvious: Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Band, The Zombies, etc.

The second category is the stuff my parents listened to in the mid to late 70's. I'm least fond of this era of boomer music - though get nostalgic when I hear the beginning of "Slow Ride." My mom listened to the likes of Carole King, Carly Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Todd Rundgren and my dad listened to Black Sabbath, Kiss, Foghat, Peter Frampton, etc.

Underlying both of those chronological categories is what I'll call the "sub-cultures." Some of the greatest music was made during the years spanning from 1965 - 1975, from the art rock of the Velvet Underground, to the glam of Bowie and T. Rex, to the beginnings of what was (or at least would become punk)with Iggy and Stooges, The New York Dolls, and MC5.

So, from the perspective of a generation Y - the boomer generation was Dickensonian: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Does it get annoying to listen to Sweet Home Alabama while your dad tells you that your music is nothing compared to his? Sure it does. But if he told me that no one in the last 20 years made records that compare to the masterpieces of Dylan and Lou Reed, it would be hard for me to disagreed.

As for the sound of generation Y - it's a tough call. Obviously, Radiohead and Beck come to mind, but so does the hip hop of Nas, Jay-Z, and Dre.

Sent by John | 6:18 PM | 6-16-2008

Firstly, thank you for your Songs of a Generation program. Listing on my iPod from here in Australia it is so great to know that my generation's music (early 90's) was the same in the USA as it was here. To listen to "Lithium" again for the first time in a long time was amazing! I don't think music has yet been as good as it was in 1991 & 1992 but there are some great bands around now like Death Cab for Cutie & Okkervil River. But please, forget the manufactured pop from Idol! Complete rubbish!

Sent by Adrian Brown | 8:19 PM | 6-16-2008

I was born in 1982 - and I would nominate the opening notes of "Everything in its Right Place" by Radiohead...

Sent by ian | 7:18 AM | 6-18-2008

I would say that the most defining sound of our generation (I was born in '85) would have to fall under the broad category of "Electronica." This seems to be one of the only genres that does not borrow heavily from any one genre already in existence. The fact that computers have become so vital to our society and to the production of music is evident in the number of emerging Electronica artists, as well as the number of existing artists from other genres that are incorporating electronic elements into their music.

The flexibility that is made possible by "sound engineering," as some have called it, opens up infinite possibilities, where artists can express themselves without having to be lumped into typical genres.

I think that fact, the bridging of genres, is also an important aspect of our generation, just as the bridging of cultures is becoming more evident. This does not lead to a homogeneity of sound, but rather just the opposite. Without the typical genres boundaries, artists can now make music that is truly "fresh" and the likes of which have never been heard before. I would recommend listening to Imogen Heap, Benny Benassi, and Daft Punk to hear some of what I'm talking about.

Sent by Matt | 11:05 AM | 6-20-2008

The Strokes! I'm 23 (born in '84) and listening to the Strokes, for the first time in college with "Is This It", really brought me to all the indie I listen to now. They were a huge turning point for me, giving me a more sophisticated ear for music.

Sent by M. Graves | 12:16 PM | 6-20-2008

I think Electronica came of age during our time... think rave, dance, trance and house. Acts like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher really created some new music and to the dance world almost everyone my age has spent time listening to a Paul Oakenfold mix.

The difficulty in defining our generations sound I believe comes from the fact that every record company out there is trying so hard to define it for us. It has become a struggle between the music world interests and their money and the adapting a free forming internet music lanscape. The tensions have left the defining moments fragmented... just a thought.

Sent by Matthew | 8:41 AM | 6-21-2008

It would have been nice to hear some songs of the generation rather than all the talking that occurred. This episode was really uncomfortable to listen to . . . It was like sitting at Thanksgiving dinner waiting for everyone to stop bickering.

Which is a real shame because normally I love the extended episodes.

Signed: A Gen X or Gen Y gal.
(hate how there is that tiny gap between the two that basically makes a few of us neither.)

Sent by Laurin | 4:39 PM | 6-21-2008

Thank you to Chris for his comment-- for a Gen-X'er, U2 was huge and formative, much more so than Nirvana...

Sent by Andrea | 7:33 PM | 6-22-2008

I believe the reason this discussion has been so lively and varied is partly because of the nebulous nature of the phrase "Music that defines X generation" (in general terms -- as opposed to Gen X). Really, what defines a generation's music?

There are three possible areas:

1) the prominent music heard through mass media, whether it's radio, television, or multimedia and consumed by the most people during the time period where that generation was 16 - 25.

2) what true music lovers and seekers found most inspiring, innovative and motivating during ages 16 - 25 and will go on to influence future generations of musicians

3) the area where the above two segments intersect

That last section is what I would call music of that particular generation.

I am a Gen-Xer, but I am also a complete music hound. Like any good hound, I seek my treasure out wherever and whenever I can (without losing my job or husband, that is).

When I entered college, I brought a collection of CD's that included Pixies, Big Black, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hugo Largo, Poster Children, Eleventh Dream Day, Fishbone and many others that caused confusion among my dormmates. They introduced me to Steely Dan, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, and (though I'm ashamed to admit that this was my first introduction) Led Zeppelin. There were also R.E.M. and U2 fans, early hip-hop fans, hair band fans and euro music/new wave fans. When Nirvana crashed through every musical barrier, we all felt it, regardless of our previous segmentation. Pearl Jam followed shortly after, and grunge was suddenly mainstream. More importantly, my college years had a common soundtrack for everyone (unfortunately it spiralled pretty quickly down to "Reality Bites").

I would venture a guess that if I inspected all my college friends' iPods, I'd find a wide variety. Some have embraced mainstream hip-hop. Others stopped listening to new music in 1995. Even others, like me, seek the best new music they can find to complement all the old favorites. But despite the variety, I would guess that everyone has some Nirvana, U2, Pearl Jam, Prince and R.E.M. That commonality is what I see as the music of my generation.

I'm not sure that Gen Y has seen anything like that. It may be someone like Kanye - an artist that appeals to mainstream casual fans as well as hard core appreciators. As others have said, with so many different ways to access music, I imagine that artists without that type of megapresence will remain bubbling under the surface suspended in microcelebrity. And that may not be a bad thing.

Sent by Sheila | 11:00 PM | 6-22-2008

So does Gen X mean "white"? All this Nirvana talk makes me think so. Could you have a more representative group of people as talking heads?

If nothing else, the Millennial generation is the most diverse generation in American history and their defining music will reflect that. Boundaries of style, instrumentation, genre will collapse. I think this (my) generation will be defined by multivocality, be represented metaphorically by collage.

Sent by LKN | 6:20 PM | 6-23-2008

Speaking of collage, has anyone mentioned the rise of the mashup genre? Girl Talk is a shining example of this music in my opinion. You can download the new album here:

Sent by wolfnotes | 11:05 PM | 6-23-2008

While agree with many that it is hard to pin down a definition of the sound of this generation, i am also stunned by the new music we have built, using our predescessors' music and new technology. Great musicians have always been around, but this generation seems to be swimming in individuals like Wyclef or Beck. Guys that can play twenty instruments and write on anything from a computer to a classical. Gnarls Barkley, The Roots, and Gorillaz are examples of bands breaking down musical walls and folding the present, and in some cases the future, into the past like a great batter. Rock, hip hop, electronica; it is all the sound of our generation. what the hell do we need a name for?

Sent by cameron taylor | 3:35 PM | 6-24-2008

while i completely agree with a lot of what's been posted, i thought that the reviewers left out the idea of the crossover. walk this way mixed rap and rock, eminem's music was played on pop stations, the dixie chicks brought country into the foreground and made a lot of money doing so, danger mouse and the gray album, etc.

also, i'd be completely remiss if i didn't say that the red hot chili peppers and weezer deserve to be included in any list of significant artists for gen y.

Sent by emily a | 5:48 PM | 6-24-2008

I'm part of Gen Y and to tell you the truth, I never listen to popular radio. On the rare occasion that I do, I can never tell the difference between artists. Almost all of the songs have no real distinctive styles or qualities that distinguish the band or singer from all of the others. I do, however, listen to Classical, Big Band, Jazz, Blues, Swing, Classic Country, 50's Rock, 60's Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Metal, Punk, Grunge, Folk and Indie Rock, just to name a few. For me to really like something, the band should have a distinctive style. The best style I can best think to describe this generation is modern punk, because that seems to be what I've heard most of. Unfortunately, to me it all sounds the same. The stuff that really stands out to me are the classic bands that were popular in the 60s and 70s. The musicians that I like the most these days are either well established from the 90's or before or are low-key. That's because it's the low-key ones that usually don't fit with the popular ones on the radio. It's a shame that there are very talented musicians out there that don't really get a shot just because they don't fit the trend. I hope that this trend in the music industry doesn't last but I'm not convinced it will end any time soon.

Sent by Grant | 10:37 PM | 6-24-2008

My wife directed me to this site saying that on my merit of being an avid record collector I should read and contribute to this discussion. Growing up in the late 70's -- early 80's I have many fond memories of saving my hard earned money in order to go to the record store during that brief period of time between the end of the school day and the record store's closing time. After deciding on what music to buy, like a ritual, I would take my new record home to listen to on my parent's stereo. Vinyl records were packaged with interesting artwork and often included liner notes to look at and read while listening to the record. I also made several friends and acquaintances by spending my free time in the record stores. An enjoyable experience that is now missing in the music download so common today.
While I recall these record store memories fondly, I also recall my frustration of knowing there was more music out there, imports and independent labels that were not on the walls or the bins of my local record store. I envy the availability to different types of music young people have today and hope that this convenience and availability encourages diversity, curiosity and willingness to explore different music genres.
I believe the lack of any "generational soundtrack" is positive and should be celebrated rather than criticized. Young people today have the access to any type of music they desire and the convenience of being able to listen to musical selections prior to purchase. We are no longer limited by or so heavily influenced by major record labels, with FM radio as their bed partners, earning huge profits by selling millions of copies of work produced by just a few musicians selected by their forecasted sell-ability.
I also hope the availability and convenience to hear new and diverse music will help people continue to musically grow with time. I am often disappointed with people my age who cynically ask their children "what's that noise you call music!?" I gently remind my friends they sound too much like our own parents. Like our parents, they hold on too dearly to their generational soundtrack as if that is as good as music will ever be.

thanks for your thoughts Ed

Sent by Ed R | 8:58 AM | 6-27-2008

I realize this is a late post but it takes me a while to catch up to "all songs" podcasts.
This is such an interesting topic to discuss even if it does seem fuitless. What makes it so interesting is how much we celebrate the downfall of corporate control and rise of infinite distribution outlets yet somehow sense that the innovation of the late 60's / 70s is was greater...yes Bob you showed that card with the nature in which you responded to the "Stones depending on Blues" comment(of course you were correct). A couple of points that I think are of interest which I have not yet heard are:
- Punk / New Wave for all of their "refreshing" innovation took respect for musicianship down to a level from which it has never returned.
- Corporate control...for all of it's sins had a more rigorous vetting process
No barrier to entry is not always a good thing....Is hearing one of the greatest songs ever much fun if you and two other people in the world are the only ones who will hear it?.....I know many will say "no problem"....but really think about it.

Sent by Den | 2:23 PM | 6-28-2008

As a straight-up X'er who from 1989 - 1995 was either handling the till at a hip music store, spinning LPs on air or - admittedly - that guy who made the mixes in school, I have to confess to not at all understanding this Nirvana thing. I was as uncertain and confused as anyone; Chuck D flipped a switch in my head that said, 'This all just isn't right.' I was a suburbia kid who dreamed of the city (tho I knew I'd get there on my own). I didn't like the hair bands, the NWA copycats, Tipper Gore or the Reagan-Bush thing. Yet Nirvana didn't speak to me.

Great doubt. But not an anthem for a generation. It was more of a toxin for frat kids who occasionally might pick up a book. Working in the store, it was obvious a Seattle band was going to break; the labels were pushing hard for any new sound, and the NW hadn't given anything since Hendrix. Soundgarden was our bet as it seemed to be the most mainstream. Let's not forget that Seattle's other favorite son Sir-Mix-A-Lot also hit the national market at this time (tho his earlier piece, SWASS, was a blast to hear).

This was a vibrant time as the uptake in CDs opened markets to new bands (I am sure spending on music exploded at this time). No doubt hip-hop was teeming; the first East Coast-West Coast battles, native tongues and the cross-overs. Teddy Riley's fingerprint was everywhere as New Jack Swing evolved into the mainstream. Indeed, I would put Riley and Babyface forward as the generation's voice. Their success spawned an industry of Backstreet boy bands, pre-packaged shrilly crooners and the reality shows that they now rely on to continue their lame careers. Also...Europe kicked in with techno music about at this time, that technotronic sound...!

You can't also deny the fact that voices of generations mature and age with their constituents. Dylan is Dylan, while the Boss still speaks for every American. Janis Joplin...Jimi Hendrix...great artists, taken too young, but not the consciousness of their time. Maybe they could have been. But I still religiously listen to Sublime's music, but I can't consider them a candidate.

On the other hand, the Beastie Boys - a particular favorite of this middle class jewish kid - balance an amazing amount of societal criticism, self-mockery and fun in both their innovative music and surprisingly conscious lyrics. And they have been doing it for 20 years, unlike other pioneers of hip-hop, thus legitimizing a whole new genre of music.

When I was in prep school, we went through the 'crunchy music' phase, rediscovering on CD all those old LPs our parents hung out to. We ate up Dylan, Clapton, Crosby, Jerry, gathering at open fields, outdoor pavilion stages or in musty basements to indulge in timeless poetry. The question is what will our kids listen to when they go to school, get their first car. etc.? What music from our era will survive to mentor the next?

That is a voice that should be anointed 'of our generation?'

Sent by Josh | 2:24 PM | 6-29-2008

going back this I realized that there is NO ANSWER. We are the sound of "sub-genres".

I think the day MTV truely settled on the genre called "Alternative", prevented any generation to have 1 common sound.

button-up punk (emo-jazz)

That was our sound. None of it means shit now to people. Especially old "americana-emo". Which is sad, not that I loved it all that much .. but it had potential.

Now "emo" has this goth undertone and these kids seem to be pretty popular.

When I remember listening to Jawbreaker .. I don't remember any girls being around. Just a bunch of drunk guys. Very homo-erotic actually.

I ain't jealous though, these emos are always seen with total "chicks". What happened to the cute girls? like Jenny from kids ;)

Sent by daniel | 1:40 PM | 7-1-2008

I was born in 1985

Dr. Dre
Arcade Fire
Justin Timberlake
Animal Collective
The White Stripes
Sufjan Stevens
Kanye West
Girl Talk (also, mash-ups from
Dixie Chicks
Britney Spears (unfortunately)

Sent by Julie McQuary | 4:23 PM | 7-2-2008

I was born in '68, and graduated high school in 85. I'm surprised that the punk/new wave that pretty much dominated the conversations and parties of my mid-teens was given such short shrift. There's a lot of variety there, too: The Clash, The Jam, Talking Heads, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Cure...

Also, I'm kind of embarrassed now to mention it, but I recall how influentially consciousness grabbing my friends and I found the "angsty teen" music of the Violent Femmes to be. They captured perfectly the "making what I'm feeling so much bigger" theme that you all mentioned several times in the show. But maybe that wasn't so much the music itself, but just the single fact of being an awkward 14 year old at the time that made their music resonate so.

Sent by Matt | 4:26 PM | 7-2-2008

nice words Matt! Not a big Violent Femmes but I totally understand what you mean. There's a certain "outspoken" vibe that gen y/x had. Daniel Johnston/Half-Japanese is the other side
of that coin to me.

Sent by daniel | 5:27 PM | 7-2-2008

When I comment about punk / new wave and lack of musicianship I certainly do not mean to give short shrift....Echo and the Bunnymen are one of my favorite bands ever....
'Heaven up Here' is a masterpiece...I believe that the high innovation level of the era combined with the fact that it came on the heels of an era of particularly high musicianship(think Steely Dan...YES..heck even Fleetwood Mac) made it very refreshing and welcome at the time....but it's been a while since then and I sense that the "on and on" innovation thing with just "so so" musicianship is getting a bit tired....not to say people are hungry for mere technicians either...but when the twain get your 'beggars banquet'(conceptually of course).

Sent by Den | 10:21 PM | 7-2-2008

I was born in 1989. I grew up in a world were I could rap the latest Dre and yell the latest Greenday. I made up my own dance to every SpiceGirls song and can kill a 16 from Weezy F Baby. Panic! makes me sing and 30 sec makes me think. Flo Rida makes me dance and Lily Allen makes me laugh. Yet due to parents, Thriller and Material Girl hold a place in my heart. I can belt a song from Kansas and rock to Rush. Somehow I rushed to download the Juno soundtrack and can not stop adding a song from the Marie Antonette soundtrack to my playlists. I am Gen Y.
So "y" chose?

I can not say that I have a defining sound because there is no way to judge. Most Radio spins?most of use dont listen to the Radio? Record sales? Some genres have more stealing than others. Downloads? legal or illegal ones.
I cant tell a favorite one and to be honest it chages every approx 3 mins. I would say that hip hop has made the most impact and influence. Rock has not changed THAT much and Pop is so influnced by hip hop. I Love the emo and indie deal, but to be honest I think it only is the newest change in the past 10 yrs. Hip Hop has influnced for close to double that and still out ways the influnce of indie to date in our everyday culture. Hip Hop has influnced language, media, arts, fashion, education and lifestyle.

Sent by Lauren E. | 1:39 AM | 7-3-2008

as the 9/11 approaches once again would someone give it a voice

together we can . . .

Our souls are wounded,
our hearts are bleeding
Take it to heart, we will, we will (chorus)

Out of sorrow and out of fears
Out of grief, without any tears
Get up again, we will, we will

They may blast and might they blow
Surrender not, we will, we will

Pillars of strength where were
Towers of silence there are
Turn it around, we will, we will

There was dust, and there was smoke
In God we trust, for there is hope
Keep up the trust, we will, we will

So long the water flows
So long the stars shine and sun glows
Forget you not, we will, we will

In mourning today, we are
Welcome tomorrow, we will, we will

We have the power and we have the will
We also have an instinct to kill
Show it to world, we will, we will

Dealers of death, O dealers of dope
shattered the dreams you killers of hope
Forgive you never, we will, we will

Make you listen, we will, we will

Get to the truth, we will, we will

We give love and we want peace
Free-up the freedom, we will, we will

Better the best, we will, we will

Have you lost, no no, no no
Going to win, we will, we will

Raise up your hands, we will, we will

Together we can, we will, we will
It's in the air
It's in the skies
It's in my heart
It's in your eyes
Together we can, we will, we will
Together we can, we will, we will
Together we can, we will, we will

We will, we will
We will, we will
We will, we will
We will, we will

Sent by Gulshan Gupta | 5:08 AM | 7-3-2008

I think you guys did a god job with this, but you forgot some very important things.

1. "The Sound" of my generation would probably never listen to all songs considered.
2. For those who are into the music world further than the radio and outside of rap, the music is of a very different taste. Although, I really do appreciate soldier boy and kelly clarkson.

As the said 19 year old, this is what I would say defines MY generation, for me. This is what I'll be singing when I'm forty.
1. Death Cab for Cutie
2. Weezer
3. Of Montreal
4. Unicorns
5. Islands

For others, Perhaps...
6. Modest Mouse
7. The Shins
8. Radiohead
5. Animal Collective

Sent by Emily | 6:51 PM | 7-3-2008

I think I agree with both the first and last posters. This generations main feature seems to be the accessibility of music of all forms, so there's no one predominant sound like there might have been in past years.

But personally I'll agree with Emily and say that for me these are what define me and my time:

- Modest Mouse
- 65daysofstatic
- Biffy Clyro
- Mogwai

Sent by ATW | 6:36 PM | 7-5-2008

As a member of this generation, I feel that we are resisting the urge to label ourselves. Why place ourselves into a category that we can't escape? We have at our fingertips a plethora of music, something to fit every personality and every mood. If you can't find something that suits you, you can make your own. I see nothing wrong with diversity in music, I only see wrong in pigeonholing.

Sent by Mara | 12:33 PM | 7-6-2008

I was born in 1983 and so labeled Generation Y, and my friends would be labeled the same. As a group of "Y's" we have sat around many times having this very discussion, who/what will be remembered as our generation's music. Time and time again bands like Pearl Jam, Green Day, and U2 surfaces, but generation X can claim most of those and many more. And so our conversation often centers on Dave Matthews Band. The band's music defines high school and early college for me. DMB concerts were some of the first that I ventured to alone, meetings people there, enjoying the music, and the environment. Not sure generation X can claim DMB, but certainly generation Y must, whether you are a fan or not.

Sent by KAS | 2:08 PM | 7-9-2008

music doesn't mean what it used to mean to people. Despite what say/think we are victims of fashion right now... just like any other time when cocaine is too popular.

Sent by daniel | 10:53 AM | 7-10-2008

I understand Gen X has been defined as starting with those born in 1965. That's me. I adored Nirvana when they hit, but never thought of that great band as defining Gen X. In fact I thought it was great because it was a lot like stuff I was already listening to. Punk. I was a little surprised Bob claimed the late 1970s punk scene as belonging to the boomers--I think it is probably very defining for early Gen Xers. I also feel very at home with the Buzzcocks and their cohort. My own early "lightbulb moment" bands are not Nirvana or Public Enemy (who I love but who hit much later in my listening life) have to be the CLASH, THE JAM, ELVIS COSTELLO, early POLICE, REM, and then followed by Los Angeles favorites like X, SOCIAL DISTORTION. And I can't imagine skipping over the early 1980s through early 1990s sounds of U2. Probably U2 defines Gen X music more than most other bands. So I guess I'm saying don't skip the late 1970s and the 1980s when talking about Gen X!!!

Sent by Noreen O'Connor | 12:33 PM | 7-10-2008

I am 20, so you can figure out what generation I am in, but I think there is a strong reason why there is not a dominant sound for my generation. I honestly think that most kids music is defined by their ethnicity. There is an overlap because nobody listens to just one genre of music, but the core music a person listens to is usally the same of another person of the same ethnicity and different from another person of a different ethnicity. There are, of course, expeptions to every theory, but in general I would say this is true. Therefore, with a divided interest in music caused by ethnicity, it makes it impossible to have a single sound for my generation.

Sent by Chris Lehr | 10:46 AM | 7-14-2008

I can't say what the sound of the current generation is, but I'd like to point out that with each subsequent generation comes one fundamental fact about the music: the de-evolution of melody. From Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, through Gershwin, Berlin, and Porter, through the Beatles, Beach Boys and Bacharach to Grunge and Hip-Hop, popular music has moved from lush, gorgeous melodies that are instantly recognizable when played on a piano (or hummed, for that matter), to songs without melody at all (rap). I think that's sad.

Sent by Fred G | 1:22 PM | 7-16-2008

What a great topic that just turned to garbage... because no-one seems to be clear on what we're talking about.

So ... why is the generation I was part (1994-2004ish) ... not part of X or Y?

the unappreciated black hole of music. you bastards ;)

Sent by daniel | 5:18 PM | 7-24-2008

whoa .. Fred. Watch it there. I agree with you on the melody thing, but not 100% the way you think. I've called it the "music box test". If you're tune sounds good on a music box.. you have a good melody. If it doesn't .. then you better play with some expression and force it out. Like Radiohead and their dreaded stretched vowel melodies. Or worse PAtD, Arcade Fire or Spoon where I can't remember one aspect of the song after it's done.

Don't go dissin "rap". Listen to the artist Count Bass D. You might like it. I'll admit that I don't like most popular hip hop in the past 10 years. Mainly because of the form of A A A A A A A A A.. or hell now they just say the same word and don't even try to rhyme. Also there's people like MF Doom that seems to have no ear at all (can fart out a good beatr though).

Basically music is more pretensious than it's ever been.. Nothing feels real.. it feels implied.

Sent by daniel | 5:47 PM | 7-24-2008

Unfortunately, mainstream music for this generation is mostly garbage. The people that like it won't be defined by it, they're just enjoying the fads as they pass. I'm 19 years old and there is some music from this era that I really love, but it seems like everything worth doing has been done already. If some sort of new musical movement can come along things might be more interesting.

Sent by Adam | 11:51 PM | 7-24-2008

Begging pardons all for coming to this excellent conversation so late. Having just finished ripping my CD library (75,000 tracks), I find myself in the late stages of my third or fourth music format conversion. I started with singles and such albums as I could afford or pinch from my parents; blew years of paper route money on a bunch of 8-track tapes that mostly broke within their first 25 plays; lots of LPs for the next 15 years; then CDs, of which I bought over 4,500 before I stopped a couple of years ago. Not to mention many dozens of cassette mix tapes. A couple of years ago I worked for the URGE music service (pre Rhapsody merger), which pretty much dragged me into my shiny new fully digitized musical life. I'm really feeling the context of it right now.

In many ways loving popular music today is like the early 1960's - based on singles. Our current music is driven by much the same imperative under which Louis Jordan and Elvis Presley worked: a song has to sell itself fast - hooks are mandatory. Modern production has not changed this in the slightest. I find it puzzling that, despite the most robust set of affordable production options in the history of music, so many bands sound interchangeable now. We are no longer served by a diverse or robust radio industry willing to let empowered DJs play their favorite records; the consequences of this change are far from being sorted out yet.

Two things are certain: 1) This worm will turn. Right now gifted artists are working up things that WILL eventually melt your ear buds. Great, great future singles remain absolutely inevitable. A move back toward longer, more thought-out formats will come (for better and worse). Forums like this one will take the place of what DJs used to do. 2) The hybridization at the heart of musical (r)evolution has not stopped. If we are in bland musical period like the early 1960's that means the next Beatles, the next Motown are right around the corner, waitng to give us happy feet.

Sent by Michael | 6:55 PM | 7-27-2008

one word:

R a d i o h e a d

Sent by Andrea | 5:47 PM | 7-28-2008

I was born in 1989 and I think I'm safely a member of the Gen Y or millennial generation and I think that listening to every music gives you more flexibility and freedom which is what the internet provided. But as far as our generations sound is its looking a lot like hip hop although its still different on what Elvis and the Beatles did for the Boomers and what Nirvana did for Gen-Xers. Our generation still has not have a musical genre or an artist that will have a huge impact that can reflect on the identity of our generation and informally serve as our spokesperson just like what Kurt Cobain did. Lastly, I am hoping that my generation will finally find our sound.

Sent by Robert | 1:52 PM | 8-8-2008

I've been thinking about this for the past couple days and recently just found this podcast that seemed to be right along the lines of what i had been pondering while sitting around listening to my headphones. So, i don't even know if anyones reading this blog anymore but oh well.

I am a smack-dab in the middle millennial. Born in 1989 and going into my sophomore year of college my musical taste is expanding from listening to the local classic rock station to trying to find more music of what people in my generation make and what applies to us. I don't know if we'll ever have a definite sound because of things like the accessibility (podcasts, blogs, etc) that give us infinite amounts of music at our fingertips. But i do think there is a certain 'taste' that our generation can go with. Our generation (at least the ones listening to new music) is extremely eclectic. All you have to do is look at any of the great musical festivals across the country (bonaroo, lollapalooza, acl). We have people getting excited about middle level bands as well as headliners. The bands i look forward to seeing most at ACL aren't foo fighters or beck or even robert plant who we've been trained to idolize through led zeppelin. It's bands like mgmt (electronic/noise/psychadelic), gogol bordello (gypsy punk), stars with their melodic charming songs and vocals. I'm into bands like of Montreal who can span from pop to funk to rock to just plain abstract. We're a generation who listens to independent groups who allow us to stream their new albums before we decide to buy them (if we do).

It's a wonderful time. I don't even bother with popular commercial radio. I listen to rice radio from houston over the internet whenever i'm not living in houston and other public radio stations like npr to find the next band i want to buy a couple of tracks online or even get their vinyl with a coupon for a free download.

So will we have a nirvana or a group like the beatles? not in the sense that everyone will identify with or listen to a single mega-group like these. but on an individual basis, people are finding the music that helps them define themselves. Possibly finding their own defining group while picking up plenty of other amazing musical groups along the way.

Sent by A-ron | 1:14 AM | 8-12-2008

I did'nt read every comment. Im going to respond to the one about Exile. The band Exile made an overtly, corny, cheesy, sexual song called "I wanna Kiss You all over". It is not groundbreaking in any way. Although, I think that this would make a great hip hop cover and Young Jeezy should get to work on this as soon possible.

Sent by Dennis | 2:50 PM | 9-3-2008

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