“Let’s dance to the song they’re playin’ on the radio.” – David Bowie
When I was a teenager (circa mid 90s) there were several top 40 radio stations targeting my friends and our age bracket. Those stations even ran dance companies that came to our school and strictly played whatever was on the radio.
In the past few years, the resurgence of teen-targeted radio stations has flourished, and I’d be willing to wager it’s not because there are suddenly more young people suddenly tuning in.
As an event DJ with a lot of company Christmas parties taking place this time of year, we are doing many events where the ages range from 25-65. What’s getting the people out of their seats and onto the dancefloor? The latest teen-appealing chart toppers. Drake. Britney Spears. Bruno Mars. AVICII. The same stuff that’s leading on the teen-targeted radio.
You get a room full of mixed-age Toronto business people together for a holiday party and you want the ties and heals to come off? Put on Icona Pop’s summer anthem “I Love It” and watch a room full of responsible adults sing along about crashing a car into a ditch and not caring about it.
If it’s in the iTunes Top 10, regardless of how danceable it is, it’s quite likely to go over well. “Royals” by Lorde is extremely catchy but a failure as a dance track, but guess what? Well timed in the night and it can be the hit song of the party.
If teen Top 40 rules, is this a mass societal failure to grow up? Are we still sipping from the fountain of youth by favouring songs about never growing up, being irresponsible, and breaking things? I think it’s more about access than actively pursuing the fountain of youth. The internet is offering these non-teens with an iPhone or laptop the ability to stay plugged in to trends, regardless if they listen to z103.5 in the car.
Sure, some of my friends are still devout 90s grunge Pearl Jam enthusiasts and avid “10 Club” members, but they also go to see Mumford & Sons concerts. They know Miley Cyrus’s new songs by name. They want to hear Macklemore when they go to parties. And they use their iPods at the gym to run a mile serenaded by Frank Ocean.
In the future I think it’s going to be tough for teens to assert themselves as rebellious and independent from their parents if they share the same taste in music. Perhaps a new music genre that will be loathed by parents and have them tune out is yet to be written, although I thought we were there when “What The Fox?” went viral. To my astonishment, even that has been requested by adults at parties.
Danny Floh Back is a Toronto-based event DJ who asked Santa for a Fisher Price record player for Christmas.