📈 Jammin' to Some Golden Oldies

We're revisiting our high school music, philosophy books, and geography class

Welcome to Trendlines!

This week we’re pretending all of us are European and taking a vacation from writing Trendlines. Speaking of vacation, we’re super stoked we snagged tickets for this event called Fyre Festival II! If there’s one thing we know for sure about sequels, it’s that they only get made if the first edition was a huge success. Infinity pool, luxurious accommodations, and delicious food, here we come!

In reality the Gradient team is spread over multiple continents and our joint vacations are less about infinity pools and more about the infinite wonder of baby elephants. We don’t want you to miss out on our endless, luxurious, and delicious data-infused insights just because we’re on a Trendlines break, though. We’ve gathered some highlights you might have missed before to keep you entertained during our brief Trendlines hiatus. In this edition we:

  • Dye our hair black, comb it over our eyes, and start a mosh pit at the My Chemical Romance concert.

  • Determine whether this still counts as a Trendlines issue if we’ve technically replaced all of its constituent parts.

  • Bore you with a map of our (fictional) European vacation, the geography of which we will quiz you on.

Enjoy reading.

P.S. Don’t forget to snag your tickets to Trendlines referral land! That’s right, you can earn $1 by referring the newsletter to just one friend or colleague who then becomes a subscriber. It’s that easy!


Don’t Feel Bad, Music Peaked in High School, Too

What’s the best era of music? Do people prefer to moonwalk or would they rather be Walking on the Sun? (We would like to issue a formal apology for referencing MJ and Smash Mouth in the same sentence.)

We asked Americans to name the decade they believe produced the best music. Naturally, responses were mixed.

An absolute Thriller of a decade, a plurality of Americans (23%) think that the 1980s produced the best music. Particularly if you belong to Gen X, ‘80s music is Never Gonna Let You Down. Boomers would prefer to remembahhh the 21st night of Septembahhh (a September in the 1970s that is). And the thing that Millennials want—what they really, really want—is to jam out to some ‘90s music.

The pattern, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that people tend to prefer the soundtrack of their teenage years. In fact, when we asked respondents to pinpoint a specific year, the average year in which Americans think music peaked corresponds to the year they turned 14. Why? The answer is revealed in this shocking video.

There are clearly some real and interesting generational gaps in musical taste and awareness. So while late-20th century music is beloved now, contemporary music is sure to be super popular… in 2061.

Do you have an awesome Trendlines story idea we should know about? We want you to tell us about it!

Out There

Let’s Get Metaphysical

Imagine it’s the year 2072 and Elon Musk’s granddaughter, ƒœ-58µ2, has just invented teleportation. (Though, given the progress on those flying cars we were promised, we should probably add another several decades to that hypothetical.)

What’s the catch? The teleportation machine works by completely disassembling all of the atoms in your body and then reassembling them at your destination. Is your commute unbearable enough to get into the machine?

Americans are split on the matter, as 43% would get into an atom-scrambling teleportation machine, and 40% would avoid the Atom Transporter 3000 (formerly known as the Matter Splatter 1). Younger generations are more likely than older ones to be willing to try the machine, because why should the need for instant gratification stop at communication, entertainment, or relief from soul-crushing student debt?

While we were already copying Americans’ philosophy homework, we figured we might as well peek at their answer to the age-old Ship of Theseus question: Suppose an old wooden ship called the Firecracker is on display at a museum. As the years go by, some of the Firecracker’s original wood starts to rot, and the museum replaces it with fresh, stronger wood. After a few decades, every single part of the Firecracker has been replaced. Is the “restored” Firecracker still the same object as the original?

Two-thirds (67%) say the completely restored ship is no longer the same object. This is devastating news for lifetime sports fans whose favorite team has replaced every single player since they were a kid. It also begs the question: Why didn’t philosophers just crowdsource all their deepest questions? You’re welcome, Plato.

Want to see the data? Curious about the methodology? Just reply to this email.


“I’ll Take Geography for $500.” Said No One.

What’s that on the map? It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s Ukraine? Spoiler alert: It’s probably not Ukraine if you’re 73% of Americans trying to find it on a map. In the spirit of the global economy (not to make fun of people, Scout’s honor), we asked Americans to identify thirteen countries across Africa, Asia, and Europe. If you weren’t convinced of America’s public education crisis, you will be now: Respondents performed poorly across the board, with only 12% correctly identifying the Netherlands or Taiwan, 17% locating Nigeria, and… you get the idea.

Good news? There was one country a majority (66%) of Americans could identify. Bad news? It was Russia 🙄. Since Russia occupies 40% of Europe’s land mass and an even higher concentration of the world’s despotic leaders, let’s just say they had an edge.

P.S. For the 73% of you still wondering where Ukraine is, we hope the below map helps.

That’s a wrap, folks

We'd love to hear from you. Do you have any comments, suggestions, or other pieces of feedback? Please don't hesitate to respond to this email, we don't bite!

Do you have an idea for a research story? Want to see it in (digital) print? You can submit your own ideas for upcoming stories to our Trendlines idea repository.

Can't wait for more? Take a look at our public roadmap to see what's in store and vote on potential future Trendlines stories.

Do you know someone who’ll love this?

About Gradient

Gradient is a cross-functional team of industry analysts, market researchers, data scientists, technologists, and storytellers who help organizations uncover missed opportunities, find new layers of clarity, and pioneer new directions with confidence and statistical integrity. We work with startups, Fortune 100 brands, consulting firms, and political campaigns.

Join the conversation

or to participate.