Teens, music and the curse of the earworm

If you happen to see me sitting in the parking lot of my eldest daughter’s school, reading and not-so-patiently waiting for her to sprint out of classes, you might be surprised to hear the music that is seeping out through my cracked window.

Justin Timberlake. Lorde. Lady Gaga. Imagine Dragons. Ahem…One Direction.

It’s not my fault. Doodlebug is thirteen. You remember what those early teen years were like, right? Full of music that stirred previously unknown emotions, soothed the pain of unrequited first crushes, fueled the angst raging in the cage for unfair parents, and, frankly, helped distract from all of the awkwardness that is puberty. Ugh, I still cringe in memory. But, I gotta admit, some sweet tunes from Michael Jackson, Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, Bryan Adams and Air Supply made it a little bit easier.

So, when her iPod iHome gets a bit louder than I truly appreciate while I’m attempting to sound intellectual in a paper for some part of the dissertation process, I try to remember how miserable I was as a young teen and let it slide. (For the record, however, Doodlebug seems to be the type of happy, well-adjusted kid that I always aspired to be – but only seem destined to parent.) The problem is, in my attempt to be a cool mom, I am slowly losing my dignity.

You see, as I’ve aged, I’ve matured in my musical tastes. I never really gave up on pop music, but I did grow to love country music in my 20s and since then have discovered classical music and, in particular, choral music. I have added music from the Rat Pack era to my collection and even some jazz – I thought I was getting all grown up.

Not so fast, mom.

I’m ashamed to admit that my new iPod is populated with music mostly stolen from my children. Some of which, I admit, are seriously addictive earworms that are currently ruling my workouts.

Katy Perry. Girl can sing, no doubt, but she also gives a good workout. I especially appreciate her angry songs, such as Circle the Drain and Roar. Her cute little figure is inspirational, too. Darn her. Biggest earworm: California Gurls with Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion now?)

Lady Gaga. While I’m not a big fan of Applause, her latest, I have to confess that the Madonna of the Milennials is pretty kick-ass. She’s got the same showmanship as our Madonna, but this girl’s got the pipes, too. Throw in a few too many trips to the New York Fringe Theatre Festival in her youth and I really think this is one performance artist that has staying power. Biggest earworm: Black Jesus.

One Edition, er, New Direction, er, New Direction on the Block? Oh, yeah, One Direction. If Doodlebug compares New Direction to my Beloved Beatles one more time, I wll be forced to retract this particular statement, but these kids aren’t bad. They are cute. I can vouch for that because they populate the door of my daughter’s closet. I hear they play soccer, which brings them up a notch in my estimation. And I didn’t have to decide between the explicit or edited versions of their CDs because, well, these kids are the definition of clean-cut. I don’t have any of their music downloaded, but I have been known to sing along when they are on the radio. Yep. Guilty. Biggest earwom: What Makes You Beautiful.

Speaking of explicit CDs. Sigh.

Miley Cyrus. Miley, Miley, Miley. Girl is laughing all the way to the bank, I think. But, in the interim, she’s making it hard for a mom to support her daughter’s lifelong Miley Cyrus habit. Say goodbye to the sweet days of Hannah Montana and even “Party in the U.S.A” and hello to the foam finger. I squinted and tried to look past the antics and listened to the music from her new album Bangerz, then ground my teeth a few times and hunted it down for the last birthday. When the salesman at Barnes and Noble showed both the clean and the “parental advisory” versions to me, I only hesitated a moment before grabbing the latter – prompting an unsolicited “you are the coolest mom, ever!” from the aforementioned salesman. Doodlebug concurred. Subsequent time with the CD proved my instincts were correct, it’s not that bad. Thanks for making me cool, Miley. By the way, love Wrecking Ball, babe. Biggest earworm, however: Kicking and Screaming.

Royals by Lorde. I must confess, the first time I heard this song was at my daughter’s school, during a talent show for middle schoolers. Yeah, the trio that sang it there was actually better than Lorde, although lacking in the worldliness ingrained in her slightly-older voice. Not only an earworm, this one is a singer harmony-worm, I can’t stop singing along.

The most-played song during my workouts? The brilliant Holy Grail by Jay-Z, featuring Justin Timberlake. Mostly embarassed that her mom knows every word, I think she is secretly pleased I like to rock out to this particular song, as it’s her favorite right now. Me? I’m just secretly pleased she hasn’t figured out what the lyrics “sippin’ from your cup ’til it runneth over” means.

Until she figures that out or I die from the horror of explaining that particular …ahem…pleasure of life to her, if you see me tooling around town and hear that “thumpa-thumpa” generally associated with a car driven by a teenager? Don’t be surprised, I’m just being a cool mom.