Has rock and roll split?

Since pop music became a genre and the constant creation of sub-genres, rock has broken into pieces.

“We will… we will… rock you!” Sound familiar? Maybe your parents played it once or you heard it in a movie or at a sporting event or maybe you actually listen to this band. For those that don’t know, the song is Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

The point that I was trying to make with this little experiment is that we have lost our connection with the rock legends with these infinitesimal little sub-genres.

Just look at history.

The spirit of rock and roll has deep ties in country and blues, going all the way back to Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley in the 50s who took the existing formula for blues and added a new spin on it. But even then, this new sound was still an extension of blues and wasn’t recognized as a new genre until the next decade.

The popularity of rock can be attested to the rebellious feeling of the 60s. The Rolling Stones emulated this feeling in their songs like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Sympathy For The Devil” that spoke to a generation that felt wronged by society and challenged the norms of the time. As the The Beatles became popular in America, all these circumstances solidified rock as its own genre.

In the 70s, Led Zeppelin approached rock music with a darker, heavier tone, giving birth to the original metal and hard rock sub-genres. Bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden would follow suit. Along with Queen, these bands would revolutionize the idea of the rock anthem that would be played at parties and sports events for generations to come (here’s another anthem for you: “We are the Champions” also by Queen).

At the same time, bands like Sex Pistols and The Clash created a separate sub-genre to contrast the “hippie” movement in America that Pink Floyd spoke to. These artists simplified rock to its core components — loud guitars and rude attitude — creating the original punk rock sound.

Once the 80s came around, the established rock artists were slowly being buried under all the one-hit-wonders and pop artists of the time. Songs like “Whip It” by Devo and “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls topped charts and then slowly faded away with the passing of the decade.

It was here that pop music stopped being just that — popular music that was topping charts — and turned into an actual genre with its own distinct sound. From this point, pop singers started integrating rock sounds into their music, taking away from the art form of the original genre.

As mainstream rock began to lose steam, alternative rock began to push toward the top. This sub-genre was a combination of college rock bands that thrived on campus radio stations across the U.S. as well as indie rock popularized by small, lesser known artists.

In the early 90s, bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam dominated the alternative genre. At the time, artists began springing up with a hard rock and punk mix that would later be characterized as grunge. As the decade progressed, other bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters incorporated the alternative sound into their mainstream rock.

At the turn of the century, bands like Linkin Park begin to fuse hip hop and rap with rock, creating the rap rock sub-genre, alongs with bands like 3 Doors Down that revamped the hard rock sound.

Ok…now we’re in the present day.

In the last 50 years, many sub-genres that have been created that are so loved by older and younger listeners. Minus the hipsters, there are still many people that sport Metallica, Beatles, and Pink Floyd shirts.

However, there are more recent outliers that stray far from the roots of rock. These include the new “punk” bands, emo, screamo, post-hardcore, and grunge bands. It seems to me that artists are trying to create new genres with small followings instead of further growing existing sub-genres.

An easy way to explain this is by asking a simple question: name me one of the most notable rock bands of all time?

Now, if you’re someone that listens to a wide range of rock music, you’re going to list bands like Queen, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and AC/DC. What do they all have in common? They’re so iconic because their music is still loved and listened to to this day.

I’m not saying that the new sub-genres of rock aren’t great or anything. My Spotify is a jumble of just about everything.

What I am saying is that I’d like to see a reemergence of the classic sounds. I’d like to see more anthems. I’d like to see new classics.