Apparently, pop culture can now assign an entire generation their own color. “Millennial Pink” has supposedly been on the rise for the past few years, but 2017 is when it became inescapable. Everywhere I looked this year, the subdued-yet-quirky shade was lurking. BAM, there it is in a weirdly sexual Postmates ad on the subway. BAM, there it is in the marketing scheme of cherished makeup company Glossier. BAM, there it is concentrated in the trendy alcoholic beverage-of-choice: Rosé.
Publications couldn’t get enough, and neither, apparently, could musicians. BAM, there it is in Rihanna’s Fenty fashion show. BAM, there it is on Frank Ocean’s head. BAM, there it is on Justin Bieber’s grillz? The color has found its way into a variety of artists’ album art — 21 Savage, Dvsn, 2 Chainz, Kesha, Calvin Harris, Hey Violet, Vagabon, Priests, Protomartyr, CupcakKe, and on and on — and tons of limited-edition vinyl. As the year comes to a close, it still seems like it’s fucking everywhere.
The vibrant shade has been around for who knows how long but has notably lingered since Wes Anderson unveiled his Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014. Two years later “Rose Quartz” was dubbed the color of year by Pantone. And now, we have an ostensibly new color which has been crowned “Millennial Pink,” in some instances “Tumblr Pink.” Although many have tried to track its origins, most of the time it seems this trend is consequence of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Someone mentions that this fruitful hue is more than a coincidence, and then we start to believe that this pale pink defines an entire year, let alone a generation.
After reading plenty of examinations of the hue, it doesn’t seem that anyone is entirely sure why it has been endowed with so much significance. What I gather is Millennial Pink is everything it’s not, and that it defines itself by paradoxes. It’s “timeless, yet very now.” It’s very distinct, but exists in a variety of shades. There’s even an interesting argument that it’s popular because it’s an androgynous color, a reclaiming of pink, accounting for its popularity at a time when many are pushing back against gender norms they find begrudgingly antiquated and marginalizing. So, this color, which cannot be explicitly defined, delineates a generation that also resents being placed in specified categories? Yup.
If you haven’t noticed the rise of the not-quite-salmon, not-quite-pink pink in advertisements and fashion, then it must have caught your eye in the music video market. Could it be that the oddly perky color, caught between the personality of Cher from Clueless and Daria from Daria has sunken into the consciousness of 2017 and captured the spirit of this truly bizarre, usually terrifying new world and the forthcoming adult generation? Probably not, but it’s definitely trendy and artists have definitely caught on. Did they succeed in utilizing the hue’s indefinable personality? Who knows.
Tyler, The Creator – “Who Dat Boy”
Tyler has always been a fan of a quality pastel. He used his same good taste for colors in this year’s wonderfully grotesque “Who Dat Boy” video. He has always been ahead of the trend, from color scheme to visual acuity, which is partly because he does his own thing, in turn becoming a valued trendsetter. He starts off this list only because he’s always been an advocate of whatever-name-you-want-to-grant-it pink. The final scene of the “Who Dat Boy” video, which incorporates the album track “911,” features a squad of Tylers in a sun-drenched park surrounded by a forest of pale pink magnolia trees.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: Millennial Pinkeye
Perfume Genius – “Slip Away”
Perfume Genius released No Shape this past May. Amongst the 13 marvelous tracks, “Slip Away” stands out as a romantic and an extremely anthemic burst. Its accompanying video, directed by Andrew Thomas Huang, is a pastel wormhole, heavily reminiscent of the Garden Of Eden. Alongside companion and choreographer Teresa Toogie Barcelo, Mike Hadreas lazes around crumpled leaves and blooming carnations, getting caught in a loop of peach-eating, evoking the damning image of Eve. The video is washed in a warm saturated filter, a cotton-candy sky radiates in the background.
The story of Eve in the Garden Of Eden is a fitting trope for song’s intent. Hadreas explained on Songkick that “Slip Away” is a song “about love…in the face of other people telling you it’s wrong or not alright…” and the video highlights female companionship threatened by “Trump gremlins.” Being deemed undeserving of love is a horrible fate that Hadreas conquers. His love is still intact even by the end, when the cotton-candy sky bursts into a hostile darker rouge — his Eden is destroyed, but he isn’t alone. It’s a rebellious and luxe representation of love in 2017.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: Kate Moss Lying In Bed With Pastel Pink Locks Of Hair Staining The White Sheets
Paramore – “Hard Times”
If this song didn’t brighten your year just a little bit, whether via the time-machine ’80s motifs or the oh-so-relatable chorus or the resurfacing of one of the greatest pop-punk bands, then there is no hope for the world. Doused in melancholic rays of primary colors, “Hard Times,” an appropriate anthem for the feels of 2017, was just the existential pop acknowledgment many needed. The trio uses the whole spectrum of ROYGBIV, along with their pastel counterparts, in a visual that features the members playfully running around as geometric shapes and sketches aimlessly dance in the back.
Colors actually change or impact our mood. Whether you believe in it or not, color psychology is studied and many put it into practice, which is seemingly what Paramore have done. How can you not feel hopeful with a bunch colors radiating around you like a magical unicorn fart? Paramore pays homage to Millennial Pink while all members don the color — drummer Zac Farro wears a beanie, singer Hayley Williams wears a pencil skirt, and guitarist Taylor York breaks out the neck scarf.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: Molly Ringwald’s Dress From 1986’s Pretty In Pink
Aly & AJ – “Take Me”
Aly & AJ, the resurgent sister duo with a distant Disney Channel past, wore ’80s-era foil-like blouses in their recent video — in pale metallic pink, of course — which seemed scarier than the video’s conceit that they were actual vampires. Even seductive, murderous vamps try to pull off the modern/age-old hue.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: Boo From Monsters Inc.
St. Vincent – “Los Ageless”
Annie Clark is a true superstar: the only woman that could pull off the pale pink ’80s-era foil-like material (as seen in the Aly & AJ video) in a full jumpsuit. She’s not just a master of guitars but of the entire color spectrum.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: Pink-wigged Brigitte Bardot From Two Weeks In September
Katy Perry – “Chained To The Rhythm”
2017 was definitely not a good year for Katy Perry. Despite trying to stay relevant with her semi-politically charged Witness, from her use of YouTube celebrities to palling up with the ubiquitous Migos for her strangely disturbing single “Bon Appètit,” Perry’s performance this year has felt exhaustedly forced. It’s no surprise that the trending pink made it into her marketing campaign for her album. Whether it’s her hair, her rollercoaster buddy’s suit, or the poles carrying mounds of cotton candy, the retro-futuristic video for “Chained To The Rhythm” uses the color, along with other pastel hues, to its maximum capacity. For a song that utilizes a member of the Marley family as a medal of activism, with a video that comments on the antiquated idea of the nuclear family, “Chained To The Rhythm,” as well as its use of Tumblr Pink, is contradictory and forced, albeit a cool idea.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: When You Puke From Drinking Too Many Strawberry Mimosas At Boozy Brunch
Pink – “Beautiful Trauma”
I mean, what did you expect?
Shade Of Millennial Pink: She’s Been Doing Her Thing Since Day One
Iggy Azalea – “Mo Bounce”
Iggy Azalea wasn’t really on-trend with the youthful pink here, and her video is … well … odd. There are scenes of incredible child dancers hopping around before cutting to Azalea and grown women twerking in black light. It peaks with a screenshot of a booty patch that reads “My Pussy Grabs Back” in more of a hot pink.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: What You Don’t Know Is That That Sweater Is Not Just Blue, It’s Not Turquoise, It’s Not Lapis, It’s Actually Cerulean
Calvin Harris – “Faking It” (Feat. Kehlani & Lil Yachty)
“Faking It” is a standout track from the groovy, star-studded Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 starring Bay Area singer Kehlani and the red-locked rapper Lil Yachty. Accompanying the hypnotic double-time track is a visual that emphasizes the good ol’ hot-n-cold relationship stratagem. The four-minute visual finds Kehlani and Yachty in an arctic hideaway. Flipping from cooler shades of teal to warmer shades of pale pink, the video captures the real capricious relationship at the heart of the song. The use of Millennial Pink is abundant, but the real concern here is how long did it take them to make that Lamborghini of ice?
Shade Of Millennial Pink: The Pink Panther
Chance The Rapper – “Same Drugs”
Here we got some humanized, vice-indulgent puppets. In the video directed by Jake Schreier, a pink puppet against a pink background accompanies Chance at a white piano. The two duet and then, halfway through the video, the scene’s aura darkens blue. It’s actually a really sad sight. But if anyone could bring out the melancholic tensions of Tumblr Pink, in addition to paralleling humanity’s pitfalls through a puppet, it would be Chance The Rapper.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: The Pink Whiskers On Animal From The Muppets
Julia Michaels – “Issues”
Hands in the air, wearing a millennial pink jumpsuit, and dancing like we just don’t care. At first glance this video might be about Julia Michaels’ issue of not getting this party’s dress code memo: Michaels wears black and silver while almost everyone is wearing a spectrum of rouge. Whether or not wearing the pale shade of pink or a luscious maroon is a metaphor symbolizing the difficulty of social interaction, or her sticking out (literally) a complicated relationship is yet to be determined.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: Damien’s XL Lacoste Polo From Mean Girls
Lil Uzi Vert – “XO Tour Llif3″
“XO Tour Llif3″ is undeniably one of the top songs of the year. (It’s even better when the Snapchat hot dog is dancing to it.) Uzi’s vocals are buzzy and enigmatically voltaic. His production choices are bleak-sounding, a cross between a bouncy apocalyptic soundtrack and something to listen to when you go on a bender brought on by catastrophic events or mental stressors. Directed by Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, the video for “XO Tour Llif3″ finds Uzi doused in pink light, diluting its terrifying horror film elements. In this visual, the Millennial Pink, which the rapper has worn quite a bit, downplays the surrounding pools of fake blood. The color subdues, which is kind of what it’s is best at doing — a subtle, lethargic aesthetic element. I mean, does it make sense here outside of looking cool? Not really.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: U-47700
Charli XCX – “Boys”
“Boys” matters a lot. The recent one-off single from the British pop star Charli XCX is a minimal, quaint track that captures the daydream trappings of eye-candy. If this list was a competition on what artist conquered the meaning and aesthetic value of Millennial Pink, XCX would win 10 times over. Not only is the “Boys” video funny, visually appealing, and diverse in the male attraction canon, it’s validating the female gaze — without exploiting or tainting the image of the subjects — and employing women to see their vision through.
To any of the critics who say this visual is dumb or pointless, I’m gonna cut you off right there. Aside from adhering to its lyrical companion, this video is a bit deceiving with its jejune content. “I started thinking about all the guys that I’ve worked with or met [throughout] my years in the industry…I just want to flip the male gaze on its head and have you guys do the sexy stuff,” XCX said on BBC Radio 1. For almost three minutes, we have a variety of men visually connected through the rosy color, without emasculating or even making fun of the feminine connotations that the color pink carries. It’s neutralizing the color, leaving it up to subject’s discretion whatever they want to be — a latent understanding that this generation is defined not just by pink but by binary abolition.
Directed by Charli XCX alongside Sarah McColgan, “Boys” covers all the stops: The teen seduction of a JoBro. The inner emo of Bring Me The Horizon’s Oliver Sykes. Joey Bada$$, Mark Ronson, Flume, and Riz Ahmed. (Hot damn! Riz Ahmed is the freaking best.) It also gives you babies, birthday cake, balloons, and motherfucking pancakes, making the visual completely innocuous while satisfying the literal entrails of the song. It’s a testament to pure hedonism, which, after the year we’ve all had, is something we should indulge in more often.
Shade Of Millennial Pink: The One And Only Cam’ron Pink Fur With His Pink Flip-Phone — Truly All Pink Everything