I was asked by an aspiring professional writer the other day whether it was all right for her teenage character to be into The Doors, or if that would seem unbelievable. I was quick to tell her that A. that is TOTALLY BELIEVABLE*, and B. that would probably be better for the long-term health of her novel.
See, pop culture is a fickle beast. Today's big hit could be tomorrow's big joke. Writing something 'current' right now will probably make it hopelessly dated by the time it hits the stores.
And this is coming from a 42-year-old man with Taylor Swift in his writing playlist.
Fortunately, the main thing I write is secondary-world fantasy, so things like "pop culture" are hardly a concern for me.
Or is it?
I mean, even if you aren't having direct references to something contemporary in your fantasy world, there are ways to slip in a sly nod, if you're so inclined. Amanda Downum won me over early in The Drowning City by using Tom Waits lyrics as a series of passcodes. And The Thorn of Dentonhill has what I thought was a rather obvious pop culture nod in it which, to date, no one has called me on.
Maybe I'll do a contest or giveaway based on spotting that...
*- These kids today, they're into stuff older than them. They're into stuff older than me. Don't believe what the cranks tell you-- kids today are all right.