Trend In the world of music, is rock slowly on its way out? Tune in…
I n an era where trends are dictated by the hip, young bubblegum generation, times are a-changing and they're changing fast.
The year 2000 saw an eclectic mix of songs topping the charts in the U.S. and beyond, from the explosive combination of Rob Thomas and Santana in Smooth, to Creed's With Arms Wide Open. There was enough Christina Aguilera, Destiny's Child and Enrique Iglesias to balance it all out, but rock was still a force to be reckoned with. But, ten years later, the scales seem to be tilting in favour of artists like Ke$ha, Rihanna, Katy Perry and the omnipresent Lady Gaga. Pop has blossomed from its Eighties avatar into a genre fast-dominating the music industry.
“I don't know about the statistics, but I can tell you based on sound,” says 24-year-old engineer Sharmila Soman. “Look at VH1. The only time I hear rock music is on VH1 Classic. Everything else is a jumble of Taylor Swift and random hip-hop. That's good music as well, but what about my Iron Maiden fix? They don't make bands like Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots anymore.”
Current rock does exist in the form of bands like Neon Trees, Godsmack and Linkin Park, which recently brought out its newest album A Thousand Suns. But you can't fight facts. A recent study of album sales in the UK revealed that pop music has its biggest share of album sales since 2003, dominating bestsellers and top singles charts, with Kings of Leon being one of the few rock groups to cross a million copies in 2009. “It's not surprising,” says photographer Ravikiran Vissa. “Teens go through their own identity crises, and they find solace in shortcut music like Justin Bieber and company.”
Twenty three-year-old Arjun Kamath takes this a step further. Working with sports company Decathlon and formerly of the band Agent Orange, he says, “Rock is dead. The people who listen to it are those who hang on to the classic rock era. But you have to remember — rock started out as pop. It's evolved over the decades, from The Who to Kiss to Iron Maiden to Nirvana, and it also became cheesier. But pop isn't even a genre. It's simply popular music.”
A question of genre
All this might sound overly harsh, considering that music itself is an exercise in opinion, and tastes change. Twenty one-year-old Kaushik Viswanath, a humanities student at IIT, has his own opinion on the concept of genres. “Genres have been fragmented into so many hundreds of subgenres that it's a pointless exercise. And the best bands break labels. Even my favourites, The Beatles — were they a pop or rock band? They were both, I think. How does it matter?”
Change might be in the air, but old habits die hard, and an exercise last December proved it. The U.K. witnessed a fiery campaign to vote the Christmas number one song. The campaign aimed at ending the stronghold of The X-Factor competition winners, who had held the number one spot for four years in a row. It was successful: the Christmas number one for 2009 based on 500,000 downloads was Rage Against The Machine's 1992 rap metal song Killing In The Name.
Madonna knew what she was doing when she sang, “Music makes the people come together.”