Music HistoryOngoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 808: Trying to be a Rock Superstar in the 21st Century

You may have noticed that most of the biggest rock acts in the world aren’t that young anymore.

Green Day? Middle 40s. Dave Grohl? Creeping up on the half-century mark. Trent Reznor? Over 50. Pearl Jam early-to-mid 50s. Average age of U2? Upper 50s. Springsteen is 68. Paul McCartney is 75. The Rolling Stones? Don’t ask.

I am NOT ragging on older rockers. This is not about ageism. I just can’t subscribe to that whole “rock is for the young” b.s. If these can continue to do what they do, let ’em. Besides, fans still really, really love them.

Part of the reason for that is because they all have bodies of work that are incredibly deep. Hey, most of the Beatles’ music is still brilliant even though much of it is more than 50 years old.

The other reason these acts still attract attention is because there’s been no one to replace them. Which brings me to this question: Where are all the new superstar rock acts born in the 21st century?

This isn’t to say that no such thing exists because it does. But these new stars seem to be, well, smaller. Not to mention fewer and further between.

Wait. Perhaps I should clarify what I mean by “superstar.” First, I’m talking about an act that sells music by the millions. I’m talking about concerts by acts for which tens of thousands of people will crawl over broken glass to get tickets. Acts who manage to create a deep catalogue of hits. And, most importantly, I’m talking about acts who have established a consensus: millions of people agree they are great and are worthy of love and devotion.

But thanks to changes within the music industry–and because we music fans now consume music differently than in the past–everything has been turned upside down. This has made it much harder to become a superstar rock act in the 21st century.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Strokes, Last Nite
  • Arcade Fire, Everything Now
  • The Killers, Somebody Told Me
  • Gorillaz, Feel Good Inc.
  • U2, Vertigo (Live)
  • inkin Park, In the End
  • Pixies, Bagboy
  • Muse, Dig Down
  • Jack White, Lazaretto

Eric Wilhite has created this playlist for us.

Don’t forget that you can get the podcast version of this podcast through iTunes or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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