Sunday, June 07, 2009
Rock Is Dead / Long Live Rock
A few weeks ago an article on CNN featuring Steve Van Zandt spurred a lot of talk on the blogs I like to read about whether or not Rock is dead. To oversimplify, Van Zandt's position was that rock music had drifted so far from its original intent that it had become rootless and empty. Tom Petty once compared the current rock music to professional wrestling, everyone knows its fake. Which leads to the question of if they are right? Is Rock dead?
Well, to me it depends on your definition of dead. In terms of Rock and Roll being a dominant art form in popular culture, it's been dead for a long time. After Grunge died, so did rock and roll to me. That was the last powerful artistic movement in Rock and Roll, by the late '90's the strongest popular music form in terms of creativity and impact was Hip Hop. For the most part I don't care for Hip Hop, I just can't deny that it took over as the rebellious dance music of youth. Even during Grunge it was about even with Hip Hop, once that ended kids dropped the guitars and wanted to be rappers. The Rock that The Who represented, the rock that was dangerous, shocked the establishment and explored new ideas both cultural and musical in a way that had broad impact on the World, was dead.
At the same time, that didn't mean that people lost complete interest in Rock. There were still kids growing up who found a voice in the various styles of Rock music and some new groups have even pushed some innovation along the way. Some bands can still make it big, I'm watching a Coldplay concert on tv right now that shows them playing a sold out arena in Japan. It's like Jazz, the music form still exists and new artists emerge that perform meaningful music - they just can't have the edge or dominate pop culture as prior artists once did. Rock bands are a simple commodity that need to rely on faceless digital distribution or sell their CDs at Wal Mart or Target to get over to a sizeable audience. In that respect, Rock music will continue. Some of it will sparkle and shine, yet it will only be as cutting edge as the box of detergent or twelve pack of soda it sits next to in the shopping cart.
So with this in mind plus I'm almost done with my 100 favorite CDs of all time list, I'm going to start a new list of my favorite Cds of the past ten years. My Favorite Albums Of The 2000s. Just because the party is over doesn't mean we still can't have fun. And it's not like I have a problem with commercialized Rock music, when done right it's great stuff. Long Live Rock!