Guys your age will still be terrible in ten years time, too!
Katherine St Asaph: Another bleak dispatch from dating in 2017: the younger guys get to bro down, uninterrupted; the older men get the younger girls, unchallenged; and the girls wonder why all of this is so inescapably rigged. The land of pop today sexes up and markets this feeling, in song after song marketed as sexy but presenting as despair. That said, despite its over-timely chipmunking and is more a product of an earlier era; vocalist Rena Lovelis’ mother and songwriter Ana Lovelis was one of the mid-2000s crop of troubled-girl rockers like Sarah Hudson, Megan McCauley and Katy Rose. There’s a neat circularity to this: a strain of rock popularized by “Since U Been Gone”‘s Max Martin and Dr. Luke (implications of the latter, though unavoidable, are left to the reader) evolving into sadder and synthier derivations like this, produced by their proteges. The gloom is palpable, and every critic I know despises its dominance over pop, but they blame the symptom and not the cause; songs like this exist because they reflect the world. Whether you think they should exist depends on whether you think girls should grow up with songs that are prescriptive or descriptive, role models or refuges. But after four decades of this underage-baiting being sold as prescriptive cheer, from the Runaways to Britney, can you really say this is worse?
Ryo Miyauchi: No matter which vantage point, I feel some kind of anxiety from Hey Violet’s hot mess of a song. When I ride passenger seat to this trashy, brat pop, “Guys My Age” rushes with that youthful, on-the-edge buzz one gets from breaking the rules. But I don’t have to step too far away from the ride to know it’s always one mistake away for the moment to crash and burn. While I peep what they get into with my hands covering my eyes, I can’t stop watching.
Alfred Soto: Using the time-honored trick of finding a musical correlative for impatience (stuttering electro backing track, repeated hook), “Guys My Age” calls shit on deadbeats who smoke weed on their girlfriends’ couches. But the track’s insight stops there. I cringed when the producers opted for chipmunk vocal distortions.
Jonathan Bradley: Rena Lovelis hits the grinding, crawling hook with the steely eyed determination of a woman who knows exactly what she wants, even if it’s something that might sound like a bad idea. If Taylor Swift’s “Dear John” was an indictment of men who would use their maturity and power to manipulate their younger partners, “Guys My Age” is the counterpart reasserting her autonomy. Notable is how prominent a position Lovelis’s callow ex plays in the narrative; the older man is a foil before he’s an object of desire. But is “Guys My Age” a prequel to “Dear John”? One would hope not, and crucially, Hey Violet doesn’t perform it as such. This is single-minded and clear-headed.
Joshua Copperman: It’s not that songs with more mature content shouldn’t get played on Radio Disney — between this and Julia Michaels’ “Issues” both on the top of the Disney charts (I checked just to be sure), I’m somewhat delighted the good people at Disney are making an effort to capture the feelings of confused, moody, often emotionally disturbed preteens. But even that said, I can’t really imagine the audience for this song, whether for those going into their goth phrase or the Halsey and co. stans that love this kind of dark pop. It’s hard to enjoy a song that goes for a
Lolita-reclaiming??? Suicide Squad aesthetic, or uses Dr. Luke guitars, or breaks into a flat trap beat for the chorus, or is basically a more explicit Melanie Martinez song but with none of the melodic quirks she has. Musically, this is such a mess that it doesn’t matter how those with minds in the gutter interpret this or what the actual message is — preteens and pop stans alike deserve better than this.
Maxwell Cavaseno: People talk about ensuring how young people need to learn how to code, but do know who needs it the most? Musicians. In the past 30 years, technology has changed how we see everything and naturally music has too. So much music has been made from the machines, but it’s taken an awful long time for bands to emerge who can craft songs LIKE they might tracks. You can see it in overt rock acts like Twenty One Pilots or The 1975, or you can sense it in the approach of The Chainsmokers. Hey Violet’s former past as members of Cherri Bomb doesn’t negate their presence but provides an interesting evolution of younger people abandoning their mastery of the old-school ways (because that was a tight band of kids, albeit devoid of identity) to explore the Ocean of Soundcloud approach that’s starting to overtake a lot of music. “Guys My Age” is lyrically shades of Sky Ferreira and Lana del Rey touched with juvenalia as opposed to nostalgia or melancholia, uncomfortable schisms between Lolita and teen shriek ground like a sharp point into the floor. It sounds cynical to the point of scammy, but that inability to trust gives this song and this band a hint of excitement. You ever feel like the future’s going to leave you behind?
Crystal Leww: The two most recent songs on Hey Violet’s VEVO are “Guys My Age” and a song called “Fuqboi,” which should tell you what you should know about their music: this is immature teen girl content masquerading as fake feminine deep. However, they do know how to write a pretty compelling bop. That underlying wub is creepy and weird, and lead singer Rena Lovelis is compelling as a vocalist, even if she’s bragging about dating old dudes in a way that mid-twenties me finds immature about late teen me. I hope and suspect they will eventually grow out of this.
Will Adams: I still dislike “Habits,” but I suspect that the line about picking up daddies at the playground isn’t high on the list of why so many others loved it. That “Guys My Age” is bleak goes without saying — it’s 2017 — but for a concept like this to translate well to pop requires a bit more finesse than Cirkut’s languorous production.
Katie Gill: Of all the songs Hey Violet has to offer, it’s THIS piece of cringeworthy nonsense that gets big? At least they’ll grow out of it.