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Teenagers Dish On 15 Things You Need To Know About Popular Music

Even THEY don't get what's up with Justin Bieber.

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Let's face it: Teenagers aren't just the future, they're TASTEMAKERS.

CBS

Seriously, teens are so, so savvy when it comes to #trends — especially music trends — and they're also WAY smarter than anyone gives them credit for. That's why I had to ask members of the BuzzFeed Community, along with my high-school-aged sister and her friends what's hot and what's not in popular music today. The answers to my wide-ranging survey shed light on what teens REALLY think about music, and boy, were there some serious surprises. It's important to note that this post is entirely based on responses to questions I asked, and it's not data driven — so take away from it what you will. But without further ado, I present to you...

1. "Cool" music is overwhelmingly defined as just what YOU want to listen to.

CBS

We asked teens: Alright, what music is ACTUALLY cool to listen to?

They answered: Most responses were along the lines of: "I guess not caring what people think of your music taste is cool."

Cool music didn't seem to be defined by a particular artist or genre (though yes, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé ARE still cool, according to teens). What matters more is that you're listening to what YOU want to listen to because "'cool' is rather subjective." Basically, teens DGAF what anyone thinks about their music choices — "there's really no basis for cool music."

And really, isn't that what listening to music SHOULD be about — rocking out to YOUR tunes? To put it in the words of one teen, "to me personally though what's cool is if you actually listen to music that you like, and not because it's trendy or that's what everyone else is listening to." Amen!

— Facebook users Flora Pick, Yza White, and Paulius Daunys

2. What's NOT cool to listen to? Pitbull, Iggy Azalea, and country music, for starters.

Def Jam

We asked teens: And what music would you NEVER be caught dead listening to?

They answered: Time and time again, I saw Iggy and Pitbull mentioned in the comments, as well as country music. Someone pointed out "no one likes jazz...or Iggy Azalea" which kinda makes sense), and another teen said he would ONLY listen to Pitbull "ironically."

As for country, well...I'll let a real teen take it from here. "Luke Bryan is a name that comes to mind. Who the hell even is that? All I know is that he's a country singer with two first names."

Also, a sleeper for least popular music genre amongst teens is CLASSICAL MUSIC and jazz because "they give me headaches and they make me feel pretentious." HARD AGREE.

And there you have it!

Abbsters05, briahiggin, and Facebook users Alison Eppley, and Kate Van Hecke

3. Cool music can be ANYTHING, but it ~usually~ is cooked up from a simple recipe: a sick beat and catchy lyrics

CBS

We asked teens: What constitutes "good" or "cool" music?

They answered: Overall, the answer didn't seem to be that complicated: teens love music with a "chill or rad beat" and catchy lyrics, or as one teen put it, "I can roll the windows down and unabashedly belt out the lyrics to."

Responders also seemed to love music that makes them FEEL something, that can "hype you up, bring people together, create a mood." So yeah, artists can skate by with an everyday earworm, but REALLY awesome music hits you right in the feels. After all, as one teen puts it, "music that makes me happy is music that I love to listen to...To me, being happy is cool." WORD!

— Facebook users Brianna Waters, Colleen Magee-Uhlik, Emily Lapara, and Elissa Pfleuger

4. Teens are also really just looking for artists who keep it real.

Hollywood Records

The bottom line is, teens just don't seem to tolerate phonies in the music business. One commenter might have summed what up ISN'T considered cool in music best with this response:

"I don't really feel like specifically pointing people out, but I just can't deal with people who try to hype the fake, wasteful kind of celebrity lifestyle, who degrade themselves or other people/groups, and/or make light of serious social issues. I won't listen to music that falls in line with that, I have no respect for the artists that make it."

Facebook user Olivia Hill

5. Deerhunter, Banks, Marina and the Diamonds, Years & Years, and Lana Del Rey (really!!!) are some popular under-the-radar artists.

Atlantic

We asked teens: Who are some of your favorite under-the-radar music acts?

They answered: OK, so this question seemed to trip up A LOT of the responders. Many either left it blank, or seemed to be confused as to what "under-the-radar" even meant — as one teen put it, "When is something under the radar?"

Good question! Responses ranged from Florence + The Machine and Lana Del Rey (both of which seem semi-mainstream?!) to like, HELLA indie acts I've never heard of like Dylan Gardner and Louden Swain (The teen who put these wrote: "Who are they? Exactly." Well played.) But names that were repeated often included Deerhunter, Banks, Marina and the Diamonds, Years & Years, and yes, even Lana Del Rey (IMO, she's a fairly mainstream act, but I guess some got tripped up by the whole flower crown thing)!

Long story short, you should check out 28 Underrated Musical Artists You Should Be Listening To Right Now, as it features many "under-the-radar" artists that were suggested by teens!

— Facebook users Ivana van Hoof and eliseh49104114a

6. As far as popular artists goes...the conversation STARTS with badass ladies: Nicki, Taylor, Beyoncé, and Rihanna.

Young Money

We asked teens: Which popular artists/acts actually are cool? Why?

They answered: Those four women — along with assorted others — were frequently mentioned as "cool" not just because of their music, but their message. BadGalRiRi and Bey were both cited as "ladies who work hard and own who they are"; those two along with Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus were also noted as "bad bitches [who] also encourage education and equality for women."

Taylor Swift popped up as well, mainly because with her most recent album, 1989 she "has become cooler" (and this was a common response). Interesting!

— Facebook users Olivia Hill, Taylor Colly, and Paisley Davis

7. When it comes to the dudes, teens also really like Drake, Kanye West, Ed Sheeran, and Sam Smith.

hiphopisread.com

As for male acts, teens named Drake, Kanye West (a "genius"), Ed Sheeran (he's "adorable"), and Sam Smith ("his music speaks to the lives of a lot of different people") as their faves. Lovesit!

But the best response didn't single out one artist or act, and it'll give you hope for the future of humanity at the same time:

"I consider all artists cool. Any artists who actually dedicated time and perseverance in his/her work is considered cool, especially if his/her works are inspirational not just to the people around them but most especially to the youth."

COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT ANY BETTER MYSELF.

— Facebook users Taylor Colly, Olivia Hill, and Yza White

8. And teens are VERY particular about which artists are considered NOT cool.

Republic

We asked teens: And which ones [artists/acts] are NOT actually cool? Why?

They answered: Here's who really isn't cool: Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Ariana Grande ("Oh god please no"), One Direction ("Way too soppy, and the guys seem douchey at best"), Meghan Trainor (She's "literally everywhere right now but I really don't think she even has fans" one teen said), and Iggy Azalea, as teens consider them "outwardly annoying to listen to." Miley Cyrus' name also popped up a few times — it seems her antics have even worn thin on teenagers!

Facebook users Flora Pick, Jake Doward, Paisley Davis, and Reese Starzec

9. The closet "not cool" artist really will surprise you.

Big Machine

I'm just going to have to say it, and make sure to not fall out of your seat: TAYLOR SWIFT. Yup, apparently TSwift's music doesn't resonate with a lot of teenagers. Some think she tries too hard to be cool and was even called "overrated." Teens, calling 'em like they see 'em!

— Facebook user Nandi Bryan

10. Moms love Maroon 5 and Pitbull. Maroon 5 *might* be cool, but Pitbull definitely isn't.

Interscope

We asked teens: What music do adults think is cool, but really isn't cool?

They answered: Some teens argue that Maroon 5 is NOT cool, despite what their parents say — "I literally cannot think of a single person I know that actually likes them" — while others were quick to defend Adam Levine and whoever the hell is also in the band — "Everybody likes Maroon 5, don't worry moms."

What WAS clear was teens think that their mothers' love of Pitbull is #TRAGIC (One teen claims their mom is "in love" with Mr. Worldwide, but "I have no idea why"). I will personally attest to this — my mom loves Pitbull, and my sister says "whenever a rapper comes on a song as a guest singer she goes, 'Oh is that Pitbull? I love him!'" [Ed. Note: We just had a full-blown argument in the BuzzFeed office whether or not Pitbull is cool. There was a large #TeamPitbull contingent, so Mom, we've got your back!]

Strangely enough, Taylor Swift's name kept on popping up here sporadically, usually in connection with her pre-1989 persona. But most of all, teens argue that once mom and dad start listening to their tunes, they aren't cool anymore. As one commenter noted, "By the time adults hear about something it's already so overplayed it's not cool." Sorry, moms!

— Facebook users Reese Starzec, Paisley Davis, Colleen Magee-Uhlik, and Annie Johnson

11. OK, this is going to sound weird, but a lot of teens think they're TOO OLD for One Direction.

Columbia

We asked teens: How do you REALLY feel about One Direction?

They answered: One Direction practically prints money, so there HAS to be some teen fans out there. When those stans did fess up, it seemed they felt almost guilty about it — "PERSONALLY I LOVE THEM AND I'M NOT SORRY" was one response, and "I really wish I could escape my love for them" was another. But a LOT of teens who responded said they've outgrown their boy-band phase.

I guess this sort of makes sense? I went to a One Direction concert last summer (and had a BLAST thank you very much, plus the line for beer was so short) but the audience definitely felt like it skewed toward middle and elementary school, or, as one responder put it, "1D is for freshmen high school girls who are still in their boy-crazy phase," although I'll personally argue the "boy-crazy phase" can last way past freshman year.

Anyway, One Direction is a guilty pleasure at best to teens, but many are just #OVERIT.

— Facebook users Amanda Wells-Newell, Paisley Davis, and Rebekah Yoder

12. But teens really miss Zayn.

Columbia

We asked teens: Also, who REALLY is the best member of 1D?

They answered: Zayn was the overwhelming favorite for the best member of 1D, with Harry coming in second ("he's always been the heartthrob"). There was definitely a strong Niall contingent ("NIALL JAMES HORAN, BORN IN MULLINGAR, IRELAND ON 13TH SEPTEMBER 1993, MY DARLING FAV" and FWIW, he gets my vote), and apparently there are a lot of closet Louis stans?

POOR LIAM, THOUGH.

— Facebook users Sophie Caroline Georgia Scott and Miriam Nwoha

13. Teens have ~mixed~ feelings about pop icon Britney Spears, but for the most part, they're only into her old stuff.

Zomba

We asked teens: How do you feel about Britney Spears?

They answered: OK, so BuzzFeed has already covered that Britney holds a special place in the heart of MY generation (I'm 24), but to today's teens, she's sort of irrelevant. But when I dug deeper for the receipts, the image becomes a little more muddled.

Some teens love her — "she's the second generation queen of pop" (I think they're referencing Madonna here) — but others don't — "stop trying to make Britney Spears happen." To the latter...SORRY KID, SHE'S ALREADY HAPPENED.

However, middle ground of sorts was reached. Teens love her music "but only her older stuff." This comment, however, nearly brought me to tears...not just because it made Miss Britney Jean feel dated, but it made me feel OLD AF.

"Britney was such a big '90s icon and I know that for a fact even though I wasn't born in the '90s [Ed. Note: Yup, we have commenters born in the 2000s]. I like some of her songs but I just don't get all that bad school girl image that she had back then, maybe they just forced her to be like that but hey people have choices."

Excuse me while I go cry in a corner right now and listen to Blackout on repeat.

— Facebook users Olivia Symone, Emily Lapara, Alison Eppley, and Yza White

14. What they think is "old school" will make you feel very, very old.

Sony

We asked teens: What "old school" music do you love listening to?

They answered: Not surprisingly, classic rock was a very popular choice: Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, AC/DC, Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, etc. Also, solo acts like Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, and Madonna ("still iconic" according to my sister) kept popping up.

But do you want to feel REALLY old? NSYNC and Britney are considered "old school" by teens, although thankfully, they consider it good old school music.

Also, when asked what her favorite old-school music is, my sister's friend answered "99% 50 Cent...long live 'Candy Shop.'"

SMDH I feel ancient now.

15. And finally, even THEY don't get what's up with Justin Bieber.

Island

We asked teens: Finally, what's the deal with Justin Bieber?

They answered: I'll leave it to the top commenter on the post to answer this question:

"Adults do not get Bieber. Teens do not get Bieber. Bieber doesn't even get Bieber."

And there you have it!

— Facebook user Claire Talbott

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