July 12, 2012
Class with the middle-schoolers is going as well as could be expected. They’ve learned the basics of an argument and how to transition from one point to another. They have a good grasp on grammar and what I expect from them. Today, we had one final assignment to see how well they could articulate an argument…
I played clips of pop songs from the 1950’s onward, everything from Chuck Berry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and Lady Gaga. They had to either explain why one era was better than another, which one was the worst, or some other argument that brought the history of American pop together.
In case you’re wondering, we played “Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck Berry), “Under My Skin” (Frank Sinatra), “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash), “Hard Day’s Night” (The Beatles), “Sympathy for the Devil” (The Rolling Stones), “Purple Haze” (Jimi Hendrix), “Paranoid” (Black Sabbath), “Last Dance” (Donna Summer), “Sweet Home Alabama” (Lynyrd Skynyrd), “Thriller” (Michael Jackson), “Walk This Way” (Aerosmith and Run-DMC), “Master of Puppets” (Metallica), “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana), “Changes” (Tupac), “You Oughtta Know” (Alanis Morissette), “Seven Nation Army” (The White Stripes), “The Stranger” (Perfect Circle), “Bad Romance” (Lady Gaga), “Party Rock Anthem” (LMFAO), “ET” (Katy Perry), and some Arcade Fire.
For the most part, the kids did pretty well. They put forth coherent arguments for everything from why the 60’s had the best music to why Lady Gaga ruined pop music and why Michael Jackson was the epitome of 80’s pop. I may not have agreed with them on everything, but they had a solid grasp of the mechanics.
And I also found out I am getting old. And now cue the inevitable “Kids Say the Darnest Things” list.
- Jimi Hendrix died ten years ago.
- Lady Gaga ruined music forever! I just don’t know how to explain it.
- This music is really bad. No one remembers Sinatra, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones!
- That’s Mitch Jagger?! How old is he? (The clip was from the mid-60’s)
- Wait, that’s not a new video! It’s black and white!
- Nirvana popularized heavy metal.
- Which one has been performing longer? Aerosmith or Steven Tyler?
- I like the older music because they don’t curse or talk about bad things (We had JUST finished listening to “Sympathy for the Devil).
Now, most of these aren’t really their fault. They’re young, but their reactions to music made before 2000 was the kind of reaction I had watching a Lady Gaga video. It wasn’t pretty. It does, however, follow the pattern of my students either not caring or not appreciating older styles and songs.
Or maybe I’m just getting old.
I was going to try and put the video they watched here, but the file’s too big and Youtube won’t let me post it for copyright reasons. Still, feel free to look up the songs yourself. The playlist is right up there.
See you after the weekend, folks!