There’s been a lot of discussion this past week of addressing an anti-female bias in the music industry since female artists won just 17 of 86 categories at the Grammy Awards. I’d like to address a more pervasive bias that is becoming way too common at the Grammys … the bias against Rock ’n’ Roll.
I think Bruno Mars is awesome and one of the best performers out there right now, so I’m not taking anything away from his wins in every category that he was nominated. But rock music is in trouble, and it’s not only the Grammys that serve as a big, red flag. This year’s Coachella Valley music festival in California has no rock act among its headliners for the first time in its 19-year history.
The headliners read very similar to the Grammy nominations: Beyonce, the Weeknd, Sza, Vince Staples, Odessa, Migos and Cardi B are all headliners or featured artists. If you’ve never heard of half those artists, don’t feel bad — neither have I.
Coachella is considered one of the most prestigious music festivals on the planet and it’s stacked with rappers, DJs and R&B singers. There are a handful of alternative bands and a few lesser-known rock acts, but the lineup is primary anti-rock. I’m guessing festival organizers know what they’re doing and will sell plenty of tickets. But for those of us who love good, hard-driving rock music that features guitars instead of tracks and EDM, we’re out of luck.
Coachella, not unlike the Grammys, draws on the artists who are most popular at any given time … a musical snapshot if you will. But is it too much to ask to maybe focus on albums or bands who write songs with actual melodies?
I’m gonna sound old and crotchety here, but Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z and Childish Gambino won’t be filling stadiums in 20 years. They probably won’t even be around in 10 years.
Springsteen, The Who, Elton John, Billy Joel, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay — all acts that are multi-generational and still able to pack a house after – in some cases – four to five decades of producing music.
That doesn’t mean many of the aforementioned newer acts aren’t making great music for the times, but for those of us with listening habits that lean toward the rock end of the musical spectrum, we may be out of luck in the future. I hold out maybe a teensy, teensy bit of hope since The War on Drugs did win Best Rock Album for its brilliant record “A Deeper Understanding.”
Rock ’n’ Roll music is dead. Long live Rock ’n’ Roll!