While not exactly going away completely anytime soon, has rock & roll become culturally irrelevant?
Recently when Tom Petty passed away I was ruminating on the fact that there were pretty much only two musical acts universally revered by fans of all modern music – Tom Petty & AC/DC. Even dedicated hip hop fans were exposed to these artists through samples and added to the genres musical lexicon.
And then not long after that, Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist, songwriter and backbone of AC/DC passed away. And even though he had not been playing with the band for a few years due to declining health, his absence will be felt, and there will never be one of his thunderous riffs powering a new track again.
With the loss of those two musical entities the connective tissue that brought together fans of music as disparate as country, heavy metal, rap and punk is now no longer. Which gave me pause to reflect on the state of my first love in life – rock music.
Nothing lasts forever. Rock music will not, either. While it is not ready to die any time soon, I suspect it has peaked.
It will unlikely ever produce artists as universally loved throughout entire cultures again, like Tom Petty and AC/DC.
Without the ability to act as a central cultural force, it will never be as relevant as it was. It will never have the power to create widespread social change. It will not unite disparate individuals and groups. It will not be the voice of youth.
As Jane’s Addiction already announced years ago – Nothing’s Shocking.
And to top it off, this was also the first year in which hip hop music became more popular than rock music.
When future musicologists look back to the time when rock music began its decline, they will almost undoubtedly point to 2017 as the year it happened.