When did rock die?

jonatan
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When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:15 pm

Rock still exists of course, but I think it is much less present at the top of the charts than it used to be. When did this happen?

I analyzed a list of the top 6000 albums that Henrik sent me, counting albums as rock if one of the first two parent genres was a rock genre. Each album was weighed using the same formula as used on Acclaimed Music to rank groups of albums.

1980 was the most rock-dominated year of all. Looking at the top albums from that year (http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/year/1980a.htm) this sounds correct.

After that there is a steady decline. Where would we draw the line? I would argue for one of two points

1. 1995. There is a steep drop, and after this point rock never got above the 50% line again. Also, Kurt Cobain died in 1994, and Nickelback formed in 1995, which I find quite fitting.

2. In the 2010s (really 2009-). This is quite in line with my personal impression.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby BleuPanda » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:33 pm

I don't think a genre can be considered 'dead' if it's still averaging over 1/5 of acclaimed music each year. Now, when did it stop being an all-consuming force that overshadowed everything else?

In a cultural sense, I think there's a fair reason to go with 1995 being the last year rock truly held power in mainstream culture, with a short revival in the early 2000s. Smashing Pumpkins seems to be the final mega-band of the rock era, and them falling apart shortly after the death of Kurt Cobain pretty much destroyed the rock lineage. The White Stripes and the first albums by The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand hinted at a comeback, but The White Stripes were the only ones to really hang around for an extended period.

So, I would go with 1995 as the year rock gave way to other genres.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Shaun2oo3 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:02 pm

This is cool! I would love to see a data visualization that shows the relative share of each year's acclaimed music across the genre categories. Like for example, if 1994 is 50% rock, the other 50% is split up between which other genres?

I would not have guessed the early 60s would be totally devoid of rock acclaim. Is rock & roll considered separately from rock?

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Listyguy » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:25 pm

Given the prominence of groups like the Strokes and the White Stripes (and even Radiohead if you want to count them) in the early 2000's, I would definitely say that rock didn't die in 1995. It faded away for a few years after the death of Kurt Cobain (whether or not that's the sole reason is up for debate in my opinion).

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby StevieFan13 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:58 pm

1995 was a pretty big banner year for rock (Oasis, Alanis Morissette, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters), so it's something that it still went downhill.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:28 pm

Shaun2oo3 wrote:This is cool! I would love to see a data visualization that shows the relative share of each year's acclaimed music across the genre categories. Like for example, if 1994 is 50% rock, the other 50% is split up between which other genres?

I would not have guessed the early 60s would be totally devoid of rock acclaim. Is rock & roll considered separately from rock?


Yeah, maybe I could look into that!

Rock & Roll is considered to have the parent genre as rock, so that counts.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:46 pm

StevieFan13 wrote:1995 was a pretty big banner year for rock (Oasis, Alanis Morissette, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters), so it's something that it still went downhill.


Actually, annoyingly, Oasis doesn't have Rock as one of it's first parent genres. It does have 'Alternative Rock' though. (Usually bands who have Alternative Rock as 1st parent, have Rock as 2nd parent, but Oasis has Pop. Doesn't really make sense to me. )

Anyway, if I include albums that have Rock as any of the 4 parent genres, we get the following Figure.

Now it's quite clear that Rock music stagnated in the 2010s decade.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby StevieFan13 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:55 pm

I mean, Oasis are a kind of pop - Britpop (but that's always felt like a misnomer, since it's more rock than pop, it's just shinier than most alt-rock).
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Henrik » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:55 pm

The parent genres are alphabetically sorted, so the third parent genre is just as important as the second, and so on.

Nevertheless, great job jonatan!
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 7:56 pm

Oh ok! Well the second graph I made is clearly the one to go by then.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby BleuPanda » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:06 pm

Once again, I don't think we can consider a genre 'dead' or 'stagnated' because it only makes up 1 out of every 3 acclaimed albums. That is a lot.

You know what else could have caused this shift? There's simply more critically-evaluated genres now. Back in the 70s, electronic and hip hop were only beginning to form, and pop music as it is now didn't really exist en masse and largely over-lapped with rock for a while. If you're looking solely at acclaimed works, you have to take into account the genres that simply didn't exist in that era that do now. Just the presence of hip hop and electronic music is going to eat into the share that rock once had a near-monopoly on.

You also have to consider the sources; there are now magazines that only review hip hop or electronic that are being considered on this site, while critics from previous eras were incredibly rock-oriented. Other voices are being considered in the modern era, which means more diversity among genres.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Gillingham » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:12 pm

Alternative Rock is a sub-genre of Rock as well, so why not include that one anyway?

Still, interesting stuff Jonatan!

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:19 pm

Gillingham wrote:Alternative Rock is a sub-genre of Rock as well, so why not include that one anyway?

Still, interesting stuff Jonatan!


Yes, I should have. Now it is, the second figure is the right one.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:40 pm

Now I tried to compare the top 8 parent genres, and how they have developed.

In this view BleuPanda is indeed right: Rock is still the largest single genre. Althought it's not the juggernaut it was previously. I find it interesting how R&B had a comeback.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:43 pm

Here is the same figure, but with absolute acclaim instead of acclaim proportional to the other genres in that year So the sum of the genres will be higher around 1970, for instance.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Shaun2oo3 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:50 pm

So cool! Thanks so much for sharing these!

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby StevieFan13 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:53 pm

What a plummet for jazz though. Unsurprisingly, I suppose.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:13 pm

It would be fun to compare it with the popular taste in music, eg the best selling albums in each year. Does anyone know if it's possible to get that data, and connect it to genre information?

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Shaun2oo3 » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:25 pm


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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Henry » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:12 am

Perhaps we should put together a poll about songs that discuss the death of rock and roll :-)

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby StevieFan13 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:49 am

Henry wrote:Perhaps we should put together a poll about songs that discuss the death of rock and roll :-)

The Who were singing about it when rock was arguably at its peak.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Gillingham » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:04 pm

Nice graphs!

StevieFan13 wrote:What a plummet for jazz though. Unsurprisingly, I suppose.

Indeed.
Good to see it slowly climb up in the 10s though. It's actually doing better than any time since the 70s.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Honorio » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:19 pm

Excellent thread, jonatan! I did a similar thread almost two years ago that I called "Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll", you can read it here. With a big difference, I only analysed the Top 100 songs of every decade while you analysed the Top 6000 albums!!! That's a lot of work, many thanks for that!
Another siginificant difference is that I grouped the styles in 4 or 5 big groups, so the difference between Rock and the others was not as wide as in your lists. Maybe you could group Electronic/Dance, Jazz/Folk and R&B/Hip Hop (or even R&B/Hip Hop/Jazz) but it's perfectly OK if you leave it like that.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jonatan » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:34 pm

I unfortunately can't see the figures in that post any more.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Honorio » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:31 pm

Hope it works now. I replaced the graphics uploaded with Photobucket (that now isn't free) with the same ones now uploaded with Imgbox.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Jirin » Sat Dec 09, 2017 5:45 pm

I don't think pop charts indicate genre health.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Jonathon » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:11 pm

Critically, sub-genres of rock dominated last decade, and even the earliest part of this decade.

I actually chalk this up to rap and hip hop being younger genres with a lot more room for innovation. A lot of the critically acclaimed rock albums of this decade have just been "Hey, this band we like made a great album!" vs. Kid A, Funeral, Is This It, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot which felt like epochs last decade.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Jirin » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:18 am

The pop charts indicate the mode of the American music listening universe, among people who are spending money. Not the mean, not the exclusive majority. And the music scene is more fractured now than ever before. There's no one centralized group of listeners all buying the same records, it's a lot of little subcultures. Pop, rap and country happen to be the biggest ones, but indie rock is a decently large one too, and that's not even counting people over 40 who are listening more to classic rock and just are not counted because they don't need to spend money to listen to it.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby acroamor » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:10 am

Henry wrote:Perhaps we should put together a poll about songs that discuss the death of rock and roll :-)


Ooh, I'll start:


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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Jirin » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:14 am

Hey hey, my my, rock and roll will never die!

It's better to burn out, than it is to rust.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Reverend Moonjava » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:31 am

The problem I always run into with "rock and roll is dead" is that nobody can agree on what exactly rock and roll is. There's some consensus on who rock and roll is, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are rock bands, I've never seen them called anything else. But then, is "D'yer Mak'er" a rock song, or is it reggae? Is "The Battle of Evermore" rock, or old English folk music? What about "Eleanor Rigby" and "Within You Without You" and "Fool in the Rain" and "She's Leaving Home" and any number of other songs that clearly owe a lot or almost all of their existence to something far removed from American drums and electric guitars music?

Insofar as it's obvious certain things aren't rock, I'd say it's easy to see that rock is no longer a major cultural force, and hasn't been in at least a decade. Just looking at what songs come up when you search for "Year rock songs" I'd hesitantly name 2013 as the year rock died completely as far as the mainstream was concerned.
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Re: When did rock die?

Postby The_Claw » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:10 pm

Rock 'n roll for me is early Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly. So I guess that the first song should be this one:


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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Fred » Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:14 pm

By the end of 2006 all the notecombinations were gone.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby Gillingham » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:35 pm

Honorio wrote:Excellent thread, jonatan! I did a similar thread almost two years ago that I called "Whatever Happened to My Rock 'n' Roll", you can read it here. With a big difference, I only analysed the Top 100 songs of every decade while you analysed the Top 6000 albums!!! That's a lot of work, many thanks for that!
Another siginificant difference is that I grouped the styles in 4 or 5 big groups, so the difference between Rock and the others was not as wide as in your lists. Maybe you could group Electronic/Dance, Jazz/Folk and R&B/Hip Hop (or even R&B/Hip Hop/Jazz) but it's perfectly OK if you leave it like that.

Personally, I prefer it this way. Because I see as much (or possibly more) in common between for example pop and jazz or folk and rock as between jazz and folk.
But I do agree that the 'rock' umbrella is huge and bigger than those other genre umbrellas.

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Re: When did rock die?

Postby jamieW » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:55 pm

Apparently, it's alive & well if you're a R&R Hall of Fame voter! :P


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