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Rock n Roll Is Dead?
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?
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
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?
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.
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
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.