This year has given rise to musicians who top the charts and break once-unbreakable records. And these trendsetters and chart-toppers are just out of high school, or even younger. They’re making statements about the next generation with the music they produce.
New Zealand artist Lorde topped the charts in America with her song “Royals” at only 16 years old, a record that hadn’t been touched since Brandy hit the music scene back in the 90s. An incredible young woman who released her first EP online and produced her complex hip-hop/pop music in her own living room, Lorde has become a cultural icon for young and old alike due to her maturity and the astuteness of her observations about popular culture.
Rather than pop lyrics that appease the masses and have intense sexual and misogynistic undertones, Lorde writes lyrics that are sincere, and discuss her apprehension about growing up, the impacts of her new-found fame on the lives of her friends and family, and trends in the music industry. Lorde writes in popular song “Team” that “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there,” as a commentary on the mindlessness of hip-hop lyrics in the 2000s.
Justin Jay, now centered in LA, got his break at the incredibly young age of 8 with Daft Punk’s Discovery, where he was recognized for his skilled classical piano playing. A talented DJ, he was invited to open for a number of incredibly talented modern hip-hop artists like Afrojack and Fedde le Grand, but could not because of his age. Now a music producer and artist who has swept through the music scene, Justin Jay learned his trade from an apprenticeship through Atlantic Records, and is now known for his house beats that swing toward the groovy and original.
An artist who has worked underground, making new, eclectic and rugged beats that appeal to the indie scene, Justin Jay is on the fast-track to production of some of the newest and most original music to hit the electronic stage. His classical training and talents as a DJ give him an enviable well-roundedness, and his ability to gain traction in the music industry at such a young age mean big things for this electronica artist.
The big picture
These artists aren’t the only young folk moving toward big things. A number of bands that are critically acclaimed are full of musicians under the age of 25, particularly in the metal, electronica, and pop genres. With technology making it possible to create incredible music from the comfort of your own home, young composers and DJs are making it big more quickly. They have the ability to get their music out and gain recognition. It means a freer, larger music industry that excites young musicians and listeners alike. We’ll be hearing a lot from the next generation, and we better be listening closely.