“Rock is Dead,” And Other Popular Myths

"Rock is Dead," And Other Popular Myths

Feature Photo: Antonio Scorza / Shutterstock

You’ve heard it a thousand times: the classic idiom which boldly asserts that all music worth being made in a particular genre has already been made; every Maroon 5, Fall Out Boy, and Mumford & Sons that emerges in popular music being leveraged as some half-baked substantiation of the idea that compelling, guitar-based music is simply a thing of the past. This assertion is generally little more than a thinly-veiled rationalization for making thoughtless, hypercritical comments about contemporary acts while avoiding accountability for the implications of such statements.

This line of thinking is not limited to the scope of rock music, however. Such fantastical claims can be confirmed to have been made of most (likely all) forms of music with any notable audience to speak of. Overcritical fanatics and even leading artistic figures in the Country, Hip-hop, Jazz genres have been documented to have tossed around such reckless rhetoric. Gene Simmons emerges every few months to ensure that his feelings on the matter have not been forgotten (spoiler alert: he’s still quite certain of its passing).

Responding to one such remark made by Simmons in a 2014 Esquire Magazine feature – a remark from which the headline of the story had been taken – Foo Fighters retorted succinctly via Twitter, “No so fast, Mr. God of Thunder.”

Grohl and company have long flown the flag for the continuation of the rock & roll tradition, unwaveringly continuing their commitment to the creation and performance of raucous, guitar-based music – even managing to maintain their status as one of the most successful and beloved contemporary bands in America while doing so.

Last year, country music legend Alan Jackson released his 21st studio album, Where Have You Gone, named for a track which sees the iconic artist questioning the whereabouts of the form to which he has dutifully committed himself for several decades.

Nas, one of the most highly respected MCs in Hip-hop, released his 8th album, Hip Hop is Dead, in 2006. The record saw the veteran rapper condemning the then-state of rap music, which had found itself in a cycle of seemingly perpetual absurdity with the advent of the Snap Music/Ringtone Rap sub-genre.

Fellow elite MC and rival to Nas, Jay-Z, would issue a similarly damning, albeit not quite as all-encompassing, condemnation of genre exploitation by way of 2010’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune.)

Here, the entrepreneur and former Def Jam CEO took aim at artists exploiting the auto-tune effect as popularized by singer/rapper T-Pain in the mid-2000s, at which time it was adopted and effectively doubled down upon by many of the same creators responsible for Nas’ own sweeping declarations on “Hip Hop is Dead.”

Still, as was and is typical of Jay-Z’s approach, the rapper’s takes were nuanced, directed at a very specific sub-group, and generally avoided the blatant finger-pointing that comes with the implication of a cultural force being effectively sunken by the cultural/economic landscape at a given time.

Over half a century prior, many jazz figureheads, including even Louis Armstrong, contributed to the prevalent narrative of the 1940s that the Bebop form of Jazz was effectively “killing” the Jazz art form.

In truth, the Bebop explorations being pioneered by visionaries like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie would revitalize the Jazz form, dusting off the novelty of tradition and digging deeper into the musical bones of the format.

While Jazz as a whole would benefit from the endowment of musical interest which allows the music to maintain relevance nearly a century later, the virtuosic, challenging material did drive away audiences to an extent.

As the central function of the music up to that point had been to create a danceable atmosphere, many casual listeners were unable to see the value in the work once this element had been removed. But if not for these musical, albeit anti-commercial, developments, Jazz as a genre would almost indubitably have gone the way of barbershop music and show tunes – relegated to novelty in the current day.

But these critics followed the same line of thinking as did the ones firing off these types of assertions regarding other genres, that being: if music isn’t prominent and/or successful from a commercial standpoint, then it isn’t successful at all.

Assuming any substantial correlation between commercial success and musical/artistic value is a flawed approach from the outset, and can lead inquiring minds to marred and fragmented conclusions which fail to authentically reflect the cultural and artistic reality of a given situation.

This type of fallacy is easily debunkable with just cursory research, as fairly successful artists following traditional ways of thinking regarding the manifestation of their own art can be found in towns and cities all throughout the country.

Artists like Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton are creating deeply intuitive Country music which reflects the ideals established by names like Waylon Jennings and George Strait, but since Luke Brian or Florida Georgia Line are sitting at number one on the pop charts, the genre gets cast off as “dead.”

A few minutes on Google will allow for the execution of similar exercises with other genres, setting the stage for a number of cases to be built which allow for the systematic debunking of the “(insert idea here) is dead” arguments like shooting fish in a barrel sitting directly before you.

The fact is, as long as folks are feeling inspired to pick up a pen or instrument and explore themselves and the work that came before, these artistic forms are more than simply surviving; they are active and arguably thriving.

So long as kids are being driven to dig into Metallica and/or pick up a six-string after watching Eddie Munson shred to Master of Puppets, or pick up a trumpet based on the undying emotional force of Kind of Blue, these forms are far from dead.

If you aren’t hearing what you like from a particular genre or artist, perhaps it’s less an indication that the form as a whole has ceased to exist and more an indicator that you aren’t necessarily looking hard enough.

Don’t care for what’s topping the charts? Good, don’t listen to it. Use the energy that otherwise might be put into dismissing or complaining, and put it into digging, into searching.

Because odds are there’s a lower-tier artist out there creating something that would touch your soul if you found it, and your support would make much more of a difference to them than any thoughtfully (or otherwise) developed critiques would to chart-topping pop acts.

With that, consider putting down the pitchforks and picking up some headphones; There are musicians who need you.

“Rock is Dead,” And Other Popular Myths article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.

DMCA.com Protection Status

One Response

  1. Avatar Scott Hedegard September 5, 2022

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Crowder Songs
Top 10 Crowder Songs
The Judds Songs
Top 10 Songs By The Judds
Periphery Songs
Top 10 Periphery Songs
Dirty Rotten Imbeciles Songs
Top 10 Dirty Rotten Imbeciles Songs
15 Greatest Hits Albums With Best Unreleased Tracks & Non-Album Songs
18 Best Greatest Hits Albums With Unreleased Tracks & Non-Album Singles
Best Rock Albums Of 2022
Best Rock Albums Of 2022
12 Essential Jazz Guitar Albums
12 Essential Jazz Guitar Albums
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks In Your Dreams LP
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks In Your Dreams LP
Tom Verlaine Of Television Has Passed Away At 73
Tom Verlaine Of Television Has Passed Away At 73
Remembering David Crosby
Remembering David Crosby
David Crosby Dead At 81
David Crosby Dead At 81
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman To Premier On Disney+ March 2023
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman To Premier On Disney+ March 2023
10 Classic Rock Bands That Have Never Released A Live Album
10 Classic Rock Bands That Have Never Released A Live Album
Will Music CDs Become Collectors Items?
Why Basic Music CDs Will Become Collectors Items
Greatest Rock Bass Lines Of The 70s
Greatest Rock Bass Lines Of The 70s
Don Kirschner Rock Concert
Before MTV, There Was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram Interview
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Garnett Grimm Of Savoy Brown Interview
Garnet Grimm of Savoy Brown: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Pat DeSalvo Of Savoy Brown Interview
Pat DeSalvo of Savoy Brown: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Steve Zing of Danzig Interview
Steve Zing of Danzig: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Real Meanings Behind Songs On Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad Album
Real Meanings Behind Songs On Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna's Music of the Sun Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna’s Music of the Sun Album
Rihanna Albums
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna’s A Girl Like Me Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks Rock a Little Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks Rock a Little Album
Nine Inch Nails Albums
Complete List Of Nine Inch Nails Albums And Discography
The War On Drugs Albums
Complete List Of The War On Drugs Albums And Discography
Turnstile Albums
Complete List Of Turnstile Albums And Discography
Pentatonix Albums
Complete List Of Pentatonix Albums And Discography