This is something I had already noticed, but working with elderly clients has made me notice EVEN HARDER that most pop music is for young people. I think this is part of why the music at a grocery store can be so depressing: hearing those yearning passionate lyrics (“I can be your hero, baby”) while looking around at all of us very ordinary people living very ordinary lives and no one really following us around begging us to please please baby please be theirs…well, it’s a poor fit, and a painful contrast.
I noticed it particularly while driving home from a visit with a client, hearing Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Is my 86-year-old client going to identify with “And darling, I will be loving you until we’re 70”? Will that seem romantic to her? Will she sing it sentimentally to her 88-year-old husband? No. In fact, the song suddenly seems ridiculous. Wow, ALL THE WAY until SEVENTY??? And THEN what? Divorce, I assume, or death. Gosh, when you’re THAT old, does it even matter? This song is for people who can’t even IMAGINE an age like 70, people who were born when some of my clients were ALREADY 70.
I’ve heard that most music is written for young people because young people are the ones who buy music. But this seems like a bit of a CYCLE, doesn’t it? Music is written for young people because they’re the ones spending most of the money, but then pop music appeals less and less to older people, so then older people buy even less music and younger people buy even more, and there’s yet another set of data explaining why we might as well market only to younger people.
Besides, surely we do not market ALL the products for just the group who buys the MOST? Surely there is also money to be reaped from the groups who buy less, even if it’s LESS money. After all, you can still buy Prell and bluing and horehound candy and housedresses and bay rum aftershave and perm kits and handkerchiefs, even though The Young People don’t want to buy them. Let’s EXPLOIT those little pockets of money, marketers! I would love to hear more lyrics like Taylor Swift’s “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22” or Paramore’s “‘Cause after all this time, I’m still into you”—and I’d love them even more if they were written/sung by, respectively, someone who was older than 23 and someone who had been in a long marriage. I would like to hear more songs by/for people who have CHILDREN or GRANDCHILDREN who are 22.
My friend Surely has pointed out that COUNTRY music is helping to market to this niche. I have actively tried to like country music, but I just DON’T. I like pop music, and some pop-alternative. Maybe the occasional country cross-over: I do love Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” though I liked it even better when Nelly got involved. And that’s not the type of lyrics that I’m talking about anyway. How many of us are going around in bikini tops lookin’ for the fast life in some guy’s truck? I need something with more of an “Old Navy crewneck”/minivan feel. “Yeah when I first saw her with that comfy tee on her / She was walking right down that grocery store aisle.”
I promise if someone tries to exploit this market, I will buy the songs. Well, some of the songs. Well, if they’re on SALE; will they be on SALE? *rummages through coin purse for exact change*