The problem with Nu-Dad


There’s nothing new (or indeed ‘nu’) about them at all. But something has happened in the old man music world. Boomers are dying off and the dad rock baton has been passed down to Gen X.

This shouldn’t really be a surprise, but it’s a change. The archetypal dad rock, for as long as I can remember, has been and has always been grey beard wearing and deeply uncool: Steely Dan, Deep Purple, Bachman Turner Overdrive, REO Speedwagon, ZZ Top, Foreigner, Rainbow, Boston, Whitesnake, Survivor, Journey. You get the picture.

This shift can be seen elsewhere. Guns N’ Roses I think are technically boomers, but we’ve moved from Paul McCartney taking the Glastonbury old man rocker headliner slot one year to GnR the next.

Yes I’m conveniently ignoring Elton John here, but whatever generation he’s in, I don’t think anyone will be, or has ever called his music dad rock.

The painful thing for me, and some of my fellow millennial PBs, is that musical heroes of our youth misspent in Britpop, are officially old geezers now. And that means we’re getting old too. Some of us are even now real life dads ourselves, so any music we still hang on to from more than ~20 years ago is in danger of daddening.

To remind us of our mortality, said erstwhile heroes have decided to keep churning out new music. Supergrass’ Gaz Coombes and three quarters of Blur have already had solo albums out this year. And, worse still, there’s an inexplicably titled Noel Gallagher album on the way soon.

And yes we know what we like and are happy to play up to the cantankerous, critical consensus shunning caricatures of ourselves that we’ve created between us. But we can reassure ourselves that we’re still listening to new things every week. Arguing about the new releases every Friday. Yes even the new Miley Cyrus album (just one of many examples) in a desperate and misguided effort to appear cool and relevant.

In 10 years time we’ll see the Ricky from Kaiser Chiefs, Brandon Flowers and Julian Casablancas solo dad albums. And Arctic Monkeys will still headline Glastonbury, albeit under a new/’nu’ dad lens.

And this I suppose is the heart of the issue here. The oft quoted excuse on the part of the music industry is that there simply isn’t the young/female/ethnic minority/LGBTQ+ talent coming through to complete the line ups. I doubt many fans believe this at face value regardless. But when the record companies continue to churn out “the drummer from Blur”‘s solo record and yet another snooze fest from a Gallagher, it’s clear their focus is elsewhere. They could spend time and money developing someone new, diverse and interesting, but they don’t. Dad is easy. Dad brings in money. And dad spends money – they’ll buy the 25th anniversary reissue 5-LP box set for £100, while their kids just stream the same song a million times. Is there no hope until after the millennial dad (the last generation who almost exclusively bought physical music before streaming dominated) albums I’ve threatened appear?

If you’re a fellow dad, or indeed anyone reading with Council Skies on your shopping/to stream list, then the intention isn’t to give you guilt. But maybe ask yourself why your music taste ended in 2010. And reconsider whether efforts to appear cool and relevant really are misguided and desperate. Don’t dismiss something out of hand because it’s not your thing or not your era – sure the new Miley Cyrus album isn’t great, but the point is listening on merit alone. A Glastonbury with her and Taylor Swift headling still isn’t super diverse, but it’s better than Guns and fucking Roses.

Words by James Spearing

One response to “The problem with Nu-Dad”

  1. Sheelagh Hegarty Avatar
    Sheelagh Hegarty

    I’m so old and I’m the only person you will ever meet that has seen Bob Marley and the Wailers, live in concert
    Don’t knock Steely Dan : still the best musicians : yes , I know , I am reeling in the years !
    Elton John & Éric Clapton , now seen as popular entertainment , were considered outrageous in 1973.
    Elton’s flamboyance was groundbreaking and Eric was a heroin addicted lead guitarist with Ginger Baker as the crazed dominant drummer .
    We didn’t buy the T-shirt in those days but we saw the bands and Carlsberg Special Brew was 17p a bottle. # Youth not misspent


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