Is rock music dead? Or is it just unfashionable?.
I'm from what seems like an older school of music. I grew up listening guitars; Heavy ones, melodic ones, virtuoso, and funky ones. God, even acoustic and folky ones. In fact almost every song I owned and listened to growing up in the 80s and 90s had a guitar involved somehow, and yes sometimes they seemed like they were just for show.
Guitars seemed like the perfect musical tool to express any emotion I could imagine, and believe me I had plenty as a teenager. Whether it was a dirty distorted snarling guitar, reminding me how life really sucked, or helping me channel my teenage angst.
Album charts were dominated by rock in the 70s, metal and hard rock in the 80s, and alternate and grunge bands in the 90's/00's. But then something happened. It all stopped. Charts suddenly were dominated by more poppy, electronic, beat, and vocal based music. Popular artists were suddenly groups of young boys and girls singing over a dubious electronic track.
Now a lot of this music was great, musical talent is musical talent, even if your not a fan of the style, its important you can appreciate the ability. Don't get me wrong, I love a lot of popular music these days, despite the cynical view that much of today's music is just record companies rolling out the latest batch of manufactured stars, there are many talented artists out there.
But my problem isn't that. It's the seeming lack of visibility and respect that rock, and metal music get these days. from the mainstream media. Anyone that watch VMA's this year? Did you see a single guitar or rock band there?
Radio stations, unless they are dedicated to rock and metal, never play the stuff! iTunes is dominated by hip hop, pop music. Worst of all the rock and roll hall of fame, the rock and roll hall of fame, seems to have also fallen on its axe, and is inducting even more non rock artists than ever before!
Now I understand the music industry is a different place these days. Long gone are the days of album sales. The only way to get attention is via a disposable single track that immediately catches the ear and generates short term hype, but ultimately has no substance.
New albums are almost defunct. Albums barely spend more than a few weeks on the charts before they disappear. So maybe I'm not hearing rock music because it just isn't being made? Why would a rock band bother invest in recording and distributing an album when it only has a shelf life of 4 weeks? Gene Simmons of Kiss recently said he wouldn't bother recording a new album because it's a bad investment (i.e. there's just no money in it). A disposable pop song is cheap to record. They can be literally produced on an iPhone.
This is why artists focus on touring these days rather than radio play and albums sales, because that's where they can still make a living. Even the biggest bands like Metallica, U2, Rolling Stones, Green day are making their money this way these days.
So if you're a rock fan you could start beating down the doors of record companies, media outlets, our local stations to demand we hear more guitars! But maybe we just need to realize that the way we consume rock needs to change. Because in reality it isn't going to come to you, you need to go out and see it, live.
Written: JW, Editor.