Has Rock and Pop Music Lost Its Identity?

Many years ago, if you heard a song on the radio, in a shop or bar, you would immediately know the name of the artist or band. Back in the 80’s this was certainly true, especially the pop charts. Since the 90’s though this individuality seemed to trail off with musical styles from different genres being homogenized into rap, R&B and dance for instance. This could be due to the huge US gangsta rap influence — even the spice girls seemed to have borrowed from this. Fashion obviously has a big influence. Could this be why the 80’s is making such a big comeback?

Rock music, on the other hand has seen something of a Renaissance in recent years, often going back to its various innovations like punk, 60″s beat and classic rock. Bands like The Artic Monkeys, The Feeling and Franz Ferdinand are certainly good examples of this. The Killers and Coldplay on the other hand owe a lot to 8o”s bands like The Cure or U2 but made a style all of their own. The interesting thing with rock as opposed to pop is that the rock bands seem to stay together much longer. U2 are an obvious example. The Rolling Stones seem to roll on for ever and even Status Quo are still on the go and numerous others which you don”t hear much of these days. The biggest bands in pop on the other hand i.e. The Beatles, ABBA and The Spice Girls only lasted a few years — often being offered multi-million deals to reform with only the spice girls capitulating. Even so pop seems to have more comeback bands now such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Micheal Jackson. Though Micheal.Jackson had never really left the public eye, he hadn”t toured for over ten years. With his recent death of course, everybody wants a piece of the nostalgia that has blossomed as a result of it. It”s doubtful whether his unique blend of musical style and individuality will ever be matched.

Heavy metal seems to continue its popularity unabated ever since Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin first unleashed their huge yet mesmerizing guitar sound onto the world. The different fads of fashion certainly did not have as much influence on this genre as it did on the other popular styles. Punk did not have as much effect on metal except it may have helped it become more popular and power driven with new bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Van Halen joining the foray. psychedelic and bluesy rock on the other hand largely lost out to the punk movement with just a few of them surviving punk”s stampede for a few more years such as Wishbone Ash, Electric Light Orchestra and Supertramp. Pink Floyd are one notable exception with the album “The Wall” released in 1979, which ensured that they kept up with their punk and new wave rivals.

An answer to one of the original question may be that bands & artists who are self formed such as in rock and metal write their own songs or perform other people”s songs with such passion that they never tire of it, where as in pop the artists are often manufactured and usually tire of someone else controlling everything they do. There are exceptions even here though like Take That and The Pet Shop Boys who have always wrote their own songs. This may be what makes songs more memorable, artists who write their own material and have a certain fashion or style, This is certainly true in pop and rock but less so in metal where electric guitar playing skill or speed are usually more important.

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