Hello, Drake? It’s Adele.

“You used to call me on my cel-l-l-l pho-o-o-ne…”

My daughter Abby looked up at me, puzzled, appalled.

“How do you know that song?” she asked, which, now that I think about it, might have been code for, “Please stop singing that song.”

“I’m hip. I’m cool. I know Drake,” I said.

I barely know Drake at all, really. He’s a nice boy from Toronto, he’s a Raptors fan. I think of Drake every time I climb the stairs: “Started from the bottom now we wheeze.” That’s about all I know about Drake.

But Abby doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know that, at the time, I knew the song only from the many parodies of the music video. She doesn’t know that, at the time, I was calling the song “Cell Phone,” when really it’s called “Hotline Bling,” as if that makes any more sense.

And I was pretty certain in the chorus he was singing, “I me feel like chocolate cake!” It’s not my hearing; Drake needs to enunciate.

But it’s a catchy little melody: “You used to call me on my cel-l-l-l pho-o-o-ne…” I just had to hear it the one or two times and I could repeat it. It kind of gets stuck in your head. The cheesy keyboard and the Casio drumbeat to go with it make it perfect Dad-rock, complete with the Dad-rock dance moves.

Now watch me whip. Now watch me nae-nae.”


No whipping or nae-nae-ing, for you, Dad.

Other than being an embarrassment to your children, there’s little benefit to staying on top of this stuff, pretending that you tolerate let alone like what the kids are listening to. I’ve had my musical time in the sun. There’s 60-plus years of rock and roll I can fall back on, including my own crappy Top 40 from back in the day. (“Ra Ra Rasputin,” anyone?)

I don’t need this new stuff. I don’t need to pretend to like Taylor Swift. And I don’t. Believe me, I’ve tried. She’s like a shrill, tinnitus-inducing kindergarten teacher at Karaoke night after a few drinks, and the times I’ve forced myself to listen, I’ve felt like Alex in A Clockwork Orange with my eyes pried open, but with better-quality videos and fewer atrocities.

But still, it feels important for someone who grew up with pop culture not to lose touch with pop culture. Losing touch is just too much for us kids of the eighties. Without pop culture, who are we? We’re just Baby Boomers but without any good stories to tell.

We need to be savvy enough to know what “Netflix and chill” means and smart enough to never, ever say it out loud. We want to be cool enough to say “Have you heard the new Grimes?” with a straight face.

So it doesn’t matter whether we like Drake, but it’s important to know Drake.

It’s important to know Adele even if you don’t fully get Adele because God knows you can’t avoid Adele.

Right now, Adele’s “Hello” is the most popular music video on YouTube. It’s been viewed over 300 million times in three weeks. The video tells the age-old story: girl meets boys, girl loses boy, girl sings in gale-force winds.

Thanks to Adele, at long last teenage girls have a new song to belt out at every single variety show you will attend for the next seven months. Someone asked me what the teenage girls were belting out before this new Adele song. Simple: the last Adele song.

I like Adele. She is a strong, independent Brit woman. She’s talented, her voice is sad and powerful and her songs are well written, none of which explains why she’s so popular, because, again, Taylor Swift.

But ours is not to question why. Ours is but to roll our eyes. Because, you see, there’s more to keeping on top of pop music and culture than just maintaining one’s relevance and causing our children to blush. (“Shawty got low, low, low?” No, no, no.)

With 60-plus years of rock history behind us, the real benefit is that we get to be smugly, obnoxiously, parentally instructional.

“You know, since we’re talking songs about phone calls, have a listen to this wacky baroque number called ‘Telephone Line’ by Electric Light Orchestra? Oh, and Adele? How about we VHS and hang with a little friend of mine named… Aretha…”


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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54 Responses to Hello, Drake? It’s Adele.

  1. The Cutter says:

    My daughter has similarly questioned me when I started to sing a song that she knows. “I thought that song only played on the radio in Mommy’s car?”

  2. Dina Honour says:

    Russia’s greatest love machine? ;-). My tween listens to something called dub step. I had to google it. How dreadful (on all accounts).

  3. sweetsound says:

    Apple bottom jeans!

  4. Gary Ross says:

    Just days ago I discovered who Adele is: yea I was late.
    More shocking is that Adele has not yet discovered me.
    How do I know? My phone isn’t ringing.

  5. Fortunately for me, my kids like rock and think that I am seminally cool because I grew up with bands like Judas Priest and Metallica. It is good to keep in touch with some of the new stuff, but I try to avoid pop, hip hop and rap at all costs.

  6. Corinne Smith says:

    Had to look up Netflix and chill… thanks for dragging me into the now. And for the laugh – you made me snort my tea. 🙂

    • rossmurray1 says:

      You notice I didn’t even link to it? I wanted the slow-dawning realization to kick in on its own.

      • Corinne Smith says:

        The irony: my partner and I use chill as our code word for.. you know… so we’ve been hip for a couple of years without even knowing it. Probably not knowing makes us not so hip… probably saying hip makes us even less hip. I should have kept my mouth shut.

  7. Liz says:

    How dare you speak of Taylor like that! (JK I know, she’s the worst. I wish I knew how to quit her.)

  8. I’ve heard of these young pups, I think… I shudder to think what “music” I will be forced to endure once the kidlets reach the age of awareness of such things. Maybe I can innoculate them with some Eagles or Springsteen. Then again, we had our duds too… just thinking of a little Rick called Astley among others.

  9. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m usually up on the current music my sons know, but the only reason I know of the Drake song is for the same reasons you do. But like you, I see no need to let my kids know that.

  10. I seem to be an anomaly. Supposedly from around the sameish time but I haven’t heard Drake. Got to know of him the other day, looked him up a while later…didn’t last through the video. Couldn’t.
    I do know Ra Ra Rasputin though. But then, my mum always told me I was born 40… and I haven’t grown any younger obviously.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      If you read Nick Hornby (and everyone should), he goes by the premise you are what music you own. That’s what makes us so obsessed, so defensive and often so snobbish about our music. But what happens when nobody “owns” music anymore? Will people be sneaking peaks at their would-be suitor’s Spotify listening history?
      Sorry, what were we talking about?

      • Can’t recall but this is more interesting. 🙂 (sorry, my response is a tad lengthy)
        Agreed. But is it possible to really not “own” music? Even if x doesn’t resort to collecting/storing, circulating or even listening to any (is there anyone like that?), the very fact that x has a preference either way, is reflective of an opinion/of what they think they are, no? I think most people peek at their would-be suitor’s pretty much anything…result of hyper vigilance or general need to snoop maybe? (someone once corrected me on the number of facebook friends I had).
        On another note – I enjoy reading your posts and look forward to more. I would like to incorporate humour in mine, but am awe-inspiringly unsuccessful there. So I appreciate it in others’ even more 🙂

  11. Yahooey says:

    My youngest daughter is a fan of J-Pop. It’s a by-product of her passion for manga but I know that it also pleases her that it’s one of the few styles of music where I don’t know a single song and won’t bore her with the true story of what happened in that toilet in Minneapolis.

  12. I know a 15 year old who listens to and appreciates Pink Floyd – and, well, I gotta say he’s ahead of where I was at that age. I just wish Milli Vanilli would do a comeback tour. Girl, you know it’s trrrue!

  13. ksbeth says:

    i love that my daughters, all now grown, choose to listen to music that i ‘forced’ them to listen to with me in the car as children –

  14. maral44 says:

    Car-pooled my daughters & their friends to school while introducing them to jazz, rock, R&B & folk while they’re safely buckled in their seats (and cannot escape). My civic duty, you understand.

  15. I’ve had the exact opposite happen. My daughter started singing Robert Plant’s high-pitched whine at the beginning of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” I was incredulous! How do you know that! From the third Shrek movie. It happens all the time.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Ah, yes! I’ve had that moment too. For a moment you’re deeply impressed, and then crushed by the awareness of another co-opted mind. I get mad when a song I like appears in a commercial. The Who’s “Eminence Front” is in a car ad these days. It’s not exactly top-shelf Who, so for millions it’s just that car-commercial song.

      • If I were the type to write “OMG” I would write that. I had the exact same feeling about the ‘Eminence Front’ ad. I don’t even particularly like that song. 10x worse is the use of CCR’s ‘Down on the Corner’ for the Walgreen’s ads. I’m sure it’s a long list.

  16. Hilarious! My daughter studies Burlesque and has even more eclectic taste in music than I do, and when she came home last week, she wanted to listen to Loreena. My son is still a death metal head. I still tell the story when at two he blurted out Buffalo Soldier at Pep’s to my sister’s urging, “let’s sing a song” and to her shock and delight. Drake can eat his alliterate (my emphasis) heart out…hu ha hu ha hu ha.

  17. I’m a generation younger and music illiterate. Which is to say, pop-culture illiterate, as when it comes to a certain genre of music (video game soundtracks, particular back in the good old MIDI days) I’m an affectionado. (I can also read music so I’m not sure “illiterate” is the right word, but I’m sure it gets my message across.)
    So I don’t know any of the new stuff OR any of the old stuff, much to the dismay of father and brother, who are both into the old stuff. I can still agree old stuff is far better than new stuff, though, since I recognize the general sound of different eras and any time I catch lyrics of new stuff, I wish I was back listening to music I fell in love with for its lack of “What do you mean I can’t sing, I have a perfectly working voice” marring the sound.

  18. Elyse says:

    “girl sings in gale-force winds” Love that line!

    My son listens to dub-step. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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  21. Lisa Neumann says:

    A tidbit that has nothing to do with the post because I can (and … I know you’ll tolerate my nonsense). My first crush gave me the ELO album in 7th grade. I had died and gone to heaven. As a matter of fact, I’m going to the attic to see if I still own the LP. Yes, LP. Damn those were the days. Always making me smile Ross. Always. Lisa

  22. Letizia says:

    I teach college students and they are always playing their latest favorite “songs” for me: apparently techno-pop and dubstep is all the rage here. I can also hear it as I walk down the university halls seeping through all of their headphones. (I like imagining you listening and singing to Adele, by the way, that’s a wonderful visual).

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