In today’s Guardian there is a piece about the lack of rock tracks in the charts. Music Prof Paul Gambaccini declared “It is the end of the rock era. It’s over, in the same way the jazz era is over”
Last year only three songs belonging to the genre appeared in the top 100 best selling hits, the lowest it’s been in half a century. Rock only accounted for 3% of songs in the charts this year, compared to hip hop/RnB which accounted for 47%, pop 40% and dance 10%.
This is a fall from last year when rock accounted for 13%. In actuality the best performing rock track was 30 year old “Don’t stop believing” by veteran band Journey. This was down to the fact that the song was decimated by the cast of Glee.
Record labels have switched their focus and resources to signing X-factor cast offs as that is where they see the money making opportunity. Therein lies the problem Rock fans tend to buy albums, and less so singles. Album sales are down whilst singles continue to do well.
There is also the added factor of the increase in illegal downloads, which may suggest that Rock music isn’t dead instead that fans of the genre opt to illegally download instead. Ticket sales for veteran bands such as Bon Jovi are still healthy, but what about tomorrows bands? The U2’s aren’t going to be around forever.
It is this short sightedness on the record company’s part that is likely to hurt the music industry as a whole. But is it fair to pin the blame squarely at the feet of record labels?
Paul Stokes of the NME thinks it’s cyclical as he predicts a resurrection of fortunes for the genre. But some of the blame must surely lie at the feet of magazines such as NME. Rock music always told a story, from, The Jam to the Clash to the Kinks.
It’s been recent belief amongst the rock fraternity that music and politics should be kept separate. Yet telling a story is a key part of good music and surely offering a social commentary is the job of any self respecting artist? And politics is part of society especially prevalent today.
With a Tory government in place many hope this will lead to resurgence in rock music, but is the current generation of upcoming bands capable of providing the soundtrack of dissension?