• Ashleigh Williams

The Revival: A New Age of Rock & Roll

Updated: Sep 17

Rock 'n' roll is a genre that many would consider being of the past, but others would argue that it is very much alive and well; (hi, I'm others!). While the genre may be redefined, it is still very prominent in today's society and has even set the stage for many of the sub-genres we know and love from punk to surf rock. Due to the emergence of these new categories, we think it's safe to say we are in the midst of a revival.


Let's take a look at the influences behind this new age of rock 'n' roll.


The Beginning

Black musicians began combining rhythm and blues, country, jazz, gospel, and traditional blues in the 1950s before it was eventually adopted by whites and transformed into the classic rock sound we know today. Due to its raunchy nature, it was favored by teenagers and young adults, I mean even the name rock 'n' roll is slang for sex. Though it's a melting pot of sounds from the south, rock 'n' roll quickly spread across the country as an emerging form of popular music that would have great influence in the years to come.



Redefining A Genre

In today's society, rock is an umbrella term defined as music including electric guitar, bass guitar, and heavy drum beats. Classic rock is characterized as rock music from the 1950s through the 80s, while the era of modern rock began in the 1990s. Among the most popular modern rock artists are Imagine Dragons, Panic! At The Disco and Mumford & Sons, according to the 2019 Billboard year-end charts. Though all considered rock bands, they fit into sub-genres of modern rock, alternative (alt) rock, and folk-rock, respectively. This is a prime example of the influence rock 'n' roll has had on popular music as we know it.


Another way standard rock music has paved the way for its present form is by developing into more than just a genre; rock 'n' roll is an attitude and a home for rebellion, controversy, and those who don't belong anywhere else.


The Culture

From ripped jeans to black boots, there's no doubt that the style of rock 'n' roll has become an iconic trend in the fashion world. The inclusive nature of the genre has paved the way for male rockstars to strut their edgy bling and dark eyeliner without judgment, making androgyny an important element of the rock 'n' roll culture.


Another staple in every rockstar's closet is the leather jacket. Originally designed for the German military in World War I, the garment later became a fashion statement in the late 1920s. Women such as Joan Jett were among the first to sport the leather jacket on stage. Other artists known for popularizing the genre's fashion include Keith Richards, David Bowie, and Lenny Kravitz.


The Revival

While elements of the genre are prevalent in today's pop music, such as Harry Styles' "Kiwi", underground artists are taking rock back to its rebellious roots. Musicians such as Gary Clark Jr. and Grandson are using their voice (quite literally) to make political statements through their music. Grandson's "Thoughts & Prayers" for example, was released after the 2019 Parkland school shooting to promote stricter gun control laws, while GCJ's "This Land" highlights the racism that continues to infiltrate the United States even sixty years after the Civil Rights Movement. Other rising rock stars include Des Rocs, Barns Courtney, and The Glorious Sons.


Whether you're a fan of the genre's reconstruction or believe it should stay behind us, one statement still holds true:


"Rock 'n' roll may not solve your problems, but it does let you dance all over them." - Pete Townshend

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