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.

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Ode to Blink…

October 1, 2008

First off, happy new year my Jewish friends!  You would think that after 5769 years the new years festivities would get old, but the Jews continue to not disappoint.

Anyway, onto the real point of my entry (first one in two weeks if you’re counting… and by you I mean the one person who actually reads my weblog).  It’s been a couple of days since Travis Barker’s plane crash.  It’s quite an unfortunate situation, but I’m glad he is doing better and my prayers are with him, DJ AM and the victims of the crash.  Crazy how life changes in a flash.

Anyway, this isn’t going to be an entry about how you shouldn’t take life for granted because it could change in an instant (I shouldn’t have to tell you not to take life for granted).  No, this is an entry on Travis’s best work: Blink-182.

Blink-182 is my favorite band.  Period.  Always has been, always will.  People make fun of me and say they aren’t great music.  That they’re no Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Guns and Roses, etc, etc.  But, first of all, fuck you for judging my music taste.  Second of all, and in all seriousness, I think music should be something that speaks to you.  The lyrics should be meaningful in your life.  Sure, the Beatles are classic rock.  Amazing.  But their lyrics say nothing to me.  I could understand why they would speak to a person my age in the 1960s (the music reflects the time period), but not in the 1990s and 2000s.  This is why my favorite band is Blink.  Every one of their songs speaks to me personally.  They talk about love, loves lost, fart jokes, your mom, and more.  Stuff that I could relate to.  Stuff that any 16-23 year old could relate to.   Think about it.  “What’s My Age Again” was about screwing around and acting immature, but then they follow that single up with “All The Small Things” which is about doing the small things to impress a girl (i.e. flowers on the stairs, etc).  Both subjects definitely reflect my life.

Blink is music that caught the mindsets of this age group of this generation.  This is why they were incredible and extremely successful (and also it is a shame they broke up).  So, as an ode to Travis (and Mark and Tom) I present to you some insightful analysis of songs you may not have heard (so not “What’s My Age Again” or “All The Small Things”):

“Wasting Time”, album: Cheshire Cat (1996)

Favorite line: “She’d teach me about modern art and I’d teach her it’s okay to fart.”

This song is about trying to impress a girl.  Mark talks about joining a band and making jokes all in hopes of making a girl like him make her laugh.  This kind of resonates with me.  I always try to impress girls that I like by doing interesting things, but most important, I try to make girls I like laugh, either by being witty or just plain rediculous-all in hopes of trying to make her like me.  Another line of the song, “Sometime I sit at home and wonder if she’s sitting at home thinking of me and wondering if I’m sitting at thinking about her.  Or am I just wasting my time?”  is such a clever line and is something I definitely do ALL the time.

“Waggy”, album: Dude Ranch (1997)

Favorite line:  “I don’t wanna live this lie again.  I know I’ll get it right but I don’t know when.  I’ll open my eyes, I’ve got something inside, I’ll just jack off in my room til then.”

Again, Blink hits us with the heartfelt line, but counters it with the immature humor.  This line is the epitome of why I like Blink.  They could be serious and write beautiful lyrics but at the same time be immature.  It works brilliantly.  This song also really hits home for me (which, as you can see, is a common theme in all their songs for me).  Mark talks about being ready for a serious relationship, but he just dumped a girl because she is not ready for one.  So Mark is willing to wait around in his room until he finds a girl who is.

“Online Songs”, album: Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001)

Favorite line:  Na na na na na na na na (seriously listen to the song, it’s great)

This song is one that I definitely dealt with a couple years ago.  It’s about seeing your ex-girlfriends screen name on your buddy list and it bothering you a lot.  Blink just writes about kids dealing with problems for the 21st century and this is a prime example of it.  Mark talks about trying to put the past behind him, but everytime he signs online there her screen name is.  When you think about the entire situation, you just want to laugh, but I’m sure it has happened to everyone.


This was going to be my second DBK article…

September 19, 2008

This was going to be my second DBK article, but people at the Diamondback don’t write me back.  Enjoy.

As I was driving in my car, listening to Sirius Satellite Radio (which for over 100 stations, doesn’t play a lot of good music), the song “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day came on over the speakers.  From what I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, the lead singer is not a huge fan of September.  In fact, he doesn’t like it at all.  Sure, I completely understand where he’s coming from.  As a college student, we all are coming off of summer full of fun and a lack of schoolwork and responsibility.  But I respectfully disagree with the lead singer of Green Day.  Actually, I welcome September.  Here’s why.

 

I’ve already told you why summer sucks in my previous article (thank you to the tens of… well, the ten people who read it), but even without comparing September to the long and boring summer, I find it kind of exciting.  It’s the chance for new beginnings.  A chance to show off your new wardrobe or the 15 pounds you lost (or gained) over the summer.  It’s a chance to show yourself that you could do better in school or be more involved with clubs.  It’s also a chance to spend all your summer earnings to get a small buzz at an overrated College Park bar.  But, let me digress, as I am talking about the positives here.

 

For me, it’s a chance to improve on last semester.  I find a weird thing happens over the summer: people forget everything that happened in the previous semester.  I see it in my friends and I see it in myself.  It seems like another lifetime ago, or even a fictional story that didn’t happen.  Going with that, last semester I was a cold, miserable son of a bitch.  I had a good reason.  Well, scratch that.  An average reason.  I was studying for the LSATs, which made me completely miserable.  I was devoting hours and hours to studying, which resulted in less time to socialize with my friends, as well as less time at the gym.  As a result, my friends noticed I was always stressed and not being my normal self, in addition to the “LSAT 10,” the ten pounds I gained from not going to the gym.

 

Flash forward three months, as I have completed the LSAT (and did well, thank you very much) and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, as well as my hips, thighs and buttocks.  I look toward September as a chance for new beginnings, as well as the last chapter in my childhood.  In my opinion, we should have short-term memory abou the past and look towards the future.  The upcoming three months will provide new experiences, hard work, and harder laughs for most.  Dwelling in the past, whether it is the easy summer months or even the last five years, is something I try to not think about.  I try to look towards the future, and September is the perfect start for that.

 

So, to conclude, I disagree with you, Mr. Billie Joe Armstrong, leade singer of Green Day.  September is great.  It is a time for new beginnings.  So, maybe on your next album, which by the way is very overdue (but I’m not the “Diversions” columnist), you should have a song, “Wake Me Up When September Starts.”


This is a little late but…

September 14, 2008

Okay, so I meant to post this about three weeks ago after driving to school.  But seriously, the first three weeks of the semester are the best… how can you expect me to take time off from binge drinking and partying to write on my boring blog?  Anyway, just pretend I wrote this three weeks ago…

As I was driving in my brand new 2008 Ford Focus (which for an American car is pretty damn good… trust me I was surprised as well), I said outloud, “Play song: Going Away to College.”  No, this isn’t an advertisement for Ford (which by the way has an outstandingly low APR for a short time… get your Ford Focus today).  Anyway, the 1999 Blink-182 song came on, and I realized this would be the last time that I would hear this song on the way to college.  I got to thinking about what kind of memories this song has evoked over the past four years and it is quite interesting.

Freshman Year

As I listened to this song on my iPod in the back of my parent’s car, I definitely had some mixed emotions going to college.  I was excited, but also upset, as I was leaving a girlfriend behind at home and leaving the memories of high school as well.  I thought I was going from the top of the heap, being a cocky, loud mouthed senior in high school to the bottom, where I would be a scared (still loud mouthed, however) freshman.  I didn’t want to leave the comforts of Fair Lawn, New Jersey.  I loved being at the top and didn’t want to leave my perch.  However, I also knew that these feelings were inevitable and that everybody said college was the best four years of your life.  We’ll see about that.

Sophomore Year

Once again, in the back of my parent’s car, listening to that same 1999 song, I thought to myself, “I need this.”  I was pretty much a mess from the summer after a bad break-up.  I knew what college would offer: parties, fun, a lot of video game playing and hopefully not another freshman fifteen (for me it was the freshman 8.5).  College was my escape from the horrors that were contained in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.  I needed college and needed that escape.   I wasn’t excited for college.  I was more desperate for college.

Junior Year

In the back of the same car, listening to the same song I had listened to for the previous two years, I was finally excited to go to college.  I probably had the greatest 10 months of my life.  Thoughts of Israel, New Orleans and my renewed enthusiasm for the Jewish community made me excited.  I couldn’t wait to see the people I considered my closest friends.  I couldn’t wait for the parties and the memories.  I finally felt at home, despite the fact it took over a year and a half to achieve.  The bad memories of Fair Lawn, New Jersey were in the very distant past and the new memories of College Park, Maryland were in the very near past and future.

Senior Year

Driving by yourself is a very interesting experience.  Especially for long distances.  You get a lot of time to think and reflect about life and the near future.  For me, I thought about the good times I had had for the past two years of college and the amazing friends I met and the amazing experiences I had.  I also thought about the future.  A year from now, I would be in the real world.  Maybe in law school, maybe taking a year off.  Either way, it wasn’t college.  It wasn’t having all your close friends living within a couple floors or buildings of you.  It was the real world.  And because of these thoughts, I got some mixed emotions coming back to school.  Sure, senior year was going to be amazing, but I still have a lot to accomplish, whether it be socially or academically or professionally.  Because of these mixed emotions I started to feel the pressure of the next 10 months.  I wasn’t a kid from Fair Lawn, New Jersey anymore.

I realized, after thinking about these memories, that I had come full circle.  My freshman year, I had mixed emotions and now as a senior, I was feeling mixed emotions again.  I guess it is fear of the future.  Whatever those mixed emotions were, I still look forward to the future with some excitement but also with a little sadness, realizing that my childhood is a very distant memory, but also realizing that my life as a real adult person is just beginning.