Follow TV Tropes


Music/Age Dissonance

Go To

Music/Age Dissonance occurs when characters sing, dance, or listen to songs that are clearly outside their demographic group. It can be played straight or Played for Laughs — such as when the characters are ignorant about a song's meaning because they're either too young and innocent or old and culturally out-of-touch to notice the profanity and/or sexual/violent themes (especially if the song is also in a different language).

In the case of children, this trope can be the sign of an Adorably Precocious Child, a young person who is Wise Beyond Their Years, a Dirty Kid trying to get a rise out of their elders, or, in darker cases, a child exhibiting Troubling Unchildlike Behavior. In the case of older adults, it can indicate someone who's desperately trying to be up to date by dropping the latest slang terms and rashly diving into whatever the hottest new musical genre is at the time or that a seemingly morally upright senior citizen is really a Dirty Old Man or Dirty Old Woman. Still, it is possible for an older adult who falls into the category of Cool Old Guy or Cool Old Lady to successfully carry it off.

When used to characterize someone, this overlaps with AM/FM Characterization. Compare with Isn't It Ironic?, Age-Inappropriate Dress, and Ironic Nursery Tune.

This trope is limited to In-Universe examples. The appropriateness of someone in Real Life unironically listening to or performing music clearly not aimed at their age group is subjective and, in the case of older singers, can only lead to Complaining About Music You Don't Like. Real Life examples involving children and "adult" songs are extensively covered by Age-Inappropriate Art. Sub-trope of Entertainment Above Their Age.


    open/close all folders 

  • An E-Trade TV commercial features an 85-year-old woman having to work as a club DJ ("DJ Nana") ostensibly because her Social Security and retirement pension aren't enough to cover her financial needs.
  • In the Pepsi "Shady Acres" commercial, the residents of a retirement home are wildly dancing to hip-hop music as a result of deliverymen mistakenly bringing a shipment of Pepsi that was supposed to go to a college fraternity.
  • The "kids being too innocent to notice the profanity" gets inverted in one infamous ESL commercial. The joke being that the parents don't understand English well enough to understand the lyrics. On the other hand, it's implied that their daughters do.

    Comics Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin is a big fan of Classical Music, to the point where he blasts it in the middle of the night and dances to it like it's a hit new rock album, much to his parents' irritation. One strip shows that he got into the genre after finding a recording of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" that uses actual cannons during the finale, being pleasantly surprised at how exciting the result is.
      Calvin: And they perform this in crowded concert halls??? Gee, I thought classical music was boring!
    • In another, Calvin buys a record from a band whose songs "glorify depraved violence, mindless sex, and the deliberate abuse of dangerous drugs". When Hobbes predicts Calvin's mom throwing a fit, Calvin tosses the record into the trash and keeps the sleeve since that's the main reason he got it.
    • Calvin asks his mother for money so he can buy a Satan-worshiping, pro-suicide metal album. She explains to him that they're Only in It for the Money, which is enough to put him off the idea.
      Calvin's Mom: Calvin, the fact that these bands haven't killed themselves in ritual self-sacrifice shows that they're just in it for the money like everyone else. It's all for effect. If you want to shock and provoke, be sincere about it.
      Calvin: Mainstream commercial nihilism can't be trusted?!
      Mom: 'Fraid not, kiddo.
      Calvin: Childhood is so disillusioning.
  • Garfield: One strip has Jon trying to call his grandmother, yelling to be heard, then waiting, not for her to turn up her hearing aid, but to turn down the heavy metal CD she's listening to.
  • Peanuts: Schroeder is most known for his obsession with classical music, particularly Beethoven.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Lilo & Stitch has Lilo, a six-year-old girl, listening to Elvis Presley. Word of God says that this was done to highlight how odd she is, listening to classic rock-and-roll instead of contemporary pop.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles' favorite song (Post Malone and Swae Lee's "Sunflower") is explicitly called out in the screenplay as a "song he's too young for". Every time we hear him sing it, he never gets all the lyrics out.
  • Miguel from Coco is initially a huge fan of Ernesto de la Cruz, who lived, sang and died all before the end of WWII.
  • In Turning Red, The Stinger reveals Mei's father is a fan of the Boy Band 4*Town whose primary fans are teen girls.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blinded by the Light: Javed and his friend Roops, British-Pakistani teens in the late 80s, are considered odd by their peers and their parents for their love of the music of Bruce Springsteen due to both their age and their cultural background.
  • Godmothered: Subverted. Agnes, who is elderly, says "I'm going to kick things off with everyone's favorite pop hit" but then plays an opera song.
  • In Little Miss Sunshine, the seven-year-old Olive performs a burlesque dance to "Super Freak" by Rick James (which is about a highly promiscuous girl) at a child beauty pageant.
  • Mean Girls:
    • One of the scenes has Regina's kid sister dancing to "Milkshake" by Kelis.
    • Several of the girls do a flirtatious dance to "Jingle Bell Rock" at their high school talent contest.
  • In Sleepless in Seattle, 8-year-olds Sam and Jessica are caught listening to The White Album by Sam's father, trying to hear the supposed backward message.

  • In the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, twelve-year-old Greg Heffley gets caught listening to his older brother's CD that is said to have a parental warning sticker on it.
  • In Pondovadia, twelve-year-old Bell is a huge fan of the hard rock band Blyned Jagwar (a band noted in-universe as targeted towards college students).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: In one episode Michael and his niece Maeby are doing karaoke together and pick the first song on the playlist to sing. Unfortunately, it is "Afternoon Delight", which has very suggestive lyrics, especially given Maebe's age. Michael eventually notices this and immediately cuts off the song, telling Maebe to leave the stage in another direction than him so that it doesn't weird. Later, Michael's sister Lindsay and his son George Michael also sing the song together, though they are interrupted before they get to the really suggestive part.
  • On one episode of black•ish, Jack sings the uncensored version of "Gold Digger" for a school talent show. This leads to a discussion on N-Word Privileges.
  • Glee: A number of the glee club's performance choices were called out for being inappropriate for high schoolers, such as "Push It" by Salt-n-Pepa in "Showmance".
  • The Golden Girls: Sophia enjoys an evening on the lanai, singing along to "Purple Rain."
  • One episode of Grounded for Life sees Sean fighting Lily's teacher because Lily and her friends want to perform "Hey Big Spender" (which is officially about taxi-dancing, but the lyrics suggest otherwise) for their Catholic-school talent show.
  • In one episode of Jane the Virgin, a flashback shows the elementary-age Jane and Lina breaking out into Nelly's "Hot in Herre" at their Catholic school's talent show, to the consternation of the nuns.
  • Enforced and parodied in an episode of The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale. In a segment called "That Happened" (which dramatizes blatantly false stories on internet forums), a girl goes to purchase several Led Zeppelin albums from a music store. The clerk tells her the One Direction albums are elsewhere and has a breakdown trying to wrap his head around the notion of a teenage girl purchasing Led Zeppelin discs.
  • In the Supernanny episode, "The Amouri Family", it is revealed that 4-year-old Hayley listens to gangster rap on her mom's MP3 player. When Jo finds out, this is one of the things she confronts the parents, Tamara, and Michael about.
  • The character-revealing kind in Supernatural, where Dean Winchester is only interested in the music of his father's era, which serves as the soundtrack of the show. Dean is shown to be overly loyal to his father, contrasting with his younger brother Sam; Dean also wears his father's jacket, adopts many of his mannerisms, and still drives his car.
  • There is an episode of Yeralash where teenagers start what looks like a 19th Century ball with the appropriate music and expressions. Suddenly, a terrible noise drowns the music out... turns out the hostess' obsolete 20th Century grandparents are nostalgic for their Heavy Metal youth.

  • Carson Robison's song "Rockin' And Rollin' with Granmaw" is about two elderly farmers getting ready for a night of rocking and rolling. Also worth mentioning is that Robison himself was also elderly at the time he recorded said song.
  • Chiaki Ishikawa's song "House" is about an adult looking back nostalgically at their carefree childhood. One of the verses is about singing and laughing at a song with their friends, despite not understanding half the words in it.
  • Mac Curtis's "Grandaddy's Rockin'"
  • Skeets McDonald's "You Ought to See Grandma Rock".
  • There is an Israeli song named "Yeladisko" (Kidisco, that is), where the narrator, a kindergarten girl, complains she is tired of kid songs and dances and invites her pals to a proper disco night in her backyard.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show featured Geri and the Atrics, a rock group consisting of six elderly women who went on the show to sing "Hound Dog" and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy". (These episodes originally aired in 1979 which was well before the people who were young when the songs were new became elderly themselves.)

    Video Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Several people express disbelief at V's interest in and knowledge of Chromatic Rock group "Samurai", given that they split up in 2023, almost 30 years before V was born, following the singer Johnny Silverhand's death during a terrorist attack on Arasaka Tower. What they don't know is V's knowledge and interest comes from having a construct of Johnny Silverhand's consciousness in their head, which is slowly taking over their body.


    Western Animation 
  • Beavis And Butthead has possibly dipped into this, as the more recent revivals of the show seem to work by Comic-Book Time but many of them are clearly set in the present day, with gags about cellphones, Twilight, etc. In that context, the duo's omnipresent AC/DC and Metallica t-shirts make them walking anachronisms when in the real world, most kids their age don't even know who those bands are.
  • Danny Phantom: Unlike the rest of the teen characters, 16-year-old Jazz is seen enjoying an easy listening station alongside her parents in "Pirate Radio"... which ultimately leads to her getting captured by the episode's bad guys, who used the station to hypnotize all the adults. Downplayed, since Jazz also became obsessed with Ember's punk rock music in "Fanning the Flames".
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper has a particular fondness for "Icelandic pop group Babba", particularly the song "Disco Girl", despite being a 12-year-old boy in the 2010s. Mabel and Stan tease him for this.
  • In The Loud House episode "Potty Mouth", it is revealed that Lisa likes rapping and dancing to songs not suitable for 4-year-old children, and because she and her infant sister, Lily, share a room, Lisa worries she might have been a bad influence on Lily. She attempts to be a good influence on Lily by rapping a Blarney the Dinosaur song.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Lisa's Pony" had a kid singing "My Ding-a-ling" at the school talent show. Principal Skinner quickly yanked him off the stage.
    • "C.E. D'oh" had Homer/Marge's and Maggie's tapes switched, so the adults are listening to a lullaby, and Maggie dancing to the Tom Jones song "Sex Bomb".
    • In "Dude, Where's My Ranch?", Marge comments that ever since the Simpsons started staying at the ranch, the kids are acting like teenagers, pointing out to Homer that Maggie is dancing to "Oops, I Did it Again" by Britney Spears.
  • South Park, being South Park, has done this for laughs:
    • One episode had the Camp Straight Butters singing "What, What in the Butt".
    • When Cartman became a Christian Rock singer, he had one God-Is-Love Songs parody that was very sexual sounding.
    • When the boys became mellowed out on Ritalin, they attended a Phil Collins concert.


Video Example(s):


Miss Crawly drives & sings

The elderly Miss Crawly drives while singing along to a metal song ("Chop Suey!").

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / MusicAgeDissonance

Media sources: