There are rockers of all sorts: punk, progressive, new wave, and industrial. We have our now standard rap nomination as well as some R&B. Missing this year are the acts who would be considered early influencers, those groups who tend to bleed together for me in an amalgam of doo wop and matching suits and have names that always begin with “The” as in, The Comets, The Crickets. Replacing these acts are a few disco nods. After reviewing the list, one may be inclined to wonder, if all of these acts qualify, what the hell is Rock & Roll?
Rock and Roll: noun a type of popular dance music originating in the 1950s, characterized by a heavy beat and simple melodies. Rock and roll was an amalgam of black rhythm and blues and white country music, usually based on a twelve-bar structure and an instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums.
So pretty much anything. Because all music has its roots firmly planted in something that could be found in this description. Arguably all music genres have some influence on others, but I hate to think that lately it’s to our detriment. For example, T-Pain planted some sort of junk music seed with his auto-tune that has grown like kudzu all across the airwaves. Even country, supposedly the purest of the song-spinning sects hasn’t been immune. So if it’s all about what was big on the charts, what does that mean for the 50 something year old me?
Here are your nominees for 2035:
Taylor Swift: Predominantly known for influencing an entire movement of white girl, breakup songs set to sloppy guitar strumming, Taylor managed to remain on the Top 40 charts well into her 40s. But as her original fans found themselves unable to find the motivation to continue to shake it off whilst balancing a challenging career and successful relationship, her popularity waned. Now a successful producer of this decade’s resurgence of boy bands (most notably Swifty’s Sweeties and Solo Course), her influence on the industry inexplicably continues.
Nickelback: Popular for lyrics which require zero interpretation and are repeated over and over again in an easy to memorize succession, this Canadian band soared to new heights as the children of millennials latched onto their parents misguided CDs purchases and forgotten iPod playlists from the early 2000s and termed them classic rock. Nickleback tshirts started to be featured in Target and their old album sales spiked. Chad Kroger opened this year’s Grammy podcast with a cover of “Photograph” featuring North West.
Rose Serbert (previously known as Ke$ha): Rose gained respect after disappearing from the spotlight for a decade (rumored to be spent living on a commune in Montana), and then rebranding herself as a new wave folk act. Her new offering combined 1980s synth with the hipster folk of the mid teens (2013-2016). Though she’s fought hard to shed ties to famous white girl party anthems like “Tic Tok”, cougars covered in glitter, sporting vintage grills still sometimes make an appearance at her shows.
Skrillex: After completing a series of complicated surgeries in the early 20s to fully become an actual Transformer, he released his long anticipated and biggest selling album to date, “Grindy Squeeling Blender Sex”. This release launched the world’s longest ongoing EDM festival to date. Skrillex’s set on the festival’s main stage set a world record when it lasted for a month straight and featured one never ending track.
Imagine Dragons: Somehow this once indie rock band from Las Vegas are still touring on their 2012 release “Night Visions”. Their track “Radioactive” has been featured in over 35,000 different commercials, movies, and shows. Rumored release of their sophomore album is early 2036.
Florida Georgia Line: Credited with the final demise of the genre once known as Country after releasing their 2020 album “Dirt Road Truck Girl Part 3: Cruising Again”, this power couple switched gears and re-branded themselves as rock. They’ve most recently been opening for Nickelback on their “Here We Go Again” tour.
Jack White: Because credibility matters. And also the death threats from 50 and 60 somethings are getting old. You’re welcome old people.
With the demise of the radio and the ever growing music streaming services, it’s hard to imagine where the industry will end up. But hey, it’s what sells records, or downloads, or whatever it is that allows actual musicians to make some actual money off of their art these days. And who knows, maybe just like Africka Bambaataa grew “Planet Rock” out of Kraftwerk’s beats and started a music movement, one day a new music pioneer will find a gem in an Iggy Azalea track and launch an entirely new sound. But I’m not holding my breath.