I was reading this article earlier. Curious to see the opinions from you guys/gals.
Could well be true. I hadn’t noticed, because I am stuck in the 70s.
Rock is like a ninja it keeps coming back but no one calls it rock. Now the kids call it country:) I’ve run some big country shows in the last couple years. Country bands are doing Zepplin covers, Katey Perry, AC/DC etc. BTW Have you heard the amount of guitar that is going into hip-hop and R&B (that is not R&B) lately? It is becoming an essential instrument again
The article is predicated in the notion that whatever the teenage and young adult demo prefers is what is “living”. OK, whatever. The sales and streaming data are indeed conclusive that young listeners don’t go for what we all might call “rock”. Ditto the Grammy outcomes being stuck in dinosaur mode for many categories-- which has been the case for decades. Big deal.
I think it’s dumb to suggest that any art form is “dead” until and unless it stops having any influence on what comes later. Is Beethoven-era classical music “dead”? Of course not, that kind of compositional influence is alive and well. The same is true for rock music, it continues to have an influence and I would predict that influence will continue.
To me this piece is yet another manifestation of the age-old argument about whether what is relevant is what is popular. I am firmly in the camp that popularity does not equate to relevance, and vice versa. The happy place is when, for some brief moment in time, a given piece of art can be both.
“Rock Is Dead, Thank God”
The header itself is nothing more than a clickbait trigger.
The genre probably has “been eclipsed in all measures of popularity and profitability by pop, hip-hop, and EDM”, but the fact that people are still listening to, writing and enjoying rock mean it’s not ‘dead’ at all, it just means that it’s fallen out of popularity within the mainstream.
If you really want to talk about ‘dead’ music, go throw on your local terrestrial top 40 station for a real dose of soulless, bland shit.
One of my favorite bands from earlier this century appears to have made a ‘comeback’ (or I just missed a few albums …), and a song off their album has racked up +6 million views on YouTube in only a few months. Just sayin’.
Rock Will Never Die…
nope, it’s just in a coma
Rock is alive and well.
I’m sure there have been some hit Rock songs in the last few years. If so, that means we’re still alive and kicking.
(Yeah, I know… this was 27 years ago…)
As long as there is some young kid somewhere hearing Neil Young or Michael Schenker for the first time and getting that feeling in the pit of their stomach… rock will never die. Right now, rock may not be the most popular musical form but it’s one of the most diverse and enduring. It inspires in ways that sap-pop and hip-hop never will. I’m re-assured when I go to a show and look around at the audience to see an abundance of old guys like me… and then I see a 12 year old kid just consumed with absorbing the music. I could be listening to that kids music in a few more years!
Yeah, I didn’t realize Godsmack was still at it! I saw recently that Live was coming out with a new album finally too. I thought those guys were long gone as well. lol
Does this mean I have to replace all of my “Death to Disco” t-shirts ?
It’s kinda hard to quantify, isn’t it? What does it mean for a genre to be dead? And what are we comparing the current situation to?
I guess for me, signs that any given human creative activity is “alive” would be;
- That society at large actually wants it
- That it, in some way, helps define the way people view the times they live in
- That, consequently, the art deals with subjects that are relevant, part of the zeitgeist.
- That it creates common reference points between connoisseurs of that artform.
- That it is evolving with the times in regard to all of the above, and with changes in technology
- That it is inspiring new creatives to build on what it has done up to that point.
Notice I’ve not touched on commerce/ the business side of it. That’s because I think that while economics totally feeds into the way artists function, I think it’s a distraction from the above - the art, the spirit of the art, the way consumers of that art take it into their hearts and souls and use it to define themselves - and if we start talking about the music business we’ll end up arguing with 30-page essays about that side of things.
For me, based on the above, rock is dead.
Through the '50s to the mid '90s, rock was relevant in society. In schools people defined themselves by the bands they liked, and if a new Led Zep album came out you could be sure people would know about it and be able to talk about it with each other. Developments in rock - From Elvis to the Beatles to the birth of Metal, Prog, Punk and New Wave - corresponded with social movements and helped define their eras with common reference points. If you went up to 10 random people in the street below the age of 25 and asked them to name their 10 favourite bands, there would be some crossover between the lists. Genres like Motown dealt with social issues and helped entire sections of society understand their struggles. New technology helped artists push boundaries with sounds never heard before, and entire musical styles came into existence that couldn’t have existed before the invention of amplification, multi-track recording, echo, sampling, synthesis, digital audio etc.
Starting in the mid '90s, that changed. In the UK, I think The Verve, Blur, and Oasis were the last big acts that could be called relevant. After that, to use a terrible metaphor, it was like the raging river of rock that had flowed overground through society disappeared into boggy ground, and sunk into smaller underground streams. Rock just wasn’t as important any more. Even if individuals were still massive fans of contemporary rock bands, those bands didn’t have the same reach any more.
That’s not to say that there weren’t big, successful rock acts - the Killers & the Strokes in the indie resurgence, Deftones etc in the nu metal scene - they just didn’t define society and musical culture in the same way any more. I write this as a fan of lots of relatively contemporary rock/ guitar music and lover of many bands from my youth (starting around 2000, I guess) - Interpol, Bloc Party, The Music, Cooper Temple Clause, YourCodeNameIs:Milo, Porcupine Tree, Arcade Fire, Amplifier, BRMC, Elbow, Von Hertzen Brothers… I could go on.
All great acts, many pushing the boundaries with unique sounds and styles.
Yet, today, if you walked down the road and asked 10 under-25s to tell you their top-10 acts… there’s every chance you’d end up with 100 different names. And if you asked those ten people to talk to each other about their top-10s, you might well find that a band that’s vitally important to one person might be completely unheard of by some of the others. Music no longer has the same reach, or functions as a reference point. It’s fragmented the same way society has been, so there’s no longer the opportunity to get the kind of relevance that can only be achieved when an artform defines a cultural era.
So, with the proviso that there is still lots of great rock music happening right now with great new bands who have fans that care about them… yes. In comparison to the second half of the 20th century, “Rock” as a movement is dead.
Very interesting analysis Josh! I wonder how much of that is symptomatic of the overall splintering of the way just about everything is consumed these days in the digital age, whether it is information or art or mass entertainment or what have you. Everything is in bite-sized chewable chunks, viewed on small screens, done in one’s own time, etc. No more “event viewing”, much much less in the way of cultural milestones that people experience en masse. I wonder if any art form could survive that and maintain its relevance? Rock just happened to be there when all this went down…
Such a great response @Cirrus! As I was reading that article, I had very similar thoughts but couldn’t put it to words as well as you did. I think you and @Chordwainer nailed a really important point. Genres (as a whole) seem to have fallen by the wayside and music has become a readily available quick fix for people to fill entertainment gaps rather than to provide a soundtrack to life. Interesting
Nope… they still apply!
The same technology is still pushing boundaries, but it’s also made possible the ‘dumbing down’ of music in general. Sampling and re-use of sonic material has created an onslaught of ‘music’ that all sounds the same. Add to that the industry pressure to create another hit like (popular band name here) and you end up stifling creativity. Using the Metal genre as an example: As Metal became more mainstream bands were under more pressure to be the ‘next big thing.’ We ended up with a flood of same-sounding hair-bands and the bubble eventually collapsed. Somehow, this homogenization of music seems to be particularly problematic in the United States. Genres that can’t get arrested in the US can, in many cases, still fill stadiums and drive huge festivals in the European markets.
This is the only point I would have to disagree with. Creative activity doesn’t require the approval of the masses or a even reason to ‘be’. Perhaps financial viability and success do… but there are endless examples of amazingly creative artists who went completely unappreciated by anyone for a very long time. Some are eventually recognized by society while others go unnoticed, appreciated by a limited few. This might have a dreadful impact on their bottom-line, but in no way nullifies their creativity.
This right here. Exactly right IMO.
Yep, no soul in music anymore. Just sex and quick fixes, narcissism at its worst…
Everything is so accessible now that the mystery is gone. Every bar band is on YouTube. You can basically google anyone and find out what they had for breakfast. Compare this to waiting months for a new album to come out, and saving up your dishwashing wages to get it so you could stare at the cover and try to get some meaning out of what you heard. There was a lot more commitment to the music. You kind of felt like part of the family when a record actually broke through to the radio and was shoehorned in with the two minute hit factory stuff that paid the bills for the radio station.
Now, if you are in high school, you’re waiting for the next guy to rap more outrageous crap at you every week, and the music has a shorter shelf life than whole milk in the midday sun. How so many people feel they can relate to the message is based solely on herd mentality; there are no layers to dissect, nothing to latch on long term. Kind of like comparing the two genres to weed and crack.
Fortunately, rock isn’t dead, it’s just not commercially viable anymore. The soulful stuff will always be around, and the indie nature of it will appeal to the niche groups that will expend a little effort to seek it out. Rock, by its’ very nature, is not intended to be a commercially viable product that easily fits in with what people expect to hear on the radio. It will always generate dedicated fan bases that seek it out for its’ emotional content, and although it probably won’t fill arenas like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, there will always be people filling sweaty, crammed bars and small venues to be a part of it.