Is the Music Industry Still Pop Culture’s Biggest Mover?

  • 68% of over 75-year olds think music is the biggest influence on slang.
  • But only 9% of Millenials Agree.
  • The most widely understood word was "Lit" with 60% of respondents recognizing what it meant.

Pop culture is a divisive topic – which generation had it best? Whether you were born in the right generation based on your musical choices, whether you want to adopt the mainstream material or you’re drawn to counter culture. But one thing that tends to be fairly uniform across the generations is that music is a main driving factor. One of the big things to sum up the ’60s and ’70s is the sound and the types of bands that listeners were drawn to.

Beatlemania is an obvious example, heralding the British Invasion of America with slang such as “Fab” and “Gear” infiltrating the vernacular of the States. But is music still the biggest driver of slang and pop culture in general? Well, there’s some debate about that.

In a survey conducted by mobile phone case supplier Tirita, they asked what each generation of people thought most strongly influenced Generation Z’s slang. Their results showed that, of those surveyed, 68% of the over 74s thought that music was the biggest influence and 41% of those between 55-73 also agreed. But the younger and more tech-savvy you get, the more the results shift. Only 18% of Generation X thought that music was what influenced slang the heaviest, with just 9% of Millennials agreeing.

So what’s going on here?

Generation Z, or Gen Z for short, is the demographic cohort after the Millennials. Demographers and researchers typically use the mid-1990s to early-2000s as starting birth years. There is little consensus regarding ending birth years. Members of Generation Z have used digital technology since a young age and are comfortable with the Internet and social media.

Well, it’s perhaps telling that the younger generations instead credited the internet and social media as the biggest influence on pop culture in terms of slang. This makes a lot of sense when you consider how communication has changed in recent years with more and more of it being done digitally, with acronyms and internet slang slipping into wider pop culture. While some of these phrases are widely known, even among Millennials and some of Generation X (we all know what LOL stands for by now), some of the more recent slang like “Yeet” is a little less well known.

That same survey from Tirita also asked the different generational brackets how many slang terms they were familiar with from a wide sample of words including:

Dank – Referring to something which is of high quality (and something somewhat inspired by music).

Finna – Expressing an intention to do something.

Lit – When something is particularly cool or to refer to someone who is drunk.

Salty – When someone is overwhelmed with negative feelings (most particularly after losing a game).

Smol – Simply when something is small and cute.

Snacc – When someone is looking particularly good.

Thicc – When someone has an impressive posterior.

Yeet – To throw something with great strength.

All the slang terms derived from different sources but, of those surveyed, very few could name all the terms correctly– only 5% of those surveyed and all but one of them were in the Millenial bracket. In comparison, 16% couldn’t name any of them which was spread across all generations. The most widely understood word was “Lit” with 60% of respondents recognizing what it meant.

What do you think? Is music still a major driver in slang or has social media taken its crown?

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Jimmy Hartill

Author of interesting topics.


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