Rock is Dead

Written by John Iadipaolo

In a culture obsessed with bubble gum pop and gangsta rap rule, it's decidedly uncool to be labeled a 'rocker'. Rock is what our parents listened to, so naturally the average teen wants the polar opposite. They want manufactured beauty kings (N'Sync) and queens (Spears) to croon about a messy breakup or a new crush. They want tough, young black men to rap about the hardships of the streets (when the majority of them have never set foot inside Harlem). They wouldn't be caught dead listening to The Police's 'Every Breath You Take', but Puffy's cheesy 'tribute' to the Notorious B.I.G., featuring the guitar part and most of the lyrics, sold quite well.

It's disappointing that rock doesn't get the attention that it deserves anymore, but it's certainly not a surprise. Music has become another product to buy, use and throw away. People aren't very selective about the music they listen to, as long as it's got a beat, a pretty video and they can grind to it in a club. Plus, it's easy to listen to a new single, even if you don't really like it. Hot singles generally have a shelf life of a month before they're deemed 'played out', and get forgotten in favor of something newer, hotter and louder.

When the topic of music comes up when I'm talking with friends, I'm always interested to hear what they say. They never talk about the lyrics, emotions or intensity of their favorite artists- most of them don't really have favorite artists, and their 'favorite' song changes every couple of weeks. I'm not criticizing my friends, but I think it's sad when an art is cheapened the way music has been over the past few decades.

A great rock song gives me a rush, but many people complain that it's depressing music, and I can see why they might think so. With it's hard edge and decidedly unattractive stars, rock doesn't fit into pop culture's mold of being constantly bigger, flashier, faster and dumber. Many true rock songs aren't radio friendly (I don't consider bands like Serial Joe, No Doubt, Limp Bizkit, etc etc as real rock bands due to their obvious commercialism), and you sure as hell can't dance to it. Still, to me good rock bands possesses certain qualities that artists in many other types of music lack: integrity, feeling, and a genuine love of their work

Regardless of me friends and my culture, I try to remain a faithful rock fan. I'm a big fan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Metallica, Tool and NIN. I was at the Slipknot concert last week (April 7th) at the Warehouse (in my hometown of Toronto), and I'm looking forward to the big NIN show at Maple Leaf Gardens at the end of the month. Still, I'm not as much of a 'rocker' as I used to be. When I'm driving around I usually listen to dance stations (although Toronto's rock stations are awful, and my tape deck is broken), but I find myself tapping my foot or humming to rap and dance songs now and again. I certainly don't dress like a traditional 'rocker', if I ever did, and just last night my friends brought me to a club. They say they're wearing me down, and-sometimes- I wonder if they're right.