It stings me to say this…

I find myself loathe to agree with any statement emanating from rock star Sting, but he voices a thought I was just pondering.

I can’t imagine a more conservative music than rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. “It’s tyranny in the backbeat. It’s 4/4 time. It’s the same three chords ’round and ’round. It’s almost like a fundamentalist religion. Stravinsky is more rebellious than rock ‘n’ roll by far. Rock ‘n’ roll has become like a dead art.”

I love rock ‘n roll, of course, but I can’t help but notice how resistant it is to experimentation. It’s partly just the radio driven mandate that songs can’t be more than four minutes long. But when you consider the almost violent denunciation of experimental or progressive rock from the cool hipsters*, it does remind you of some fundamentalist preacher frothing at the mouth while he condemns homosexuals.

* I recognize that’s an oversimplification of things. Prog rock was hated on in the 70s, but when it turned into “math rock” in the 90s and the Mars Volta in the naughts, it gained a kind of Uber nerd chic. But I think the general trend amongst rock critics is still that “basic” rock ‘n roll is superior to anything with a more intellectual edge to it.

That said, it seems like most of the classical world is pretty set in its ways as well, same with jazz, same with bluegrass etc. Maybe the larger point here is that any music style eventually become so well defined that it gets cemented in place. Only freethinking rebels, such as myself, can entertain thoughts of expanding a particular genre’s horizon.

Also worth noting: my favorite band, Devo, has a new album coming out. The group seems to be continuing their ironic (or is it?!) embrace of corporate culture and target marketing, but I’ve long since lost any interest. The few songs I’ve heard so far were yawns.

3 Responses to “It stings me to say this…”


  1. John Saleeby

    Yeah, Rock And Roll has always kinda clunkity clunkity clunk clunk compared to Jazz and Funk. But you know what? Clunkity clunkity clunk clunk fuckin’ RULES!

  2. John

    Speaking of Devo, shirt.woot is doing a Devo themed week/contest:
    http://shirt.woot.com/Blog/ViewEntry.aspx?Id=13201

    So if you ever had an idea for a Devo Shirt, now is the time to bust it out.

  3. Wil

    Interesting… they still seem to have a knack for getting their name talked about.