Sunday 16 January 2011

Is Rock & Roll really dead?

I've been reading a few articles this week, proclaiming the death of Rock and Roll.

Last year there were only three rock records that appeared in the top 100 best selling singles chart.

The best selling rock record in 2010 was ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ by Journey, a classic track, but one that's over 30 years old!

Pop, Hip Hop and RnB are battling it out for the popular music crown, with over 80% of singles sales coming from these genres.

Veteran DJ and music professor Paul Gambaccini was quoted saying:

"It is the end of the rock era. It's over, in the same way the jazz era is over,"

I’m a bit sceptical about the idea that rock is dead. Music critics are always looking to declare the death or rebirth of one genre of music or another.

Clearly rock isn't quite so popular at the moment, but then all music goes in cycles when it comes to popularity.

There's still a big market for rock music it just isn't reflected in the singles charts. Have a look at the top 100 best selling albums and it's a different story, with almost a third of sales being categorised as rock.

Reading some people's comments posted on the Guardian's website about this story, it felt like I was back in my old student 6th form common room.

The same silly attitudes, with people taking themselves and rock music far too seriously - complaining about how terrible the charts are because it's dominated by Pop, Hip Hop and RnB. So what, just get over it!

At times I've always found some aspects of rock culture slightly pretentious. Rock has always tried to portray itself as 'proper' or 'serious' music. It's always looking to prove its cultural and musical superiority over other music styles particularly Pop.

Music goes in cycles in terms of what's popular and fashionable. Only a few years ago here in the UK, there was a huge revival of British guitar bands. The charts were dominated by the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, The Kooks to name but a few.

Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember complaints from music fans saying there was too much guitar music around. Other music genres don't feel they have this automatic right to dominate popular music culture in the way some rock fans feel.

Rock isn't going to die out, look at the live music scene and all the summer music festivals we have in this country, one of the biggest music acts around are Kings of Leon, a band I have to say I am sick of hearing! The critics can say what they like but rock is still in good health.

Perhaps after 50 years of dominating music culture, we may be coming to the end of rock's era. In terms of creativity there's only so much you can do with a singer, some drums and a lead and bass guitar. It's unlikely that rock can push any further boundaries. It will still by played but played inside a well established form similiar to that of jazz.

People's tastes change and evolve. Rock’s had a good run, but maybe it's musical and cultural influence will never quite be the same again.

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