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Rock n Roll Is Dead?

Updated on February 10, 2014
Many People Deemed Rock Dead When Elvis Presley Died
Many People Deemed Rock Dead When Elvis Presley Died | Source

Where's The Rock?

I miss Rock n Roll. That's it in a nutshell. I miss my local rock stations playing new fresh rock bands. Alternative Rock, Punk Rock, Hard Rock, hell I'd even settle on some decent Metal at this point. I know that there is still Rock music out there, I'm not so out of touch that I don't realize that there is a thriving underground and Indie Rock scene out there. That's not what I'm after. I want to tune in to the radio and hear good new Rock. I want to talk to my friends about good new exciting Rock music. I want to hear this same music at the bar, on TV, at the gym, you get my drift. I enjoy live music, but I want to know the music I am going to hear. I give props to all the local bands out there struggling to make it, because without them we would never get mainstream music. Nirvana, as I'm sure many bands have, started out playing house parties, but I never heard them until local radio played them. I don't want to search out music, frankly I don't have time. I want music to find me, the good stuff almost always does. Lately though I'm feeling lost or out of the loop, I'm not here to proclaim Rock dead but I can't help but wonder. I have always understood my father's generation and why they have held on to the Classic Rock of their youth while disregarding the newer music. The disco pop era burst out in the late 70's early 80's and when rock re-emerged it had taken on a different form. Hair bands then grunge bands led to Alternative Rock meanwhile Punk Rock had a life of its own evolving from The Sex Pistols and The Ramones to Bad Religion and Rise Against. Rock though seemed to steer more and more towards Pop music until now when the two are almost indiscernible. Therefore I ask where is the new Rock music?

Even If Rock Dies These Two May Never Die Rolling Stones Keith Richards and Mick Jagger
Even If Rock Dies These Two May Never Die Rolling Stones Keith Richards and Mick Jagger | Source

A Matter of Taste Feeds Local Radio

Music is a matter of personal taste. I would never denigrate another's taste in music therefore I would never refer to any other music as crap. Music that is popular right now like Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Robin Thicke, Fun, Imagine Dragons is all good music but it's just not rock 'n roll. Radio stations play what people want to hear so it's obvious that the popular taste of America has strayed from rock music. Or perhaps Americans just want good hit music whether it be rock or not. The local station in Denver I listen to for rock KTCL, deems itself a modern rock station, the newer bands they play include Fun, Lorde, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Cage the Elephant, and Muse. I have no problem with any of this music but if this is rock what do you call Rage Against the Machine and Metallica? This is the station that played 311, Smashing Pumpkins, Sublime, Nirvana, Weezer, The Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots, really the revival of rock in the 90's. The other local rock station has switched its play list over to much more classic rock than ever before. KBPI in Denver used to be the go to place to hear hard rock and Metal. They played bands like Metallica, Slipknot, MegaDeath, Disturbed, Korn, Tool, and A Perfect Circle. The problem is they are still playing these same bands along with a heavy rotation of classic rock and bands old enough to start to be considered classic rock, see Guns And Roses, Def Leopard, and Van Halen. In the 90's and even early 2000s new bands just kept bursting on the scene and recycling the play lists with new music. Denver is a medium market and already had two classic rock stations, an oldies station that has become more and more classic rock, and did not need KBPI to branch out into classic rock. There is no doubt that lack of burgeoning new rock bands has forced the station's hand into the classic genre. Not to mention that the new "Modern" rock of KTCL just doesn't have a rock following and is thus really only duplicated on play lists of Pop stations like Alice and Mix. If this tells us nothing else we can at least deduce from local Denver radio that new Rock is dead or at any rate dormant.

Tool Forty Six and Two, Pure Rock

Participation Trophies

I believe that part of the decline of rock music can be traced back to the trends in our society. We now live in a society where everyone gets a trophy just for participating, bullies are ostracized as criminals, and everything has to be absolutely politically correct. I'm not opposed to these trends, in fact I consider some of them advancements, however it does leave a society without that edge we hear in great rock music. The angst of the 90s has been replaced by contentment and acceptance. This may be a step towards a better society, but it leave very little rage against the machine, pun intended. Another prevailing trend in America along these same lines of the softening of our youth might be the never before higher divorce rates. In the words of Brad Pitt "We are a generation of men raised by women." Again there is nothing wrong with this but generally speaking it may attribute to the sound we are hearing now in place of the hard rock in previous decades. Obviously this is a far too simple explanation as each musicians influences are far greater than a divorce or a change in societal mindset. Never the less a feeling on a grand scale has to have some influence.

Muse, A New Sound In Rock If You Can Call It That

Is Rock Music Dead?

See results

American Idol Effect

Some of television's highest rated shows are the singing competition shows like American Idol, The Voice, and The X Factor. With such a huge viewing audience its easy to see why the stars from these shows are becoming popular. These shows however are not exactly promoting rockers. In fact most of the rock singers that go on these shows don't make it very far. I grant you that the audience isn't exactly what rock music is after, but it is a large enough portion of the population that it is not doing Rock any favors either. Time was you couldn't turn on the television with out hearing a rock anthem within minutes on a commercial, show or movie. Think Queen's We Will Rock You, Thin Lizzy's The Boys Are Back In Town, or Ac/Dc's Thunderstruck. Now you are more likely to hear Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, or JustinTimberlake. The beat of the nation has definitely gone Pop and there is no denying the effects of American Idol type television.

Imagine Dragons Front Man Dan Reynolds
Imagine Dragons Front Man Dan Reynolds | Source
Rise Against Breathed Life Into Punk Rock Behind lead Singer Tim McIlrath
Rise Against Breathed Life Into Punk Rock Behind lead Singer Tim McIlrath | Source

A Deluded Pool

The popularity of Rock music may have been its own undoing. Thousands of bands have sprung up wrote and rewrote thousands of songs, and now perhaps we have reached a saturation point. The sound has been generated over and over taken, sampled, overlaid and whatever else. I'm no musical authority, in fact I know very little about the production of music, but I can recognize a trend when I see one and there is no doubt that when so many musicians are producing with the same basic chords the pool is likely to become deluded. It seems likely to me that there only so many chord combinations, and once exhausted and re-exhausted a new sound must be found leaving behind what we know as Rock music.

Nirvana Unplugged A Show That Put Rock Back On The Map

My Answer

I don't believe Rock is dead, nor do I believe it ever will be. Down, dormant or hiding, yes I believe it is. Rock has found a way to revive itself before, and ultimately it will again. Perhaps it already has in the form of the sounds we are hearing from the bands today. Maybe I just don't feel the beat of the new rock and roll world, just as the previous generation did not recognize the Rock of my youth as great culture changing music. The cycle of rock repeats itself, yet that in itself is repetitive because it wouldn't be a cycle if it didn't repeat itself. After Chuck Berry and Elvis, Rock was pronounced dead, after Jimmi Hendrix and The Beatles dead once more, and now we live in a time between eras of Rock once again. Where and how it will return to us no one can know, but I for one will be waiting and listening.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      dub step = cool techno ha ha. I agree with you about no new bands on the radio or even on pandora or other internet music sites. The bands I listed above are all very old. NIN dates back to the 80's, RHCP, Korn, Sublime date back to the 90's. Either way I believe there is a demand for new rock music and someone or group is about to come capture that demand. I just hope it is sooner than later.

    • Camby24 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jon Campbell 

      4 years ago from Littleton Colorado

      Absolutely, I'm not quite hip enough to say exactly what dub step is or isn't but electronic music DJ's etc have taken up a huge portion of the listening audience. I still contend however that what is on the radio is what is most popular and I don't hear a lot of new rock or dubstep for that matter. I realize that you like many others have switched to Pandora Spotify XM to cultivate your individual tastes however the largest portion of the population still undoubtedly listens to FM radio. As far as bands you like putting out new music that is beside my point I mean The Rolling Stones are putting out new music my commentary was on the lack of new rock bands putting out good rock music. In the 90's and early 2000s there was a new hit rock band every month at least. And I'm sure a myriad of factors have caused this including dubstep pop music and I think even country music has widened its listener base but taking out a lot of the twang and becoming more like southern rock, see Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton or pop country, see Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood. Either way thanks for the follow and the interest looking forward to continued dialogue!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I might agree with you that rock is dormant right now. Tool is releasing a new album that could help spark some things but other than that, most of my favorite rock bands have not released anything new in years. Some close to decades. The exceptions are RHCP, Korn, Sublime, NIN. They have all dropped a new album (two years or so) and I would consider them good rock.

      My question to you is, do you think the new dub step has anything to do with rock fading? I am a music lover and like just about anything. I have really found a new love in dub-step. DJ's like Panty raid, DJ shadow, Skrilix, Bassnector exc have taken a huge amount of play time in my Pandora listening. Not sure if there is any correlation with rock fading but I do think this is another new music wave. What do you think? Do bands like this "steal" the light from up coming new rock bands? Dub step is popular and I could see if happening.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      4 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Excellent analysis of the current scene. My local stations have changed format so much in the past year, I can't keep up. And the definition of "rock" does keep changing. Voted up.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 

      4 years ago from New York

      Great hub! I believe as long as there are rock fans, rock will always be around. Like everything it goes through phases for a while where its popularity tapers down for a while then something/soneone comes along to bring it back to the forefront. I believe it has been a while since that something has come along but its just a matter of time. Thanks for posting!


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