A Guide to Surviving New Music Anxiety In Your 30s

Does trying to understand new music make you feel old?

If your answer was yes, then you are. If it was no, you are a) lying or 2) young and making the people this is for cross the street in fear.

As 2019 began it’s descent into the flaming dumpster that many people declared it, the Best-of-the-Year lists started rolling out. Truthfully, it was in November, but when you look at how music releases die in the month of December so they don’t have to compete with the sales figures from Starbucks moms who are horny for Christmas music, it makes sense.

Did those lists leave you confused and bewildered? Then wait until you look at the 2020 lineup for Bonnaroo! You probably saw your friends try to play off their discomfort of not knowing who anyone is between reposts of TikToks from your younger relatives and implications that Joe Biden’s son is a secret Muslim from your older ones. “Subtract the number of names you know on this flyer from 100 and that is your musical age!”


Don’t worry. At this point there are only a handful of truly popular acts at those things and the rest are whoever their reps can slam into a package deal with the promoters to make people think it is anything other than an Influencer Zoo. You get a mix of some music journalists, a handful of people that fucking love music and camping, and everyone else has too much money and neon body paint to be considered human. We can’t touch them or feed them, but we can see it all on Instagram.

But, honestly, would you go? Do you want to not shower for three days while you get sun/alcohol poisoning, trying to establish safe guidelines for a mushroom “experience”? Or are you looking at it thinking, “Shit. Is that what Rage Against the Machine was mad about?” and “Who can the kids stay with?” or “My back is too sore for this.”

It’s overwhelming and you either don’t know where to find new music anymore or you have just given up. Which is probably pretty common since your generation burned itself out in the Download Wars of the early 2000s. People scrambled so hard to get as much music as possible, they never had any time to listen to it and they are like a person who has just watched too much porn and never wants to fuck again.

Let’s talk about some ways for you to find new music.

How about Best-of-the-Year lists? Well, you are going to either need a trusted media source or a musician you still like to post them. With the media source, it is probably too broad a spectrum and you are going to get confused by why people don’t hate country and rap like your old AIM profile declared. And that musician, well…they mostly listen to Norwegian Black Metal and Classical. So this may not work for you either.

Let’s talk about the radio. The problem is there are only about 10 songs in rotation at any given time and they have so much vocal compression they sound like a masturbating power tool jammed between local car outlet commercials that are 15 decibels louder than the music.

You’re not quite old enough to only know the songs that play at the end of Grey’s Anatomy episodes ( “Is THIS SONG how to save a life? Or am I just into the soft shit now?”), but you know people who are.

We all have monthly music subscriptions. They are tied in with TV on the internet we pay for that somehow still has commercials. These can offer you some suggestions, but be ready: it’s going to try to offer you songs that young people have already downloaded a million times. So take a deep breath, you old bastard.

Who is Billie Eilish? You’ve heard her song. It was the most popular single in 2019. So much so that there were MULTIPLE SKA covers of it. It’s the one that comes to a grinding halt in the middle of the chorus, presumably because kids are into edging now. Don’t worry! She’s for those kids and just because you don’t get it doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. Do you think people older than you understood why you were listening to The Prodigy and declaring aloud to all who could hear that you were IN FACT the Firestarter? A twisted Firestarter at that. For shame! You can’t even collect insurance when you are that blatant about it.

Who is Lil Nas X? He’s a young man who brings delight to children, so have some respect. Besides, when people didn’t show him respect, he trolled everyone by releasing a version of his song with Billy Ray Cyrus, who you either know as Miley’s dad or the guy your grade school gym teacher got wet for when she wanted to teach everyone square dancing.

Okay, maybe new stuff isn’t for you, but you still want to be cool. Well…great news! Queen is cool for the 3rd time again. Thanks to a real fucking train wreck of a movie, people all around the world are thinking, “HEY! THEY DID ROCK ME!” and have downloaded or streamed their greatest hits on a platform that didn’t exist yet when you were still in college.

Hell, I guess I can just make some suggestions myself. But then again, I still own an iPod and buy records. So either you would be willing to listen to what I have to say, but you already listen to White Reaper and have a Members Only jacket, but have forgotten what was ironic about it, or you (probably smartly) don’t care and think I’m kidding when I tell you how great IDLES is.

Uh…I guess, you can check out those TikToks I mentioned earlier…? Actually, don’t. This will just bring you back to Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X. You already killed Vine, so let the kids keep their short video app. The world is fucked. Let them express their grief however they want.

All of this can be intimidating as you fluctuate in a place in your life where you still think of yourself as young, but are probably really getting into wine and love a nice sweater.

Well…I HOPE THIS MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER! Also, Prince Daddy and the Hyena’s Cosmic Thrill Seekers was the album of the year.

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