Can you imagine someone from 1990 listening to Crypto Boy?

This song from May 2022 only just crossed my radar. As someone who is interested in how English is spoken by young adults today, this is an absolute treat.

Crypto Boy, by American singer-songwriter salem ilese, born 1999 (she writes her name without capital letters)

Here are the lyrics:

Mention NFT’s one more time
And it’s guaranteed we’re Not Fucking Tonight
You got Open Sea on your mind
When it should be me that you prioritize
Tryna get through
But it don’t compute
Cause you’re busy aiming for the moon
You think I’m enthused
But I got some news for you

I don’t care about your crypto, boy
Not at all, not even one bit (coin)
CEO of being unemployed
I got nothing left give, no
To another crypto boy

So unaware
I’m even there
I tried to care about you but there’s no point
You’re too in love with all your crypto, boy

Think you run the world from your room
Bet you’d trade me in for a token or two
When the bull run ends and it all goes red
Tell me, what will you do
I don’t care about your crypto, boy
Not at all, not even one bit (coin)
CEO of being unemployed
I got nothing left give, no
To another crypto boy

So unaware I’m even there
I tried to care about you but there’s no point
You’re too in love with all your crypto, boy

Tryna get through
But it don’t compute
Cause you’re busy aiming for the moon
You think I’m enthused
But I got some news for you
I don’t care about your crypto, boy
Not at all, not even one bit (coin)
CEO of being unemployed
I got nothing left give, no
To another crypto boy

So unaware I’m even there
I tried to care about you but there’s no point
You’re too in love with all your crypto, boy

There’s no point
You’re too in love with all your crypto, boy

Gen Z slang in Crypto Boy

There’s actually not that much English innovation going on here. “Tryna” instead of “trying to” is about the only thing that makes this contemporary, linguistics-wise.

The thing that makes it so modern is of course the subject, and the accompanying jargon. “Crypto”, “token”, “bull run” and “bitcoin”. They’ve been around for a while, but to put them in a popsong knowing that everyone will understand is new, at least to me.

Most songs are about love and breaking up and wanting to be popular. They’d be understood by someone from 1990. (Though that person would probably be stunned by the autotune.)

But can you imagine that 1990 time traveller listening to this song, without the context of the intervening years? They’d be so confused!

(I was originally going to write “They’d be like wtf?” until I realised that, of course, they wouldn’t!)

I also just love the sense of humour, the irreverence, and I have to admit I also like the music itself. I’m a sucker for popmusic 🙂

Heddwen Newton is an English teacher and translator. She is fascinated by contemporary English and the way English changes. Her newsletter is English in Progress on Substack.

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