After DJing weddings most weekends for several years now, my faith in the young-- well, in regards to their appreciation of music-- is stronger than ever. Yes, today's pop music is probably more formulaic and commercial than it's ever been, but that's only one aspect of what the average young person listens to. Most twenty-somethings that we see at our wedding receptions may have a preference for modern hip-hop or whatever, but they will still rock out to songs from the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. to the present. In addition to all the current chart hits, they'll know every word to songs by ACDC, Journey, Tom Petty, the Doors, James Taylor, Nirvana, Garth Brooks, Violent Femmes, the Isley Brothers, Daft Punk, and on and on.
That's impressive enough. But then they'll ask for all kinds of current EDM or indie music that is nowhere near the Billboard charts! It's not even that uncommon for couples to make very specific and informed jazz requests for dinner or cocktail music.
If I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with the accessibility of everything, what with a million and one ways to download and stream just about anything that's ever been recorded (when I was younger, all we could do was raid our dads' record collections and flip through the used CD section at the Warehouse).
Beware the Boomer
In fact, in my experience, the older the guest at a wedding, the more likely they are completely uninterested in any music other than whatever was released when they were young. This is only a generalization and there are plenty of people of every generation with vibrant musical pallets, but when I see a baby-boomer coming up to make a request, I always brace myself! The dancefloor could be packed, but the boomer still can't imagine that anyone would want to hear anything but 60s/70s classic rock.
Nothing against that generation, of course. It's just that they come from a time when music wasn't as varied or as accessible as it is now. And when they were young, liking the latest rock hits meant you were cool (or, if you will, groovy), and liking anything else meant you were square (am I using that word right?). It was rock or nothin' back then, unlike now when the music preferences of hipsters and anti-hipsters (and anti-anti-hipsters) are so convoluted and confusing that people hardly bother to care where music-cool starts or ends.
I guess the point is, it's easy to look at Taylor Swift or One Direction and feel that the youth of today are splashing around in very shallow waters, but so many of them are equally comfortable swimming in the deep end. In fact, I believe this is the most musically-curious generation in history and we can all take a lesson from them.