Is the Music Industry Still Pop Culture’s Biggest Force?

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If there’s one thing every generation has in common, it’s that the following generation’s style does not make a lick of sense. From Baby Boomers and Generation X to Millennials and currently Gen Z, it seems like as soon as a new generation begins to grow its own Pop Culture, their parents appear to be baffled by the appeal. When Metallica first came out and influenced a whole generation of ’90s rockers, their parents largely forgot the time when they were wearing pastels and celebrating at Woodstock.

It may be obvious but music is one of, if not the most, important elements to shape each generation’s popular culture – but is that still the case with Generation Z?

The Internet’s Influence

As the first generation to grow up with the internet as a primary part of their lives, it’s no surprise that the world wide web has had a major impact on Generation Z. While the previous generations were largely influenced by media from their own country or from particular important exports (Beatlemania being a prime example), the internet makes it possible for media from across the world to reach anywhere. It’s extremely unlikely a song like Gangnam Style would have managed to infiltrate the public consciousness to anywhere near the same level – and it’s not just limited to music.

One of the biggest changes to pop culture is, arguably, the invention of memes. For those who haven’t heard of the term before, a meme is a visual image with text attached which is intended to convey something to the viewer.

As you can see in the example above, it’s rarely something particularly meaningful.

But what sets them apart from the media of the past is that this format is astoundingly popular with Gen Z and floods social media with references and jokes that are at the same time mass appeal and an in-joke. This has even extended to certain slang terms, shared across the internet such as ‘Yeet’ or ‘salt’ and the meaning is understood from exposure. It’s something that’s shaped culture for the newest generation so thoroughly that it’s even considered a bigger influence on them than music!

What does each Generation think?

In a survey conducted by mobile phone case supplier designer phone case supplier Tirita, they asked what each generation of people thought most strongly influenced Generation Z’s slang. Their results showed that, of those surveyed, 68% of the over 74s and 41% of those aged between 55-73 thought that music was the biggest influence. But the younger and more tech-savvy you get, the more the results shift. Only 18% of Generation X thought that music was what influenced slang the heaviest and lower still, just 9% of Millennials agreed.

It’s clear that the younger the generation, the easier it is for them to see the influence of social media and its importance on shaping the culture of the younger generations. But despite this, it’s still inarguable that music holds a massive influence over how pop culture and slang develops (it only sounds cool coming from a music star you really respect).

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!


Image Credits: Namroud Gorguis

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