by Robyn Landolfi, staff reporter
Throughout the years, many people have asked the question, “Is Rock n’ Roll dead?” With the emergence of pop and rap, is it possible that Rock n’ Roll has taken a back seat?
Rock n’ Roll originated in the late 1940s and early 1950s in America. It steamed from African American musical styles, such as blues, gospel, jazz, etc…
During this time, the genre was directed towards the youth and evoked a rebellious spirit that the older generation did not possess. Rock n’ Roll was seen as Satan’s music and people even went as far as to ban it from radio stations and hundreds of schools.
Throughout the years, Rock n’ Roll music has evolved and expanded into new genres of music. In the 1950s, when Rock n’ Roll originated, Rockabilly emerged. This genre was a combination of Rock n’ Roll, blues, jazz, and country. Some of the major musicians who made Rock n’ Roll popular were Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly.
In the 1960s, the British Invasion commenced with The Beatles at the forefront of it, this brought a whole new age of Rock into play. This genre of Rock n’ Roll was known as psychedelic rock. Bands, such as The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix were known for their melodic music and drug influenced lyrics.
Other subgenres of Rock n’ Roll also emerged during this time, such as progressive rock which used other instruments besides guitars, bass, and drums. This genre was brought to people’s attention by Pink Floyd. Another was folk rock which included acoustic rock songs and an underlying influence in blues music. This was brought into popularity by Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. Finally, during this decade was the emergence of heavy metal, which was pioneered by Black Sabbath.
The 1970s brought around artists, such as Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Queen, and David Bowie. This decade also brought forth the genre of punk music – A genre which combined anarchism with teenage rebellion. The Ramones were the founders of this genre but, British bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash helped to spread and redefine the punk genre. Punk also became well known due to the influence of bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. The late 70s also created a genre that originated from punk, funk, and disco known as New Wave. Bands like Devo, Talking Heads, and Blondie made this genre favored among the masses.
The 80s was known for its Heavy Metal Bands, more commonly referred to as Hair Bands. They were seen as wearing leather pants, having crazy hair, and were known for their insane guitar solos. Bands that emerged from this genre were Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Ratt, and Warrant. The late 80s brought with it Indie/Alternative Rock, which was promoted by bands like U2, R.E.M.,The Smiths, Hüsker Dü, and Sonic Youth.
The 90s was the era of grunge and alternative rock. The most prominent grunge band of the 90’s was Nirvana. Grunge music originated in Seattle, Washington and can be described as dirty guitar, strong guitar riffs with distortion and feedback. The lyrics usually described teenage angst. Some noted grunge and alternative bands during this time were Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Jane’s Addiction.
From the 2000s to present day, Alternative rock is one of the most popular and broadest genre of rock that exists. Emo music is a rock sub-genre that was popularized by bands like Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail, Brand New, From First to Last, The Used, My Chemical Romance and softer bands such as Dashboard Confessional and Bright Eyes.
Indie music also became well-liked during this time. “Indie” stands for independent and refers to bands that are part of an independent record label. It is mainly considered a softer version of alternative rock. Selling indie bands include Death Cab for Cutie, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, The Postal Service, etc.
Heavy Metal which was started by Black Sabbath, as mentioned previously, reached new heights. Sub-genres such as black metal, death metal, thrash metal have branched off from this genre. Popular hardcore metal bands of today include As I Lay Dying, Slipknot, Korn, and Cannibal Corpse.
Alternative Rock also became more celebrated due to bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, and Foo Fighters. Pop rock has also been established during this time period. Pop rock is rock mixed with popular lyrics and a more mainstream approach. Pop rock bands include Fall Out Boy, The All-American Rejects, and All Time Low.
When asked his opinion of the term “Rock n’ Roll is Read”, Louie Malpeli, guitarist of TIAN said, “To me… The Rock n Roll is Dead term means that the rockstar attitude, and fire enthusiasm for a live Rock N Roll Production has dwindled and reduced to embers. The craze for live music, in particular rock n roll music was at an all time high from the 60’s through to the early 90’s. Ever since the new age and the introduction of digital technology in music, the types of music being made, and what is now popular, has totally changed. Rock n Roll isn’t dead, it just needs a little fire.”
In recent studies and polls, there is an uncertain idea as to what the most popular music genre is. Digital Music News says that rock is the most popular music genre in the US. While some sites for instance say that genres such as country or rap are the most popular music genre. A website known as The Top Ten has Heavy Metal as number one on the list based on popular vote and has Rock n’ Rolls as second on the list.
After looking at the history of Rock n’ Roll is it really dead or has it evolved into something different than it was in the past? Since the world of music is ever changing, have we lost the pure essence of old school Rock n’ Roll?
Through an interview with Shaun Soho, lead singer of rock band Crash Midnight, he stated, “Stay tuned. Rock n’ Roll isn’t dead. It just finished sleeping one off and is about to hit the town. #rocknrollisback.”
Featured image in courtesy of Brett Jordan on Flickr.