Some popular culture references in song just don’t age well. Here’s a collection of the funniest, starting with Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy In Love’ (2003). “Got me looking so crazy right now (your touch)/Got me hoping you’ll page me right now, your kiss”. Didn’t everyone have a mobile phone in 2003? Not Beyoncé – she was still waiting for a beep from Jay-Z, then she’d nip off to find a payphone.
The xx – ‘VCR’ (2009). “We watch things on VCRs/With me, you talk about big love/I think we’re superstars”. Not all that “superstar” if you haven’t moved onto DVD by 200-and bleedin’-9.
Eminem – ‘The Real Slim Shady’ (2000). “Jaws all on the floor like Pam and Tommy just burst in the door/And started whooping her ass worse than before”. Well, quite. Rap historians of the future will puzzle over a line that was already pretty grey around the gills at the turn of the century. Pam and Tommy probably couldn’t remember who they were themselves.
Outkast – ‘Hey Ya!’ (2003). “Shake it, shake it, shake, shake it, shake it, shake it (oh oh)/Shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture”. Polaroid limped on until it announced it was terminating production in 2008, before starting again, but let’s face it – no one except pop stars who think they’re Andy Warhol has taken one since 1983.
Blur – ‘Globe Alone’ (1995). “Who mobile phone gives him the bone/Who very keen on Sharon Stone… Who wouldn’t be seen at bedtime/Without putting Calvin Kleins on”. Damon Albarn couldn’t have rooted this song deeper in 1995 if he’d given it to Black Grape.
Destiny’s Child – ‘Bug-A-Boo’ (1999). “You make me wanna throw my pager out the window… Have AOL make my emails stop”. Clearly, Beyoncé had always been big on pagers – and spam-friendly email clients.
Scouting For Girls – ‘Fitter In Your MySpace Picture’ (2013). “I remembered you were nice/But you were fitter in your MySpace picture”. No one’s expecting Scouting For Girls to spearhead the zeitgeist, but any reference to MySpace – no matter how many times it relaunches – is always going to be outdated before it hits the, er, DAT.
Morrissey – ‘America Is Not The World’ (2004). “In America, The land of the free… where the President, is never black, female or gay”. How silly do you look now, Morrissey? No, we mean the lyric.
Buggles – ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ (1979). “Pictures came and broke your heart/Put all the blame on VCR”. Pretty modern for 1979, of course, but nothing dates like a snapshot of the future.
Rage Against The Machine – ‘Freedom’ (1994). “Solo, I’m a soloist on a solo list/All live, never on a floppy disk”. “What are floppy disks, grandad?” “Well, little one, they were a digital format that could hold at least a quarter of a single MP3.” “What’s an MP3…?”
Prince – ‘Kiss’ (1986). “You don’t have to watch Dynasty/To have an attitude”. Prince is utterly fearless about dating his records, from creating an anthem that’s been obsolete for 14 years to referencing the hottest TV show of the moment. Think Breaking Bad with shoulder-pads and immobile hair.
2Pac – ‘Changes’ (1998). “And although it seems Heaven sent/We ain’t ready to see a black President”; “They get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone”. 2Pac hasn’t always been dead. Once upon a time he was living in a world where a black President seemed impossible and a mobile phone was a gadget from outer space. The things his hologram’s seen…
Maroon 5 – ‘Payphone’ (2012). “I’m at a payphone trying to call home/All of my change I spent on you”. TWO THOUSAND AND TWELVE? Goodness knows what the kids thought of this one. If the kids would ever be seen dead listening to Maroon 5, obviously.
Beastie Boys – ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’ (1986). “Man, living at home is such a drag/Now your mom threw away your best porno mag”. Ah, such sweet innocent(ish) times, when one suspiciously sticky magazine was passed around the whole school. Now it’s all at the click of a suspiciously sticky mouse.
Missy Elliott – ‘Beep Me 911’ (1998). “Beep me 911 or call me on my cell phone/I’ll call you back”. At least Missy’s got a cell phone too, which puts her one step ahead of Beyoncé, but she should unclip that pager from her trackie.
Eminem – ‘My First Single’ (2004). “Or am I just one of them damn amateurs/Working the damn camera filming one of them/Paris Hilton home-made pornos/Who keeps tilting the lens at an angle”. Nothing dates like a Paris Hilton reference, does it?
Pink – ‘So What’ (2008). “The waiter just took my table/And gave it to Jessica Simpson”. OK, maybe a Jessica Simpson reference does.
Notorious BIG – ‘Juicy’ (1994). “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/ When I was dead broke, man, I couldn’t picture this”. Bless Biggie, all wide-eyed and fascinated by a couple of games consoles you’d barely fit through the front door now.
Warren G – ‘Ringtone’ (2008). “Verizon, Sprint, Metro, even Boost/Nextel talkin’ on the cell in the coupe”. No, me neither.
Boomtown Rats – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ (1979). “The Telex machine is kept so clean/And it types to a waiting world”. Bob Geldof chose his first state of the world address to show off just how ‘hip’ to the new technology he was. “Telex machine”? “Silicon chip”? Whatever next? Horseless carriages?
Paul Simon – ‘Kodachrome’ (1973). “Kodachrome/You give us those nice bright colours/You give us the greens of summers/Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day, oh yeah!” The sadly defunct Kodachrome was seemingly big news in 1973, but Rhymin’ Simon’s song had the shelf life of a Libertines reunion.
Pulp – ‘Ansaphone’ (1995). “Leave your message on the ansaphone… But I don’t want to cry/Or talk for hours to a machine”. Never knowingly cutting edge, Jarvis Cocker perfected his kitsch with an instantly dated hymn to voicemail’s daddy.
Daft Punk – ‘Technologic’ (2005). “Name it, rate it, tune it, print it/Scan it, send it, fax – rename it/Touch it, bring it, Pay it, watch it/Turn it, leave it, start – format it”. Remember faxing documents? Or formatting disks? No, of course you don’t. You’re not 130. People weren’t even doing this in 2005.
NWA – ‘Fuck Tha Police’ (1988). “Fucking with me ‘cos I’m a teenager/ With a little bit of gold and a pager”. Pagers again. Naturally, NWA were perfectly entitled to have one in 1988 – they were probably even ahead of the game; I don’t think my dad had one ’til 1989. Still, these are the pitfalls of namechecking tech.
Bruce Springsteen – ’57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)’ (1992). “I bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills/With a trunkload of hundred thousand dollar bills… We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past down/There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on”. Fifty-seven whole channels, Brooce? Rad.
Britney Spears – ‘Email My Heart’ (1999). “It’s been hours seems like days, since you went away/And all I do is check the screen to see if you’re OK”. Sure, we all use email still, but there’s a special cringe factor to naming it in song. Britters thinks she’s being all ‘modern’, but even your nan was on email in 1999.
Bow Wow Wow – ‘C30, C60, C90, Go!’ (1980). “Every day I get a brand new show/Off TV, record and radio/I breeze with the sleaze on my cassette/’Cause I got the affirmative”. Hang on, this isn’t out of date. Cassettes are cool now.
New Radicals – ‘You Get What You Give’ (1998). “Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson/Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson/You’re all fakes/Run to your mansions/Come around, we’ll kick your ass in!” No doubt Courtney Love still winds everyone up, but Hanson? No one will ever understand why Gregg Alexander wanted to kick their asses in. A whole year after their hit too.
The Reynolds Girls – ‘I’d Rather Jack’ (1989). “Golden oldies, Rolling Stones/We don’t want them back/I’d rather jack than Fleetwood Mac”. Stock Aitken Waterman-sponsored sisters Linda and Aisling Reynolds spoke for a generation here – but they never foresaw Haim.