Where Have You Gone, Rock and Roll?

I love music. I may even be obsessed with it.

If I am awake and in my office, car, working in the garage, I am most probably listening to music. I like music better as a source of background noise over the TV, and I hate working in quiet unless I really need to concentrate on something.

Most times I just want to rock my face off.

I was always like this. I remember listening to music in middle school in my room, borrowing CDs from friends and dubbing them to tapes. Spending hours in my room listening to the radio.

At first it was Z-100 in New York. It played mostly pop and popular music, and as I got older I migrated towards more rock and roll and other stations. Q104.3 in New York was the rock station at that time, and that is where I started to discover music on my own. My music.

I got a CD player around this time. My first CD was Guns ’n’ Roses “Use Your Illusion Vol. 1.”
Other early CDs would be Aerosmith’s “Get a Grip” (I later came to my senses). Nirvana’s “In Utero”. Blind Melon’s self titled album. I started to find more alternative music, all thanks to radio.

I was finding myself in music, and radio played a huge part in that discovery.

That began 22 years ago. Holy crap I’m old.

On one of my last trips home to New Jersey, I was driving and I put on 92.3 K-Rock, the modern rock station. Or at least it was the time previous to that. Now New York has no modern rock stations. Q104.3 is a classic rock station now. That’s it. The rest are talk/news, urban, pop, adult contemporary, top 40, sports or public radio with lots of duplicates of each. How is it that the largest media market in the world doesn’t have a modern rock station?

nyc-broadcast-rangeThat market, by the way, is over 20 million people. Are you really telling me that there isn’t a large enough demand for a rock and roll radio station in New York City?

There are a few smaller stations like WSOU, Seton Hall University’s radio station, that played modern rock and hard rock, but I could rarely pick them up in my car, especially if I was on a long drive. New Jersey also had WDHA, which is a modern/classic rock station, mostly leaning to the classic side up to the early 90’s. Long Island may have a few rock stations, but I certainly couldn’t pick them up in New Jersey. And in my time at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut I still picked up the New York radio stations, so I’m not really sure what was broadcasted out of Hartford.

I’ve lived in Texas for the past 8 years. The commercials that used to play for the modern rock radio station in Houston (94.5 The Buzz) all featured songs from early to the mid 90’s.

songsTo the right is a screenshot of the most recently played songs during the evening drive for the modern rock station in San Antonio, 99.5 Kiss FM. The newest song on that list is “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age (a favorite band of mine, and the reason behind this post that I will get to shortly). That song is about 11 years old. The oldest song on that list are the Nirvana songs, both of which were on an album that came out 23 years ago.

Radio is a joke now. The corporations gobbled up all the stations and have turned them all into the same tepid crap in every market across the country. Have you noticed that classic rock stations play the same songs over and over again? There are literally thousands of songs that they could play from the 60’s right up to the late 80’s, but it’s the same crap day in and day out.

MTV hasn’t been relevant in the music scene for over 15 years since they stopped playing music videos, and probably even longer than that. I remember watching Total Request Live in high school and voting for the most recent Korn video hoping it would beat out whatever crappy Britney Spears or boy band video was popular at the time. After that MTV basically cancelled all of their music based-programming. Now they do play some music videos, but only between 4 AM and 8 AM.

What I’m not seeing is where the discovery is for kids today? Where do they get to discover new rock and roll music? Is it from streaming services like Pandora or Spotify? I never got into those services too much, so I’m not sure how great they are for discovery. I never found new bands that I liked through them. I only got suggestions of other bands I knew already, or crap.
Now to what really pissed me off and set this whole blog in motion. This past Sunday night was the Grammys, the night where it’s all about the music. It seems that every year the show is taken over more and more by acts that all sound the same. Rock and roll is pushed further and further out. Sure, Metallica (a band that is 32 years old) was there and performed (a song that is 26 years old) in the oddest “tribute” to Lou Reed.

Led Zeppelin, truly one of the best rock bands of all time, won Best Rock Album for a live/compilation album of songs that are well over 35 years old. I am biased, but Queens of the Stone Age’s “…Like Clockwork” was an amazing album. It made so many critics best of lists, and the Grammys overlooked them. That just shows how out of touch the Grammy voters are.

There was no rock album nominated for Album of the Year. No rock song nominated for Song of the Year. I guess Imagine Dragons is a rock band? They won Best Rock Performance over Queens of the Stone Age and Jack White, two acts much more deserving, plus a brand new David Bowie song (which I didn’t care for too much, but still).

During the In Memoriam montage, the Grammys failed to pay tribute to Jeff Hanneman of Slayer who died last year. He was a two-time Grammy winner in his career. Also left out of the In Memoriam montage was Iron Maiden’s Clive Burr. Both of them are listed on the In Memoriam page on the Grammy website, but they were overlooked when it came time for the show.

slayer-jeff-hanneman

The biggest middle finger to rock music last night at the Grammys was at the end, during the performance of Nine Inch Nails with Lindsey Buckingham and Queens of the Stone Age with Dave Grohl. They hyped this moment all night in teasers and bumpers and then CUT INTO IT during the Queens of the Stone Age set to air commercials. Are you kidding me? This was the only part of the Grammys I was interested in and waited for.

What a immense lack of respect from the Recording Academy to interrupt the music of a few extremely influential. And that’s not empty rhetoric. On that stage was Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Dave Grohl of Nirvana. Three of the most influential and most popular bands of all time.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails wasn’t too happy about being cut off, and tweeted this:


Not only that, but the audience started leaving while they were playing! Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Macklemore, all winners that night, LEFT during the performance. What a blatant lack of respect for your fellow musicians on a night to honor all music.

Rock and roll isn’t dead, no matter how hard radio and the Recording Academy want to kill it.

This article mistakingly says rock music is dead. Just because the Grammys don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s dead. Rock and roll is definitely fractured. There are so many genres of rock now that it can be a bit overwhelming.

Rock and roll is still there, still waiting to be discovered and played just a little too loudly.

Special thanks to my lovely wife Ali and her radio and TV background for helping me do some research on this post.

Hi, I'm Mike. I'm From the Internet.

1 comments On Where Have You Gone, Rock and Roll?

  • Great article! I was living in Taiwan when the NIN thing happened at the Grammys and I was pissed as hell. I didn’t realize they failed to pay tribute, however, to Jeff Hanneman and Clive Burr. I’m seeing Slayer tonight in Atlanta and I’m sure everyone will raise a Heineken in his name, which is more than the Grammys apparently did.

Comments are closed.