Rock’s not dead

By Andrew Zerman, Staff Writer

Gene Simmons, the lead singer of KISS, infamously uttered in 2014 that “rock music as we know it is dead.” 

I gave some thought to this and agree that there may never be a band again with the same musical style as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. However, I do not think that “rock” is dead, as the definition of that word itself is rather vague, but that the genre is evolving and taking on different personas. 

“Rock and roll” was coined in the 1950s, and the music genre consisted of “twelve-bar blues, a heavy beat and an instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums.” Given this definition, “rock and roll” was exclusively reserved for bands as opposed to individuals. This funneled to “rock music,” which is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a form of popular music that derived from rock and roll and pop in the mid-and late 1960s which was characterized by musical experimentation and drug-related or anti-establishment lyrics.”  

Some of the most profitable acts in music are from the rock industry. According to celebrity net worth resource, the richest six out of the 10 highest-grossing tours were from rock music acts. Another statistic from Nielsen Music indicated that rock was the second most consumed musical genre of 2020, trailing only the hip-hop genre. Numerous rock artists such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Greta Van Fleet, Imagine Dragons, Elton John, The Who, Judas Priest and The Black Keys intend to tour this upcoming year. 

Finally, rock music has significantly impacted  modern-day artists; some, such as Machine Gun Kelly and Miley Cyrus, have left their traditional genres in the last two years to produce a rock album. 

Machine Gun Kelly released Tickets to my Downfall in April of 2020 to roaring success, although many of his fans were disappointed to see him leave his traditional genre of rap. The punk rock-tinged album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 during its first week of release. It was not only his first album to top the chart, but it was also his first album to reach platinum status. 

Machine Gun Kelly recently unveiled the possibility of two rock albums this year, stating to Entertainment Weekly that this upcoming album “will be more guitar-driven” than Tickets to My Downfall. 

Miley Cyrus is another artist of note to have made the transition to rock, as she had previously spent years covering classic rock songs before releasing Plastic Hearts at the end of 2020. In this album, she channels her inner Joan Jett. This album was created in the aftermath of a breakup, which is how many great rock albums were forged. It debuted at the second position of the Billboard 200 and also made the end of the year Billboard 200 list.   

It is my perception that musical genres cannot exist in a single definition or a confined box; I think that  rock intersects in many ways with music today, such as with the current genres of pop rock and pop punk. However, rock music necessitates certain instruments because of their pivotal role in the sound of the song.