The Survival of Rock


Rock and a Hard Place
by Kyle Maresh 

With the last remnants of rock fans about to finish college and leave the mainstream music scene
forever, a dark cloud is forming over the music genre that once appeared to be immortal.
Corporations are filling the airwaves with catchy riffs that lose appeal on their third repetition.
America’s youth is being taught to fall in love with five-boy pop bands and one-hit wonders. Lost in it all is rock and roll. It is now an obscure art. New bands that bring any sort of quality are scarce and rock-rap has blurred the line for the style. Of course, there are still survivors who struggle to keep rock afloat, but they are lost in the sea of nine-year-old girls that fuel the emergence of new pretty-boy bands. It will take a miracle for the one-time cornerstone of the music industry to bounce back from the slow fading-away that has almost fully encompassed it. Rock is almost dead. 

One of the biggest harbingers of rock’s end is the radio. A quick check of the local rock stations
should leave most people struggling to find any new music worth listening to. Instead, the listener
will find that he or she is being barraged with the four-minute attempts of different bands to get
on the radio. Where has the quality gone? Simple, it has been cast aside for the pursuit of fame
and fortune. Finding a band with members that play purely for the love of the music is rare. Some
examples of band’s that have produced quality music include Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black
Sabbath, Metallica, Tesla, Pearl Jam, Jethro Tull, Alice and Chains, and Soundgarden. There are
various other bands from corresponding time periods that made innovations in rock music. All these bands peaked before 1994. Most new groups go into practice hoping to stumble onto a riff that is catchy enough to get on to the radio. When they find one, they throw the standard “verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus”, or a slight variation thereof (try listening for that pattern a few times), and throw it out into the market. With the hit in hand, very little time or effort needs to be put into the other eleven songs on the album. Meanwhile, the people who are hurt are those that go out and pay $12 for a mediocre CD. 

The trend has affected just about all contemporary types of music. Some styles of music still have
bands that are producing quality material, but what they play can’t necessarily be considered rock
music. Rock-rap has been the latest rage in the industry for the past few years. Rage Against the
Machine started it in the early 90’s and many followers have sprouted as of late. The mixture of
styles seems to have been better received by the rock end of the public. However, by comparing
the latest Limp Bizkit album to any vintage Black Sabbath offering, or even to an album by the
more recent Pearl Jam (both of which well represent the genre), little similarity between the
types of music can be found that puts them on the same plane of comparison. There is nothing
wrong with Limp Bizkit. I, personally, am a fan. The band simply symbolizes the transformation of
rock and roll into something new and different; a transition that is thinning out the number of
bands that are trying to come up with traditional rock music. Another sign of the lack of new, good
music is the radio’s heavy rotation of 80’s which, in my opinion, should have died with the decade.
For a long time I heralded “hair bands” (bands whose trademark was long, big hair) as having
produced the worst music of all time. It didn’t bother me that they received no airtime on the
radio and I would shelter my eyes from the sight of their names. I cry when I hear Poison on the
radio. Tragically, the local rock stations have found themselves with a tapped resource of new
music and have delved into the realm of the abhorrent to fill their time slots. Even the bands I
respected from the era have been played to death. Most importantly, the bands I never wanted to
hear have somehow been able to sneak into my car radio, offending me at a frequency above my
tolerance level. I never want to hear Van Halen again. Ever. 

The future is grim for the music style that I have supported for most of my life. Being the
drummer for a local rock band, myself, I will continue to do whatever I can to keep the music alive
on a local level, but, presently, little is left to keep it alive on a broad scale. Radio stations will only
be able to substitute classic rock for so much longer until people quit listening; I don’t think Led
Zeppelin got as much airtime during his own era. If nothing sparks an interest in the industry,
they’ll have nowhere left to turn. The radio waves will continue to be full of pretty voices from
prettier faces and music will be written in an office. It is not a new fate. All good things must come
to an end, but is it rock music’s time? I’d like to see it out-live the Backstreet Boys first.

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