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The Future of Rock ‘n’ Roll

What lies ahead for the Rock genre.

by Dr. Spin
July 1, 2002

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The Future of Rock ‘n’ Roll_Dr. Spin-What lies ahead for the Rock genre. Dr. Spin,

Where does rock go from here? What is the near future of the genre? I haven't listened to a lot of rap, but I am stunned at how little it has changed in the last ten years. Maybe that's a testament to how strongly it resonates with its fans, but maybe it also indicates a lack of innovation. Is rock in the same boat?


Dear BH,

This is probably one of the best questions I’ve received, and probably one of the hardest for me to answer. It seems to me there is only a finite number of songs that can be written in 4/4 time (the primary measure for Rock music) and Rock seems to becoming dangerously close to making everything sound the same. We tend to glorify the ‘60’s as the golden age of Rock, but if you listen to the oldies’ stations, you’ll realize that a lot of ‘60’s music all sounds alike too. The best bands of that era, and every era since, knew how to make music that both captured and transcended that time.

One recent trend in Rock ‘n’ Roll is the “retro” sound. People like Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Eat World, and other bands have songs that have a 70’s groove or an 80’s hook, and that’s okay, because there was great music from those times, and it’s nice to hear that style poplar again. But is this trend sending a message that maybe there’s nothing new left?

Rock ‘n’ Roll is a music of rebellion and often in it’s history, it had to rebel against itself. When Rock started to be too “corporate” in the late 70’s, the Punk movement began to put Rock back in its place. Radio became too corporate in the early 80’s and refused to play up and coming bands. These bands found a new way to be heard and seen, MTV.

Established bands complained that videos stole the integrity of the music, and indeed it seems today that image is everything, as far as music sales go. But back when MTV was an unknown quantity, bands that couldn’t be heard found a new medium to get their songs played. Now, as the older bands feared, music videos are everything, and the revolution that videos and MTV created is now the establishment.

I don’t know what the next music revolution will sound like, but I do know where it will come from, the internet.

As much as the recording corporation hates Napster, and its many clones, this is where the best new music will come from. The truly innovate bands will use this still relatively new medium to get their songs heard; songs that established music venues will not play because it’s “not popular” (i.e.; it doesn’t sound like everything else) As in every musical trend, the best bands will be the ones remembered, the imitators soon forgotten. Even as we speak now, smart young bands are putting their “unplayable” music on the internet, waiting for fans to download it.

Rock enjoys its longevity to its ability to evolve and absorb new sounds and trends. At it’s heart however, will always be angst, anger and rebellion. These emotions strike a chord with the youth, and Rock will always be the music of the young. This does not mean that older people can’t enjoy the new Rock; it just means we have to keep our youthful spirit and remember why we love this music in the first place.

* * *

Dr. spin would like to take a moment to recognize the death of the Who's legendary bass player, John Entwistle. In a genre full of "guitar gods," John Entwistle was a "bass god," and very few could ever match his talent. As a fan of the Who, let me me say, "Thank you, John, for your inspiration and your music. God bless you, and may you rest in peace."

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stephentheking from Los Angeles writes:
January 7, 2012
Nothing meaningful happens until something completely new, different, and excellent comes along. My prediction is that African Music will fuse with Rock, creating a really wierd sound that will become really popular, probably spearheaded by an African Outkast-type band. Think of a commercially viable Trout Mask Replica! Or a strange new Souljah Boy type of Rock Music may come out of New Orleans, always a Center of Mutation!

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