Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Learning Pop Culture with a Podcast (August Posting Challenge)

10 years ago I taught middle schoolers for my church. I had just resigned as college minister but was still involved and serving in my church but with this new age group.

The switch from college students and their pop culture to middle schoolers and their pop culture was crazy. That was when I first heard the name "Justin Beiber." Some of the kids loved Beiber and others were beyond that-"I'm not into him anymore." But that was when I realized that I should know the pop culture of the people that I serve.

Fast-forward 10 years. I thought I was up on pop culture. I at least knew what the cultural trends were. Then I started listening to a podcast called "Switched On Pop." And I realized that I knew very little.


Switched On Pop is hosted by a songwriter and a musicologist and they discuss the latest Top 40 music and musical trends. But it is much more than that.

I had heard about their podcast for a while and since I don't listen to pop music, I ignored it. But when I listened to it, I learned that they talk about the cultural trends that give rise to the music as well. They talk history, philosophy, meaning, etc. They ask "why" of everything in a song.

I'll just give you 3 things I've learned:

  1. Billie Eilish is a major thing with teen girls. After I learned her name, I started seeing her on t-shirts, memes, etc.
  2. Everything from Eilish's styles of music to the lyrics she sings reflects (and probably creates) this cultural moment regarding truth, identity, etc. Billie Eilish is a teenagers' worldview all in one person.
  3. There is a philosophical reason that many 2019 pop music hits have a wobbly, vintage, tape-recording part in the songs.
Check it out.

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