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Commentary: Where has Rock Gone?

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay





These are the words that are on my radio screen in my car as I’m driving to an appointment. I can feel the car vibrating as Tom DeLonge’s guitar riff, Mark Hoppus’ underlying bass and Travis Barker’s fast and primal drumming blasts out of the speakers in my car. I stop at a stoplight and turn my music down because I don’t want the 60-year-old woman in the car next to me shooting daggers at me for blasting music. But instead, she smiles. She saw me tapping my fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of the rock anthem and could see that I was loving the song I was listening to. The light turns green and we go our separate ways. 

It then occurred to me that when I’m driving, I can often be that guy who blasts music loudly, and it probably annoys the drivers around me. But if I’m driving safely (which I am), and I’m not being overly obnoxious (which I’m not) why should they be bothered? 

But then something else occurred to me; I’m not alone in blasting music in my car. But sometimes I wonder… am I the only one blasting rock music in my car?

Now obviously, the answer is no. Plenty of people still love their rock music and will have jam sessions whenever they want. Everybody has that one roadtrip playlist where they can howl along to their favorite songs in the comfort of their car, without being judged by other people because after all; when are you going to see these people driving on the highway next to you again? 

But whenever I’m walking along streets of either Des Moines, my native Minneapolis or their suburbs, I see and hear people blasting music in their cars. And most of the time, it’s rap. I always hear either Drake, Travis Scott, or some other rapper that uses trap beats blasting out of a car’s speakers, and the person that’s driving the car is either a millennial or Gen Z. I also hear pop music – i.e. Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles and The Weeknd. 

To me, it seems like there’s more pop artists than stars in the sky these days. Though I certainly have my pop guilty pleasure, I’ve never really fallen in love with the genre. But I’m not here to write an epic takedown of pop music, because people who just tell off someone for enjoying something that causes no harm, are the worst. 

But where have all the rock fans gone? 

Now of course, everyone has their favorite rock songs. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have one rock song they absolutely love. Who hasn’t jammed out to Bohemian Rhapsody in their cars? Or screeched out the lyrics to Don’t Stop Believin’? Or got pumped up to Livin’ on a Prayer? Yes, there are classics that everybody enjoys. But I feel like our generation doesn’t like rock music nearly as much as the ones before us. 

I went to a Bon Jovi concert when COVID-19 wasn’t a thing and I was one of the only people under the age of 40 there. I didn’t see anybody super young. Of course, I know Bon Jovi is more for people of older generations, but I was surprised to see that there weren’t many people my age at the rock legends’ concert. Those guys wrote some of the best ballads of the 80s that have persisted to today – how could there not be any young people there? 

I personally have fallen in love with a different type of pop: pop punk. Bands like Blink-182, Green Day and Sum 41 have been my jam. I love the loud, fast guitars, and the drumming that seems to get more and more impossible to play as I listen to it. (On a side note, let me be clear, I’m not edgy.) But aside from close friends who share the same music interests I do, we’re the only ones who have either heard more than these bands hits or heard them in general. 

Some people think rock is a dying genre. Though it is true that a lot of rock bands release albums that are listened to by millions, many would say the members of these bands are old or past their prime. One of Spotify’s playlists is called “Pop Punk’s not Dead.” Fall Out Boy’s 2013 hit album was called “Save Rock and Roll.” 

And though there is evidence to support these claims that rock is dead or needs to be saved, there are plenty of signs to show that the rock community is still alive and well. One of the biggest pieces of evidence is Machine Gun Kelly’s new album “Tickets to my Downfall,” the wildly successful punk rock album made by the former rapper that many pop fans I’ve talked to love. I personally do not believe rock is dead – but other genres of music have certainly become more popular. 

I don’t meet many rock fans nowadays. Most people I see wearing Nirvana, Metallica, or Queen shirts wear them for the retro style. I think it’s because our generations’ tastes have evolved more towards pop and rap music. And that’s fine! If people love that type of music, more power to them. I’m also not here to say rock music is a superior genre of music – because in the end, music, its meaning, and how good it sounds is subjective.


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