It’s 2019, which means that the very last year of the 2010s has officially arrived. Filled with Electronic Dance Music (EDM), fashion throwbacks, and digital domination, this decade has had the ability for Internet celebrities to reach stardom overnight with viral, thirty-second videos.
However, for the first time in decades, one particular genre seems to be missing from the music scene: rock ‘n’ roll. The age of the rockstar suddenly became forgotten to a culture that used to praise it, the virtuosic level of musicians instantaneously transformed into how well you could press a button; mimicking digitized drum beats instead of the real thing, and where the meanings of almost every song on the radio went from “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” to “in the kitchen, wrist twistin’ like a stir fry”.
I understand that some “rock-lite” bands, like Imagine Dragons and One Republic, still exist in the industry, which gives us the impression that rock hasn’t disappeared from the mainstream music industry. Still, Rock ‘N’ Roll certainly hasn’t made its mark on our culture nearly as much in the 2010s as in previous decades.
The 50s, for instance, were all about Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino. The 60s brought The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In the 70’s, Queen, Aerosmith, and Kiss dominated popular music. In the 80’s, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Bon Jovi were at the top of their games. Thanks to Nirvana, the 90s mostly revolved around the grunge rock scene, and the early 2000s were all about punk rock bands like Simple Plan, Blink-182, Good Charlotte, and Green Day.
It’s clear that Rock ‘N’ Roll has been coasting on decades of success. So what in the world happened to the genre during the 2010s?
Technology, that’s what. Not only did it take over the music industry, but our entire society. Our culture is more technology advanced than ever. Earphones no longer need a chord to be attached for us to listen to our music, and cable isn’t necessarily needed anymore to watch popular television series because we can simply use our cell phone app to do so.
Apple invaded popular culture throughout this decade, leading to the rise of cell phone apps, Bluetooth devices, and viral videos. Then, there’s electronic dance music, which evidently took over rock’s highly coveted spot in mainstream music charts. This generation’s music has gone almost completely digital, leaving country music as the only remaining genre to still use live instruments.
In a November 2018 interview with Variety, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine stated that most bands in the music industry lean more towards a pop sound than a rock vibe. Levine wasn’t lying; most of the current chart-topping groups have steered away from a classic rock sound in order to stay current with the pop-dominated mainstream.
The digital revolution blindsided Rock ‘N’ Roll. Eventually, rock artists just couldn’t keep up with the growing electronic trends. They couldn’t keep up with the digitized beats the public favored over their classic sound, and they couldn’t adapt to the new creative process of making a hit single.
But as this decade comes to a close, could rock music fall back into grace and return to its glory days again?
Can rock find itself back to where it began? With influence, pride, and success wherever they turned. Could the genre that created the world’s most legendary stars and unforgettable music come back to its reign and let the world realize what it’s been missing all along?
I believe it can… and will. Rock has provided the most creative ways of letting its audiences know that they are allowed to express however they feel in whatever way possible, it has created the most beautiful and heartfelt love songs of all time, and it has always found its ways of letting all of us know that we are never alone.
Rock ‘N’ Roll is all about soul. It’s about placing pain in front of you and turning it into pleasure. It’s about not shying away from the hard times… or the hard-edged chords. Some may argue that rock is just noise, but at least the lyrics mean something more than lustful musings about naked bodies and big butts.