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The Devolution of Rock Music in the 21st Century

The Devolution of Rock Music in the 21st Century
on January, 09 2013

Perhaps it would not be fair to compare the music and the artists that serve as the founders and pillars of rock to 21st century acts that are facing fierce competition from other musical genres for the attention of today’s listeners. “Pathetic” may be too strong a word to describe what passes for rock music these days, but people who lived in the day when the radio would play an REM tune, and then move on to Guns N Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, or Nirvana and Aerosmith can’t be blamed for thinking that rock music had indeed moved on to lesser realms.

Rock Music: Reminiscing

Anyone used to listening over and over to Pearl Jam and Metallica would definitely have a hard time reconciling the music labeled rock in YouTube to what they were used to. There used to be the next Audioslave, Dream Theater, or Dave Matthews Band to look forward to. Now, though Coldplay, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, and Green Day, and the immortal David Bowie (who transcends genres) manage to quell their thirst, but it is mostly not enough.

Now, true rock n’ roll fans, just wait for news whether any of their favorite bands would regroup. They can only pray that AC/DC be given 20 more years to do what they do best, and that the Police do another tour after that awesome comeback a few years back. And those who can’t help but reminisce about old times find themselves thanking God that Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi are still around touring.  Most are just sitting it out locked up with their vinyl collections, G3 concert DVDs, and maintain playlist after playlist of The Beatles, The Doors, The Who, and Queen (the one with Freddie Mercury singing vocals). And the most loyal rock believers have once consolation—Tenacious D.


Two of the most famous rock bands of this century saw fame during the ‘90s. The reason for their survival and continued dominance is primarily the loyal support that their original fanbase has continued to show, fueling the continued sales of every album that they release and buying concert tickets to see them perform live. Foo Fighthers (USA) and Radiohead (UK), both prime movers in alternative rock, continue to perform admirably not just for fans, but for critics as well. Both have managed to win awards over younger bands and maintain the interest of music lovers worldwide with compositions that somehow manage to remain relevant even to young listeners who weren’t even born when their first albums were released.

Rock music redefined

Another pair of popular rock bands are Foster the People and Bon Iver, two American indie bands formed in 2009 and 2007 respectively. Just a few decades ago, their music  would not have fit into the definition of rock. Both have received Grammy Awards, are enjoying record deals, and becoming famous in a way that is made possible by social media networking and mobile platforms?

For those who do not understand the sentiment, here’s what actually happened. Rock used to be alternative to popular music. Rock was richer, more exciting, angrier, and more creative. And then somehow, pop music had become rock.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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