By Dame Toni
What is hip? Tell me, tell me if you think you know.
What is hip? If you’re really hip, the passing years will show.
You’re into a hip trip, maybe hipper than hip.
But, what is hip?
From Tower of Power’s What is Hip, 1973 Warner Brothers Records
A few months ago I had to bow to the inevitable truth that I wasn’t able to keep up with the bills just by writing, and went job hunting. I ended up working for a company that sells, among other things, concert tickets. Over the past few weeks, a lot of the summer blockbuster tours have gone on sale, usually selling out through their primary sellers in under ten minutes. So I’ve found myself on the phone with people desperate to get seats to see their favorite performers.
Some of these instant-sell-out shows are what I would have expected. After Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance, I knew that the phone lines would light up like the Las Vegas strip the day her tickets went on sale. I knew that Jimmy Buffett does a limited number of performances each year, so it made sense his on-sale dates would be busy. Ditto with Bob Seger, who is notorious for announcing, then cancelling, concerts. And even though I can’t say I would willingly listen to hours of Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, I wasn’t surprised when their Legends of Summer tour caused a lot of buzz.
But Bruno Mars?
As with many newer performing artists, it’s not surprising that a middle-aged rural woman who mostly listens to NPR would be unfamiliar with his music. In my mind, he fell into the same category as a number of other musicians whose names I first heard when someone called to ask about concert tickets. I’ve looked up videos recently for bands including Mumford and Sons (love them), Swedish House Mafia (I just don’t get it), and Paramore (is it just me, or is their music highly reminiscent of 80’s punk/pop acts?).
The name seemed familiar, but I was totally unprepared when this guy I’d barely heard of sold out huge arenas in twenty minutes, after which brokers were easily getting over $1000 per ticket for floor seats at his concerts.
I guess I’m just not hip.
This got me thinking – this same phenomenon must happen with popular fiction. I spend a lot of time browsing bookstore shelves, although not as much since I picked up the day job. I tend to look for the names of authors with whom I am already familiar, and I wasn’t even aware that I am probably missing important, fabulous work by the newer, hipper (if anyone under 40 even knows that term) writers.
Am I hopelessly out of date, literarily? And does my lack of hipness (gulp) affect my writing?
Help me out, readers. Who, as an author, is currently hip? Who is the Bruno Mars of 2013 urban fantasy? Whose work do I NEED to read to no longer be hopelessly out of date?
Help me be hip.
P.S. I refuse to believe that Tower of Power, who are still recording forty years after recording What is Hip, are not ETERNALLY hip. If you don’t believe me, check out this video:
Tower of Power — Still Eternally Hip!