Spotify Data Finds Gen Z Can't Get Enough of Their Parents' Faves, From Joan Jett to Grateful Dead

Joan Jett
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Joan Jett performs on March 25, 1977. 

It probably wouldn't surprise you that Gen Z music fans (18-24) in the U.S. are very busy listening to Normani, TOMORROW X TOGETHER and Doja Cat. But according to data provided to Billboard by Spotify, the service's largest age group by volume (34% of overall listeners) are also way into the music their parents, and maybe even grandparents, were digging at their age.

"A lot of these throwback artists are considered iconic or have songs that helped define a decade or genre -- like Tiffany’s '80s classic 'I Think We’re Alone Now,'" Shanon Cook, Spotify trends expert, tells Billboard. "It’s possible these younger listeners are checking out these artists because they’re coming across them through conversations with their parents, friends or through their own exploration of music history. Overall, we find there are no limits to discovery on Spotify, as evidenced by the sheer volume of discoveries taking place; since February of this year, we’ve seen an average of 11 billion discoveries per month."

Spotify's data finds that artists who were popular with Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, such as the Grateful Dead, Tiffany, Selena, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and The Righteous Brothers, remain relevant to Gen Z listeners as well based on which acts those listeners listened to for the first time in the past 60 days. They are, of course, also discovering emerging artists such as Tyla Yaweh and Oliver Tree (as well as those mentioned above).

Cook speculated that the wide variety in genres and decades separating Gen Z listener's playlists speaks to "how curious Gen Z listeners are about music and how open they are to trying something different and building on their tastes. We’ve seen that these listeners stream more playlists each day than older age-groups which may also play a role in their discovery; playlists drive discovery for all Spotify listeners." 

Among the songs Cook says Gen Zer's are listening to the most:

Billie Holiday: "I'll Be Seeing You," "All of Me" (with Eddie Heywood & His Orchestra)
Miles Davis: "Blue in Green", "So What"
Grateful Dead: "Friend of the Devil," "Casey Jones"
Tyla Yaweh: "High Right Now," "Salute" (feat. French Montana)
Selena: "Amor Prohibido," "Dreaming Of You"
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: "I Love Rock 'N Roll," "I Hate Myself for Loving You"
Tiffany: "I Think We're Alone Now," "All This Time"

"One thing we’ve noticed is that the 18-24 age group discovers more genres than other age groups," says Cook. "Newer artists on the verge of breaking out tend to be discovered in higher numbers than the throwbacks; whereas for Baby Boomers, the newer artists are not as frequently streamed for the first time. Andrea Bocelli, Barry White and Enya are popular discoveries with Boomers, as are Lang Lang and Josh Groban." 

The most-discovered artist that brings Z, X and Boomers together? Normani.