Continuing today’s “classic rock will not be dethroned until the final Boomer drops” theme, Pepsi has debuted a new TV spot that remixes the Who’s “My Generation” for, um, different Pepsi generations, from the flapper years to the fall of the Berlin Wall to a throbbing mosh pit that I guess is supposed to symbolize the late ’90s. What is missing from the ad, however, is a passing of the sugar-water torch to the current generation, and that’s something that has Songs For Soap’s Charlie Moran a bit worried:
It’s a cute, mostly non-cheesy way to draw some sort of line back to Pepsi’s beginnings, although it left us wondering why the generations ended by crowd-surfing through early ’90s grunge. We’re not sure if this was an oversight or they, like us, need a bit of hindsight to see what kind of popular music the ’00s will be remembered for — and maybe they haven’t really been that memorable in the first place. We’re genuinely stumped, but please god, do not let it become the decade of the Jonas Brothers.
Or it could just be “the decade of ‘we can’t figure out what the monoculture is right now but Kanye West and Justin Timberlake are pretty OK, even if they both make us miss non-crazy Michael Jackson something fierce’”?
Either way, I’m not surprised that an ad campaign centered around “My Generation” would allow people to also believe that any piece of music popular right now would be “unmemorable.” Think about the rhetoric surrounding classic rock, not to mention the current music inspired by it; there’s a “let’s go back to when the music meant it, mannnn” ideal percolating underneath, even though the buying and selling of popular culture and its underlying meanings was pretty much perfected to a T by the same generation that’s forever bitching about What’s The Matter With Kids Today. (It’s probably worth mentioning, also, that this twitching conservatism can sometimes result in completely irritating phenomena like Fleet Foxes getting instant canonization for basically performing school-recital takes on Crosby, Stills & Nash.)
It’s not like bringing carbonated sugar water into the new pop-music millennium is an impossible task—hey, Coca-Cola’s going to put out a song that features Janelle Monae and Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump* as part of an upcoming ad campaign—and surely even the most diehard “end of history” types would say that they had at least one memory, good or bad, of pop music from the present day. Maybe the execs at Pepsi figured that any sort of Last Night’s Party tableau where Pepsi was swapped in for Sparks would just be too dishonest?