by Arielle Zuaro
The modern music industry has been dominated by pop singers, and rap and hip hop artists while traditional “rock bands” have seemingly taken a back seat.
Despite the domination of bubblegum pop and synthesized house music, some bands like the Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon and Bastille have recently begun integrating ideas from various genres of music, past and present, to cater to a wider audience and re-introduce the power of the traditional rock band.
“Pop music has somewhat devolved in the current era. Rock has the ability to change into a new genre,” said junior Phil Tice. “If a group’s sound is similar enough to transition into another genre, it could really liven up their setlist.”
In an effort to integrate their sounds, many bands are venturing into the unknown. Kings of Leon, whose song “Use Somebody” is a radio hit, released their latest album Mechanical Bull in Setember 2013. The band maintains their southern sound, but also adds brighter melodies and funky R&B influenced grooves.
“If a band is unsure of their style and sound, branching into different genres may help discover the true sound of the band,” said senior Bridget Kelly. “This adds new and exciting flavors to the music the band is producing.”
With the release of its album AM at the end of 2013, the Arctic Monkeys have also found great success in creating a new sound that is neither purely rock nor electric pop. The album, which was released to commercial and critical success, peaked on the Billboard Albums chart at number six. Frontman Alex Turner layers on the vocals. Throughout the album, the songs are varied and driven.
While attempting to mix synths, hip hop, or rap with rock bands doesn’t always work out, in some cases these collaborations can be wildly successful. In Linkin Park’s album Minutes to Midnight, the band strays into new territory and opens the door to a new style of rock. Linkin Park sets a precedent for other bands attempting to integrate various styles of music to form a unique sound.
Other bands, like Imagine Dragons, have made an impact with their consistently popular songs “Demons,” which currently sits at number 12 on the iTunes singles chart and “It’s Time” which topped the charts in 2013. Their songs easily traverse between acoustic renditions and powerful, electrified tracks.
Even though a sudden shift may result in the loss of some die hard fans, it is a risk many bands are willing to take.
Bastille, the band that evokes an upbeat sound reminiscent of the 80’s, has managed to find a happy medium between pop sounds and rock beats. Their single “Pompeii” is currently a radio favorite and a Top Ten hit in the US.
“Neither explicitly synth-led nor crunchy with guitars, the band…evades firm categorization,” said Matthew Horton, reviewer for the BBC. Through Incorporating ideas that bands of the past have used and modernizing their sound, many bands have created music that is spanning genres in order to cater to an audience eager to hear something entirely new.
Artists are purposefully bending the rules and blurring the genre lines, picking and pulling to create integrated sounds that will appeal to a varied audience. It is no longer pure rock and roll or simply auto tuned repetition, but variation and creativity which is leading to a shift in the role of alternative rock bands.