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"Is Rock Dead?"


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Jim Farber of the New York Daily News has issued the following report:

"Is rock dead?

Not quite. But judging from its performance on the charts — and compared to its biggest bands and trends from a few years ago — it's wheezing.

Cast your eye down 2004's Top 10-selling album list and you won't see a single new rock band. The sole hard guitar group is EVANESCENCE — a holdover from 2003. The nearest thing to a new guitar band is MAROON 5, which didn't make it on a rock song but on a soul single, "This Love", and a billowing pop ballad, "She Will Be Loved".

Broaden your view to the year's Top 20 sellers and you'll find just one other rocker — and an aging one at that — PRINCE, who gave away enough copies of his "Musicology" to place it 18th in 2004.

Rap, meanwhile, racked up five albums in the Top 20.

R&B landed the No. 1 slot with USHER's "Confessions", which outsold the No. 2 entry, from NORAH JONES, by more than 2 to 1.

Rap and country were both able to launch huge new stars. KANYE WEST and GRETCHEN WILSON each sold between 2.5 and 3 million copies of their debuts.

Only one breaking rock act, HOOBASTANK, cracked the 2 million mark, and by the skin of its teeth. And the Hoobsters managed that feat only by crossing over with an adult pop single, "The Reason". Considering that "The Reason" was the second-most-played number on radio last year (after USHER's "Yeah!"), HOOBASTANK's album should have sold many more copies.

When rock was more muscular — during the eras of grunge (mid-'90s), punk-pop (late '90s) and rap-metal (turn-of-the-century) — no such tepid pop crossover was even necessary.

What rock lacks these days is a newer band as humongous as KORN, LIMP BIZKIT, METALLICA, NICKELBACK, STAIND, BLINK 182, LINKIN PARK, COLDPLAY or CREED — not to mention the super-power-hitters of grunge, like NIRVANA, PEARL JAM and SOUNDGARDEN.

Each of those groups sold between 3 million and 10 million copies of their prime CDs.

Compare that to the typical sales of today's biggest new rock bands. LOS LONELY BOYS, VELVET REVOLVER, SWITCHFOOT, MODEST MOUSE, JET and YELLOWCARD have all sold fewer than 2 million albums. Another of the top rock albums of the last year, GUNS N' ROSES' "Greatest Hits", harkens back to past guitar glories. Read more.

Edited by Tristof
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Guest Ringmaster

This article should be entitled 'Trendwhores don't like rock". Even the bands he lists as "humongous" are trendwhore bands. At their peak, TV and radio repeated them until I wanted to rip off my own ears and stab them to pieces so they couldn't be sown back on. Creed? Oh god, they're probably even worse than Linkin Park.

Basically, though, he's right, the era of buying good music is gone. Sure, I'm hyperboling, but the bad clearly outweighs the good.

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There have always been too many sub-genres, we just forgot about them over time and when we look back, we just bunch them all together.

Edited by PunkRockPete
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...I hate articles like this. It's so easy to say that so-and-so were so great back in the day, when the fact of the matter is, they were just as trend-whorish as today's bands.

It all comes down to personal taste. I'd take Evanescence over Metallica and Nirvana any day. I'm actually really liking where "rock music" is at in its' current state.

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I'm just glad I'm not in America to be honest. The indie scene in the UK is better than its been in years with good new bands popping up every few weeks. Maybe they aren't going to sell millions but then neither did the likes of Suede and Shed Seven in the nineties. Your big bands that the media latches onto will sell (Oasis, then the Verve in the nineties, Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand recently), but low album sales certainly doesn't mean a dead genre. As long as I'm listening to it, I don't really care about the chart position. The UK singles chart is a joke, and the album chart is always hit and miss (Athlete? For fucks sake). Even up here in the deep north its possible to see an ace new band every couple of weeks (coming up at the Empire this month, The Subways followed by Maximo Park and Art Brut). Indie Rock is alive and well.

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Even here in Jersey, detatched from the rest of the world, we have a thriving music scene with countless punk, garage rock and metal bands, not to mention unique genre-defying wonderfullness, so to say that "rock is dead" because there's a few less rock bands in the charts than there was a few years ago is ridiculous.

And as for the article saying that bands had to crossover and do more "pop" style songs or whatever, and then saying that the likes of Creed, Blink 182 and Coldplay never did is just ridiculous. The media latches on to bands that they think will appeal to the general public, and that's what gets into the charts and therefore is, by definition, "Pop". And even if they hadn't, oh noes, God forbid a band varies their style...

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All the bands he names that don't sell well suck. And the one he does say sells (Linkin Park) sucks too.

There's a lot of good stuff out there, but most of it is by bands who've been around for years.

Whether it be metal or regular rock you can always find quality (Iced Earth, and Coldplay respectively). But the new stuff that comes out today all sounds EXACTLY the same. If I listen to mainstream rock radio, I always have to ask people around me who different bands are because they all sound alike.

No one's doing anything any different than anyone else. It's just faceless, voiceless generic rock music. That won't sell to anyone.

It breaks down like this...

Most people like rap/pop/r&b. They'll buy anything that's "hot" and played on MTV and the radio.

Then you have the niche groups like country and christian. These do not have huge followings, but country can still have mainstream artists who sell millions of records (Chesney, McGraw, Keith, etc).

Then you have rock music which breaks down like this:

Mainstream rock fans: Buy anything regardless of sound as long as it's on radio/MTV.

Genre Specific Fans: Fans who buy records from bands who fit into their specific genre (hardcore, emo, power pop, etc)

Therein lies the problem, those two groups represent the 2 largest groups of music fans in the US. Mainstream rock fans won't by "hardcore" records because of "all the screaming". And hardcore fans won't by radio rock because it's "pussy music".

Too many genres, too many shitt faceless bands sounding the same, too many people trying to be different by being the same, too many music fans refusing to buy records outside of their favorite genre.

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The problem has nothing to do with genres. The fact is, rock music isnt as popular as it used to be, it's not as mainstream as it once was, rock music doesnt define the present generation like it has for previous generations. Hip-Hop & R&B are the most popular forms of music with the youth of today. Rock isnt dead, it's just not the centre of popular music anymore, it's not 'cool' like it was in previous decades. Who knows how the landscape will change in the future, rock will probably have a revival, but at the moment, Hip-Hop and R&B are dominating the popular music scene, artists from those genres get pushed more on MTV than bands/artists from any other genre.

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I agree with Kaya. How can it be the amount of genre's fault? The simple fact is that commercial music just isn't as good as it used to be. Fair enough, the underground is still full of loads of excellent bands, but the bands tend to have just cult following, and therefore won't sell loads of records.

I'm not aware of people who don't buy music outside the 1 or 2 genre's they really love. I'm a very big alternative fan, but I have CD's covering most different genre's of Metal, Punk, Pop, Trance, Dance, Indie, Folk, Country, 80's Synth Rock, Grunge etc etc If people are not buying more then just 1 or 2 genre's worth of stuff, then it is they who are missing out in the end, as they miss some really good bands.

I also think that some people are too "mainstream-phobic". When a decent mainstream band comes along, people are too interested in being kvlt, tr00 and br00tal to accept that this band, although commercial, are a good band. It's stupid really, but it comes down to image.

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Maybe this is the case in the states, but in the UK, it's not quite so extreme. Hell, Iron Maiden got the no.3 spot a few weeks ago with the re-release of "Number of the Beast." And there's usually plenty of indie bands in the charts. Maybe rock isn't as popular anymore, but it's nowhere near dead.

And is it me, or does America care far more about genres than the UK?

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Rock is fine.

There are kickass bands in all genres of rock. Punk has The Dropkick Murphys, Pennywise, Bad Religion. Metal, across genres, has Hatebreed, HIM, CKY, Candiria, I could go on and on. The simple fact is, mainstream radio rock sucks, and has always sucked.

As a sidenote, Grunge sucked ass. I never got why people liked Nirvana. Alice in Chains was much better.

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