The term 'classic rock' should be familiar to anyone who's scanned through radio stations; it refers to the special class of older bands that the airwaves have established as 'radio friendly'. These are artists that almost anyone can recognize: David Bowie, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, .... These are the bands that make up the Classic Rock Canon, the playlist for every classic rock radio station in the country. And it's a short playlist at that; anyone who's listened to one of these stations throughout the week can attest that most rotate the same set of songs from day to day, simply shuffling the same daily playlist. Such playlists generally use, on average, one or two songs from each artist/band. Let's see how much music that is: assume that every half hour of music is followed (or broken up by) five minutes of ads and DJ chatter. From this, we can derive that for every six hours of music, we get one hour of dead air. One day's playlist is therefore around 19-20 hours long (I'm not really being too careful with the math here). About 20 hours of music. Let's be generous and put that at 24 hours, accounting for potential change ups in the music line-up.
Those 24 hours, a single day, serve as the emblem for roughly two and a half decades of music, stretching from the early 1960s through to the mid/late 80s. In band terms, one can roughly define the classic rock period as starting with the British Invasion (more specifically, the release of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and the first American Beatles tour in late-1963) and ending with the release of Thriller in 1982. The most recent bands in a classic rock playlist tend to be either U2 or Journey, with the earliest generally being Elvis or, rarely, Chuck Berry.
Can a single day really serve as an effective summation of two decades? Can the most innovative and madcap period of pop music really be expressed in a single day? My answer is no, and I'm willing to go through the effort of proving it.
I intend to systematically explore the constructed genre of classic rock in at least three ways: a taxonomy of the bands/artists generally heard on a typical classic rock station (Canon), an exploration of related subjects (Genre Dictionary, Critical Hype), and my own opinions as to who should be included (Apocrypha). This is, of course, all based on my personal observations and opinions. I'm not unbiased (far from it), but my opinions will hopefully make all of this more interesting and worthwhile. Hopefully.
30 years from now, when you turn the radio to the classic rock station what will you hear?
This is the main idea of the Modern Rock Canon. Nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool, and the time is fast approaching when Generation Y will start looking back at the faded denim and knee-high pants of the late-90s with a wistful fondness. This may well be where the term 'alternative' is heading; 20 years from now that may be our 'classic rock'. After all, phasing the label forward would be far too confusing.
Unlike the Classic Rock Canon, which is at least vaguely based on objective observation, the bands listed in the Modern Rock Canon are more based out of my own conjecture. This is largely unavoidable; current radio stations still use a reasonable range of material in their broadcasts, making a list based on them infeasible. Also note that by 'modern' I'm referring to the period stretching from the end of the 'classic' period (the early/mid-80s) to the late 00s. A little bit of hindsight is necessary for this, in my opinion anyway.
I'm going to particularly focus on the alternative movement, which has gradually become the catch-all phrase for everything from Alice In Chains to REM (which is itself the reason for my guess at the period's label; this could have just as easily been called the 'Alternative Canon' and I'll be using that label when appropriate). Hip-hop/rap will be incorporated as a matter of course, but I'll give notice that my knowledge of that genre is sorely limited. It won't stop me, but it should still be noted.
As someone with an all-encompassing interest in music and its vagaries, I will often indulge myself in posts without direct relation to the topics I've set out above. One of these I've already mentioned; Critical Hype posts will involve my reactions to general aspects of music and its history, and will mainly serve as a kind of catch-all. Genre Dictionary and Genre Study posts will at least be more directed, providing details, musings, and rants abouts musical genres.
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