2013: The Year Rock Did Not Die. Again.

Rock has been declared dying or dead at least a dozen times in the last sixty years.  The obituaries were written when Elvis went into the army; when the Beatles broke up; during the dark days of disco; when synthesizers were everywhere in 1981; at the height of New Kids on the Block madness; when hip hop was ascendant in the 90s; when turntables outsold guitars around 2000; and when electronica was The Next Big Thing.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

This latest supposed death knell came as the mainstream discovered how many kids were into EDM and how much money DJs were making.  Others pointed to the dearth of rock records on the singles charts and how pop ruled the earth.

“Rock is OVER,” the doomsayers said, “As a major cultural force, rock is passe.”

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the end of 2013:  rock didn’t die. Again.

While it’s true that we don’t see the rock blockbusters that we once did–hell, no one is selling records in those quantities anymore–this is hardly an indicated that the genre should just lie down and wait for the meat wagon to take to the mortuary.  In fact, there were plenty of very good rock releases in 2013 that point to things being rather healthy.

Salon picks up the thread:

[A] lack of definitive work might just be the genre’s liberation. It takes the pressure off. In 2013, rock music thrived on the margins. Savages released one of the best rock debuts in recent memory in “Silence Yourself,” and “Trouble Will Find Me” showed the National to be the most dependable band in music. Deafheaven’s “Sunbather” was the finest metal record of the decade so far, even if it was too experimental for wide consumption, and the Knife continued to delight and confuse us. David Bowie and My Bloody Valentine proved that time has had little effect on their enormous talent, and Queens of the Stone Age and Vampire Weekend only got better with age.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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