Pop Music’s Unyouth Movement: Why We Want To Remain 25 Forever

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

In a rare moment of candidness during last Sunday’s 2013 Grammy awards, pop music finally showed its age. An incredulous Nate Ruess, singer from the indie pop band Fun, had just taken the stage to accept the Best Pop Song award for the tune he had penned, the inane yet inescapable “We Are Young.” The diminutive, almost elf-like Ruess has been in the music business for over a decade, originally fronting indie rock band The Format from 2001 to 2008. He’s the kind of guy you’re happy to see win; he’s certainly had his share of failures. The Format’s debut album Interventions + Lullabies had the kind of major key melodies, strong vocals, and catchy choruses that seemed destined to make it a crossover hit, but it never came close to panning out, languishing in bargain bin purgatory instead. I think my mother is one of the six of people who actually bought that record.

What’s fascinating is why Fun succeeded where The Format did not. Maybe alternative radio wasn’t ready for something so pop-sounding in 2003. But I think the reason is something a little sneakier. For all their polish and sweet harmonies, the Format professed serious worries about adult problems: “The thought of death just scares me to death” Ruess sang on “Try Try Try.” But a decade later, with appropriately named Fun (no confusing his intentions there), Ruess adopts a more light-hearted tone: “Tonight, we are young/ Let’s set the world on fire/ We can burn brighter/ Than the sun.” This song and it’s cousins “Some Nights” and “Carry On” have become self-appointed anthems of happy-go-lucky high schoolers and beer bong hitting college kids everywhere. They carry the distinct aura of youth’s promise, endless possibilities, and immortality. It doesn’t hurt that Ruess sounds like he’s about 19.

Upon accepting the award, the thirty-one year old lead singer began his speech with a wry observation: “I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the chorus to this song. This is in HD, everyone can see our faces, and we are not very young.” It got a lot of laughs. But Ruess is getting the last laugh because he, along with several other musicians, have discovered a little secret in today’s entertainment business. Pop music may be for the young, but these days you don’t have to be young to make it.

Nate Ruess

Nate Ruess

Historically, artists in their teens and twenties have always been the epicenter of popular music — from the Beach Boys and the Monkees, to Little Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, to Debbie Gibson and NKOTB, to Britney Spears and N’Sync. When a pop star like Wonder or MJ experienced success into their 30′s, it was typically as a result of some “artistic maturation” or “creative evolution” that they underwent. Artists who couldn’t make that leap typically faded into obscurity (or Celebrity Apprentice and 20 year reunion tours). It’s almost like every musician gets a memo before their 30th birthday that read: “Sorry, your guest pass to Pop World has expired. It’s time to grow up now.”

Nowadays, the memo gets tossed. There are a rising number of pop artists — the Unyouth Movement we’ll call them — who don’t play by the rules. They have crossed the chasm into their thirties (or even beyond), but still make music for adolescents, which in many cases causes them to act like adolescents. Its a curious, glorious, and occasionally indecent phenomenon to witness.

Britney Spears (four kids and all) still wants all eyes on her in the club at age 31. Katy Perry (who at 28 is still hanging on) wrote a song in which she professes to “be your teenage dream.” Oddly enough, this satisfies the desires of her current beau John Mayer, a 35-year old who’s been known to date other musicians just out of high school. Maroon 5′s Adam Levine, he of body tattoos, young Victoria’s Secret model girlfriends, and deep v-necks, is 33. The list goes on: Pitbull – 32. Pink – 33 Usher – 34 Enrique – 37. JLo – 43. (Ever see the “On the Floor” video where Lopez presides like a slutty puppet master over a room of sycophantic club goers half her age? Awkward.) Madonna still wears spandex and pointy bras at age 54. There’s nothing wrong with people being over 30 (thank heavens) — it just seems a little weird when their day job is making music for the age 8-25 demographic.



All of this might help explain how and why the themes of pop music have…. shall we say, matured. In the old days, pop music was associated with youthful notions of joy, optimism, yearning, and (naturally) pubescent curiosity. Even in 1987 when Tiffany co-opted the Tommy James and Shondell’s song “I think we’re alone now,” there was a certain naïveté to it — you thought she might be stealing kisses in the library.

But something happened along the way to 2013. Youthful notions got redefined. 17 year old Britney Spears did that Catholic schoolgirl thing, 15 year old Miley Cyrus was photographed in what appeared to be only bedsheets, and 18 year old Justin Bieber got busted playing beer pong. Underage pop stars began doing very overage things. And so, of course, did their fans. Maybe the pleasures of “being free” in pop music have always been code language for being trashed, getting laid, and owning the world, but today’s kids have certainly become more forward about it. When Ke$ha sings: “Young hunks, taking shots/ Stripping down to dirty socks/ It’s pretty obvious that you’ve got a crush/ That magic in your pants, it’s making me blush/ We’re gonna die young,” she’s as subtle as a fart in church. She’s 25, performing for 15 year olds who are behaving like they’re 21.



Is this a surprise? Not really. Peering through the glass of the Hollywood fishbowl guarantees you a warped view of life, but society’s entertainment reflects its values at some level. It’s no secret that given Western culture’s obsession with beauty and fame, we are forever looking for the perfect combination of the best things in life. Who doesn’t want to be good-looking, rich, and talented, yet still have the physical prime of your life just ahead of you? Big deal if the older folks want to be younger and younger kids want to be older. The grass seems greener on both sides, but we’re all aiming for the same holy middle ground — the one that houses a fountain of youth from which to insatiably quaff. Unfortunately, the result is often just a hangover. Or the sort of devil’s bargain that exists only in movies — like Justin Timberlake’s straight to video sci-fi thriller “In Time” in which everyone stops physically aging at 25, so they can stay hot, avoid beer bellies, and keep clubbing til the break of dawn. Until they genetically self destruct, that is.

Interestingly enough, Justin Timberlake was one of the two exceptions to the Unyouth Movement on display at the Grammys. His performance, while scintillating, somehow felt age appropriate. (It was even shown on TV in tasteful black and white) The new songs he played, “Suit & Tie” and “Pusher Love Girl,” have been criticized for not pushing pop boundaries enough, but they feel just right for him. At age 31, he’s stepping back from the cutting edge, utilizing full band ensembles, horn sections, and harps instead of sleek synth-driven beats, exhibiting a fashion sense that never goes out of style, and enjoying the finer moments of newly wedded bliss. It just so happens that he’s married to Jessica Biel and hosts dinner parties with Jay Z and Beyonce. A little unrealism is good for everyone.

The second exception to the rule was Prince, and he didn’t play a single note of music. He simply presented the Record of the Year award, exuding so much charisma that people gave him a standing ovation just for strutting on stage. Award winner Gotye appeared awestruck, but then again, we all were. Prince scratches his ass, and people think its cool. He carried a cane and wore bug-eyed wraparound shades, perfectly splitting the difference between 15 and 50. Remember, this is the man who once famously sang “act your age, not your shoe size,” and he practices what he preaches — partying like it’s 1999 never seemed so old-fashioned.



The fact is, whether they like it or not, pop musicians are getting older by the minute. In fact, we all are. We just want to pretend that we aren’t. I guess, in that regard, pop music is doing what it always has — providing a healthy form of escapism. It just feels so much more obvious these days. We’ll probably never be able to pinpoint the exact moment when America’s youth staring losing its innocence and middle aged singers’ efforts to look young became pathetic (though its probably Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and fat Elvis circa 1977, respectively), but I think we can all agree that the trend has turned into a trainwreck of epic proportions. Pop stars aren’t without hope, though. Ruess’s admission that Fun was a bunch of old dudes capitalizing on the fact that they were pretending to be young was actually quite endearing in its honesty. It was also very smart, since the best way to dodge the slings and arrows of your detractors is to launch them at yourself first.

Japandroids – ‘The House That Heaven Built’ for… Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna

The late Brazilian auto racing champion Ayrton Senna

Published on Jul 19, 2012

This is a video for the full song “The House that Heaven Built” by Japandroids from their album “Celebration Rock.”

The footage from the film is from the documentary “Senna”, based on the life and career of  Formula One Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, one of  the greatest race car drivers  in history.   Ayrton won three Formula One world championships.  He was killed in what was first believed to be an accident while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. It was later found, during the trial, that the steering column on Senna’s car was modified before the race and snapped as Ayrton Senna went into Tamburello. The Italian prosecutor asked for Frank Williams, Formula One team owner of Williams to be tried for alleged manslaughter over the death of Ayrton Senna. He also asked for the indictment of Williams team officials, technical director Patrick Head and two senior officials of the Imola race circuit. Senna remains the last driver fatality in Formula One.   Ayrton Senna was a Brazilian hero in a time his country needed one, and a humble man with every reason not to be.  As his profile rose, Senna expressed concern over the widespread poverty in Brazil.  After his death it was discovered that he had quietly donated millions of his personal fortune (estimated at around $400 million) to help poor children.  Shortly before his death, he created the framework for an organization dedicated to Brazilian children, which later became Instituto Ayrton Senna.  If you haven’t seen the documentary, I highly recommend it and I’m not a racing fan. His final race, which ended in his tragic death, can be seen in the footage in the above video.  R.I.P. Ayrton Senna (1960-1994)

The intensity of the video theme backed by the Droids’ song,  trigger the adrenaline and anxiety that make you feel you’re right there in Imola watching how the accident happened and hoping that Ayrton can survive the crash. Unfortunately, he didn’t.

** Watch the Senna film at the end of this page. You have to watch it in Youtube.

Ayrton Senna – The Face of a Champion

For several years, Japanese photographer Norio Koike had been Ayrton’s private photographer. Koike followed him everywhere, always quiet and discreet, working tirelessly and almost unnoticed.

Right after the accident, he was deeply upset. After Ayrton’s death had been officially reported, Norio sought out Leonardo Senna, handed over his entire enormous collection of photographic equipment and vanished. No one has seen him since.

The cause of the accident? Following an examination of the pictures shot from Schumacher’s onboard camera, French TV came up with the first theories.

Using slow motion, experienced reporter Jean-Louis Moncet studied the view from the German’s Benetton, which had been running in 2nd place.

According to the French channel, a small piece could be seen dangling from underneath the Williams which flew off the track immediately after this.

Immediately after the wreckage of the Williams had been towed back to the pits, and before it was confiscated by the Italian authorities, mechanics from the team removed the “black box” data acquisition equipment with the consent of FIA Technical Delegate Charles Whiting.

This electronic tell-tale would evidently have to be surrendered eventually to the Italian courts, but while it was still in the hands of Williams and Renault, the team had access to vital information about what had happened in the moments before the car crashed into the wall.

The Italian magazine Autosprint raised the suspicion, one week after the accident, that the steering column had broken.

Although none of the doctors or nurses remember having removed the steering wheel, photographs of the car after the accident indicate that the wheel was not removed from the column by releasing the catch which allows the driver to get in and out of the cramped cockpit.

Only a careful analysis of the materials could reveal if this break took place before the crash or during it.

According to the Italian press, the leaked report suggests that the fracture occurred, or was beginning to occur, in the few seconds before the Williams ran off the road.

From the data available Patrick Head is not inclined to suspect a flaw in the suspension, as with the weight of some 2,600kg (the aerodynamic load at that speed, plus the weight of the car) of which some 65% would have been on the right hand side on a left curve, the car would have crashed and dragged along the ground far more violently.

However, on the concrete before the wall, there is a long score made by a metal part dragged forcibly along. Could this have been a piece of the suspension?

The outcome of expert inspections and reports released by the Italian Courts to the world press confirmed the suspicions brought up by Italy’s Autosprint magazine: the Williams steering column broke.

According to the first clinical bulletin read by Dr. Maria Teresa Fiandri at 4.30 p.m. Ayrton Senna had brain damage with haemorrhaged shock and deep coma.

However, the medical staff did not note any chest or abdomen wound. The hammerhead was due to the rupture of the temporal artery.

The neurosurgeon who examined Ayrton Senna at the hospital mentioned that the circumstances did not call for surgery because the wound was generalised in the cranium.

At 6.05 p.m. Dr. Fiandri read another communiqué, her voice shaking, announcing that Senna was dead. At that stage he was still connected to the equipment that maintained his heartbeat.

The release by the Italian authorities of the results of Ayrton Senna’s autopsy, revealing that the driver had died instantaneously during the race at Imola, ignited still more controversy.

Now there were questions about the reactions of the race director and the medical authorities. Although spokespersons for the hospital had stated that Senna was still breathing on arrival in Bologna, the autopsy on Ratzenberger indicated that death had been instantaneous.

Under Italian law, a death within the confines of the circuit would have required the cancellation of the entire race meeting.

That in turn, would have prevented the death of a three-times champion.

The relevant Italian legislation stipulates that when a death takes place during a sporting event, it should be immediately halted and the area sealed off for examination.

In the case of Ratzenberger, this would have meant the cancellation of both Saturday’s qualifying session and the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Medical experts are unable to state whether or not Ayrton Senna died instantaneously. Nevertheless, they were well aware that his chances of survival were slight.

Had he remained alive, the brain damage would have left him severely handicapped. Accidents such as this are almost fatal, with survivors suffering irreversible brain damage.

This is due to the effects on the brain of sudden deceleration, which causes structural damage to the brain tissues. Estimates of the forces involved in Ayrton’s accident suggest a rate of deceleration equivalent to a 30 metre vertical drop, landing head-first.

Evidence offered at the autopsy revealed that the impact of this 208km/h crash caused multiple injuries at the base of the cranium, resulting in respiratory insufficiency.

There was crushing of the brain (which was forced against the wall of the cranium causing oedema and hammerhead, increasing intra-cranial pressure and causing brain death), together with the rupture of the temporal artery, hammerhead in the respiratory passages and the consequent heart failure.

There are two opposing theories on the issue of whether the drivers were still alive when they were put in the helicopters that carried them to hospital. Assuming both Ratzenberger and Senna had died instantaneously, the race organisers might have delayed any announcement in order to avoid being forced to cancel the meeting, thus protecting their financial interests.

Had the meeting been cancelled, Sagis – the organisation which administers the Imola circuit – stood to lose an estimated US$6.5 million.

The alternative theory suggests that the drivers were alive on leaving Imola, and that they died in hospital. Professor Sid Watkins has maintained that Ayrton was still alive when he was removed.

Following a momentary failure, technically his heart was still beating. “His chances of survival would have been very limited, due to serious brain damage”, was the opinion, necessarily guarded, of the FIA expert.

A supporter of this first theory, the Director of the Oporto (Portugal) Legal Medicine Institute, Professor Pinto da Costa, has stated the following:

“From the ethical viewpoint, the procedure used for Ayrton’s body was wrong. It involved dysthanasia, which means that a person has been kept alive improperly after biological death has taken place due to brain injuries so serious that the patient would never have been able to remain alive without mechanical means of support. There would have been no prospect of normal life and relationships.”

“Whether or not Ayrton was removed from the car while his heart was beating” adds Pinto da Costa, “or whether his supply of blood had halted or was still flowing, is irrelevant to the determination of when he died.”

“The autopsy showed that the crash caused multiple fractures at the base of the cranium, crushing the forehead and rupturing the temporal artery with hammerhead in the respiratory passages. It is possible to resuscitate a dead person immediately after the heart stops through cardio-respiratory processes.”

“The procedure is known as putting the patient on the machine. From the medical-legal viewpoint, in Ayrton’s case, there is a subtle point: resuscitation measures were implemented. From the ethical point of view this might well be condemned because the measures were not intended to be of strictly medical benefit to the patient but rather because they suited the commercial interest of the organisation. Resuscitation did in fact take place, with the tracheotomy performed, while the activity of the heart was restored with the assistance of cardio-respiratory devices.”

“The attitude in question was certainly controversial. Any physician would know there was no possibility whatsoever of successfully restoring life in the condition in which Senna had been found.”

Professor Jose Pratas Vital, Director of the Egas Moniz hospital in Lisbon, a neurosurgeon and Head of the Medical Staff at the Portuguese GP, offers a different opinion:

“The people who conducted the autopsy stated that, on the evidence of his injuries, Senna was dead. They could not say that. He had injuries which lead to his death, but at that point the heart may still have been functioning.”

Pratas Vital also mentions that the medical personnel attending an injured person, and who perceives that the heart is still beating, have only two courses of action:

“One is to ensure that the patient’s respiratory passages remain free, which means that he can breathe. They had to carry out an emergency tracheotomy. With oxygen, and the heart beating, there is another concern, which is loss of blood. These are the steps to be followed in any case involving serious injury, whether on the street or on a racetrack.”

“The rescue team can think of nothing else at that moment except to assist the patient, particularly by immobilising the cervical area. Then the injured person must be taken immediately to the intensive care unit of the nearest hospital”, Pratas Vital concludes.

Ayrton Senna (The movie) 4 videos. You have to watch the videos in YouTube.

Ayrton Senna – The Right To Win – Full
Uploaded on Apr 16, 2011
Senna’s extreme will to win, his phenomenal concentration, his rivalry with Prost, his tremendous mental and physical condition and his final race at Imola in 1994

Sources: YouTube, The Senna Files, Wikipedia, Google

Tame Impala, Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Phoenix,Vampire Weekend, Portishead, Rolling Stones, More Set for Glastonbury


Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala, Mumford & Sons and The Rolling Stones  are Pyramid headliners

England’s Glastonbury Festival has announced its initial 2013 lineup. The festival, which took 2012 off, takes place this year from June 28-30.

The lineup features the Rolling Stones, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Vampire Weekend, Elvis Costello, Portishead, the xx, Foals, Smashing Pumpkins, PiL, Tame Impala, Alabama Shakes, Azealia Banks, Arctic Monkeys, Chic ft. Nile Rodgers, Public Enemy, The Weeknd, Major Lazer, Toro Y Moi, Cat Power, The Horrors, Dinosaur Jr., Devendra Banhart, Solange, King Krule, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Crystal Castles, Phoenix, James Blake, Johnny Marr, Jessie Ware, Tyler, the Creator, Local Natives, Savages, Nas, Disclosure, SBTRKT, AlunaGeorge, Simian Mobile Disco, Julio Bashmore, and tons more.

Check out the full lineup here and flyer below


See you there, ha!