If I had to be as bold to sum up the year of 2012 in music, it would be quite simple. Every hit can be summed up in these two themes: youth/living life and the apocalypse.
Youth and living life? Sounds pretty abstract but by now you’ve noticed the title of this entry and unless you have lived under a rock this year, you know the song inspiring this entry: The Motto by Drake. For those of you lucky enough to have lived under a rock and missed this fad, let me sum it up for you: YOLO is an acronym for you only live once. This past year, people (see social media) have been using this as an excuse for literally everything. Do something stupid while under the influence? YOLO. Spend money you don’t have? YOLO. Promiscuous? YOLO. This song is the perfect example of the two themes for the year. Not one other song combined the two ideas as well as spawn one of the most annoying social media trends ever. Congratulations, Drake, YOLO!
Leaving the social media trend behind, a few other songs also play up youth and living life to the fullest. One obvious song is aptly named Live While We’re Young by One Direction. It is extremely catchy and upon first listen seems to be an innocent song about having fun and enjoying life. There is a undertone of promoting casual sex, however (YOLO!)… but, hey that’s pop music. An older song from this year that has been impossible to miss is We Are Young by Fun. I can’t say a single bad thing about this song: it is actually almost perfect. I can however point out that it is once again about being young and having fun. It quickly became an anthem for the year and has been absolutely everywhere from Glee to a Chevy SuperBowl spot.
Since the world will be ending this December, it only makes sense that a lot of pop music this year is obsessed with the apocalypse. ‘Till the World Ends by Britney Spears was probably the first step in this direction. She really is onto something though, if the world is going to end, you might as well dance until it is here (YOLO!). We all know that the end of the world isn’t a new topic in pop music, though. Shout out to Prince’s 1999 and It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M. Like most things, pop music cycles through popular trends from the past.
Similar to how The Motto took the cake on being youthful and living life, Die Young by Ke$ha places both being youthful and the end of the world over a nice beat and raises even calls out Britney’s idea of dancing until the bitter end. Ke$ha’s Die Young can be summed up with this:
“Let’s make the most of this night like we’re gonna die young.”
Looking at this obsession in pop music, I can’t say that I disagree with the ideas. I definitely believe that these songs offer a valuable lesson in a somewhat sleazy (shout out to Ke$ha!) presentation. I believe this article from the Washington Post hit the nail on the head when it summarized the YOLO fad as “a teen interjection for ‘Carpe Diem.’ Only it’s short on the noble idea of living life to its fullest — and more focused on brash decisions and their consequences.”
Enjoy life to it’s fullest, but keep it classy, people… YOLO!