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 his or her 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.
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 his or her 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.
- 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.
Films - Animation
- Lilo & Stitch has Lilo, a five-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.
Films - Live-Action
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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. Later, Michael's sister Lindsay and his son George Michael also sing the song together.
- 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.
- 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 teenaged girl purchasing Led Zeppelin discs.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Subverted in Calvin and Hobbes:
- When 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 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?!
- South Park, being South Park, has done this for laughs:
- 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.
- 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.