COMMENTARY

‘Just Take Me Back to the Old School’

Why Old School Remains the Most Popular Choice in Life

Photo by Danny Howe on Unsplash

For as long as I can remember, house parties/club nights always go the same way. People gather, get a few drinks, listen to some contemporary mainstream music and once the alcoholic buzz starts to hit them, the requests for the old school stuff start pouring in.

I thought this phenomenon was exclusive to me and my groups of friends. I didn’t think it strange that every single person I have ever partied with wishes to be taken back to the old school period of music; I just assumed that I choose friends with interests similar to mine and coincidentally or by sheer luck, we all gravitate towards the old school.

But as time passed us by and I widened my social circle, I realised it wasn’t a phenomenon exclusive to me and my friends. It’s everyone.

Once the buzz kicks in, everyone craves a bit o’ old school. Why?

Is it because older music sounded better? That could be one reason. I would much rather jam to The Bee Gees and Queen than some of the shitshow that is produced today.

If we’re talking about shitshow, one cannot simply fail to mention Neha Kakkar, the ambassador of the shitshow phenomenon. Neha Kakkar and her peers have taken it upon themselves to ruin the old school by extracting classics and destroying them. But I digress. Dissing Neha Kakkar would require an entire blog post altogether.

Is there a reason that ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyonce has transcended time and generations and continues to be relevant today as it was back in the noughties?

A friend of mine jammed to it while he was at Uni in 2003. I jammed to it while I was at Uni in 2011. And my brother jammed to it while he was at Uni in 2013. Today, in 2021, nearly twenty years on, we lose our shit over this song just as much as we did back when we were at Uni.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t do a private concert whilst listening to any of the songs by the Spice Girls. Especially ‘Wannabe’. Of course, it has to be ‘Wannabe’.

The song came out in 1996. I was three years old at the time. Yesterday, twenty-five years on from its release date, I hosted a private concert for myself at lunchtime while jamming to this song. I used the TV remote control as a microphone and my dog was my audience.

Some of these songs just sound good and so they remain popular. ‘Staying Alive’ by The Bee Gees is just a good tune, so it stays relevant. ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears has gained even more popularity at a time where more and more people are coming out of relationships they now realise are toxic for them. I still prefer to get dressed for a night out while listening to ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ by Kylie Minogue. One of our chavvy local bars still plays the song ‘Mysterious Girl’ by Peter Andre to get people to groove.

Why are we so enchanted by the old school? I don’t think it’s solely because the music sounded good. Contemporary artists are capable of producing some, if not all, good stuff (do I sound about seventy years old right now, complaining about how things used to be so much better back in the day?).

I think it’s about the emotional connection with this music. When we are looking to have a good time, we look for the old school because the old school is where we most distinctly remember fun times from the past. Of course, my old school would be very different to the old school that my parents think of. What we do have in common is the longing for the old school. I think about the nineties and noughties, while my parents think of the seventies and eighties. We all think of the past.

Why do we think of the past? Why are we so desperately clinging on to what has been? I suppose the past provides a semblance of familiarity. As a child in the nineties and noughties, my life’s problems were limited to ‘Mum, please may I sleep over at my friend’s house?…Well, why not?!’ That was a good place to be. Innocent. Familiar. Sheltered. Joyous. Even if I didn’t think it then.

Our music choice, like every other choice, is so very emotional. Nostalgia is so greatly involved in it, it’s uncanny. Our experiences and memories shape our future choices. So, even if for a moment the old school music can help us take a trip down memory lane, we grab the chance to embark upon that ship. We sail through the memories, even if just for one night. Because the grind will start again very soon, so may as well enjoy this trip while it lasts.

Musings of a 20-something old in this big scary world. I use humour as a coping mechanism and it shows.