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You Don't Know What Your Kids Are Listening To

Don't even bother to run your 15-year-old daughter's iPod or the music on her phone. The catalog of recent hits that make her shriek privately with joy is not there.

It's nowhere, in fact. There is no list in any one place that you can access. It's in her head and the heads of her friends and acquaintances on Facebook's (FB) WhatsApp, SnapChat, WeChat, KakaoTalk, Instagram. It's in the text messages that she routinely deletes because she knows that, being a responsible parent, you will run her phone.

Yeah, sure, everybody is listening to Happy by Pharrell Williams. You know it because he was on Oprah and Happy was in a movie your 9-year-old dragged you to see. There are one or two other names your kids are listening to right now that you might recognize: 50 Cent (no, he's not dead), Skrillex, Chris Brown.

But before you pat yourself on the back for recognizing those, how about Big K.R.I.T.? ScHoolboy Q? Jhene Aiko? Kid Cudi? YG? Know them? You could. They're huge and they turn up on the radio occasionally in one form or another. But they, too, are still the tip of the iceberg, just a bigger bit of the tip.

The XX. The Weeknd. Childish Gambino. Have you listened to them? No. Are these acts on the radio? No, no and no. Are they huge? Yes, they are huge.

You've heard of Tyler the Creator, I'm sure. Have you listened to him? Probably not. Your kids do. Will his music ever be used in an animated Disney feature? That would be hell no.

Satellite radio is no help. Like streaming playlists, satellite channels have become hyperspecialized, locked into all-too-familiar themes.

But, oh yes, you have a Spotify account . . .

You listened to Led Zeppelin recently. How about The Weeknd?

Um . . . no. Spotify and all the other services can't make that leap. They aren't about to give you something that you haven't already expressed interest in. If what you're looking for is something unrelated to your past preferences, you're out of luck.

Mind the Generation Gap

This ignorance isn't a totally horrible thing, nor is it entirely new. Our parents didn't want to know what we were listening to and condemned what they heard of it. Their parents before them -- same.

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