Some time ago, I wrote an article on boy bands in the 90s, and when it was published, many of my friends were unpleasantly astonished and even shocked to find out that I had liked boy bands when I was a teen. This is mainly because most of them love rock and heavy metal, as I do now, and as I have done for the past ten years. They couldn’t understand how at the time, I could have liked such a different music-genre.
Most of the lyrics and instrumental style in the musical genre called ‘rock’ generally involves rather deep and emotional subjects. Evanescent and transcendent topics such as loss, fear, anger and heartbreak are explored and described, and therefore this genre is often seen to be heavy and profound. This is, perhaps, why most rock and heavy metal lovers sometimes feel as though lighter and more mainstream music, like pop and house, tend to be more frivolous and shallow. More concerned with beat and rhythm, than with the specific, subtle and weighty matters expressed, sometimes grittily or saucily, in rock music.
Rock music evolved in the 1950s. Although it was heavily influenced by the so-called ‘rock and roll’ American style of the era, it also has its roots in other genres such as jazz, blues and folk. Generally, a rock band consists of at least one guitarist, a bassist and a drummer (or drum machine), together with a vocalist or a singer. Elvis Presley was a big influence on the style in the 50s. However, it was during the late 1960s, which is usually considered to be the golden age of rock, when bands such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, not to mention artists like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, began to make the genre particularly recognised. It was during this period of hiatus, where British music was influencing the whole rock-style, that many different instrumental forms of rock started to develop. One could mention punk rock, psychedelic rock, folk rock, progressive rock, glam rock, and perhaps the most well-known, hard rock.
At the time in fact, it became common to differentiate between soft rock, which focused more on instrumental music with an emphasis on the melody, and hard rock, which is more aggressive with its use of complex riffs and sometimes distortion effects. Some popular soft rock artists include Barry Manilow, The Eagles, The Carpenters, Paul McCartney and Kansas. Well-known hard rock bands on the other hand, include Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Guns & Roses, Def Leppard and Thin Lizzy, among others.
While hard rock contained an element of blues and swing, this later developed into yet another style, which became known as heavy metal. Heavy metal music is harsher and darker. It contains no blues elements, and there is more emphasis on the guitar and bass. It is a fact, however, that many bands and artists somewhat cross over between the two genres.
Rock music is well-known to tackle social, cultural and sometimes even moral themes. It brings us face to face with the harsher realities of life, dismissing any sugar coating and frills, yet encouraging the individual to hold on to his personality and experiences, face life with his head held high, and give no quarters to those adversities which would bend and break those without the will to survive.
Personally I find great comfort, joy and strength in music. When I feel down, when I am uncertain or confused, or on the other hand when I am happy and energetic, music seems to emphasise my emotions and fervour even more. It’s like an understanding old friend – always there when I need a shoulder to cry on, when I need some encouragement, or when I just want someone to share my enthusiasm.
Every person is different, which is why every character feels more at ease and attuned to different genres of music. I must admit that when I was younger – when I first ‘discovered’ music, I was very much influenced by the reactions and thoughts of my friends and peers on the subject and I listened to the same songs and bands my classmates were listening to.
When I grew older, I started discovering myself as a person and an individual. I started to be moulded by my experiences and opinions, becoming an adult in my own right. It is at this point that I came face to face with the genre of music which, I felt, reflected my moods, my emotions and my personality most – in this case rock and heavy metal music, and I must say that it continues to enrich and enhance my life to this day.
What’s your favourite genre of music and why?
Also, read about pop boy-bands of the 90s.