Where Have All the Rockers Gone?

  Check the BBC’s official charts. Go on. I dare you.

  Depressing, isn’t it? When the most rock ‘n’ roll track in the Top 40 is by Imagine Dragons, of all people, you know something is deeply, deeply wrong. Radio stations consistently ignore rock music in favour of the latest teenage pop ballads, hip-hop of a standard that would make MCA turn in his grave and that most terrible of all noises – I won’t call  it music – DUBSTEP…….

  Oh dear….

  That being the case, your average listener could be forgiven for thinking that rock ‘n’ roll was, indeed, dead – or at the very least, on its way out. Nothing, though, could be further from the truth. One only has to look at the Top 40 albums chart to see that the odd rock band is still managing serious commercial success. British pop punks You Me At Six have claimed the top spot with their latest offering, Cavalier Youth, and other rock artists are scattered down the length of the list. This is all well and good – but where’s the airplay? Non-existent, for the most part – unless, like me, you only listen to Planet Rock and the occasional lapse into Absolute Radio for those areas where digital cannot be had. We need more of this already-popular rock ‘n’ roll on the radio – if only to counterbalance the mindless warbling of Taylor Swift and her army of clones.

  And another thing: Where’s all the metal gone? Encouraging though the presence of You Me At Six and the Killers in the Top 40 Albums chart is, both bands fall decidedly into the poppier end of the rock spectrum. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course – I’m fond of both bands – but this ignores the legions of hard rock and heavy metal bands out there, many struggling to make a name for themselves. I see Of Mice and Men have managed to creep onto the charts, but that’s about your lot – and I was never a fan of theirs anyway, if I’m honest. The popular explosion of Heaven’s Basement’s Filthy Empire this time last year shows there is a demand for the heavier brands of rock music, but – that phenomenon aside – the presence of such hard rockers is next to nothing on any kind of mainstream radio. Not good enough.

  You might say: Who cares? After all, rockers like myself can just listen to specialist radio stations, and let everyone else get by with their own music. To this I say: No! Simply put, rock music is one of the most powerful forms of expression available to people today – particularly the young. Whilst I’m certainly not going to say that the likes of One Direction don’t occasionally strike an emotional chord with their fans, the basic reality is that they are corporate shells, propped up by the massed power of the record companies and with limited actual talent. They’ve done very well for themselves, and good luck to them, but think about it – in thirty years’ time, will anyone know their names? Hell, I don’t know them now!

  Rock music is an art form quite unlike any other, and whilst I would not like to say that rock is objectively a better genre than any other (okay, that’s a lie – I would like to, but I won’t, because music is inherently subjective) it cannot be denied that it has artistic merit at least equivalent to anything else on the radio. So, why is it mysteriously absent? Again, it’s that damned massed corporate power behind Rihanna, Justin Bieber, the Black Eyed Peas and the like. The big companies push them, because that kind of music is easy to produce, factory-line style, and distribute to the masses in record  numbers (pun intended). I’m not denying that there is some artistic merit in some chart music, some of the time. I just think we deserve better than the same repackaged, plastic singers with their radio-friendly unit shifters, day in, day out. It doesn’t necessarily have to be rock ‘n’ roll, but a little wouldn’t hurt, now would it?

  I will not rest until I see toddlers in Slayer T-Shirts and ten-year-old girls buying Metallica represses on vinyl from HMV. Rock ‘n roll will never die!

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2 thoughts on “Where Have All the Rockers Gone?

  1. All true, especially about the use of social media etc. Youtube is certainly as close to a panacea for the lack of rock music as we're likely to get. However, I'd still like to see more rock on the radio, if only so people can be exposed to bands without having to deliberately search for them

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  2. All the rockers are out there on the road – doing what the factory (or bedroom!) produced clones cannot do…..play LIVE ! I agree somewhat with your post, however as an ageing rocker myself, urge you to get out there and support your local bands. Look at the Temperance Movement…they played their arses off last year and look what they have now. A European fan base that any new band would be proud of. Also you cannot disregard social media….where one can just as easily Google a band to listen to on YouTube, Soundcloud…etc….this is the age of self choice – not being told what to listen to…..unless one is so brain dead that Radio 1 is all one listens to……
    And dont get me started on musical integrity vs fame and fortune ….!
    Great blog – keep it up !

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