Over the years, I’ve written extensively about the 12- to 13-year rock/pop cycle, undulations in the popular music matrix that can be traced back to the early 1950s. Basically, it works like this: when rock is on the ascendant, pop music is descending. Once rock reaches a peak 5 or 6 years into the cycle, it enters a period of decline and the popularity of pop music begins to increase until it, too, peaks and starts to fall off. Apply, rinse repeat. My whole theory is laid out here.
Here in October 2014, we’re definitely in the grips of pop mania. Rock hasn’t been the main driving force for music for a number of years now. Aren’t we due for a polar musical shift of some sort? Maybe, but as I outlined in that treatise linked above, I have a feeling the the technology that makes music completely ubiquitous and irreparably interrupted the rock-pop cycle.
If we’re each our own music directors with unlimited access to tens of millions of songs on our personal devices, there can never a broad consensus about what’s hot, what’s good and what’s trendy. The Rock-Pop Cycle depends entirely on masses of music fans agreeing on the same thing at the same time in order to work. (A related view of that same concern can be found here.)
Which brings me to this article in Pop Matters entitled “Wait for the Rails to Rumble: The Cycles of Rock Music.” Where do we stand? And where does rock (and pop) go from here?