In Monday’s edition of the bizarre realm of 2019, a conversation about Billie Eilish not knowing who Van Halen is, and whether people should care about that, dominated the discourse on Twitter.
During a recent appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the 17-year-old singer was grilled by the host on 1980s pop culture ― specifically, 1984, the year that Kimmel himself was 17.
“Do you know who Madonna is?” Kimmel asked. Eilish did.
“Can you name a Van Halen?” he followed up, to which Eilish replied, “Who?”
Billie Eilish didn’t know who Van Halen was, I’m sobbing. pic.twitter.com/tX6xrs7cIE
— Mack (@_Kenziepuff) November 29, 2019
Little did either of them know that more than a week later this would spark a Twitter controversy between boomers and Gen Xers and those who “OK” them ― and send “Van Halen” to the No. 1 trending topic on the platform.
It began with the folks who were legitimately bothered by the fact that a teenager had not heard of a band that was formed in 1972 and last released an album in 2012 (when Eilish was 10).
The Beatles were around before I was born, yet I heard of them when I was 17. I didn’t listen to listen to their music much back then because I was in nore into Hip Hop but I knew who John, Paul, George & Ringo were…being young is not an excuse, especially if you’re an artist.
— Kevin Lockett (@kevinlockett) December 2, 2019
If you’d asked me in 85, “have you heard of Perry Como,” I would have said yes. @billieeilish acted as if she’d never heard name Van Halen before. That’s what seemed bizarre to me. Reminds me of teens who don’t know which *century* US Civil War occurred. Not a good look. https://t.co/fa5xutLt0x
— Van Halen Rising (@GregRenoff) December 1, 2019
Next came the much bigger response from those who said a collective “OK boomer” ― a viral internet retort used by millennials and Generation Z to dismiss attitudes pushed by older people that are perceived as outdated and close-minded.
sorry, but we’ve found the thing more powerful than Ok Boomer: telling men you don’t know who Van Halen are
— Listen to @onbeliefpod & @ongriefpodcast Li’l 🌳 (@karengeier) December 2, 2019
now let’s ask Van Halen if they know who Billie Eilish is and get performatively mad about that
— maura quint (@behindyourback) December 2, 2019
Billie Eilish doesn’t know who Van Halen is.
Get off my lawn!
— Damon Johnson (@DamonJOfficial) December 2, 2019
A lot of days it feels like someone just spins a giant wheel and whatever comes up is what everyone on Twitter has to fight about for the next 24 hours. Anyways, Van Halen I guess.
— PJ Vogt (@PJVogt) December 2, 2019
I want every old man who is shocked that billie eilish doesn’t know who van halen is to send me their favorite tik tok & at least two gay memes right now
— Woman (@AlexisGZall) December 2, 2019
Ok I’ll bite. What’s a van halen? Some kind of dutch candy?
— Adam Serwer🍝 (@AdamSerwer) December 2, 2019
Oh so Billie Eilish is dumb because she hasn’t seen Van Halen? That movie sucks. Hugh Jackman’s worst performance easy.
— t. (@handsome_pal) December 2, 2019
You’re not actually shocked that a teen doesn’t know about Van Halen, you’re just upset that you’re old
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) December 2, 2019
extremely disinterested in billie eilish not knowing who van halen is. VERY interested to know if any straight man over 40 has seen This Photograph. yes this is the same thing pic.twitter.com/D2dBzUlhWt
— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) December 2, 2019
All I says is that if you had told me, after MTV played “Jump” for the 5 billionth time in 1983, that someday a new music generation would not know who Van Halen was, I would have cried and thanked you.
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) December 2, 2019
hate to break it to people but baby yoda also has no idea who van halen is
— my pal andy (@andylevy) December 2, 2019
a moment of silence for those who suffered on this day pic.twitter.com/BqHynWTWaj
— SOYBEAN BERSERKER (@deportablediz) December 2, 2019
gonna tell my kids this is van halen pic.twitter.com/StVrFWpP1O
— Brandon Stosuy (@brandonstosuy) December 2, 2019
Van Halen has been trending at #1 just because Billie Eilish didn’t know who they were?!
1. Who cares?
2. She’s 17
3. Who cares?
— andy lassner (@andylassner) December 2, 2019
Wolf Van Halen, the band’s 28-year-old bassist and son of acclaimed lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen, joined the conversation to tell everyone to grow up.
Music is supposed to bring us together, not divide us. Listen to what you want and don’t shame others for not knowing what you like.
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) December 2, 2019
Eilish can hardly be blamed for not knowing the famous band when its iconic frontman David Lee Roth has gone as far as to say the band was “finished” in more recent interviews, according to Rolling Stone. Roth, however, is launching a residency in Las Vegas in the new year.
Perhaps something good will come of all this and people will get a Billie Eilish-Van Halen collaboration.
i don’t care that Billie Eilish doesn’t know who Van Halen is but a Van Halen cover of “Bad Guy” would kick ass and you know it
— Al Shipley (@alshipley) December 2, 2019