It’s not always easy to understand the status of today’s rock n’ roll scene. As the global pandemic continues to gnaw away at the music industry, things can appear pretty grim. But don’t lose hope, dear ripped jeans wearer, because there is some promising young rock n’ roll blood that is worthy of your attention.
Though the rock scene is admittedly not what it once was, there are some amazing things brewing on the horizon. We don’t want to pass a ruling on whether or not rock is dead. We’ll give you a little tour of the contemporary rockscape and let you be the judge of that.
The Scene Today
A glance at today’s billboards reveals that rock artists don’t generally occupy the prime real estate at the top of the lists. For instance, this week you can catch some of the usual suspects chilling in the top 10: Post Malone, The Weekend, DaBaby, Drake, and Harry Styles are some.
Rock and its different musical shades (grunge, punk, metal, etc.) have been evolving, maintaining a substantial presence on the musical landscape. It did have a more vigorous foothold in the mainstream (especially in the 70s and 90s), but due to complex interactions between social and technological forces, it’s not quite there anymore.
Rock n’ roll songs aren’t typically among the 40 these days. The cultural perception of the genre and its derivatives seems to give it a label with a passed expiry day. But its heart is still beating. So where are all the rockstars? Who are they, and what are they up to?
The New Kids on the Block
Though somewhat still eclipsed by the genre-defining influence of their predecessors, today there is no shortage of fresh rock n’ roll. For example, from a small town in Canada, Cleopatrick, comprised of two young guys exploded onto the scene after getting the attention of millions of ears on Spotify out of nowhere.
Though we don’t quite have a 2020 version of Led Zeppelin (2020’s Led Zeppelin is Led Zeppelin), we have Greta Van Fleet, whose young members share musical DNA with their legendary forefathers. We have bands like Royal Blood, a duo that combines all the best flavors of rock n’ roll. Gorilla Riot is another good one – reviving that creamy 90s grunge vocal sound and mixing it with the face-melting guitar of classic rock. And there are many, many more.
Pop Rock and Oldies But Goldies
You might wonder about the tremendous popularity of bands like Imagine Dragons or 5 Seconds of Summer. True, they’re huge, but many rock n’ rollers would argue that though they use guitars and drums, they’re not really rock – they’re missing grit and they’re too heavy on the pop vibes.
Some of the most popular “real” rock bands these days are still the oldies. Songs by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, and Nirvana, to name a few, are still ubiquitous on many radio stations and in bars all over the world. There’s some kid right now, in a garage with no air conditioning, learning a solo from a Jimi Hendrix song that is older than he is.
The rockstars are around. Though they to some degree lurk in the shadows (you don’t see anyone from 2020 being as famous as Pink Floyd), they are there and making great music, and maybe awaiting for the pendulum of the musical zeitgeist to swing back in their favor.