So frequent was this ritual that such lyrics and melodies as “Oh, my love, my darling, I hunger for your touch, a long lonely time…” or “Sugar, oh honey honey…” were embedded in my memory.
When I hit my pre-teens or my coming of age both physically and musically, I remember tuning in to MTV Classic and watching videos of bands with big hair, excessive layers of funky clothing, and wacky dance moves.
The ’90s bubblegum pop- loving teenybopper in me found the synth-laden tracks and angry guitar riff-filled songs that these videos represented quite baffling.
Each generation has its own life soundtrack. Music is ever evolving, and our music tastes greatly depend on the point in time that we came of age.
Terms have been coined to categorize society based on age, and all the traits, tastes, lifestyle choices that came with each period.
For all intents and purposes, let us define the generations in terms of the hits and anthems that they listened to in their heyday. In this age of music streaming, playlists lord it over albums.
Here are three playlists I’ve compiled, with the help of music-loving individuals of various ages, that collectively represent the soundtracks of each generation (songs are arranged in no particular order).
Born 1946-1965; coming of age late ’60s-’70s
Baby boomers, or the rock ’n’ roll generation, came of age just when the transistor radio and television became part of daily life. The Fab Four from England caused the collective craze known as Beatlemania.
This coincided with the Golden Age of Hollywood, so musicals and classic love themes were all the rage during this period.
It was also a time of dramatic postwar social change, so their music of choice expressed free spiritedness, individualism and, of course, love.
“Satisfaction,” The Rolling Stones
“Imagine,” John Lennon
“Baba O’Riley,” The Who
“Stairway to Heaven,” Led Zeppelin
“Blowing in the Wind,” Bob Dylan
“Some Enchanted Evening,” Giorgio Tozzi
“God Only Knows,” The Beach Boys
“When You Wish Upon A Star,” Jiminy Cricket
“Be My Baby,” The Ronettes
“Jailhouse Rock,” Elvis Presley
“Revolution,” The Beatles
“Could It Be Magic,” Donna Summer
“Fly Me To the Moon,” Frank Sinatra
“Unforgettable,” Nat King Cole
“Johnny B. Goode,” Chuck Berry
“Thick As a Brick,” Jethro Tull
“Baby Love,” The Supremes
“I Wanna Be Sedated,” The Ramones
“Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Marvin Gaye
“I Want You Back,” The Jackson Five
Born 1966-1990; coming of age ’80s, ’90s, early 2000s
Condensing three generations’ worth of music into 20 songs was a daunting task, so I’ve added an extra five to this playlist. Punk, grunge, new wave, bubblegum pop, hip hop… the genres that emerged during this period were as diverse as the audio formats they came with.
Gen XYZ-ers listened to their music on vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs and, later on, the iPod. This was also the golden age of MTV, and videos became as iconic as the music they represented.
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen
“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana
“Wannabe,” Spice Girls
“Ang Huling El Bimbo,” The Eraserheads
“Ice, Ice, Baby,” Vanilla Ice
“…Baby One More Time,” Britney Spears
“I Want It That Way,” Backstreet Boys
“Purple Rain,” Prince
“Life On Mars,” David Bowie
“Ceremony,” New Order
“Are You In,” Incubus
“Billie Jean,” Michael Jackson
“With or Without You,” U2
“Always Be My Baby,” Mariah Carey
“All This Time,” Sting
“Such Great Heights,” Postal Service
“Maps,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Crazy In Love,” Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
“Ironic,” Alanis Morissette
“Sweet Child O’ Mine,” Guns N’ Roses
“Crossroads,” Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
“Fuck tha Police,” N.W.A.
“Pictures of You,” The Cure
“Macarena,” Los Del Rio
Born 1991 onwards; coming of age present day
Infinite think pieces have been written on pinning down the collective identity of the millennial generation, but we won’t delve on that. They are a highly connected generation, living technology-driven lifestyles. They came of age at a time when everyone’s lives could be viewed on social media, and music is accessed not in a record store but streamed on gadgets.
“Closer,” The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey
“Sorry,” Justin Bieber
“The Sound,” The 1975
“Hotline Bling,” Drake
“Say It,” Flume
“Cold Water,” Major Lazer
“All My Friends,” Snakehips feat. Tinashe & Chance the Rapper