The Death of Rock Music

November 28, 2011

After running on the treadmill next to John Norris, of MTV fame, I started to think about how for roughly 2 years (1998-2000), I used to see him every day from 3 to 4 on MTV, as apart of Total Request Live (I also thought that there is no reason why a 50 year old should have a Justin Bieber hair cut). It dawned on me that TRL pretty much defined a music generation and made certain kinds of music very popular, music genres that seem pretty much dead today. If you think about it, 1998 to 2000 gave us a time when the boy band scene pretty much got out of control (seriously, would any girl today bat at if Joey Fatone walked past them?) and when the modern punk rock was born (i.e. Blink-182, Sum 41, Foo Fighters). Oh yeah, and it created a rap monster in Eminem.

The music scene has completely changed since TRL went off the air and I think it has changed for the worse. Ten years ago, artists relied on music videos and outlets like TRL to get advertise their upcoming singles and albums. I can specifically remember a special on TV when they said that the Backstreet Boys’ song “Larger Than Life” cost something like $2 million (seriously, what the hell is going on in this video. Now, we’d be lucky if a band spends $2 on a music video (seriously, check out Blink-182’s latest music video here, compared to one of their best music videos here). Today, bands rely on the Internet and record companies have essentially stopped all marketing, except for people like Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers.

The reason why I bring all of this up is that I think MTV is one of the reasons why rock music is essentially dead. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain genres that are as popular as ever. First, pop music will never die. Neither will country. Also, there is this new genre called dub step that the college youngins like. Seriously, I tried listening to that garbage for about 2 minutes before I turned it off. Dance music? People like this? Unless it’s sung by La Bouche or the Quad City DJs, I don’t want to hear dance music. But for whatever reason, rock music is dead. I looked at the top 20 selling albums of the year for 2011 and one rock band made it: the Foo Fighters with just under 500,000 sales (meanwhile, that horrible, horrible, terrible, terrible person Lady Gaga has over 1.5 million). In fact, when I thought about the big rock and punk-rock bands that released albums this year, here’s the sales numbers I found:

  • Blink-182’s album “Neighborhoods” (which I can personally vouch for being awesome) sold under 400,000 since its September release, while their hugest album “Enema of the State,” which came out in the peak of TRL sold over 5 million.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers’ album “I’m With You” is out of the Billboard top 100 after being released 2 months ago. Meanwhile, “Californication,” released in the peak of TRL stayed in the Billboard charts forever and sold 5 million copies.
  • Sum 41’s album “Screaming Bloody Murder” (which I can also personally vouch for being their best album) peaked at number 31 on the Billboard charts and has sold 36,000 copies in the United States. Their album “All Killer No Filler” went platinum when it was released in 2001.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between the music industry and rock music. For whatever reason, major record labels have dropped all support for rock music, and I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s the rise of iTunes. Maybe it’s the rise of pop singer-songwriters. Maybe it’s the rise of weird women who dress up in giant egg costumes who parade around like they were picked on when they were younger. I can’t figure it out. It certainly isn’t because the quality of music has dropped. Whatever the reason, I think it has something to do with the fact that TRL is dead. Back in its prime, Carson Daly, John Norris, and Matt Pinfield were very loyal to the Southern California rock music scene. Now, there is nobody who pushes this music and it has unfortunately led me to take a liking to a Selena Gomez song I heard on the radio yesterday.