One.Three.Nine. is a three-stage review that captures initial reactions and more considered standpoints by writing after more and more listens.
It’s a word we’ve heard a lot over the last few years. In the time Foals have been away from our airwaves, ‘exit’ (with its various hard; soft; deal or no deal; red, white and blue; Br- prefix) has rarely left them. Bored to tears with a lack of progress? Disappointingly, on first listen, that statement feels as relevant to ‘Exits’ as it does Brexit.
An effect-soaked lead guitar riff over a mid-tempo groove is all too reminiscent of Foals’ previous work, yet instead of being accompanied by frontman Yannis Philippakis’ trademark howl, we hear vocal delivered with the same amount of urgency that Britain have shown in negotiating. It feels a long way from when ‘Inhaler’ or ‘What Went Down’ led album campaigns in years gone by.
He’s going on about dreams a lot, but ‘Exits’ is more of a Lee from ‘The Office’ dream than a Martin Luther King one. The biggest issue is that despite being almost six minutes in length, there is so little melodic development. The catchiest and most interesting part has already occurred within 34 seconds.
While the intro grows on you, with robotic trade-offs between bass and guitar, the song slowly builds without ever reaching a peak. In fact, the chorus is actually boring. Instrumental and vocal layers coupled with expansive drum sounds give the impression of vastness, but it’s the aural equivalent of chicken fillet inserts.
Although the verse becomes surprisingly addictive over time, I have come to detest the lethargic drum fill which leads into the chorus in a particularly uninspiring fashion (1:20). It is emblematic of a general lack of conviction; something which Foals have always had in spades in the past.
So, while the solid but unspectacular ‘Exits’ boasts the kind of groove that would allow it function well as an album opener (which I imagine it may well be), it doesn’t feel like a particularly great single. It’s a safe choice that will allow Foals to be welcomed back, securing album and tour pre-sales; but if a new band released this, they’d get relatively little airplay.
I’m sure ‘Exits’ will reach double figures on my play count at some point but, much like Brexit itself, I’m not exactly excited about it.
Journalist Suzanne Moore said, “it’s easier to write about something you hate than something you love”. She’s probably right. We can spend hours in the pub detailing why Bob from accounts is a prick, with an alphabetised mental list of his wrongdoings, shortcomings and fashion faux pas, yet Becky on reception is just “alright”, really. Although writing criticism by its very nature implies perceived authority, it’s much easier to not come across as self-important when you’re not telling people how objectively brilliant something is.
The fact is that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, and there’s a big difference between recommending a TV show or restaurant to a friend and waxing lyrical about something to the entire, incredibly diverse world. What I’m saying is subjective beliefs are absolutely fine but preaching the good word of Weezer to you is not necessarily my business. So, I can only apologise if I come across as some kind of musical Jehovah’s Witness, singing the hymn ‘Say It Ain’t So’ in to your intercom at a particularly unholy hour of your morning lie-in. You were expecting a package, but you got ‘90s geek rock.
I was deep in a YouTube rabbit hole. We’ve all been there… Accidentally spending our Tuesday evenings watching ‘try not to laugh’ compilations, a WWF bout from 1996, clips of Dale’s Supermarket Sweep, or whatever else the internet gods deliver us. But on this occasion, I stumbled upon a 23-year-old VHS upload of the American group Weezer performing ‘Say It Ain’t So’ on the Late Show with David Letterman.
As my ears pricked up and my pixelated eyes began to focus, I became transfixed. It reminded me of how I felt when I first heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, and that’s a pretty big deal. Losing my Nirvana virginity triggered a chain of events that made music my hobby, my career, my life; leaving indelible marks on both my musical perceptions and taste. Considering the stature of both songs it may seem like a disproportionate comparison, but both had the same effect on me: I thought it was great, I wondered how I’d not heard it sooner, I wanted to hear it again and again, and I wanted to share it with friends.
Through social media, I did exactly that. Those people all thought it was… well, fine. Fine. Only fine?! It’s great! I mean, I do have the ability to look objectively and understand that it is a technically imperfect performance of a bog-standard rock song, but what the hell is objective about taste? Throughout the last month I’ve watched it around fifty times. Are they the idiots, or am I?
Regardless of subjectivity, I really want to try and explain what it is that sets it apart in my mind from other songs by Weezer and by countless other ‘90s rock groups. It might not make you like it, it may make you think me a moron, but it may also make you consider the reasons you have your own tastes.
To me, this is an authentic performance. It is an original composition. Every band member appears to have an emotional investment in their playing of the song. On national TV, they barely have a hairstyle between them – that is to say nothing seems manufactured or contrived – and therefore I believe what they’re doing and saying.
Of course, authenticity is entirely unquantifiable. Whether you identify with lyrical content, artist image, the geographical origins of the artist, or anything else; your perception of authenticity will in some way reflect your life experience, upbringing and previous musical taste. One comment on the video accuses Weezer of being “a group of social outcast nerds/geeks who started listening to nirvana then learned how to play instruments”. It’s a claim which is all too easy to make about countless rock bands in a post-Cobain America, but it’s one which could just as easily refer to me and my friends as teenagers in Britain. If Weezer did relate to Nirvana like I did, that may explain why I like their musical approach as well…
Musically, there’s a clear Nirvana comparison to be made through the quiet verse / loud chorus template of the ‘Say It Ain’t So’ sound. Kurt Cobain would stamp on a Boss DS-1 distortion pedal to make that change in dynamics and timbre, although there’s an even simpler approach from Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo who just uses his guitar’s volume knob to control the change. In a world of pedalboards and gizmos, this minimalist approach keeps one crunchy tone throughout, leaving the listener focused on the quality of the songwriting and not the variety of the sounds on display. There is a simplicity to the bones of the song too; its four-chord hook never bothered by a doubled chorus or cheesy key change overkill.
3. It’s Better Than the Studio Version
My obsession is as much about the performance as the song itself. I don’t watch, for example, this performance from last year and get even 1% of the same feeling. Features of the Letterman performance, such as drum fills and lead guitar parts, had been slightly developed since the recording of the studio version of the track. On top of this, the whole performance features a slightly quicker tempo and a satisfying, rawer guitar sound. Whether those changes were due to dissatisfaction with the studio version, or simply that they better reflected Weezer at that time, particularly Cuomo delivers his parts with more confidence and conviction. I therefore consider this Letterman performance to be the definitive version of ‘Say It Ain’t So’.
4. The Guitar Solo
This live version features one of my favourite guitar solos of all time. It’s not some virtuosic, faux-epic Guns ‘n’ Roses bullshit (thank God), but those bends wail, they’re emotional. The melody sits perfectly against the backing and, unlike on the overly clinical solo found on the studio version, the heavy vibrato technique which leaves other strings rattling through the engrossed Cuomo’s amp (3.05) perfectly encapsulates the vibrancy and the grit of this performance. The way Cuomo uses the same technique to let the final note hang in to the last chorus is even better, strangling every last breath out of his guitar’s neck.
5. The Chorus
Despite the heavier rock sounds of the guitars, ‘Say It Ain’t So’ unashamedly boasts a chorus just as catchy as pop songs with far greater reputations. Both Rivers and rhythm guitarist Brian Bell play and sing identical parts. No harmonies. No lead guitar parts to distract or complicate. It’s a team effort to deliver one simple idea as a straight down-the-line onslaught.
6. Mr. Matt Sharp
When watching the Letterman performance, it’s particularly hard to ignore bassist Matt Sharp, whose bad timing in the chorus would get him fired if he was standing still. However, his variety of leaps and poses, and the strumming techniques he attacks his bass with more than make up for this, enhancing the visual performance of the group no end. Despite his attention grabbing, he doesn’t come across as a cocky rock star; his moves are excitable but awkward. Plus, the way Sharp extends the word bubbling (0.50) is a perfect indicator of how he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. While I’ve got a lot of time for the Radioheads of this world, it’s nice to hear something which has an outlet in humour alongside the serious subject matter found in the lyrics.
7. The Eyes
The other members may not match Sharp’s performance level physically, but they match his dedication. With frontman Cuomo, who was actually recovering from surgery and unable to walk without the aid of a cane (which you can even see hanging off of his mic stand), the performance is in the eyes. Take, for example, the possessed look he gives when he “wrestles with Jimmy” (0.48) or the moment of realisation that he is “drowning in the flood” (2.48), his eyes seeing the light after having kept them shut for the majority of the bridge.
When he does open his eyes, breaking his own spell, his voice breaks. It’s the least noticeable of three times this happens (the most noticeable undoubtedly at the beginning of the final chorus), but I even love the mistakes. Why? Well, it’s unashamedly subjective, but as an unexceptional vocalist myself who has made similar mistakes on stage, it’s nice to see that an imperfect performance can (or at least could in the 90s) still be given a platform to reach millions of people. Throughout popular music history, many bands have been branded around their frontmen. It’s arguably just an unavoidable component of celebrity culture, but Weezer come across very much as a ‘band’s band’, on stage because of group ability rather than individualistic talent.
The ‘realness’ of live performance comes from the potential of human error, and the level of performance above the studio version comes from human development. There is an appropriately youthful mix of both vigour and naivety in this performance that perfectly suits Weezer’s anxious ‘geek rock’. 1995 seemed to be the perfect time for ‘Say It Ain’t So’.
I may not have convinced you that this is a great performance, but I do better understand why I think it is. Clearly, the grunge ideologies from the conception of my musical interests have stuck hard. I hope that as an old dog I’ve learnt some new tricks since 2001, but it’s clear that I also have to recognise that the leopard in me hasn’t changed its spots. To be honest, I should probably be more worried about the number of animals in my psyche than why I like a bit of music.
Anyway… must stop writing. I’ve got things to watch.
I once was given a gift with a poem about a character called ‘Rock Pig’. It read:
Rock Pig don’t like disco
Rock Pig don’t like dance
Rock Pig don’t like ambient
Rock Pig don’t like trance
Rock Pig don’t like R&B
Rock Pig don’t like soul
Rock Pig just likes heavy duty
Bad-Ass ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
To finally put music out under your own name can be a turning point for an artist, a way of making a huge statement, a chance to signal a change of direction, an opportunity to finally release something you felt you couldn’t with any other musician or in any other project up to that point in their life. But what ‘Play’ does is show us exactly what we already know Dave Grohl is about – Bad-Ass ROCK ‘N’ ROLL.
Describing himself as “a kid in a candy store”, Grohl plays an array of musical instruments (well, strings and percussion) to produce a 23-minute instrumental opus. Having seen Foo Fighters produce an acoustic record on double album In Your Honor and even tour that set-up through Skin & Bones, I doubt we’ll ever see their famous frontman do ‘that famous frontman thing’ and truly go it alone. This may be the closest he ever gets…
Despite this, when ‘Play’’s first big riff kicks in, I would have believed anybody who told me that it was a new Foo Fighters song. Full of power, the sudden and synchronised start/stop technique and gradually bending guitar strings have been utilised by them many times before. As the track develops, however, there’s one give away… Despite Foo’s drummer Taylor Hawkins being a hugely respected and talented musician, Grohl is an inimitable animal on the drums; with virtuosic fills and an almost signature sound, it’s great to hear him behind the kit again, where he first made his name.
In fact, there is definitely a little homage to his famous drum intro from ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ at 15:40. That was the first moment that most of the world heard the sound of Dave Grohl on any instrument, at a time when he probably did still feel like a kid. Grohl is clearly aware that that song is a large part of the reason he is paid to ‘Play’ today.
‘Play’ is described as, “Celebrating the rewards and challenges of dedicating one’s life to playing and mastering a musical instrument”; and when you hit play, seven Dave Grohls walk in to a studio to record the track (I bet Grohl’s ex-bandmate Josh Homme wishes he’d thought of that, considering the Queens of The Stone Age band members timeline). When considered alongside his multiple BBC documentaries and supergroup appearances, most musicians in his position would be perceived as arrogant or worse, but he’s still thought of as “the nicest guy in rock”.
Cynics may not believe his humble claim that, “I didn’t know if I could pull [‘Play’] off”, but to me it feels believable. ‘Play’ is accompanied by a video about young people learning instruments and a list of organisations where we can sign up to learn. The key thing here is that unlike the Bonos and Geldofs of this world, he’s not preaching to us about anything apart from music. The kid who still just wants to play. Oh, and he’s also not been done for tax evasion. That always helps.
Despite the undeniable quality of the piece, there are musical limitations. Without lyrics to give a different focus or context on the piece, the quiet/loud/quiet formula Grohl has been perfecting ever since his Nirvana days is particularly blatant, growing slightly weary over 23 minutes. Although a nice touch for the video, changing drum kits and guitars during takes makes those quiet ‘in-between’ sections feel slightly more forced than usual.
That repetitive process of big riff > sudden stop > quiet riff > build back up > repeat, and the fact that ‘Play’ ends on a hugely extended E minor chord (E is the lowest note a guitar in standard tuning can play) is of no surprise and is hugely typical of his, and indeed most rock music. This is quite simply, a very long rock song. But then, so is ‘Freebird’, so is ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, and so is ‘Hey Jude’. While it’s effect won’t be as long-lasting, it’s still damn good at points.
Some of ‘Play’’s best bits come from the rare moments where the music sounds slightly less like Foo Fighters, such as at 6.15 where acoustic guitar and percussion take the lead, or at 19:10 where the power chords are given a break and we’re treated to Jeff Buckley-esque picking and delicious chord changes. These are the moments where ‘Play’ starts to sound less like a well-packaged compilation of unused Foo Fighters riffs and more like something which stands firmly on its own two feet.
Simultaneously, the biggest success and the biggest disappointment of ‘Play’, in a musical sense, is that if you’re a Dave Grohl fan, you’ll be a ‘Play’ fan; if you’re not, you won’t be. It would be fascinating to see Grohl push himself and take a step outside of the rock genre, rather than finding countless acts, instruments and formulas to re-package the same ideas. However, it doesn’t seem as if he is going to risk alienating a fan base or tarnishing a legacy which feels like it gets stronger by the day. Perhaps the main reason for that is because Dave Grohl don’t like disco, Dave Grohl don’t like dance. Dave Grohl don’t like ambient, Dave Grohl don’t like trance. Dave Grohl don’t like R&B, Dave Grohl don’t like soul. Dave Grohl just likes heavy-duty, bad ass Rock ‘n’ Roll.
A White Stripe, a Raconteur, a quarter of The Dead Weather, and a name in his own right; we’ve spent twenty years watching little Jackie White grow up… and he’s still a child at heart.
His songs are full of childhood experience, but it isn’t a childhood which is looked back on with disdain or embarrassment; in fact, it’s not being contextualised at all. It is childhood from the perspective of the child; the point where your first love wasn’t a spotty, awkward impression of love, but the purest and most energised thing you’d ever felt. Jack White has embodied that feeling throughout his career and he does it better than anybody else.
His three intimate and sweaty nights at the Hammersmith Apollo – as opposed to, say, one night at the O2 – signals that he also puts his fan’s experience before his own diary. Not convinced? Well how about the fact that the photo at the top of this blog was the only one I got all night. The whole crowd were forced to surrender devices at the door, to be placed in Yondr cases. Aside from spending the following twenty minutes realising how often I move my right hand to my pocket for no real reason, I have to say I didn’t really miss my phone… Turns out I can remember an experience without those customary, pixelated reminders.
No longer playing in a two-piece (ensemble – he didn’t get naked), White directs a supporting cast of five from his central position. On top of this, he has a range of guitars on-stage (often switched mid-song), an extra piano and an extra drum-kit, just in case he feels like changing it up even more. A guitar issue during ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’? No bother. How about an impromptu and revitalised piano version instead? On ‘My Doorbell’, White doubles up on drums, with both synth players adding further percussion to the bass and piano accompaniment, providing an undeniable groove for one of the evening’s standout performances.
At one point, I saw a guy filming a video or two on something he had snuck in. I really hoped the show would stop and we’d all superciliously chant “Judas!” from our new-found, old-fashioned standpoint but, alas, no such luck…
This is a different Jack White to the one I saw in San Francisco four years ago. I’m glad to see he’s jacked in the fiddle, and despite any worries I had about some of the new sounds on 2018’s Boarding House Reach, even the opinion-splitting ‘Ice Station Zebra’ sounded gargantuan live. Imagine everything with overdrive and shouted an octave higher and you’ll be much nearer to the truth. I’d love to share a video, but the fucker took my phone. (Just kidding, here’s a version from March.)
Songs like ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’ (“Look at all the bugs we found. Safely walk to school without a sound.”) sit comfortably alongside 2018’s ‘Corporation’ (“I’m thinking about starting a corporation, who’s with me?!”). As well as including rarer cuts such as ‘Do’ (a tour debut), White gives the crowd the hits from all of his projects: ‘Steady As She Goes’, ‘I Cut Like A Buffalo’, and… of course… ‘Seven Nation Army’.
Closing the night, White encourages the crowd to chant the riff like we’re at the World Cup. Strangling every last breath from his guitar’s neck during the solo and accentuating key vocal lines with his signature shriek, there’s no sign of Cobain-esque resentment or rejection of the track’s adoration. He doesn’t have to take rock ‘n’ roll too seriously; that childlike enthusiasm which first endeared him to fans twenty years ago is still within him.
In 2005, Alex Turner told us, “We’re Arctic Monkeys. … Don’t believe the hype”. How times have changed.
We all know the in-between. The fastest selling debut album in UK chart history, seven Brit awards, two headline sets at Glastonbury, six (out of six) number one albums… Now it seems to be all about the hype, with a new album which is impossible to not think of as at least slightly pretentious.
It’s unsurprising that their latest effort, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, has split opinion so comprehensively; a complete change of sound and mood was born from a fresh songwriting approach, which Alex Turner explains at the start of their recent TV special Live at the BBC:
“Every time I started with a guitar I was suspicious of where it was gonna go. I think I had a pretty good idea of what the outcome might be, which was completely contrary to how I felt when I sat at this piano and suddenly, you know, my imagination was ignited once more”.
Despite there still being a guitar-wielding monkey, this is probably about as experimental as noughties indie rockers are gonna get. Call it Kid AM.
It’s not the sound that bothers me though. What bothers me is that it feels more like an Alex Turner solo record. This isn’t the Alex Turner who wrote the Submarine soundtrack in 2011, this is the man who has been living in LA and now sings like he does. He has been plonking out 4/4 triads on his piano and taken them to a likely fairly bemused band. Although they contribute competently, it’s not music that plays to the strengths of, or makes the most of drummer Matt Helders, guitarist Jamie Cook or bassist Nick O’Malley. The new sound is hardly even to Turner’s strengths, with two session musicians regularly playing his new favourite “imagination-igniting” instrument around him throughout the new tracks featured on Live at the BBC, while Turner stands about posing.
We saw the warning signs two years ago when Turner was swaying his hips on the Pyramid Stage alongside Miles Kane in the Last Shadow Puppets. But that was a different act. Nobody saw Tranquility Base as the obvious next album. Seeing Alex Turner act the organ grinder to his Arctic Monkeys leaves something of a bitter taste.
Live at the BBC only serves to add to this perception. Most people dress for an occasion but, shot by vintage cameras and featuring television sets from bygone eras, it seems Maida Vale has been dressed to match Turner’s latest look. In fact, Alex Turner is the filmmaker’s focus constantly. Choreographed looks to camera are painfully coupled by a slightly disingenuous voice that evokes ironic memories of his noughties lyric, “You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham, so get off the bandwagon and put down the handbook”.
For what it’s worth, the new songs come across well live. Their new music has such a focus on Turner’s ever-developing vocal that lyrical content feels accentuated, giving something of a perceptual shift for the continuing AM listener. There’s nothing wrong with the album either, but aside from Turner’s show-stealing bravado, there’s another reason he’s the constant focus of the camera; you only have to look at the other band members to see how bored they are. Particularly Helders feels woefully underused on these tracks, and the evidence of that is provided by some of their back catalogue throughout the show…
If you want a 90-second taste of the best and worst Live at the BBC has to offer – skip straight to 8.38 here for some key, archetypal moments…
8.38: Hand through his hair, brow furrowed, Alex Turner delivers his latest proclamations remembered from his GCSE poetry book, before he “[loses his] train o’ thought” and gives us ten seconds of utterly inspired acting to push his point home…
9.08: Turner goes for a strut while three keys parts are played by two touring musicians around him.
9.21: One of these two musicians, a sweaty (no surprise, he’s working harder than the others) Tyler Parkford prompts Alex Turner to bizarrely declare, “That sound means it’s the end of the round. Time for the bonus question.”
9:28: When the bonus question turns out to be ‘R U Mine?’, you remember everything that’s good about Arctic Monkeys when they work as a unit. Turner loses the garish glasses along with (most of) the pretense. Helders starts to pull drummer faces and the energy goes up about twelve thousand percent. With tight vocal harmonies and instrumental parts, Alex Turner feels like a Monkey again.
Unfortunately, it’s not a trend that continues, with I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor proving a surprisingly uncomfortable watch. The band who wrote that song feel far removed from today’s Arctic Monkeys. The original music video saw the fresh-faced Sheffield teens bash the song out live at around 110bpm. On Live at the BBC (17:27), they constantly fluctuate from around 91 to 99bpm, sluggishly dragging through verses delivered with the now customary Alex Turner sneer. It’s a song they’ll never escape, for better or worse. To put a fresh spin on it would be both admirable and understandable, but this is a weak impression of the same old schtick.
The closing credits, filmed scrolling on an old TV screen next to Alex Turner providing a rare keys soundtrack, are a really nice touch. It’s an aesthetically pleasing spectacle, but it’s a concept which seems so far removed from the DIY origins of the band.
It feels like they’re separate personalities struggling to locate their collective identity. Right now, Matt Helders and his plain shirt don’t quite match up to the ‘Made in Chelsea’ long hair and pinstripe suit efforts of Jamie Cook. Nobody seems to crack a smile throughout Live at the BBC, but then again, this isn’t fun anymore. It’s serious business, this LA rock ‘n’ roll bullshit.
Development is vital for the life of any artist. Plus, when Arctic Monkeys have inspired so many soundalikes, this new sound is no bad thing for their commercial longevity. As long as individual ego doesn’t stand in the way of collective development, I expect their next album to continue this aural progression but be stronger for each member also stamping their musical authority.
Your ears may prefer the new Arctic Monkeys – the question is, can you stomach the Alex Turner show? Don’t believe the hype, judge it for yourself.
The other day, somebody told me how a friend of his who works for a record company has noticed a new trend: Rock bands sending out promo material are using every word under the sun to suggest that they are a rock band, without ever using the word ‘rock’. Of course, there are dictionaries full of descriptive splendour, and sub-genres old and new which neatly fit under the umbrella of ‘rock’ that may better encapsulate the sound of a band, but it’s got me pondering – what’s the problem with ‘rock’?
The first thing to say is thank god we do have those musical umbrellas, or record stores would be a nightmare to navigate. All umbrellas have sub-genres; while always being important in terms of definition, they’re not necessarily also an attempt to escape a tag…
Only yesterday on the BBC’s not so rock ‘n’ roll The One Show did I hear a reporter proclaim, “Lets rock!”, as he prepared to study the effect of greenhouse gases over a ten-day period… I’m sure Ozzy Osbourne was chewing bat heads to try and fill the void in his life while he waited for part two.
The problem is… Rock is middle-aged wedding dancers playing air guitar to Status Quo. Rock is what will “knock your socks off” at the ‘(Insert Name of Primary School Here)’s Got Talent’ concert. Christ, Rock is a fucking cake… It makes rock ‘n’ roll seem more like a heavy lunch than an evening of sex and drugs.
Most other genre names don’t have this sort of wide colloquial appropriation: “That’s so ska, man.” / “Yeah, boi! Dat is griiiiime ting.” / “You’re totally hip-hopping that outfit, babes.”
(I apologise, I really do.)
As its wider usage has risen, its usage within music has fallen. From Rolling Stones pastiche to a Gary Glitter Christmas (anybody?) to, well, the entire AC/DC back catalogue; the word ‘rock’ has been in many a song title, but even a cursory look at a list of the most popular shows us that the era that championed the term has long gone. In any case, any kudos that was left for the word after the turn of the millennium probably died when this happened…
The other thing is that those old ideologies of rock (which I’ve discussed before) are now outdated, meaning the word ‘rock’ has these inextricable connotations for record label staff and A&R vampires who won’t want to get an old taste from the new blood presenting their necks.
The fact that Nina Simone, Tupac Shakur and Donna Summer have all been inducted in to the ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’ in the last five years alone shows that the term has probably become too all-encompassing over the years, describing attitudes, personalities and ideologies rather than simply music. That is not to say that those three artists don’t deserve that recognition – they undoubtedly deserve accolades more than some of the other inducted artists who would self-define as rock; I’m just not sure a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame place is something they’d have even understood.
Dave Grohl has just ended a speech on stage at the Brits, “long live rock ‘n’ roll”, dedicating the Foo Fighters’ ‘International Group’ award to those who “plug in and play”. In reality, it’s something he wouldn’t even think of saying if rock was alive and well. Judging by the majority of the acts nominated this evening, it may be understandable if indeed he feels it isn’t. Still, new rock bands clearly exist, they just don’t want to be labelled as rock. So, at least to some, ‘rock’ is dead, but if it is, it’s had a lot of offspring. A rose by any other name would smell just as much like teen spirit.