Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rock in a Hard Place

An excellent article by music critic Neil McCormick suggests we are seeing the demise of rock music.

-"Is rock dead? The claim has been made before, usually prematurely. But evidence is mounting that we are witnessing the last gasps of the guitar-based genre that has towered over the popular music world since the 1950s.

-Rock music, in any of its varied forms, has almost completely disappeared from the charts. This excited some controversy, with stories appearing elsewhere both issuing death certificates and defending rock’s survival skills.

-Jim Morrison was probably the first to coin the phrase as far back as 1969, repeating, “Rock is dead” over and over in a widely bootlegged jam. In fact, the genre outlived the singer.

-Rock’s pathetic three per cent of the charts (U.K.'s top 100 best-selling tracks) in 2010 was down from an already rather sickly 13 per cent in 2009, and 27 per cent in 2008. Turn that into a hospital graph and the prognosis would be terminal.

-There were, in fact, no rock bands in the top 15 bestselling albums in the world last year. Not one.

-Bon Jovi were the highest-earning live act last year, bringing in £130.07 million in ticket sales, ahead of AC/DC, U2 and Metallica, with Lady Gaga the sole representative of the new pop culture.

-We are, I suspect, witnessing a transition akin to the last days of jazz or swing, albeit scaled up to account for rock’s stadium-sized reach over 50 years of mass entertainment. If it is a death, it will be a long and slow one, with occasional remissions when a genuinely talented young artist harnesses the genre in an original or invigorating way.

-At some fundamental level, the rock narrative is exhausted. Its musical palette has nothing new to offer, and, arguably, that has been the case for a decade or more. What is perhaps most remarkable is that rock has lasted so long, propelled by the visceral thrill of the electric guitar, the primal energy stirred up by three chords and the truth, and a parade of fantastic characters driven to wring every nuance from a multifarious genre."

It's interesting to hear the work of one group Mumford and Sons which McCormick sees as genuinely "fresh, even novel."

Article via The Daily Telegraph