After unleashing a few expletives after seeing her take the stage in a sparkly, mid-driff baring number complete with kitten ears atop a 90s Madonna-inspired high pony-tail, I realized that I needed to check-in with myself and ask, “Whoa. Where did that come from?!”
It has come to my attention that my problem with Ariana Grande is that she represents a day in my life I thought would never come: not knowing everything there is to know about pop culture, especially music. In other words—feeling old.
Growing up, I loved teasing my parents about who was on the radio. Big music fans, they had a deep knowledge of music, but of course–they couldn’t keep up with who was on Z100’s “9 at 9”. To my mom, everyone was, “Is this Hootie?” and my dad pretty much prohibited pop hits in his presence after suffering though half of a New Kids on the Block track when I was in kindergarten.
So, at a young age, I always knew of this phenomenon I will call, “the great divide”—meaning, there will come a time in your life when you no longer care about what’s popular. In other words, the cultural references that you truly shaped you are now behind you.
For my parents, they always joked that they were torn away from pop culture the second my sis and I arrived. The 80s is a complete blur to them, and any references to this time in their lives only relates to The Muppets.
I’m not quite at that stage in my life, but as a newlywed and newly promoted at work as a supervisor, my life has shifted focus. When I was in my 20s (and yes, it’s taken me almost a year of being 30 to be able to feel comfortable making that statement), as a lifestyle writer I prided myself in following all the NYC-centric news and gossip blogs, being up on all the latest terminology and slang.
Nowadays, as a copywriter for brands, I find that I’ve on more than one occasion had to look up terms on UrbanDictionary to see if I’m capturing the latest lingo appropriately.
And, when I occasionally stumble on radio stations like Z100, I have absolutely no idea who is on the air. To me, they all sound like a group of 14 year-olds signing the same bad pop song over, and over. It’s official: my divide has formed. And as a result, I have no idea who’s on VH1’s top 20 countdown.
I just looked up Ariana Grande’s age and she is in fact 21, not 14. Ok. So, not only is she exactly a decade younger than me, but she will become a zeitgeist in my own life. To me, Ariana Grande will always embody the time in my life when I no longer gave a damn about what’s popular, but instead, what works best for me. I think I’m going to like my 30s.