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The modern music scene: death and resurrection

Arts LogoRock is dead, they say. Punk is dead. Disco is dead (or murdered, more likely). New Wave is dead. And so on.

But let’s take a closer look—music doesn’t die, it just hibernates until it is awoken in a new form. Take punk music, for example. In its truest form, punk music was fast, loud and angry. In 1976 it arrived on the music scene in London and New York with bands like Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash. But even by the time The Sex Pistols were formed, punk was becoming commercial. Since punk was about not being accepted, as soon as it was accepted by the mainstream, it was over. Just as quickly as it had arrived, punk calmed down and went New Wave. But punk wasn’t gone, it was just waiting. Ten years later it was back in the form of grunge; Nirvana, Mudhoney, Sound Garden, Green River, Pearl Jam and many more exploded back onto the scene as a direct response to the overproduced theatrics and drama of the late 1980s hair metal.

Change is necessary. If you heard a band today that sounded just like The Who, The Doors, The Clash, or Nirvana, you would think, depending on how good they were, that the band had a classic sound, or more likely, a dated sound. Music is always changing with the times.

There are very few bands, if any, that can stay popular without changing their music. Take Radiohead. They have been consistently popular for 20 years, but if you were to play a few tracks from 1993’s Pablo Honey and 2011’s The King of Limbs, they would be unrecognizable as the same band, which is exactly how they stay relevant in a music scene that is changing faster than it ever has before.

Anyone who claims that music is not what it used to be is living in a bubble of nostalgia and delusion. There are more bands than ever releasing music, and thanks to the Internet, it is easier than ever to find it. The music scene has gone global. It is just as easy to find new music from the band down the street as it is a band on the other side of the world.

Of course, that means there’s more garbage than ever available as well, but anyone interested in finding new music only has to spend a few minutes clicking and listening to find something they like.

This is what causes the newest claims that “rock/pop/punk/Christian/alternative/folk/metal is dead.” Since people do not have to rely on the radio to get new music anymore, the music played on the radio must appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Commercial radio is now more commercial than ever, and record companies and radio stations can’t afford to take risks on music that may scare listeners off. It is perfectly understandable that anyone who only knows the bands being played on the radio may believe that the music industry has simply given up. Luckily, this is not the case.

And so, instead of bemoaning the death of music, take a few minutes to check out new music websites and tune in to your community radio station. Find the bands you like that don’t get the radio airplay they deserve. Rock is not dead— it’s hiding in plain sight.

 

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