Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rock and Roll in Retrospect - The 2000s

Is it just me? Or has this decade been pretty much terrible for Rock and Roll? I feel like, for the first time since its inception in the 1950s, Rock N' Roll has failed to produce anything truly revolutionary to define this decade.

Cases in point:

The 1950s saw the birth of rockabilly, and that classic 50's be-bop kind of rock that started it all. Elvis Prestly, Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley and His Comets, Ritchie Valens, The Dave Clark Five and the like - the originators of the sound that would forever go on to be called Rock and Roll.

The 1960s saw... well, The freakin' Beatles! But also acts like The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Velvet Underground, The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. These artists paved the way for the Free Love, Psychedelic, Hippie rock that would lead to the decade's swan song concert experience, "Woodstock".

The 1970s saw the rise of acts like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, The Eagles, James Taylor, Queen, Elton John, Billy Joel, and Pink Floyd. New brands of music came into being, like Funk, Disco and Motown.

The 1980s saw the rise of New Wave, The New Romantics and Synth Pop. Michael Jackson, U2 and Madonna rules the airwaves, while young metal acts like Metallica and Megadeth also paved the way for thousands of future "metal" bands. And in between were the 80s hair-metal bands like Poison, Bon Jovi, and Motley Crue.

And the 1990s gave us Grunge and Alt-Rock! Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins... and the post-grunge era with Everclear, Live, Beck, No Doubt, Counting Crows, Ben Folds Five and Garbage. There was also quite the British invasion with bands like Oasis, Radiohead, and Blur.

But now... as we are about to close out the first decade of the new millennium, what have the 2000s given us? If I had to name something that happened for rock in this span of time, I would have to say that Indie Rock has had the best years here. Perhaps this is due to the ravaging of the giant record publishing companies at the hands of the Internet and programs like Napster and other Peer-To-Peer file sharing programs that gave millions of young people access to free music, legally or otherwise. And in the aftermath, up came the sounds of indie labels who had never had a towering infrastructure to begin with, and therefore did not crumble in the face of emerging technology. Successful Indie Rock bands might include Jet, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, The White Stripes, Snow Patrol and Interpol.

Still, many bands had an amazing decade. Acts like Coldplay and Linkin Park raked in their millions along side old arena staples like U2, Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones and Madonna.

Nickelback, Creed, Foo Fighters, Hinder, Seether and 3 Doors Down all seemed to continue to carry the dying flame of post-grunge alt-rock into the new decade, with varying success. Green Day arguable led one of the only real revolutions - that of the Pop Punk movement (or what I would call Bubble-Gum Punk) - with newcomers Blink-182, Yellowcard, All Time Low, Hit the Lights, and Every Avenue forging ahead. The other major movement could be called Emo Rock - categorized for its whiny, confessional, melodramatic lyrics and vocals. Emo bands that really "made it" this decade include Dashboard Confessional, Hawthorne Heights, Taking Back Sunday, The Used, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds To Mars and The Plain White Tees.

Nu-Metal, a leftover afterthought from the late 1990s, saw a rise in popularity with bands like Evanescence, Linkin Park, System of a Down, Staind, Papa Roach, and Disturbed, although in my opinion, it never fully materialized with any bands that could be called the true leaders and definers of this sound. An odd blend of New Wave/post-punk/synth pop emerged in the later years of the decade with acts like Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, The Bravery, Bloc Party, Metro Station, Justice, The Veronicas, Lights, The Postal Service, Kasabian, Hellogoodbye, Owl City, and MGMT. And I won't even get into the dark and bloody mess that is "Metalcore" or "Post-Hardcore".

This is all excluding the terrible pop acts (Britney Spears, N'SYNC, The Jonas Brothers, Avril Levine, Ashlee Simpson, etc.) and the uproarious swell of popularity in Hip-Hop/Rap/R&B acts (Eminem, OutKast, T.I., Kanye West, Ja Rule, The Game, 50 Cent, Nas, Jay-Z, DMX, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Rick Ross, etc.) Hip-Hop/R&B was undoubtedly the winner in the music industry this decade.

But what, then, did the 2000s do or Rock and Roll? Sure, I was able to mention about a hundred acts that made some waves over the past 10 years, but what did it all amount to? Nothing, in my opinion. It was all very, very derivitive of the major steps in rock that were taken many years before. Most of it was based on the major acts of the 90s - rock didn't actually change all that much... it just kind of echoed into the future. For the first time ever, I feel, there is no clear and obvious statement being made in rock and roll for this decade's new generation of musicians.

I don't know what that means exactly. Maybe, if anything, it's a statement in and of itself, that this generation doesn't know what to say. The don't know who or what they are or where they're headed. In a post-9/11 world, they don't know how to define themselves at all. Perhaps all this muddled composition of styles is exactly an expression of that sentiment - of fear, loss of faith and of identity crisis. And, in my opinion, this statement taken from a Wikipedia page says it all; "New York City, once the leading market for the format, has no modern rock station as of mid-2009."

Overall, I'd say the best rock and roll acts to come out of the new millennium are easy to spot, and if I had to call them, I'd say it was these acts:

The White Stripes
The Killers
Fall Out Boy
Linkin Park
and Keane

(I'd also have to throw John Mayer in there for his amazing blues chops)

Here's to hoping that the 2010s will see a revival and a new revolution in rock music that the whole world can get behind.


Holly (crazyluv4mcr) said...

Dude, MCR are not "Emo"


Mike Wood said...

LOL, sorry to offend, young "MCR" fan, but they really are - even if their fans don't categorize them as such. But thanks for reading my blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank u ;-) look at that emo boy one on this blog: