Rock music is known to generate immense energy. From songs by Dire Straits like “Money for Nothing” or Pink Floyd like “Echoes in the Wind,” to Pink Floyd songs like “Tunnels of Dreams”, you can’t escape its passionate energy.
Rock music traces its roots back to older musical forms such as blues and country, but bands like Chuck Berry introduced an element of sexiness and youth rebellion into its style.
The 1970s marked an end to hippy lifestyle that had dominated rock music for so long, with bands and duos such as Sonny & Cher, Paul McCartney & Wings, Captain & Tennille, Donny and Marie Osmond brothers as well as solo singers such as Barry Manilow, Andy Gibb and Barbra Streisand becoming more conservative preppy styles of musical act. Network television variety shows provided opportunities for many popular groups and acts to reach an even wider audience.
In the ’70s, several new genres emerged including glam rock, hard rock and funk rock – subgenres distinguished by heavy guitar riffs and bass lines with distortion effects – as well as progressive rock, which integrates classical music, opera and other classical-influenced elements into its songs – bands like Yes Genesis King Crimson and Pink Floyd made waves within this genre with elaborate, psychedelic albums.
As the 1970s progressed, rock music evolved further with softer melodies with complex chord structures and longer songs becoming popular with bands such as Eagles and Bob Dylan; Blondie, David Bowie and T. Rex began adopting androgynous appearances that challenged traditional gender roles to help pave the way for later genres such as punk and new wave.
At this time, compact discs became an important musical innovation that allowed for more intricate song arrangements and longer album tracks, as well as recording artists embracing electronic instruments such as keyboards, synthesizers and synthesisers.
The 1970s marked a period of immense cultural transformation for American society as idealistic 1960s dreams slowly dissipated, as documented by Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Thus, this decade was both turbulent and nostalgic; nonetheless, its legacy still resonates strongly today within music and pop culture.
After the commercial success of rock artists in the ’70s, another wave of superstars emerged during the 1980s. Hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Queen, Def Leppard, Europe Twisted Sister Whitesnake Quiet Riot Black Sabbath all experienced unparalleled popularity throughout this era.
In the ’80s, new wave music saw its peak with groups like Blondie, The Cars and Roxy Music making hits that mixed rock music with pop and synthesizer sounds. Rock icon David Bowie led this movement; his avant-garde style influencing genres from glam rock to punk. Bands such as The Clash and The Cure found their niche, particularly The Cure who became iconic for their dark thematic content and iconic hair and makeup creating a gothic image that resonated with a specific target audience.
In the 1980s, female-fronted rock bands such as Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie made an impactful statement through their ballads. Reba McEntire became another icon during this era with 15 top-10 hits under her belt.
In the ’80s, guitar virtuosi such as Eddie Van Halen, George Lynch, Joe Satriani and Yngwie Malmsteen rose to international acclaim while bassists such as Geddy Lee (Rush), Billy Sheehan (Iron Maiden) and Les Claypool (Primus) also enjoyed worldwide recognition within their genres.
At around this same time, hardcore punks came into prominence; their lifestyle advocated an abstinence from drugs and alcohol use. This trend eventually gave way to more mainstream pop and soul music of the ’90s, yet rock bands like Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, and Van Halen continued their immense successes during this era. Heavy metal also flourished during this decade, with bands like Motley Crue and Metallica becoming household names. Heavy metal had an irreverent, counterculture feel, inspiring young people to defy authority through loud, energetic music. Amplified instrumentation and power chords provided an amplified sound; bands often favored a strong visual image featuring leather jackets, jeans, spikes or studs to complete its explosive sound.
One of the hallmarks of rock music in the 90s was how real and raw it sounded. Bands frequently recorded live in studio, which added subtle imperfections into each mix that added a humanistic quality that resonated more with listeners than modern productions featuring too much reverb or compression on drums or overheads.
The 1990s also witnessed a boom in girl and boy bands such as Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child that captured young people around the globe with catchy pop tunes and coordinated dance moves. Some older styles like Britpop, alternative rock metal punk ska also experienced success throughout this decade.
As hair metal began to dissipate during the ’80s, grunge emerged as a new form of hard rock with bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden taking hold. This style was more angst-ridden and less commercial than previous styles; thus appealing to younger fans of rock music.
As grunge was taking shape, hard rock veterans like Guns N Roses and Aerosmith maintained their popularity through innovative re-invention. Smashing Pumpkins released their legendary “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, considered to be one of the greatest rock songs ever written.
As rock music was shifting its aesthetics during this decade, women began playing an increasing role within its genre. Bands such as Bikini Kill made waves within a traditionally male dominated scene, featuring female singers sporting tattoos of derogatory words such as ‘whore’ and ‘bitch’ on their bodies to challenge status quo and challenge male power structures.
As the 1990s came to a close, nu metal and rap rock became increasingly popular, with bands such as Korn, Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine experiencing mainstream success.
Rock music reached its cultural apex during the 90s, yet with Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain dead and Alice in Chains taking a hiatus it appeared that its prime had passed. Yet in 2000 came forth an ambitious wave of rockers that captured this decade’s winds of change: Muse unleashed hero glam epics, Evanescence adopted operatic vocal delivery, while radio-ready acts such as Shinedown combined unstoppable hooks with emotional turmoil to provide compelling listenership for their listeners.
In the early 2010s, rock music experienced another period of innovation and experimentation. Groups like Twenty-One Pilots fused playful synthpop with emotive lyrics to produce an alternative rock sound which captured its anti-establishment spirit; whilst Scandinavian behemoth Ghost bewitched audiences with their mysterious story-telling style of music.
Bloc Party revolutionised post-punk with their signature blend of angular guitar riffs and dance punk influences to become one of the most revered rock acts in 2000s. Meanwhile, Interpol brought atmospheric dark rock back into prominence, becoming one of the most influential bands to emerge during that decade.
At the same time, modern rock bands such as Linkin Park and System of a Down made waves by merging emo with industrial metal music, creating their signature sound from powerful vocals with crisp soundscapes and political messages that cemented them as next generation’s iconic rock artists.
Three Days Grace quickly rose to become one of the most successful hard rock bands of the 2000s with its blend of hard rock, alternative rock, and heavy metal music. Their catchy melodies and relatable lyrics made them immensely popular with listeners of all kinds; live performances cemented their place as must-see acts on the music scene.
Alter Bridge was formed from members of Creed in 2004 to combine classic rock with progressive metal in a distinct and influential hard rock sound. Their powerful vocals and intricate musicianship gained them an avid following while their relatable lyrics and catchy hooks made them one of the most admired hard rock acts in 2000s.