And why isn't it "Mr Brightside"?
As an Xer, I go with the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?"
As a bonus, Morrissey's de-evolution into a Boomer mirrors what I see from way too many of my contemporaries....
I was born in '69 (heh) and Smells Like Teen Spirit is definitely 100% the Gen X anthem. Maybe this is a white people thing, though? But when Kurt sings "oh well, whatever, never mind"? Hoo boy, what could be more Gen X than that?
Why do people keep confusing/blending GenX and Boomers? We are SO not Boomers. Im going to my room to crank The Smiths. <slams door>.
Class of '84/'88 casting my vote for "It's the End of the World As We Know It"
For Boomer's I'd think something from the '60s would be more appropriate like the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" or Beach Boys "Good Vibrations". I'm Gen X and got Journey's "Escape" album with "Don't Stop Believin" for my birthday the year it was released. So, I was already old enough to be developing my own taste in music that differed from my boomer parents (Elvis, Beatles, Tom Jones, Fleetwood Mac).
I'm fine with "Smells Like Teen Spirit", at least for me it was one of those songs that when it came out, I could tell it was something special. If I had to pick an alternate to represent my generation I'd go with New Order's "Blue Monday", but I tend to listen to more '80s music than '90s now.
If you're going with the Femmes for Gen X, I'd probably choose "Add it Up" over "Blister in the Sun". But trying to choose between Nirvana and the Femmes illustrates a question I've probably thought way too much about: what actually defines a generation's music?
Is it the music of your youth and coming-of-age years - i.e., music that was actually written and performed by the generation before yours (the Femmes were all Boomers - or "Generation Jones" if you accept that split, and I kind of do)? Or is it the music of your 20s - the first batch of music actually made by your generation (Nirvana all being actual Gen X, of course)?
Or is it somehow a mixture of the two - the former being the things that presumably influenced your generation's taste in music, and the latter being where that generation took those influences? And if that's the case, can you even point to one thing as being "quintessential"?
But then I think back to my teen years in the mid/late '80s, when my friends and I spent a lot of time listening to what was then "classic rock": '60s/'70s stuff. And this also seems to be a running theme with teens - at least going through a period where they "discover" older music. I have a friend who's teen/Gen Z kids are way into '70s\'80s music right now.
So maybe good music is just good music, and generations aren't the artistic islands we think they are.
My generation? I'd say "Oh! Susanna"
I’m a boomer. Don’t Stop Believing? Nope.We boomers were raised on rock and roll, not pansy assed Journey.
Born to Run. Period.
This articles automatically assumes that a defining generational song is rock oriented. Aretha Franklin's Respect comes to mind.
Gen X here. My vote would be: The Smith’s “How Soon Is Now?”
As someone in the foggy years between X & Y, maybe I don't really deserve an opinion on either gen, but I would go with Len's "Steal My Sunshine" for xennial.
Blister In The Sun is a fantastic choice. I'm biased because it is my husband's favorite song, but I would take that one over SLTS in a heartbeat.
Unrelated but related: my Gen Z (I think? born in 2004) kid just asked both of us "what is the definition of music?", probably for a paper they're writing for their Music Theory class, and the difference in the answers we each gave were basically a microcosm of our entire personalities. Mr. Snakehole was succinct and specific. My answer was speculative and all over the place and took about ten minutes to give. It was kind of glorious.
FFS, as a Peak Boomer (born 1956 at the top of the baby boom), why would a song that came out when I was 25 say anything about my generation in any way? Even setting aside the absurd assumption about 'Boomers' that people born in 1946 have some quintessential commonality with those born into the very different world of 1964.
We just listened to 'Don't Stop Believing' (because we couldn't remember anything but the title) and it's a kinda dull song made up of early eighties lyrical clichés about one night stands, thrills, and for some reason an obsession with streetlights. Is the NYT implying that this is the quintessential experience of the whole quote Boomer generation unquote?
I totally get arguing for the magnificent 'Teen Spirit' as saying something about a generation. I can understand 'Mr Brightside', a killer song in every respect (sorry not sorry). But damned if I know what they're smoking over there at the NYT... or maybe it's a side-effect of the Viagra?
BTW, If I had to nominate a quintessential Boomer song, it'd be 'Stairway to Heaven'. Interested in other suggestions!
I am biased as a superfan, but I was born in 87. Old millennial. But for me it’s blink-182 “dammit.” Fell in love with the song at 10. If I had known how prescient it was I would have chosen something else. Whole song is about getting jaded as you realize life sucks. “I guess this is growing up.”
Bonus points cause I taped the song off the radio (as one did back in the day. Have I mentioned the onion tied to my belt?) and played it for my cousin. “What the fuck IS THAT shit???” he griped. Better than Korn (his favorite at the time) boo.
Elder millennial: The Thong Song
GenX Waiting Room - Fugazi