No one seems to understand the kids these days
And why we live this way
We got to clean up the mess you've made
Still, you don't wanna change – The Kids Are Coming
The Kids are Coming by Tones and I is the debut EP from 19-year-old Australian Toni Watson. Similar to Lil Nas X (Old Town Road), Tones and I rocketed into global stardom by a viral song, in her case one called “Dance Monkey.” Because of this sudden interest by audiences in her music, Tones and I has had very few commercial influences on her songwriting. This circumstance offers the listener a truer glimpse into the heart and experience of an Australian teenager. Her music seems to resonate with disconnected and hurting teenagers from across the globe.
The artist quickly places herself as the spokesperson for teenagers everywhere with the opening title track, “The Kids are Coming.” This song is an anthem meant to unite the younger generation against an oppressive and unresponsive older generation. Anger oozes from the horns and vocals as the driving beats urge action. The mood of this song is similar to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2.” Yet Tones and I makes an effort to provide specific ideas and behaviors that teenagers are rebelling against. She makes it clear when she sings, “We don’t just protest for fun. We are here to get it done,” that teenagers are ready to work for the change they see is necessary.
The second track “Dance Monkey” has become a global hit, reaching No. 1 in 23 countries and growing in popularity in many more. The song explores the expectations audiences place on musical performers. Tones and I picks up on the pressure artists face to please fans who see artists as commodities to be used and discarded. The infectious melody and her unique voice helps this song stand out.
Tones and I then turns her attention to telling the stories of hurting teenagers. Several tracks tell the stories of real friends and personal experiences. For example, “Johnny Run Away,” is a song about her best friend who struggled with his identity because of a disapproving father. Seeing how hurtful the situation was for her friend, she implores Johnny to run away in an urgent refrain.
The EP ends with glimmers of hope in the form of the song, “Never Seen the Rain.” The happy mood of the music juxtaposes the ominous sounds heard on the first song, “The Kids are Coming.” The artist sings about the hope she has for her generation to be resilient together amid the challenges they face.
The Kids are Coming mirrors many common emotions that teenagers in 2019 are feeling, including fear of climate change and frustration with failing leaders. Tones and I captures moments of feeling hopeless and helpless. And amidst all these challenging emotions comes glimpses of determination to persevere. The Kids are Coming is an excellent tool for meaningful conversations between the generations. It might be challenging for older generations to hear the anger, sadness, and disappointment of teenagers. However, these emotions need to be heard and acknowledged for healing to occur. In my opinion, the older generation has the greatest capacity to be the listening ear needed by teenagers today. (Warner Chappell Music)