Saturday, August 31, 2013

Aural Fixation: Every Generation Got Its Own Moniker - Music in the iGeneration

Aural Fixation:

Every Generation Got Its Own Moniker: Music in the iGeneration

Aural Fixation” is a music-themed column I wrote for from 2011-2013. They are no longer online there, but I have reformatted them here at the DMDB blog with additional videos, photos, and links, such as where to buy referenced albums. I have also used the title “Aural Fixation” for any essays I have written outside of as well. To see the essays, check out the Dave’s Music Database Aural Fixation page. You can also purchase the essays in book format here.

Music geeks from my era might recall the song, “Every Generation Got Its Own Disease,” by Fury in the Slaughterhouse. It was a minor rock hit in 1994 – obscure enough, in fact, to make the granting of “one-hit wonder” status an iffy proposition.

When I first heard the tune, I had limited choices for accessing it again. I could plop down ten bucks or so for the entire album at a music store – if they had it in stock. I could watch endless hours of MTV or listen incessantly to my local alternative radio station and keep my fingers crossed that it might get played.

Today’s music fan can rip the song illegally, stream it, watch it on YouTube, hear it on a subscription music service, find it on satellite radio, or download it for 99 cents through from iTunes, Amazon, or any of a myriad of online stores. Oh, and they might stumble across some article or blog which has posted the song – you know, like here.

If nay-sayers are to be believed, the expectation that anything can be accessed anytime anywhere is at the heart of the disease plaguing the iGeneration. Blanche Clark and Catherine Lambert note that today’s tech-obsessed youth are ripped for their short attention spans, illiterate texting, and ignorance of privacy on social media. This is a group of young people who “choose YouTube over newspapers” and “smartphones over telephones” (Herald SunGlued to smartphones and YouTube, the oldest of the tech-obsessed iGeneration turn 18 this year”, 3 March 2013).

Before the teenage eUniverse launches a social media cyberspace attack upon me, let me attempt a feeble peace offering. There’s a long-established precedent of older generations lambasting “the youth of today.” In a Boise Weekly article, Ted Rall notes that Millenials were lambasted as narcissists. Generation X’ers were called “shallow, apolitical, unambitious shoe-gazers” (“Turn Up That Music: The Gen X-Millenial generation gap”, 12 June 2013). In fact, the article notes the Strauss & Howe book Generations which traces the tradition back to American colonial times.

I have no intention of trying to reach back 200 years. Some definitions may be in order. There’s surprisingly little consensus on when each generation ends and begins – or even how they should be labeled. For my purposes, I’m not going back any further than Baby Boomers (1946-64), the era which birthed rock and roll and many of the music trends we still see today. Then we have Generation X (1965-79), Millenials (1980-95), and the iGeneration (1995-2013).

So back to the problem with kids today. First of all, it is important to understand that iGeners never knew a life without electronic communication via the Internet, email, mobile phones, texting, blogging, laptops, tablets, Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, iPods, iPads, and iTouch.

In his book, Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn. Larry Rosen identified a slew of characteristics of iGeners, including adeptness at multitasking, desire for immediacy, and the ability to use technology to create a vast array of content. He told Sharon Jayson in a USA Today interview (“Tech-savvy ‘iGeneration’ kids multi-task, connect”, 10 February 2010), that today’s young people “expect innovation.” Anything they want will “be tailored to their own needs and wishes and desires.” That also means, as child and adolescent psychologist Dave Verhaagen says in the USA Today article, that kids “know almost every piece of information they want is at their disposal whenever they need it.”

He identifies portability as key.

An article in Psychology Today (“Welcome to the iGeneration!”, 26 March 2010) noted that today’s typical teenager sends and receives more than 3000 texts per month, compared to 191 phone calls. The USA Today article cited a study by Rosen showing that more than half of 9 to 12 year olds have cellphones.

For those who can actually recall such antiquated devices as land-line-based telephones, pre-World Wide Web home computers, and televisions which only picked up a handful of channels, this new-fangled technology is often welcomed if not entirely understood.

With new technology comes change, both good and bad. On the plus side, who from my era didn’t appreciate the advent of remote controls to eliminate the need to keep getting off the couch to change channels? Who didn’t like when cordless technology eliminated the need to be tethered to the phone in the kitchen, where Mom and Dad could easily hear your conversations?

What, however, has technology done to how the iGeneration experiences music? What is their level of appreciation for it?

Perhaps the clearest change in behavior is that of multi-tasking. Today’s children will grow up in an attention deficit world which cannot carry on a five-minute conversation without an interruption from a chiming mobile phone to alert its user that some friend three-times removed has posted a new funny cat picture on Facebook.

This is a direct result of a world in which it is possible to ALWAYS be available. With a mobile device at their fingertips, today’s children are always accessible. That means music is ALWAYS available. As a teen, I saved my allowance so I could buy cassette tapes at the mall from chains like Musicland and Camelot. In my twenties, I made weekly excursions to the local CD store or department stores like Best Buy. Now new music is never more than a few clicks away.

I also had to “discover” music via the radio or MTV. Today’s kids send YouTube video links back and forth and can stream seemingly any music they want, anytime, anywhere.

In his own article in Neiman Reports for Harvard (“Understanding the iGeneration – Before the Next Mini-Generation Arrives”, Summer 2010), Rosen noted that even the pre-teen set average more than 1000 tweets per month.

Rosen identifies these characteristics of the iGeneration in the Harvard article:

  • increased media consumption
  • multitasking
  • e-communication (IMing, skyping, texting). A phone isn’t a phone but a computer
  • socializing
  • creativity
  • writing
  • motivation
On the ZD Net blog (“Defining the iGeneration: Not just a geeky bunch of kids”, 20 June 2010), Zack Whittaker says the iGeneration “represents a change in not only methods but attitudes and values.”

Whittaker would say one of the characteristics of the iGeneration is “isolated socialization” – meaning one can access people and their social lives from their desk or laptop. This group can also self publicize and be exposed like no other generation before it.

In Herald Sun article, social researcher Mark McCrindle notes that the generation is defined by how rapidly they integrate technology into their lives. He notes that baby boomers had vinyl while today’s teens have grown up with MP3 players, smartphones, and storing music in iCloud.

The article also notes that YouTube, with four million views per day, is second only to Google as search engines go. The iGeneration has grown up in a world of rapid social, culture, and economic change. They are adaptable and ready for change.

Being connected has become a huge part of their identity. Social networking allows teens to form surrogate extended families and work collaboratively and co-operatively. Psychologist and social researcher Professor Hugh Mackay notes that kids use their mobile devices “like an electronic security blanket.”

For more “Aural Fixation” essays, check out the Dave’s Music Database Aural Fixation page page.

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 8/31/2013; updated 10/27/2023.

50 years ago: The Ronettes charted with “Be My Baby”

Be My Baby

The Ronettes

Writer(s): Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 31, 1963

Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 2 HR, 4 RB, 4 UK, 2 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 67.4 video, 185.31 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This “staple of oldies radio” AMG represents “the quintessence of the ‘girl group’ aesthetic of the early 1960s” NRR but also served as “the Rosetta stone for studio pioneers such as the Beatles and Brian Wilson.” RS500 He called the song his favorite RS500 and even recorded an answer song, “Don’t Worry Baby,” with his group the Beach Boys. SF

The song is also one of the best examples of the wall of sound NRR a method introduced by producer Phil Spector of layering multiple instruments to create “a slow-burn pop symphony.” AMG Ronnie Bennett, the only Ronette to sing on the song, RS500 has speculated that her then-blossoming romance with Spector may have inspired the song. SF They would marry in 1968, but when they split six years later, the song actually figured into the divorce settlement with Bennett denied the right to sing the song on TV. SF In 1986, though, she did revive parts of it in Eddie Money’s top 10 pop hit “Take Me Home Tonight.” SF

Ironically, “Spector’s most grand most grandiose production to date” was crafted around “the least polished vocalist in his stable.” AMG He “built a rock and roll cathedral around what little her voice had to offer” MA by making Bennett rehearse for weeks and then doing 42 takes once in the studio. RS500 Despite her vocal shortcomings, “Be My Baby” actually works because “her voice radiates pure baby-doll sexuality.” AMG

The song has remained a music fixture for movie soundtracks, most effectively used in the opening credits of Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets and in the 1987 blockbuster Dirty Dancing. AMG


First posted 8/20/2012; last updated 11/3/2022.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Elvis Costello! / His Top 20 Albums

Originally posted on 8/25/12 as a top ten list alongside a list of Elvis Costello’s top 50 songs (see that list here).

image from

Elvis Costello was born Declan McManus in Liverpool, England, on August 25, 1954. He came out of the British punk/new wave scene in 1977 and became one of the most celebrated musicians of all time with his diverse abilities for dipping his toe into multiple musical genres including R&B, country, and classical. While these lists reflect a definite emphasis on his work from the ‘70s and ‘80s, Costello continues to make adventurous music. His fans never know just where he might go on his next album.

Sales, chart date, awards, and appearances on best-of lists are factored into Dave’s Music Database. Here are the results for Elvis Costello’s top 20 albums:

The Top 20 Elvis Costello Albums

1. This Year’s Model (1978)
2. My Aim Is True (1977)
3. Armed Forces (1979)
4. Imperial Bedroom (1982)
5. Get Happy!! (1980)
6. King of America (1986)
7. Blood and Chocolate (1986)
8. Spike (1989)
9. Trust (1981)
10. The Delivery Man (2004)

11. Punch the Clock (1983)
12. When I Was Cruel (2002)
13. Almost Blue (1981)
14. National Ransom (2010)
15. Mighty Like a Rose (1991)
16. The River in Reverse (with Allen Toussaint, 2006)
17. Brutal Youth (1994)
18. Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (2009)
19. Painted from Memory (with Burt Bacharach, 1998)
20. Momofuku (2008)


Resources and Related Links:

Friday, August 23, 2013

50 years ago: The Beatles released “She Loves You”

She Loves You

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: August 23, 1963

First Charted: August 29, 1963

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 11 HR, 1 CL, 16 UK, 13 CN, 3 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 1.95 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 31.34 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

With record-breaking advance orders of 300,000, “She Loves You” became the first million-selling single in the UK KL and was the song that launched Beatlemania in the UK. AMG The song became the biggest single of the sixties TC and was the top-selling UK single until 1977 when the Wings’ “Mull of Kintyre” (led by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney) passed it. SF

It spent a whopping 36 weeks on the UK charts, marked by two stints at #1. It held the top slot for four weeks, slipped, and then climbed back for another two-week run after a seven-week break. It was their own “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which dethroned them the second time, making the Beatles the first artist to knock themselves off the top of the UK charts. TB

In a reversal of the British charts, “She Loves You” followed “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to the pinnacle of the U.S. charts. Capitol Records broke the Beatles in the U.S. with the latter song FB and then Swan Records re-released “She Loves You.” In an unprecedented achievement, TB the Beatles followed that with a third consecutive chart-topper in the U.S. with “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Paul McCartney explained he’d planned on an answer song to Bobby Rydell’s “Forget Him” in which “a couple of us would sing ‘She loves you’ and the other ones would answer ‘Yeah Yeah.’…So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it; John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars.” SF

After hearing it, McCartney’s father said, “Son, there are enough Americanisms around. Couldn’t you sing, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ just for once?’ McCartney said, ‘You don’t understand, Dad. It wouldn’t work.’” RS500 Ever since, the music universe has been grateful Paul didn’t heed his father’s advice.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Richie Unterberger
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 144.
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 830.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 95.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SF
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 56.

Related Links:

Last updated 7/17/2022.