January 20, 2022

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Lesson of the Day: ‘Gen Z Pop Stars Made Their Mark in 2021. Beware, Millennial Forebears.’

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Featured Article: “Gen Z Pop Stars Made Their Mark in 2021. Beware, Millennial Forebears.” by Lindsay Zoladz

Gen Z artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Chloe Bailey and the Kid Laroi grew up admiring artists who are now their contemporaries. The playful competition between these young stars and their idols is “evidence of a dynamic that has been increasingly noticeable this year: the growing generational divide between pop’s millennial elders and their Gen Z heirs,” Lindsay Zoladz writes.

In this lesson, you will explore what makes artists of Generation Z unique and how they relate to older music legends. Then you will choose a Gen Z artist you respect and write an analysis of what makes that artist’s work innovative, interesting or inspiring.

What kind of music have you been listening to recently? Do you enjoy listening to current artists or older ones?

In a quickwrite, respond to the following questions: Who are some of your favorite younger artists? What do you like about them and their music? In what ways do you connect to their music? What do you think their music says about your generation?

If you want, you can share your responses, and find out what other students from around the world are listening to, in our Student Opinion question “What Music Are You Listening to Right Now?

Read the article and then answer the following questions:

1. The article starts with an anecdote about Drake’s album release and Lil Nas X’s response. How does this anecdote hook the reader and establish the thesis of the article?

2. According to the article, why has the generational divide between pop music’s millennials and Gen Z stars become more evident this year?

3. What are some examples of millennials’ mentoring or collaborating with younger artists? What do you think about these collaborations? Have you enjoyed witnessing the creative output from them? Why or why not?

4. How have Gen Z artists publicly shown their loyalty to, or acknowledged the ways in which they’ve been influenced or inspired by, millennial artists?

5. Why have some relationships between Gen Z and millennial stars become more complicated? Why do you think some millennial artists are distancing themselves — or asking for more acknowledgment — from Gen Z musicians?

6. How have stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Lil Nas X made choices that differentiate them from their millennial forebears?

Who is your favorite Gen Z artist? Or, name a Gen Z artist who you think represents something interesting, innovative or inspiring.

Once you’ve decided on an artist, make a list of the person’s traits and characteristics. As you make your list, consider these questions:

  • What feelings, images or words come to mind as you think about this artist and his or her music?

  • How would you describe the artist’s music to someone who has never heard it?

  • What makes the artist unique? What do the person’s music, style and beliefs say about the generation the artist comes from?

Next, use the ideas from your list to write a paragraph about the artist and what his or her music, and artistic identity, says about Generation Z. You can share your paragraph in the comments section of this article.


Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.

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