info about music genres: Rock Music
Classic rock emerging
Meanwhile, groups such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, ZZ Top, Van
Halen, and The Rolling Stones, as well as such solo artists as Peter Frampton and Paul McCartney, were
being heard mainly on AM radio and sharing the charts with their soft rock
For example, Frampton's 1976 live album Frampton Comes Alive, rapidly becoming the best-selling live album of all time, had spawned a number of singles that hit the Top Ten charts, such as "Show Me The Way" and "Baby, I Love Your Way". Aerosmith's rock anthem "Walk This Way", among others, were becoming popular with junior high and high school students. It was an era where both soft and hard rock mixed together. Extremely popular recordings, such as Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," actually put the two together.
Punk rock started off as a
reaction to the lush, producer-driven sounds of disco, and against the perceived
commercialism of progressive rock that had become arena rock.
Early punk borrowed heavily from the garage band ethic: played by bands for
which expert musicianship was not a requirement, punk was stripped-down,
three-chord music that could be played easily. Many of these bands also intended
to shock mainstream society, rejecting the "peace and love" image of the prior
musical rebellion of the 1960s which had degenerated, punks thought, into mellow
Punk rose to public awareness nearly simultaneously in Britain with the Sex Pistols and in America with
The Sex Pistols chose aggressive stage names (including "Johnny Rotten" and "Sid
Vicious") and did their best to live up to them, deliberately rejecting anything
that symbolized "hippies": long hair, soft music, loose clothing, and liberal
politics, and displaying an anarchic, often confrontational, stage presence;
well represented on their first two singles "Anarchy in the U.K." and "God Save the Queen".
Despite an airplay ban on the BBC, the record
rose to the top chart position in the UK. The Sex Pistols paved the way for The Clash, whose approach was less
nihilistic but more overtly political and idealistic.
The Ramones exemplified the American side of punk: equally aggressive but
mostly apolitical, more alienated, and not above fun for its own sake. The
Ramones reigned as the kings of the New York punk scene, which also included Richard Hell and Television, and
centered around rough-and-tumble clubs, notably CBGB's.
Punk was mostly an East-coast phenomenon in
the US until the late 1970s when Los Angeles-based bands such as X and Black Flag
Punk rock attracted devotees from the art and collegiate world and soon bands
sporting a more literate, arty approach, such as the Talking Heads and Devo began to infiltrate the punk scene; in some quarters the description New Wave began to be used to differentiate these less overtly punk bands.
If punk rock was a social and musical phenomenon, it garnered little in the
way of record sales (small specialty labels such as Stiff Records had released much of the punk music
to date) or American radio airplay, as the radio scene continued to be dominated
by mainstream formats such as disco and album-oriented rock (AOR).
Record executives, who had
been mostly mystified by the punk movement, recognized the potential of the more
accessible New Wave acts and began aggressively signing and marketing any band
that could claim a remote connection to punk or New Wave. Many of these bands,
such as The Cars and The Go-Gos were essentially pop
bands dressed up in New Wave regalia; others, including The Police and The Pretenders managed to parlay the boost of
the New Wave movement into long-lived and artistically lauded careers.
Punk and post-punk bands would
continue to appear sporadically, but as a musical scene, punk had largely
self-destructed and been subsumed into mainstream New Wave pop by the mid-1980s,
but the influence of punk has been substantial. The grunge movement of the late 1980s owes much to
punk, and many current mainstream bands claim punk rock as their stylistic
heritage. Punk also bred other genres, including hardcore, industrial music, and goth (Goth was originally the name of two Germanic tribes;
During the Renaissance period
in Europe, medieval architecture had
been retrospectively labeled "gothic", considered barbaric in contrast to trends
in architecture during the Renaissance.
Gothic medieval architecture often had
dark and intimidating aspects, with depictions of gargoyles and other demon-like forms.
Goth is a modern subculture that gained visibility during the early
1980s within the gothic rock scene, a sub-genre of post punk, and continues to this
day. It is associated with gothic tastes in music and clothing. Styles of dress range from gothic
horror, punk, Victorian, fetish, cybergoth, androgyny, and/or lots of black).
Rock diversifies in the 1980s
In the 1980s, popular rock diversified.
The early part of the decade saw Eddie Van Halen achieve musical innovations in
rock guitar, while vocalists David Lee Roth (of Van Halen) and Freddie Mercury (of
Queen) raised the role of frontman to near performance art standards.
Concurrently, pop-New Wave bands remained popular, while pop-punk performers, like Billy Idol and The Go-Go's, gained fame. Led by the American
folk singer-songwriter Paul Simon and the British former prog rock star Peter Gabriel, rock and
roll fused with a variety of folk music styles from around the world; this
fusion came to be known as "world music", and included fusions like Aboriginal rock. Amidst
Jackson would reach the peak of his remarkable career with the album Thriller.
Hard Rock and Heavy Metal
Heavy metal languished in obscurity throughout most of the 1970s. A few bands
maintained large followings, like Queen,
AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Aerosmith, and there were occasional mainstream hits,
like Blue Oyster
Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper".
Music critics overwhelmingly hated the
genre, and mainstream listeners generally avoided it because of its strangeness.
However this changed in 1978 with the
release of the hard rock band Van Halen's eponymous debut, which ushered in an era
of widely popular, high-energy rock and roll, based out of Los
While bands like Van Halen and Metallica innovated in the genre, and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal found fans, a group of musicians formulated what later became known as heavy metal. Taking cues from Van
Halen, but without their humor, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, and Ratt are often regarded as the first heavy metal bands to gain popularity. They became known for their debauched lifestyles, teased hair, feminized use of make-up, clothing (usually spandex,) and over-the-top posturing.
Their songs were bombastic, aggressive, and often defiantly macho, with lyrics focused on sex, drinking, drugs, and the occult. After Def Leppard's wildly
popular Pyromania, and Van
Halen's seminal 1984, heavy metal became ubiquitous. Many
heavy metal bands became one-hit wonders, or as David Lee Roth once said
of them, "here today, gone later today," (for example, Winger and Slaughter.)
By the middle of the 1980s, a formula developed in which a heavy metal band had two hits -- one a soft ballad, and the other a hard-rocking anthem. The original line-up of Van Halen broke up in 1985, creating something of a quality vacuum in the genre;
however, in 1987, Guns n' Roses released Appetite
for Destruction, which became phenomenally successful. Until heavy metal's demise in the early-1990s, Guns n'
Roses were hard rock's standard-bearers, and influenced its sound by
incorporating influences from punk rock, and thrash metal.
(Thrash metal is a subgenre of heavy metal music. The origins of Thrash
metal are generally traced to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when a number of
Heavy Metal bands began incorporating Speed Metal's extreme speed into traditional metal
melody and riffs. The first riff of Black
Sabbath's 'Symptom Of The Universe' (1975) is possibly the first thrash riff.
Speed metal pioneers Judas
Priest had some thrash ideas on their Stained Class LP (1978),
Often considered the five most important bands in this genre (especially in
the US) are: Anthrax, Kreator, Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer).
Birth of Chinese rock
Beginning about 1986, the Northwest Wind style of rock began to enter the burgeoning youth
culture in China. The first Chinese rock song may be "I Have Nothing" by Cui Jian, now the widely-admired
godfather of the Chinese rock scene. Spurred by pro-democracy activism, such as
at Tianammen Square,
and by governmental repression, rock flourished in the Chinese counterculture.
Of especial popularity later in the decade were melancholy tunes called prison songs. By 1990, Chinese rock had begun to enter the
mainstream, but almost immediately incorporated sounds and styles from the Cantopop style.
bands remained, Chinese rock became subverted, often by bands working in
cohesion with the Chinese government and in favor of the status quo; many of
rock's fans in China became disillusioned as a result, leading to a general
decline in popularity later in the decade.
Link to Shanghai, China & Canadian Rock DJ
Alternative rock and the indie movement
The term alternative music (also often known as alternative rock) was
coined in the early 1980s to describe
bands which didn't fit into the mainstream genres of the time. Bands dubbed
"alternative" could be most any style not typically heard on the radio, however,
most alternative bands were unified by their collective debt to punk. Although these groups never
generated spectacular album sales, they exerted a considerable influence on the
generation of musicians who came of age in the 80s. Two of the most famous bands
to arise from this genre were R.E.M. and the Red Hot
Grunge and the anti-corporate rock movement
By the late 1980s rock radio was dominated by aging rock artists, slick commercial pop-rock, and heavy metal; MTV had arrived and brought with it a perception that style was more important than substance. Any remaining traces of rock and roll rebelliousness or the punk ethic seemed to have been subsumed into corporate-sponsored and mass-marketed musical product. Disaffected by this trend, some young musicians began to reject the polished, glamor-oriented posturing of heavy metal, and created crude, sometimes angry music. The American Pacific Northwest region, especially Seattle, became a hotbed of this style, dubbed grunge.
Early grunge bands, particularly Mudhoney and Soundgarden, took much of their sound from early
heavy metal and much of their approach from punk, though they eschewed punk's
ambitions towards political and social commentary to proceed in a more
nihilistic direction. Grunge remained a mostly local phenomenon until the
breakthrough of Nirvana in 1991 with their album Nevermind. A slightly more
melodic, more completely produced variation on their predecessors, Nirvana was
an instant sensation worldwide and made much of the competing music seem stale
and dated by comparison, heavy metal faded almost completely from the
Nirvana whetted the public's appetite for more direct, less polished rock
music, leading to the success of bands like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. Pearl Jam took a
somewhat more traditional rock approach than other grunge bands but shared their
passion and rawness. Pearl Jam were a major commercial success from their debut
but, beginning with their second album, refused to buy in to the corporate
promotion and marketing mechanisms of MTV and
Ticketmaster, with whom they
famously engaged in legal skirmishes over ticket service fees.
While grunge itself can be seen as somewhat limited in range, its influence
was felt across many geographic and musical boundaries; many artists who were
similarly disaffected with commercial rock music suddenly found record companies
and audiences willing to listen, and dozens of disparate acts positioned
themselves as alternatives to mainstream music; thus alternative rock emerged from the
While America was full of grunge, post-grunge, and hip hop, Britain launched
a 1960s revival in the mid-90s, often called Britpop, with bands like Oasis, Radiohead, Pulp and Blur. These bands drew on a myriad of styles from the 80s
British rock underground, including twee pop, shoegazing and space rock and from the alternative rock. For a
time, the Oasis-Blur rivalry was similar to the Beatles-Rolling Stones rivalry.
While bands like Blur tended to follow on from the Small Faces and The Kinks,
Oasis mixed the attitude of the Rolling Stones with the melody of the Beatles.
Radiohead took inspiration from performers like Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd and R.E.M. with their progressive rock music,
manifested in their most famous album, OK Computer.
These bands became very successful,
and for a time Oasis was given the title "the biggest band in the world" but slowed down after band breakups. On the other hand Radiohead threw themselves into electronic experimentation in their latest
Alternative music and the rebellious, DIY ethic
(The DIY punk ethic refers to the idea of 'doing it yourself', i.e.,
making and promoting music without major record label backing, and without any great level
of "selling out". A popular
slogan of the DIY movement is "DIY not EMI",
an explicit rejection of the major label of that name) it espoused became the inspiration for
grunge, the popularity of which, paradoxically, took alternative rock into the mainstream. By the mid-90s, the term "alternative music" had lost much of its original meaning as rock radio and record buyers embraced increasingly slick, commercialized, and highly marketed forms of the genre. At the end of the decade, hip hop music
had pushed much of alternative rock out of the mainstream, and most of what was
left played pop-punk and highly
polished versions of a grunge/rock mishmash.
Following the lead of Pearl Jam, many acts who, by choice or fate, remained outside the commercial mainstream, became part of the indie rock movement. Indie rock acts placed a premium on maintaining complete control of their music and careers, often releasing albums on their own independent record labels and relying on touring, word-of-mouth, and airplay on independent or college radio stations for promotion. Linked by an ethos more than a musical approach, the indie rock
movement encompasses a wide range of styles, from hard-edged, grunge influenced
bands like Superchunk to
punk-folk singers such as Ani
Currently, many countries have an extensive local Indie scene, flourishing with bands with much less popularity than commercial bands, just enough of it to survive inside the respective country, but virtually unknown outside them.
With the death of Kurt
Cobain, rock and roll music searched for a new face, sound, and trend. A
second wave of alternative rock bands began to become popular, with grunge
declining in the mid-90s. The Foo Fighters, Green Day and Radiohead spearheaded rock radio. In 1995, a Canadian
pop star Alanis
Morissette arose, and released Jagged Little Pill, a major hit that
featured blunt, personally-revealing lyrics. It succeeded in moving the
introspection that had become so common in grunge to the mainstream. The success
of Jagged Little Pill spawned a wave of popularity in the late 90s of
confessional rock releases by female artists including Jewel, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, and Liz Phair. Many of these artists drew on their own
alternative rock heroes from the 1980s and early 90s, including the folksy Tracy Chapman and various
("Riot Grrl" (also frequently spelled riot grrrl) is a form of hardcorepunk rock music, known for its
militant stance. The genre first appeared in the
early 1990s as an offshoot of alternative rock and
punk music and as a response to prevalent attitudes of punk machismo, building
also on a history of all-women bands. With the rallying cry, "Revolution Girl Style Now!" bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile created a mini-movement
to combat the male-dominance of the punk scene and, by extension, the rest of
the world. Riot grrrl lyrics often address gender-related issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality and female empowerment.) The use of
introspective lyrics bled into other styles of rock, including those dubbed
The late 1990s brought about a wave of mergers and consolidations among US
media companies and radio stations such as the Clear Channel Communications
conglomerate. This has resulted in a homogenization of music available and the
creation of artificially-hyped acts. Bands like Blink 182 and Sum 41 defined pop punk at the end of the 90s. At this
time, "nu-metal" began to take popular form, it contained a mix of grunge,
metal, and hip-hop. Using downtuned 7 string guitars KoRn first created their
heavy crushing riffs in 1994 with their first self-titled album. This then
spawned a wave of "nu-Metal" bands
such as Linkin Park, Slipknot, Static-X, Disturbed, and Limp Bizkit.
In the early 2000s the entire music industry was shaken by claims of massive
theft of music rights using file-sharing tools such as Napster, resulting in lawsuits against private
file-sharers by the recording industry group the RIAA.
After existing in the musical underground, garage rock finally saw a
resurgence of popularity in the early 2000s,
with bands like The
White Stripes, The
Strokes, Jet, The Vines, The Libertines and The Hives all releasing successful
singles and albums. This wave is often referred to as back-to-basics rock
because of its sound. Currently popular rock trends include, "Emo", or Emotional music, which draws its style from softer
punk and alternative rock styles from the 1980s. Many new bands have become
well-known since 2001, including Jimmy Eat World, My Chemical Romance, Dashboard
Confessional and Taking Back Sunday.
Meanwhile, rock and roll today (in the mainstream) is dependent on either
synthesizer orchestration or sampling, prominent in such pop/R&B artists as
Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson, Destiny's Child, Nelly, Kelly Clarkson, and Alicia Keys. Rap/Hip-Hop music is also becoming
prominent on U.S. charts.