Listening to Pop Music With My Daughter and My Littlest Self
For one writer, Harry Styles and Ariana Grande provide an opportunity for both creative expression and familial connection
My 10-year-old daughter loves pop music. She’s newly smitten with Dua Lipa, has loved Ariana Grande since her Nickelodeon show Sam & Cat, and has been trying to convince me to watch Jada Facer’s YouTube channel for years. She finds comfort in major chords, the predictability of the structure and tone. She plays songs out until her siblings complain. Then she puts her headphones in and builds her own mental landscape that she walks and dances through, even if it’s just the living room.
Particularly attractive to her is the music’s projection of fun and positivity. Pop music makes colors brighter, candy sweeter. As she gets older and grows increasingly aware of the darkness at the edges of the world, she’ll hold onto that music. Wanting to help her fend off life’s inevitable difficulties, I must reluctantly accept her music choices, even if they’re not my music choices.
There is a song for every occasion.
My daughter caught her first crush about eight months ago. They were in the school musical, a production of The Little Mermaid. They began spending more and more time together; soon they were best friends. At some point, they started holding hands, though she realized they weren’t ready for that. But, in the way these things do, the relationship fell apart. With the exhilarating start and sudden end of a first relationship — and with some help from her mom — she discovered sad songs. She turned to pop music with a sharper edge and a darker tone. Evanescence. Paramore. Ed Sheeran.
My daughter is smart, curious, and funny. She’s about to be 11, so she’s getting pretty good at busting my chops. I will never forget an icy walk to school in January. Sliding across the unsalted sidewalks, we did a close reading of the Christina Perri song “Jar of Hearts.”