Pop music is a kids' game. It's not just due to risk-averse radio programmers that older artists' music rarely gets airplay. The emotional turmoil of youth, the extreme highs and lows, lends itself to song more easily to than the stability that comes with maturity. Even the most devout Adele fans have to say to themselves occasionally, "For God's sake, woman, pull yourself together already." Unless you're extricating yourself from the kind of tormented relationship that inspired Elvis Costello to write "Alibi" in his 40s (and his divorce from Cait O’Riordan came as little surprise to anyone who heard that song), it's hard to find music that really speaks to the experience of being middle aged.
But what does cause intense emotion at this age? Parenthood. There are a handful of sappy tracks about parenthood, but the last year has brought two fantastic songs about platonic rather than romantic love. Perhaps their not being explicitly about parenthood is what keeps them from brimming with treacle; one is from a hilarious animated movie about the love between a farmer and his flock of sheep. But they buoyantly capture the happiness, the joyfulness, of being with your kids. Or at least how I feel about being with mine.
The first is a power pop gem from Tim Wheeler of Ash, "Feels Like Summer" from Shaun the Sheep The Movie.
The second is from Michael Franti, who has mellowed from his angry young man days of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. He's still aggressive, but now he's aggressively joyous in "Once a Day," a song inspired by his son about the feeling the love of those around you.
Especially if you're feeling like the Romantic Industrial Complex is dictating your emotions today, look beyond the partners and paramours in your life (or lack thereof), and embrace all your loved ones, kids, parents, friends, pets and anyone else whose presence in your life makes it better.