Rock Dormant, not Dead
November 17, 2014
Is rock music dead?
From its birth in the 50’s to its migration to England in the 60’s and 70’s to its alt-ification in the late 80’s and 90’s, rock and roll has at once been the most celebrated and controversial genre of music.
Today common belief seems to hold that it has gone dormant or died completely.
Are such views valid? I aim to find out.
First we have to go back into the history in the genre. It seems that people have always been pining after the music of the past. A perfect example is George Lucas’s masterful film American Graffiti, in which one of the characters says that “rock n’ roll’s been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died.”
The film takes place in 1962, just after the first decade of rock music’s life, and maybe the wonder and newness of it all was wearing off. But just two short years later, four mop-topped kids from Liverpool would perform on the Ed Sullivan show and prove that rock was still alive and kicking.
It goes to show that there have been times when people have declared rock dead and gone, only to have been shown differently not long after. And there have always been acts that carried the torch through the decades and kept the flame alive, so to speak. In the 70’s it was Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac, in the 80’s it was Guns & Roses and Aerosmith, and in the 90’s it was Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins.
But who is it today?
Well, maybe it’s true that you have to look a little harder, as popular music has strayed farther from the path of rock music than ever before, drawing heavily from hip-hop and European dance music. But there are those who still carry on the old ways.
The White Stripes, although now defunct, brought Led Zeppelin-style blues-punk to the masses with “Seven Nation Army.” The Arctic Monkeys combined punk and Britpop into a blend of garage rock that has become incredibly popular in the UK and is now finding an audience in the States.
Imagine Dragons has taken their rock-influenced pop to the masses and provided mainstream radio with some of the most enduring hits of the last few years. And of course, there are the multitudes of lesser-known groups who are working just as hard to preserve the genre.
So rock music, although perhaps not as prevalent as in the past, is still alive. Maybe it’s in a dormant period, but it is just waiting to make a comeback. Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner said it best in his acceptance speech for the Best Album award at the annual Brits award show: “[Rock and roll] seems like it’s fading away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”