Is Rock Dead? And Does it Even Matter?

“Rock is dead” has been a phrase thrown out by both rock naysayers and bitter “old heads” of rock music, who have the strange presumption that evolving a genre is killing it.

Edwin Svoboda, Writer for The Scoop

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“Rock is dead” has been a phrase thrown out by both rock naysayers and bitter “old heads” of rock music, who have the strange presumption that evolving a genre is killing it. But is rock truthfully dead? But does it even matter?

Rock is decidedly not dead, yet. For how could rock music be dead with new albums still hitting high on the charts such as Ghost’s new album which came out earlier this year,  Prequel, which sat at the third spot on Billboard’s Top 200 and enjoyed its spot on the chart for a month. Furthermore, even if rock music is not as mainstream as it was in the 80’s, where more pop rock and metal acts such as Van Halen and Extreme had chart topping hits for seemingly forever, this does not mean that a rock scene does not exist. That is as logical of an argument as saying that classical music is dead, despite how it has had a consistently thriving fan base throughout its nearly a century of perceived unpopularity. A rock scene does exist, whether it be from stadium packing bands such as Foo Fighters and Metallica, to upcoming bands playing festivals such as Baroness and Red Fang. It is important to note though, that despite being commercially well received often rock music is generally only listened to and purchased by people who primarily listen to rock.

Some groups of people however, would rather force artists to remain the same than to allow them to diversify their musicality. These people are of course the baby boomers. Baby boomers’ sentiments towards new rock music does not aid the situation at all either. Most of the “rock is dead” sentiment seemingly comes from this age demographic as they always mention how “music was better in their days”. Bands such as Greta Van Fleet and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have seemed to create 70’s sounding music as a response to the demands of baby boomers. This is not the right solution. Rock music, in order to thrive, does not need to appeal to a generation of music listeners who are in the latter half of their life. Instead bands should focus on innovating their music, as most of the new albums made by these pandering bands has been perceived poorly by both critics and the newer rock scene. Artists should not fear innovation either as bands have proved before that it is possible to innovate and be successful. As previously mentioned Ghost is a band that, despite being formed in 2008 in Sweden, have just signed a touring deal with Metallica the biggest metal band of all time. Another such instance is the alternative rock band The War On Drugs, whose Grammy winning album “A Deeper Understanding” peaked at 10 on the Billboard 200. With innovative bands at such high positions on the Billboard 200, it no longer makes sense to appeal to baby boomers musically. Furthermore, bands such as Coldplay actually started out as alternative rock and then merged more into alternative pop as their artistic development deepened. Boomers should either learn to accept musical change, or continue to listen to the bands they loved instead of demanding that art be made specifically for them.

There is another side to this argument though, the side that would openly accept that rock is dead and still take it in stride. This is the most logical position as after all, why should one care what the masses like? Whatever is most enjoyable should be what people listen to, no matter its popularity. Entire genres of rock music have been built around being “unpopular” forms of music like punk, early grunge, heavy metal, and progressive rock. These genres, instead of worrying about popularity continued and in some cases continue to innovate in their own respective genres to this day. Take progressive rock, which started with the likes of Yes and Rush, but nowadays has spawned bands like Dream Theater, Intervals and Tosin Abasi. All of these bands and individuals have sustained popularity in a genre which is seen as “unpopular. ” However, with popularity not what is important for these bands they can focus more on their innovations and experimentations. So if all bands focused more on experimentation rather than music marketing and popularity it is easy to assume that more experimentation would be seen in music, rejuvenating it for fans.

With great music by new rappers, pop artists and country artists being released seemingly on a daily basis, it is okay for rock to relax from its time in the spotlight and focus on its more niche exclusive communities. After all, music changes throughout time, but that should not stop listeners from listening to what they love. Whether it be old superstars like Van Halen Metallica, or new ones like  Ed Sheeran or Travis Scott, listen to what is enjoyable, support artists, and allow for them to develop as musicians. Music is forever engraved in history, and does not need “saving” for music lives forever in those who listen to it and never dies.

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