You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll?

It’s a well known sentiment that rock ‘n’ roll will never die; that it will live forever. However, Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has other ideas. In a recent interview with Esquire, he boldly stated that “Rock is finally dead… it was murdered” citing the assassin as file sharing, which has ostensibly caused music to lose its value.

Simmons’ argument seems fairly solid as he asks, “Where’s the next Bob Dylan?… the next Beatles?” I’ve been asking a similar question recently. Looking at the last decade- and-a-half, it’s difficult to identify which bands and artists will still be remembered and listened to in twenty or thirty years. But equally, this would be difficult at any point in time due to the changeability of the consumption of music and of genres. Moreover, part of the greatness of acts such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles is that they were one of a kind, and the fact that you cannot pick out who will replicate their success does not degrade the current state of music: it simply elevates the innovativeness of such acts.

Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider is one of the many musicians who have spoken out against Simmons’ claim. He states that rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well, and is thriving on social media and in clubs worldwide. This, in theory, means the bands that are playing in them are more genuine and heartfelt as, due to the lessened financial aspect, they are doing it for one reason: the love of rock ‘n’ roll. To Simmons, it may feel like the genre is dead, but perhaps it is simply sleeping, ready to rise again. We currently find ourselves in a musical landscape that is dominated by pop and electronic music – even rock music has been influenced by these dominant genres. But genres are constantly changing, with different musical scenes taking the lead. Music is also very subjective due to the multitude of different opinions held by so many people, which is amplified by the proliferation of subgenres within genres… and rock is no different. Punk, pop, electronic, and indie all find their place within the rock genre which leads to – for lack of a better phrase – a kind of snobbery due to a certain band perhaps not being considered to qualify as rock music. This is heightened further with the generational divide, as the younger generation seem more open to the merging of genres or the evolution of rock music.

Rock music may fade in the short term, but it will always crash back with a vengeance

It’s well documented that the manner in which we consume music has changed dramatically, and this has both positive and negative effects. It is now easier than ever before to discover new bands, and through social media bands have the potential to be discovered even faster. With such technological developments having a dramatic impact on how music is both consumed and produced, it is arguably easier for artists to kick back at these revolutions. One such example is Foo Fighters recording 2011’s Wasting Light on analog, as they wanted to recreate the essence of their earlier work. Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters are a prime example of rock music being alive and well, as they have adapted alongside the evolution of the genre whilst staying true to their roots and values. Moreover, they have harnessed the impact of the changing music industry, as for the upcoming release of Sonic Highways they are releasing it on vinyl with nine different covers, alongside an HBO TV series commemorating their 20th anniversary. The essence of rock music and the band’s roots are thus preserved whilst acknowledging the shifting musical landscape It is with such adaptations that, I believe, rock music will never die.

Music will always be integral to society, and rock music is no different due to the defiant and often political values that are embedded into the genre. There will always be those in society who sway from the mainstream towards the more independent or underground. Gene Simmons may have a point about music losing its value due its vast availability, and rock music may fade in the short term, but it will always crash back with a vengeance.

Comments (1)

  • Oliver Cooper

    Great Article. You managed to hit the nail on the Head with Foo Fighters and Sonic Highways, just taking a look at the excitement around the new album shows Rock and roll is alive and well. Long live the Grohl!

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