I recently went to my local Guitar Center. I needed a guitar at the time to replace my aging and worn-out Fender Stratocaster, and I spoke with the salesman there. He showed me the available guitars, and I immediately noticed something: prices for guitars are getting lower. Why would that be? It was easy to look around and notice because not too many people were browsing the guitar area of the store, but I did notice a sizable crowd checking out the keyboards and DJ equipment. It makes sense. The Top 40 radio stations are full of heavily engineered music, the backing force for pop and hip-hop now. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but you might ponder at what happened to the music that was more “raw” in nature. Fairness should be given to both styles, yet the raw ones don’t get played as much on many radio stations.
If that doesn’t quite make you think, another situation to take a gander at is actually the Grammys.
The night of the Grammy Awards this year was full of entertaining performances, and a slew of new artists were able to make me clap my hands and sing along. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis certainly have great hooks, and Daft Punk used its nostalgic beats to bring excitement to dance music and cruise its way to multiple wins. Then came another event of nostalgia to close the show: Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails), worked with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Lindsey Buckingham to play the closing song of the show. The combination sent shivers down my spine. Being an avid rock fan, I was thinking this performance would be an awesome close to the Grammys. It started out great, and my mind was successfully being blown by the heavy drum beat of Dave Grohl and the stiff, industrial riffs of Reznor when right after, the music died out before the performance was even over and CBS conveniently showed that Delta Airlines and other partners that sponsored the Grammys.
While a little angry, I was mostly confused. Why invite rock legends who persevered through years of being musicians (which is very tough, indeed), only to dismiss their hard work by saying that you had some money loans to make your show possible? That’s pure disrespect. After a bit, I thought it over. My conclusion is that I shouldn’t be really that surprised. Rock ‘n’ roll might not be saved after all, and it is a topic that has been brought up numerous times.
Looking at many nominees in the rock category over the past couple of years, you can see they are actually not new artists, but rock legends, such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and others who built massive followings over time. This also is hardly a crime, for they deserve to be commemorated, but very few new bands make the cut, unlike the categories in other genres. People give rappers and pop artists a chance right away sometimes. On the contrary, America is focusing on the past when it comes to rock.
Why is this happening? No one can really say. There are clearly many theories on the table. Technology is improving. Hip-hop and mainstream pop are on the rise. People miss the “old” style of rock as opposed to that of the new era. It’s probably ideal to appreciate the nature of all music. I do like the Katy Perrys and Kanye Wests of today, but being a veteran fan of rock, I can only sit back and hope the future of this roughed-up genre will look brighter.
Sorry about the disrespect, Trent. Better luck next time.