Music History

Time to ask the question: What’s wrong with rock?

Rock isn’t dead, but it certainly ain’t what it used to be–at least when it comes to being a driver of cultural. In case you haven’t noticed (or are in firm denial), that crown now belongs to hip-hop. While all the various metrics and statistics still say that Canada is a rock nation, it won’t be much longer before hip-hop passes on the inside.

Actually, I prefer to think of things this way: Rock is as big as it ever was. It’s just that other genres have exploded into bigger things.

Jacobs Media pondered the state of rock in yesterday’s newsletter.

Rock music?  A glass half empty, a glass half full, or a like a party that ran out of steam long ago, a bunch of shot glasses – once full – that just have a few drops left?

When you think back on what we now know as the “Golden Age” of rock, and compare it to what we’ve seen over the past decade or more, the problem hasn’t just been with the music.  It’s also a matter of style.

That intangible is something that’s harder to nail down, but rock veterans know exactly what I’m talking about.  The rock stars of the ’60s, ’70s, and into the ’80s and ’90s did more than just write and perform hits.  Many had a unique look, an attitude, a style that set them apart – and made their fans want to emulate their clothes, their hair, and their sense of fashion.

And it’s not just those obvious signature looks like Elton John, the Beatles, ZZ Top, Bowie, Queen, AC/DC, Nirvana, Alice Cooper, and so many others.  For that class of performers, it wasn’t just about singles and albums.  They exuded a sense of style that became part of the fashion culture of their day – and beyond.  It was how they dressed, their album covers, their overall look.

Even a street rocker like Bruce Springsteen exploded on the scene, sporting that working-class garb that represented his history, his stories, and his musical anthems,

In that era of rock n’ roll, artists and bands became household names.  You may not have been an uber fan of the Stones, Hendrix, Santana, or Rod Stewart, but you knew who they were, as well their signature looks.  And that was decades before there was an Internet or MTV – an era where rockers performing on television was not a common occurence, but instead was mostly confined to shows like “Saturday Night Live.”

Keep reading.

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 38516 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Time to ask the question: What’s wrong with rock?

  • I think you touched on it in another post. In keeping with The Cycle, rock is due for another come back. But this time around, it’s just not pop the Rock Gods need to contend with, it’s also hip-hop, thus the slight delay.


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