The War Against Rock
This is a war we can win. In fact, we may have already won. Agents from rap,
r n’ b and pop (and to a lesser extent country) have worked together and
rooted out the rock networks from the charts, clubs and the hearts of the
fans. Rock is dead!
(By rock I mean blues-based, electric-guitar-centered music, typically performed and
composed by the same band. By “dead” I mean no longer culturally relevant, like jazz. By “is” I mean “is” [I think].) Look at the <a
href=”http://www.billboard.com/bb/charts/bb200.jsp”>Billboard top ten:
there are two rock acts, Slipknot and Hoobastank; one of which is a
borderline novelty act and the other I know nothing about.* Avril Levigne is
an example of non-rock: all the attitude of rock, without all that rock!
Charts alone don’t say it all; things can be non-profitable but still influential. Rock is not one of those
things. The rock market as it exists now consists of:
- the reanimated corpses of great bands past, now playing in bars
instead of stadia, kept alive by “classic” rock radio
rockers constantly recycling rock history – in 95 it was New Wave, now it’s
- rap-rock hybrids who sound ‘new’ by virtue of a fresh
injection of appropriated black culture
- increasingly abrasive and carnivalesque freakshow acts designed to
package and commodify teen rebellion
Also, there is the indie-rock market. Sorry to burst our bubble here, but
indie-rock as a cultural force is about as powerful as fans of Magic: The
Gathering. It’s a closed circuit, a soliloquy that no longer informs any
other field. Like jazz, or “classical.” More evidence here.
The age of rock is over. Not that it’s a good thing. Hip hop and its
retarded little sister R n’ B have taken over, and with precious few
exceptions all they have to say is “hey lookit me.” The guitar has been
replaced. Some would say by the piano, and look for a return of the golden
age of songwriting. It would be more accurate to crown the computer our new
overlord. But all that doesn’t matter: my point isn’t that rock fans should give up and start worshipping Squarepusher or something. Listen to whatever you like. All I’m saying is: rock is dead.
*since I drafted this, Velvet Revolver debuted at No. 1 in the top 10. I’d say they fit in the has-been section, wouldn’t you? However, it fucked up my paragraph to mention it up there, so here we are.