Rock Music Sucks Now and It’s Depressing

By Ernest Baker

What the hell happened to rock music? The most successful band out right now is either Fun. or Mumford & Sons, and that is fucking depressing. I’m not even close to being an anti-mainstream rockist. Like, in an ideal way, I want to hate Fun. and Mumford & Sons for pussifying the genre, but I know that “Some Nights” and “I Will Wait” are jamming, and I’m forced to respect them for racking up those Grammys. I’m not even mad at what those bands are doing. There’s just a fear and looming sadness when you acknowledge that Fun. is not Nirvana and Mumford & Sons is not Guns N’ Roses. Those days are gone.

Lamenting the passing of a period of music, insisting that it was better, and wishing it would return is one of the most cliché, typical, and honest behaviors of any music fan, especially when it comes to rock. Watch any YouTube video of Cobain or Bowie or Hendrix or Zeppelin and scan the comments—90% of them will be cynical and nostalgic. This happens on R&B videos, but people today still have Frank Ocean and Beyoncé. This happens on pop videos, but people today still have Rihanna and Katy Perry. This happens on rap videos, but people today still have Kendrick Lamar and Drake. But rock fans are hurting. They’re feeling the void, and it’s understandable. What’s interesting is exactly how the Rock Music Economy has collapsed over the years.

It’s all been a very visible decline. It’s culminated in a 2013 when rock is just not the popular music anymore. No rock band is opening or closing the VMAs. The award for Best Rock Video was even relegated to a throwaway pre-show presentation during this week’s broadcast of the VMAs. No rock band is at No. 1 on the Hot 100. The people who sell a million albums first week these days are Taylor Swift and Lil Wayne. But 10 or so years ago, Limp Bizkit was doing that, and Creed was pretty damn close to doing that. People hate those bands, but it just goes to show what kind of grasp rock once had on pop culture.

Maybe that’s how rock got itself into this mess: always moving on from one phase to the next, but not in the evolutionary way that the music moved from punk to post to hair to grunge. Even though those evolutions were based on the rejection of something, it always seemed like there was a respect for previous incarnations of the music. By the late 1990s, as grunge gave way to complete mainstreamification of rock and led to the birth of bands like Matchbox 20 and Vertical Horizon, rock started moving from one phase to the next with embarrassment, and if its own participants didn’t believe in the genre, who else would?

Cynics and contrarians got Blink 182 and pop punk the fuck out of here. They got rap-rock the fuck out of here. They got emo the fuck out of here. They got post-punk revival the fuck out of here. And they got that indie hipster shit that was happening in 2008/2009, when MGMT was the biggest band in the world and Jay Z was going to Grizzly Bear concerts, and Vampire Weekend was on the cover of SPIN before they even had an album out, the fuck out of here. Now we’ve arrived at an existence where the only rock stars left are people who don’t make rock music and Mac Demarco, who maybe 12 people know about.

Gone are the days of Sid Vicious cutting himself on stage. Gone are the days of Ian Curtis kicking that chair, David Byrne having spasms on stage, Morrissey making depression chic, Axl Rose assaulting fans, or even Kid Rock attacking Tommy Lee over Pamela Anderson.

You can point to Rihanna’s manufactured insanity, Frank Ocean’s beef with Chris Brown, and EDM’s rise as a sign of other genres having life injected into them. We just lived through a summer with records from Kanye West, Jay Z, J. Cole, and Drake in one 90-day radius. That’s life. It feels like rock hasn’t had much life since The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Modest Mouse all dropped in the same year. It feels like rock hasn’t had much life since The Vines, The Hives, and The White Stripes all had those green Buzzworthy tags on MTV at roughly the same time. James Murphy just quit LCD Soundsystem and the game has been fucked up since. Now all rock has is Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons.

There was a time when rock had a complete, undisputed, suffocating stranglehold on the entire realm of popular culture, and that time is no more. Macklemore and a fucking teenage terrorist are more relevant subjects for the Rolling Stone cover than any rock band.

It’s not that I don’t know about or listen to the awesome, great, independent, underground rock music that’s still being made and released every day. But the fact that it’s underground and not mainstream therein lies the problem. There was a time when rock had a complete, undisputed, suffocating stranglehold on the entire realm of popular culture, and that time is no more. Macklemore and a fucking teenage terrorist are more relevant subjects for the Rolling Stone cover than any rock band. Why do you think they have like 12 Springsteen covers every year? There’s just nothing new in the genre that matters on the massive scale that it once did.

I don’t have an answer as to why rock is so boring right now, but there’s no question that it most certainly is. Kids would rather be Twitter Famous than be in a rock band these days. The genre has lost but all its influence with the masses, and at best you have a Lollapalooza as the last bastion of the genre’s former glory. Rock music will always be around and there are ebbs and flows to music—who knows, by the end of the year maybe something amazing will happen in rock and hopefully it does because rock music needs it.

“Moves Like Jagger” goes down in history whether we like it or not, but I’d rather have a new Jagger. “Ho Hey” is fucking fire but I still need something that makes people feel the way “When I Come Around” made people feel in 1994. I don’t doubt it’ll happen again, but until it does, these are the dark days. When the most successful rock album of the year is called Save Rock and Roll, you know that the epidemic is no myth.

Rock music: Get it the fuck together.

  • fedupwithamericanpolitics

    Alternative indie emo is not rock, it’s just boring lame fake rock music without a single person who can do a decent guitar solo. Rock is dead, this writer is also a hack.

  • Dave Metalife

    I agree with a lot of this article. There are a lot of great bands out there, but they’re not getting the exposure they deserve.

  • Ken Roller
  • el caco

    hey, could you just give us 5 bands that are actually good?, Im seeking quality

  • sha

    Yeah I agree . Even though I am a huge hip-hop fan I also (use to like rock) bands like smile empty soul, evanescent, even link in park( I liked their song paper cut and from the inside) allllllll music suck today it’s allllll pop and pussified foreal everything is gone……….

  • meh

    I don’t think the end of people cutting themselves on stage is anything to lament. That’s pretty messed up, for any music genre.

  • MrONegative

    The Black Keys are mainstream. Their songs are on Guitar Hero. Or is mainstream only whoever duets with Taylor Swift?

  • Idi “Big Daddy” Amin

    Two words.

    Baby Godzilla.

  • jami

    im not surprised that my generation strangled rock..pretty sure I was the only 13 year old girl wearing ripped jeans and a black sabbath shirt outside the nearest hipster town in the 00’s…too bad i never started a band

  • tokurny

    Ho Hey? worst crap of all time! I hate One Republic and that damn song ‘love runs out’ none of them can play a guitar solo! My gf plays this song loudly, way more loud than it deserves and I sit there lamenting about how music was good but life was shitty music does suck! If I hear Ho Hey one more time in a place of business I am burning the place down!!!!! fuck nickelback

  • Eri

    The Joy Kills – Fucking amaze me… they’re part of an underground revolution pass it on…

  • Bojo

    What about guys from the early 90’s that are still making quality music? Guys like Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Billy Corgan. Why are they not receiving the recognition they once were. Maybe it’s not the bands that suck, maybe it’s the public that sucks. We have a culture that doesn’t value anything of substance, and rock music is just another victim of this changing attitude.

  • soxboy71

    This is an old post…but…I have to agree. QOTSA is doing what all these people complain isn’t being done. Foo Fighters is up there too. Try looking and listening instead of waiting to be spoon fed by the radio.

  • Jovebob

    K. Let me tell you something. All music is shit. No really, most rock n’roll and modern rock artists had relatively fucking simple songs that had to rely on lyrics. If you’re talking about rock being experimental and actually…. PLAYING INSTRUMENTS then you’re probably talking about prog rock. Even that isn’t dead. Fucking metal is strong as hell today and you’d have to be an idiot to say it isn’t. Rock isn’t dead, its still kicking strong.

  • Jovebob

    What is rock? Are you talking about rock n’roll? Rock n roll is dead, like a lot of the rock from the 70s(DUH) and then metal/heavy rock took over. Now idk about you but we’ve seen a shit ton of talent from metal, and especially metal prog. Rock isn’t dead, lots of bands are still kicking. What makes rock n’roll so special either? Same shit man. Same exact fucking shit.

  • Prasanna

    What are the hell you talking about? That indie hipster crap is past it’s peak. It’s 2014 now, not 2012. And it’s going to decline from here onwards. What I predict is that things will improve over time. 2014 is already less crappy than 2010-2013.

  • Prasanna

    Lady Gaga, autotune? Are you stuck in 2010? Lady Gaga is not nearly as popular as she used to be, and autotune is used much less now. Fact checks are your friend. As for Miley, no one takes her seriously. Mainstream rap does suck, but let’s be honest, it’s been slowly declining in quality for the past 15 years. There’s still some good underground rap though. 2014 sucks but not as much as 2009/2010-2013.

  • Prasanna

    Are you retarded? Just because rock music isn’t popular at the moment, doesn’t mean it can’t make a comeback. Like Chuckster92 said, rock is in a dormant state at the moment, but music tends to be cyclical, so it could come back in the future. You clearly don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, do us all a favor, and spare us of your stupidity.

  • Prasanna

    Rock is not dead, it’s in a dormant state. The fact is the genre will never disappear, and it will come back in one form or another. . Your argument is full of shit. Get the hell out of here.

  • Prasanna

    Did you hear Linkin Park’s new album that came out this year? Huge improvement over their last 3 albums.

  • syn

    I know this is an old comment, but come on! Radiohead is *not* making anything excellent these days.

  • Beezeecade

    Black Veil Brides? Skillet? idk I listen to LInkin Park lmao

  • Tyler

    See i listen to all tht plus more idc what it is if its rock then i love it n i only listen to two rappers n thts eminem and machingun kelly

  • Guestywinds

    Um they’re called The Joy Kills – they’re going to fuck you in the mouth

  • Guestywinds

    Once again, you need to listen to The Joy Kills – they’re from Atlanta they’re busy raping your dog and shooting your father

  • Guestywinds

    Pearl Necklace – Joy Kills. Fuck you.

  • Guestywinds

    The Joy Kills are just like the Black Keys but completely different at the same time! How’d they do that you ask? Well, sounds like you need to go see them in concert before you get too old to hear real music.

  • Guestywinds

    Emo Bad – JoyKills Good

  • Guestywinds

    Rock doesn’t need the mainstream it needs just you Dee Lockett – JoyKills Everyone… now available everywhere!

  • Guestywinds

    You fuck shit? That’s unfortunate. Go see the JoyKills. They are gonna slap the taste out of your fucking mouth real fast.

  • Beezeecade

    Eminem ^-^

  • jumbotron

    Has this guy never heard of Queens of the Stone Age or Mastodon? For that matter, and not those two bands necessarily fit explicitly into the genre, but maybe its time to recognize that metal has taken up the mantle as the world’s guitar-driven music of choice. Its wildly popular the world over, still addresses social concerns articulately and promotes actual technical skill as paramount to respectability within its own borders. Sure, there are crap metal bands, but on the whole there’s a greater emphasis on quality. Corporate rock circa 2002-2010 killed rock music’s chances for good by allowing douche canoes like Creed and Nickelback to pedal to the absolute LCD and by scuttling any sense of intelligence inherent to the genre. They gave the keys to the kingdom to Alberta cowboys and baritone Southern Baptists. Their philosophical and emotional range just didn’t cover enough ground or embrace enough of an evolutionary or revolutionary ideal. Once your mom could dig it, it had no chance.

  • Mick Jenner

    Too bad Radiohead SUCKS

  • Mick Jenner

    You lost me when you praised Green Day , a 6 year old can play any of their pop punk 90´s shitty songs

  • Noah

    I want the next Nirvana. No not a knock off but some real grunge. I’m 12 yrs old and I am the only 12 yr old u will find who hates Miley Cyrus and LOVE CREED AND NIRVANA. :( cmon rock, get it together for me.

  • CMB

    Watch the anti-mainstream “Treasure Underground” song made recently by a 12 year old – it’s quite refreshing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SikYm4IDoA0

  • Emerson

    Dude exactly how I feel! Don’t worry man my band is going to change the world of music and when it does you’ll look at this comment and say holy shit he was right!

  • Cameron

    What happened to Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Black Sabbath, etc?
    Why can’t we have gods of music anymore?

  • Vixtoria

    true media is a troll the ones that dont go to award shows are cool

  • vixtoria

    I’m 15 AND I LOVE LINKIN PARK HAVE ALMOST ALL OF THEIR CDS IM GETTING THERE

  • vIXTORIA

    well actually only have 2 but i got the digital download #yaknowatimsayin

  • Maxwell Jaxwell

    indie musicians apparently make more money from merchandising than they do from the actual performing. So that is what happened to Rock.

  • Rick

    If you are interested in discovering Trudge acoustic rock music then go to you tube and type in Society’s Spit Trudge and check out so.me of my videos and ease leave your comments

  • Tristan

    I stopped reading this after the author said he liked FUN (I had to look them up on iTunes)

  • Sebastian Ardvark

    Dylan and the other 60’s greats had SOUL! These dorks today – even if they graduate from music school – just lack the intensity.

  • aaron55

    I would rather have a foothold than a stranglehold. Competition is a good thing.