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The end of rock ‘n’ roll?

October 29, 2009

I wrote this as a comment to a friend on FaceBook when my wife suggested I post it in my blog. This started as a response to the following article: Rock music is dead, and all the Rock Band in the world won’t save it. I didn’t really intend to make a point-by-point rebuttal of what I didn’t like about the article, but I’ve found that the demise of “rock music” is a very popular subject of debate in musical circles.

Everyday is the end of rock “as we know it”, but it’s not the end of rock. If you were a metalhead in the 80s and 90s, the Metallica era is pretty much over “as you know it”, but there’s still music that is rooted in metal.

I think there’s something to be said about RB/GH being the ultimate commercialization of music, but I don’t think that means rock music is dead. I think the article does bring up a good point regarding hip-hop and rap filling a gap that rock once filled, at least in the mainstream. Jay-Z’s last two singles (“Run This Town” and “DOA”) are (at least to me) more musically interesting than 95% of what’s going on in mainstream rock right now. However, this doesn’t mean rock is dead. Both of those songs, while being firmly rooted in the hip-hop genre, borrow heavily from a palette developed in rock music (with “DOA” sampling Steam’s classic “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”). What it does mean is that rock is continuing to do what it’s always done, evolve.

Yeah, kids are way into video games right now. Good for them. I started playing video games when I was 5. I still play video games. I didn’t start playing guitar until I was 15. Video games didn’t prevent me from being creative. I don’t think it’s going to be hugely detrimental to today’s kids either. … Read More

I don’t agree with the writer’s belief that more hip-hop albums have been sold in the past ten years than rock albums. Yeah, it’s a terrible excuse for rock, but Creed and Nickelback have put up some ridiculous sales numbers in the last decade. I know Kanye, Lil’ Wanye and Jay-Z have done the same for hip-hop but the reality is that general pop music (ranging from Taylor Swift to Britney Spears) has demolished them both. Bubblegum pop has done that for decades. As far as “no new stars in the last five years” in rock…is that any different than any other genre over the same time or for rock during any other period?

Rock ‘n’ roll will survive another lull in music sales. While there isn’t a current big, new face of really any rock style, I don’t know that it matters. What matters is that the hugely famous acts of the past are being perpetuated through a slew of new, young acts spanning rock styles. Check your local listings for some shows in your town, I guarantee that more often than not you will find that rock isn’t dead in your city. It doesn’t look like what it did in 1973 or 1986 or 1992, but neither does your hairline.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    October 29, 2009 12:18 pm

    Music critic George Starostin claims rock is dead. This started a long discussion. George Starostin’s essay

  2. October 29, 2009 1:00 pm

    I can definitely see what he’s saying. “Rock is dead” in the sense that there isn’t anything new that can be brought into it. Any true musical innovation is going to come from someone doing something that isn’t rock music.

    Starostin definitely approaches from a more static mindset and that’s fine. The article that spurred my thoughts seemed to be focused more on instrument playing and the whole “rockstar” mentality than art. I can definitely see how the music I’m making isn’t bringing anything “new” to rock music. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me. I think there’s an overwhelming personalization of music as art that drives most musicians to continue playing. It’s not necessarily making art to perpetuate art, but making art to perpetuate the self.

  3. October 18, 2012 12:47 am

    I briefly watched an old film on TV a few months ago which was made in the late 1950s.
    The subject matter was Rock and Roll and the production-line of designer music emanating from the commercial success of Bill Haley and then Elvis Presley.
    This was the era when recorded music became another way for business-minded people and corporations to generate easy profits ; the same formula is in use now and more often than not it is successful.
    If you want to find music for the love of music then you need to turn off the radio station, walk away from the TV, use your PC and the internet and start networking. Perhaps even create a website that lists musicians who have no interest in the commercial exploitation of music but rather just creating pleasing sounds and interesting songs for one person or a million.

  4. August 12, 2013 2:12 am

    I will support the views of the writer above who says Rock is Dead.And rock music is not
    having tht kind of craze and fan following it used to have in 60s,70s,80, n 90s,Because most
    of the big bands are over or disbanded.The new bands of 2000s like Coldplay,Linkin park,Foo fighters,Kings of leon,Green day have carry on rock n roll era producing some
    commercial superhits like Coldplay ‘Parachutes,Rush of blood to the head,XNY and many other album.Whereas in USA.bands like LInkin park ,Foo fighters,Greenday has innovated
    rock n roll with some new genres like Hip pop,post grunge.

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