Music is cyclical…but some things will never come back

by James Hendicott
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Rock and roll will never die, goes a dated adage. It’s probably true: it’s hard to imagine a time where four (ish) people with a guitar standing on a stage is not a ubiquitous part of our music culture. It is, though, definitely at a low ebb: while stadium rock bands will never have trouble filling stadiums, it’s difficult to argue that there’s much in the rock world that’s truly making it into the mainstream media these days.

But rock will be back: while we’re currently at a very hip-hop and beat-pop stage of the endless cycle of music fashion, rock’s depth will inevitably return as soon as it’s been gone long enough to feel fresh and engaging.

It occurred to me recently, though, that a certain type of it won’t. Culture has moved on from the days of teen movies: while Olivia Rodrigo’s brilliant recent album ‘GUTS’ would fit right in on the soundtrack to 90s smash ‘10 Things I Hate About You’, the more sexualised (and, yes, sexist) movies like ‘American Pie’ are gone for good, and with them a certainly brand of music: sexualised teenage pop punk.

Now, this might sound like an odd thing to say when Green Day have recently put out ‘Saviours’ and are selling tickets by the bucketload to Marlay Park, and Blink 182 have totally sold out Royal Hospital Kilmainham for the summer, but the thing is, these bands make different music now. Green Day have edged towards ‘fun political’ rather than ‘fun look at me cross dressing and trying to talk to girls’ for at least 2 years worth of records, and Blink 182 have taken on a slightly morose edge. The more modern pop-rock band certainly has more pervasive emotional sensibilities.

So can changes in culture kill a genre? I guess it depends how specific you are about the genre. And while for many of us, this music soundtracks our teenage years, there’s a decent argument to be had about whether it’s ‘good riddance’ to that time of your life, too.

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