Since its inception, rock and roll has been a genre that has defined generations of youth. Today, kids are instead growing up listening to Katy Perry, 2Chainz, and Ke$ha. This begs the question, what happened to rock and roll?
Since the early 20th century, nearly every decade has featured some iconic rock and roll artist who changed the game, whether it was Chuck Berry, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Rush, KISS, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Weezer. Not only were these bands popular, but they were able to speak to people in a way that other music simply could not. The beauty of rock and roll has always been its powerful yet enjoyable melodies, chords, and lyrics. This is what makes it almost timeless.
However popular rock and roll has been in the past, it is currently undergoing something of a crisis. Off the top of your head, try and name five current popular rock and roll bands. Foo Fighters? Their last run was in the late 2000’s. Imagine Dragons? Definitely alternative, not rock and roll. If you go look at the iTunes charts for “Rock”, every band is old. Journey, Queen, Evanescence, this list goes on and on. Clearly, rock and roll as a popular genre has died. It has been replaced with pop, dance, and electronic. Even current “rock” artists are incorporating these elements into their songs simply so they can sell records and remain relevant (see Daughtry). The only popular band that I can think of that still plays rock and roll is Kings of Leon. Still, despite their popularity their songs do not have the same staying power on the charts as they used to. For a rock and roll fan like me, all this is very troubling.
So, what’s next? Will rock and roll live on? The short answer is yes, but you will have trouble locating it in the Top 40 charts. Rock and roll bands today are popular either in the world of indie music or in the middling space between indie and popular. Still, many of them are gaining recognition and are at least making a bit of a splash commercially. For example, local Nashville band The Wild Feathers made an appearance on the TV show Nashville. Rock/blues group Vintage Trouble appeared in a Honda commercial. Although these bands are classified as indie, they are at least getting some recognition. All in all, if you’re looking for good rock and roll music, be prepared to do some digging because you will not find it in the mainstream.