Jesus, I haven’t posted here for a while, so here’s a quick article I wrote about “rockism”…hopefully more reviews coming soon!
Quick, what’s the most pretentious musical genre you can think of? What music fans are always looking down on everyone’s tastes? Is it the classical musicians who refuse to listen to anything that isn’t at least a hundred years old? Maybe jazz aficionados who pride themselves in the technical complexity of their favourite genre? Did you by any chance consider fans of rock music? Sure, it might seem like a fairly relaxed genre, but with fans of the genre that hit its peak in the 60s and 70s getting closer to an age where they want to retain their favourite teenage memories, you’re likely to find more and more people getting defensive about it.
This phenomenon has been dubbed “rockism”, and it happens to many demographics, not just the baby-boomer generation that grew up with the music. What constitutes a “rockist”? Essentially, a rockist is anyone who believes that rock music is a superior form of pop music to any other genre and tends to judge the music of other genres based on the principles of rock. Rockists will tend to glorify music from the 60s-70s-80s era of the genre, often known as “classic rock”. I’m not trying to say that “classic rock” can’t be good, but to place it above other genres of music is being more than a little snobby. To give you a better understanding, I’ve created a list of possible “symptoms” of rockism. You might be a rockist if:
-You complain that all music after 1990/2000 has gotten worse than it was in the 60s/70s/80s
-You worry that there are more pop groups than there used to be, and that this is “threatening” rock music
-You worry about rock music “dying”
-You listen to other genres of music, but mainly those that follow rock conventions (eg., if the only hip-hop you listen to is Rage Against The Machine)
-You claim that you don’t like any pop music
-You complain about radio stations not playing enough rock music
So, if you fit these symptoms, how can you solve this problem of rockism? Well, you can do some research into the principles behind other genres so that you know the different philosophies that you should be judging them by (make sure to listen to those other genres, too!). Keep an ear open for experimentalism, including that which involves unconventional instruments, or those that are not normally found in rock music. And remember that rock and roll isn’t dead, and it’s not going anywhere but underground for a while. If you want to hear some good modern rock, look up Cage The Elephant, Modest Mouse, The White Stripes and Arcade Fire. They’re “keeping the spirit alive”, while progressing the sound of the genre.
Make sure that you don’t suffer any common rockist delusions, such as the belief that there was simply more good music back in “the old days”. I’m sure most people who make this claim have been shown The Archie’s “Sugar, Sugar”, a notoriously cheesy pop smash from the 60s that disproves this assumption, along with a slew of other forgotten cheese-hits. There’s always been bad music, and there will continue to be good music. And please, for everyone’s sake, lay off the Journey.
I’m certainly not saying that you can’t like rock music, nor that it can’t be your favourite genre. In fact, I’ll admit that I probably listen to more rock music than anything else. Just try to avoid the symptoms, and keep an open mind about music. The “golden age” is now, not 40 years ago.