Anorak | Is Rock And Roll Dead? No. It Just Smells Bad

Is Rock And Roll Dead? No. It Just Smells Bad

by | 25th, June 2014


rock is dying


“ROCK and Roll isn’t dead.  It just smells bad.”

I am, of course, paraphrasing Frank Zappa’s famous response when asked whether jazz was dead.  Who would have guessed that quote would be applicable to rock music just a few decades later.

There are many of you already feeling your blood pressure rise at what I’m saying.  I can hear you now: “There are tons of great bands today! All you have to do is stop wallowing in the past you old bastard, and dig for it!”  Problem is if you have to dig it up, it’s probably dead.

Indeed, whenever you read an article by Forbes magazine and its ilk smugly declaring that rock is alive and well, they inevitably cite a litany of “awesome” rock bands that you’ve never heard of.  This, of course, proves the point even further.  No one is denying that there are plenty of genuinely good rock musicians out there… the problem is they’re starving and completely off the pop-culture grid.



Since the end of 2012, less than 12 per cent of the songs that reached the top 100 were rock… and of that 12 percent, many are suspiciously un-rock-like.   Meanwhile, electronic music and hip-hop have steadily grown in the lush fertilizer that is rock music’s ashy remains.

One look at a list of the top selling music of the past year is all the convincing you should require.  It’s dominated by the likes of Eminem, Justin Timberlake, Luke Bryan, and Beyoncé.   Every so often you get a whiff of “rock” (i.e. Imagine Dragons) but it’s anecdotal at best.  The artists that capture media and consumer attention these days (Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Katy Perry) are so far removed from what we called rock ‘n’ roll, it’s laughable.

It’s true, Journey, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and AC/DC are still raking in album sales.  You know, bands that are eligible for Social Security in the United States (if they’re even still alive).

And don’t get me started on radio play.  While you may find plenty of “classic rock” and “oldies” stations playing The Turtles and ELO; you’re unlikely to find it playing anything by an artist who doesn’t go in for regular prostate exams.  You can never be too cautious at our age.





Other than abysmal sales, perhaps the writing on the wall is clearest in regards to concert tickets.  Best-selling concerts in the 2010s:  U2 (Bono is 54), Roger Waters (70 years old), Metallica (James Hetfield is 50), AC/DC (Angus is 59), Bon Jovi (Jon is 52), The Eagles (Don Henley is 66) and Springsteen (Bruce is 64).

It would be nice if just one of them wasn’t into their fifties.  I suppose you could include Coldplay and make yourself feel better.  But it’s a poor consolation for most.

Gone are the days when a band in their prime can put on a successful concert tour to support its new album.  So, as much as I would enjoy seeing The Eagles in concert (I am sure they put on a good show), it would be with a heavy heart.  This is a band whose heyday was about FORTY YEARS AGO.  How sad that bands of today don’t enjoy similar interest.






So, your laundry list of bands no one has heard of didn’t convince anyone that rock was still thriving.  The next step is to claim that rock has “evolved” into an unclassifiable diversity.  Thus, Mumford & Sons, who you might call a rock offshoot, gets discounted as do various alternative bands.

There has never been a universal agreement on what constitutes “rock”.  Would you call James Taylor or Kenny Loggins rock?  When Pink Floyd were singing about Hobbits (in Piper at the Gates of Dawn ), was that rock?  So, there is no question that the classification is flawed; however, that doesn’t suddenly resurrect rock ‘n’ roll from the grave.  Bottom Line: If you have to stretch the limits of what even constitutes rock to keep it alive,

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Posted: 25th, June 2014 | In: Key Posts, Music Comments (13) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink