“Rock is dead!” cry a thousand thought-pieces, but Rock is very much still alive. It may be crippled, grabbing at relevance with gnarled yellowing fingernails, and the grandkids may be asking about the will, but it is still alive.
However it’s clear for all to see that Rock is in serious trouble. The last time we had a Rock No.1 single, by my reckoning, was ‘Sex On Fire’ and that was nearly a decade ago. If you count Coldplay or 5 Seconds of Summer the picture changes a little, but then why exactly are you counting them?
To stick with Coldplay though, one of their biggest recent hits was a shining example of Rock-Dance-Music, a sub-genre as sorry as the name suggests. ‘Something Just Like This’ was a hodgepodge of cast-offs.
The beat came from The Chainsmokers’ ‘Roses’ and the melody from Coldplay’s ‘Hymn For The Weekend’. Chris Martin sang like he was face down in a bowl of porridge, his meek warbling falling over the icy synths like a handful of grit. It was a smash hit though so I suppose that’s that.
Now U2 have got in on the action. Their song ‘You’re The Best Thing About Me’ was even worse. At least the Coldplay song had a spiffy guitar solo in the bridge. U2’s song is a svelte four minutes of MOR nothingness.
U2’s latest output appears as the last feeble prostrations of some dying animal. Gone were the band that reinvented themselves, and pop music, three decades in a row. Now they sound corny and old and have recruited Kygo to inject some life into proceedings. This he does on his remix of the track.
A highly publicised and official remix that arrives just a week after the official single release, which shows that even U2 know their song is a dead weight.
And hell, it’s a good remix. Kygo does his thing and he’s a very talented guy. His vocal snippets and spritely production are collagen injections, or perhaps cavity roof insulation, that cannot fully mask the crumbling huckery of U2’s current form.
People have been cross-pollinating rock since it’s inception but RDM stands out as particularly egregious, and it is easy top spot. It’s a pop song with some token element of rock music layered on top, that being the content or a particular element, such as a guitar solo or riff or live drumming.
These are just two of the most recent and notable ventures in RDM, a sub-genre that takes the base of rock music and waters it down into a runny, rust-coloured mess.
It’s biggest proponents at present are Maroon 5, who let go of their own identity long ago. Adam Levine is no stranger to a bit of all-cavity pop insulation.
Combining rock and guitar music with electronic music can yield great results and the baby should not be flung out with the bath water. It is disheartening seeing Rock in such a state of torpor. That the genre that has been the voice of youth in each subsequent generation has to bend to the gait of more shallow and populist music.
Liam Gallagher is wrong – there are still rock stars around. It’s just that now they have Instagram, watch their language, and aren’t above getting Max Martin in for some co-writes.