It’s a feeling any 30-35 year old knows all too well. You’re cruising along in your 20’s, your Spotify playlists are hot as hell, and no one can tell you a damn thing. Some of you reading this right now still might be in that stage. If so, keep thriving King/Queen.
But then it hits. You’re listening to music one day, a song comes on, and the uncomfortable level of unfamiliarity you feel is so strong you begin to wonder if you’ve ever even heard music in your life. It’s a natural part of the aging process. You’ve reached your 30’s, and it’s become impossible to keep up with today’s hottest acts, social media stars, and trends.
I’m a 32 year old man and feel like I’m generally in the know on what’s going on. But then days like today come around, and iHeartRadio really puts me in my place. The popular streaming service released their 2021 Music Award Nominees today, highlighting the years brightest stars and most influential pop culture figures. I took a peep to see who’s been nominated, and my heart sank. With each year that goes by, each award show that is presented, my confidence in knowing who’s hot out here in these streets with the youths fades ever so slightly.
So I thought I’d put myself to the test. I scanned each category, and marked down simply who I was aware of before today. My final score will be which acts I know divided by the total number of nominees.
So with that said…let’s play America’s favorite game…
*studio audience shouts in unison* “How…Old…Do You Feel?”
Nominees: Harry Styles “Adore You,” Lewis Capaldi “Before You Go,” The Weeknd “Blinding Lights,” Taylor Swift “cardigan,” Dua Lipa “Don’t Start Now,” Billie Eilish “everything i wanted,” Gabbie Barrett “I Hope,” JP Saxe “If the World Was Ending,” Justin Bieber “Intentions,” Future “Life is Good.”
I’m Cool Because I Know: Harry Styles, Lewis Capaldi, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, Future
I’m Old and Don’t Know: Gabbie Barrett, JP Saxe
Category Score: 8/10
Overall Score: 8/10
Thoughts: Alright, decent start.
Best Cover Song
Nominees: Lizzo “Adore You,” Shawn Mendes “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Sam Smith “Fix You,” Miley Cyrus “Heart Of Glass,” Harry Styles “Juice.”
I’m Cool Because I Know: Lizzo, Shawn Mendes, Sam Smith, Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles
I’m Old and Don’t Know: N/A
Category Score: 5/5
Overall Score: 13/15
Thoughts: Small category, but I’ll take the perfect score.
TikTok Bop Of The Year
Nominees: The Weeknd “Blinding Lights,” K Camp “Lottery,” Megan Thee Stallion “Savage,” Jason Derulo “Savage Love,” Doja Cat “Say So,” Cardi B “WAP.”
I’m Cool Because I Know: The Weeknd, Megan Thee Stallion, Jason Derulo, Doja Cat, Cardi B
I’m Old and Don’t Know: K Camp
Category Score: 5/6
Overall Score: 18/21
Thoughts: The title of this category alone made my back hurt. Also if “Savage Love” doesn’t win this then the voting is rigged.
Best Music Video
Nominees: The Weeknd “Blinding Lights,” Dua Lipa “Don’t Start Now,” BTS “Dynamite,” Maluma “Hawái,” BlackPink “How Do You Like That,” Future “Life Is Good,” Lady Gaga “Rain On Me,” Harry Styles “Watermelon Sugar,” Cardi B “WAP,” Justin Bieber “Yummy.”
I’m Cool Because I Know: The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, BTS, Future, Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Cardi B, Justin Bieber
I’m Old and Don’t Know: Maluma, BlackPink
Category Score: 8/10
Overall Score: 26/31
Thoughts: Yes, I realize there are a lot of duplicates that I’m counting. Clearly looking for a confidence boost here.
Best Fan Army
Nominees: Agnez Mo “Agnation,” Ariana Grande “Arianators,” Justin Bieber “Beliebers,” BlackPink “Blink,” BTS “BTS Army,” Harry Styles “Harries,” Why Don’t We “Limelights,” Louis Tomlinson “Louies,” Shawn Mendes “Mendes Army,” NCT 127 “NCTzens,” Selena Gomez “Selenators,” Taylor Swift “Swifties.”
I’m Cool Because I Know: Ariana Grande, BTS, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift
I’m Old and Don’t Know: Agnez Mo, BlackPink, Why Don’t We, Louis Tomlinson, NCT 127
Category Score: 7/12
Overall Score: 33/43
Thoughts: I want to personally address Agnation, Blink, Limelights, Louis, and NCTzens and just say that I come in peace. I am here to learn, please don’t age shame me. This category has me absolutely leaking confidence.
Social Star Award
Nominees: Dixie D’Amelio, Jaden Hossler, Lil Huddy, Nessa Barrett, Olivia Rodrigo, Tate McRae
I’m Cool Because I Know: N/A
I’m Old and Don’t Know: Dixie D’Amelio, Jaden Hossler, Lil Huddy, Nessa Barrett, Olivia Rodrigo, Tate McRae
Category Score: 0/5
Overall Score: 33/48
Thoughts: Do I need to get a TikTok?
Favorite Music Video Choreography
Nominees: Ariana Grande “34+35,” DaBaby “Bop,” Chloe X Halle “Do It,” BTS “Dynamite,” CNCO “Honey Boo,” Dua Lipa “Physical,” Lady Gaga “Rain On Me,” Doja Cat “Say So.”
I’m Cool Because I Know: Ariana Grande, DaBaby, BTS, Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, Doja Cat
I’m Old and Don’t Know: Chloe X Halle, CNCO
Category Score: 6/8
Overall Score: 39/56
Thoughts: Really needed a strong finish here.
So, I’m in the know with what makes the Gen Z’ers go at a 70% clip. Not great, not terrible. There’s definitely room for improvement, and I’m willing to do the work. The first step at admitting there’s a problem is acknowledging it, and this is what I’m here to to today. Please respect my privacy during this trying time.
I will be better.