Historical background of rock music
The American hard rock can be traced from the 1940s. Its history is pegged on the development of the rock and roll and country music. The inception of the music has no clear origin, but it has grown through the fusing of different types of music.
The combination of rock, gospel and African-American music of the time marked the basis of rock music. The most celebrated growth of the American Rock music was experienced during the 1964 invasion of American pop charts by British pop music. By 1970s, the American rock was rating as very flexible after blending with other types of music to give birth to the folk-rock. Its influence was also experienced in jazz music, which led to jazz-rock fusion (DeNora, 1999).
The fusion of rock with other types of music formed subgenres of rock music, including soft rock, hard rock and glam rock. With time, rock music diversified to accommodate the growth of American rock to a new genre of rock to get acceptance to the pop charts. Rock music had very significantly been influenced by the acceptance of British pop music in America. The British bands crossed the American states leaving a compelling need to change the rock music to another genre of music. Rock music had grown to a stage where racial and cultural diversity could not be avoided (Frith, 1979).
It is imperative to note that rock music has undergone evolve through numerous stages. The true evolution of rock music was witnessed in the early 1960s, which was done through American and British bands. The initial rock was modified by adding hard sounds, heavy guitar and loud vocals. During the same period, another type of rock was born, which was more deep and loud. This type of rock was a clear contrast of the soft rock.
From soft rock to hard rock, to the next level, rock was known as garage and surf rock. Different rock groups were gaining momentum in joining the hard rock to soft rock. To their surprise, the 1970s evolved yet another type of rock known as the glam rock which was famously dubbed power pop. Interestingly, the hard rock which was very popular in America was breed from the 1960s garage rock. Glam rock was later a movement on its own, whereby even the kind of dressing was unique, and its proponents were against the wearing of lavish clothes in their shows to portray the trait them being of classless (Barker & Beezer, 1992).
The preceding type of rock was heavy metal which grew in the 1970s more specifically from bands like Kinks. The new type of rock had numerous distinctions since it had a change of music instruments from the use of electric guitar. The change of the themes from the high school experiences lyrics was changed, giving out other themes such as love and politics. It ought to be remembered that rock music owes a debt to jazz music since the initial instruments of rock music had been first borrowed from jazz music. The jazz-rock fusion is said to have formed the basis on which psychedelic rock was formed.
It was before the psychedelic rock had gained an appreciation that progressive rock gained popularity. In the new age of rock, music had tremendous advanced, and the main aim was to intensify the already existing class of rock to enhance speed and high volume rock music. Meaningful time was invested to a release of raw rock which could touch on the political themes prevalent at the time. It was a foundation for new themes to be incorporated in rock songs. The original rock music was dominated by the white male stars that definitely came up with themes from their surroundings (Hebdige, 1979).
Rock music has, through time, placed much weight on live performance and maintaining authenticity in their music. This was so to maintain its status and any deviation from the initial rock greeted with a release of a new type of rock that tried to purify it from dilutions. Though it has been almost impossible to draw a line between the original rock and the influence caused by the mainstream rock music, staunch supporters of rock music had maintained that there was a sharp distinction (DeNora, 1999).
The release of punk rock music in 1974 in America was a milestone to the growth of rock music. The 1974 growth stretched its influence up to the early 1980s. The garage rock which earned its name by the virtue it was played in a garage is said to have given birth to punk music. The literal meaning of punk rock music was worthless. Its ideology was a clear distinction from mainstream music. At the same time; sentiments of anti-authoritarian could not be divorced from this type of music.
Their music was self-recorded, and the distribution was done through informal channels. Although the minimum record sales, punk rock gained a very strong underground following leading to its spread world wide. The music was mainly dominated by the youth, which was evident in their dressing styles and the rebellious lyrics (Frith, 1979).
To access the mainstream market, many punk rock bands came up with the New wave. New wave was fighting hard to gain market penetration which was substantially blocked by the rebellious nature of the punk rock. The commercial aspect of the new wave was revived, and recorded executives gained interest in the music. The post-punk was very popular with major influences from bands such as The Velvet Underground. The post-punk was not restricted to American bands but also British bands, namely the Gang of four.
It has been contended that one of the band in the post-punk era was the U2. The band was based in Ireland and was majorly known for having strong political and religious imagery. The success made by the band was later to be massive, making it the biggest band in the world. Post-punk rock formed the genesis to the 1980s industrial music whereby a mixture of techniques in sampling strengthening the post-industrial music (DeNora, 1999).
The 1980s growth of hard rock music
The music of a certain location helps in analysing the cultural aspects and the political events or ideologies surrounding society. Such a study is called subculture, whereby the words of the music are not only the essential tool in understanding the society from where the music comes. The dressing code is equally imperative in knowing the setting and the status of the society. It is evident from the following discussion that American society was largely dominated by racism in the early 1980s.
Music can be said to the mirror of any given society; therefore, rock music is not an exception. The Black race was highly suppressed; hence the evolution of 1980s rock had a substantial element of rebellion and anti authority. Though tracing its history from both white and black traditions, the performance of hard rock was to express liberal sentiments. The following discussion will endeavour to show the origin of rock music in the 1980s and its impact on American society.
Any society experiencing suppression will always show it in the form of music composed. The 1980s was a pace created during a time when the artists of rock who were not accommodated by the mainstream rock. The alternative rock music was a distinct style whereby harmonisation of different styles of music took place. Many of the alternative rock artists were signed by independent records. The advent of the group based guitar rock could not be avoided at this age. Many founders of the alternative rock disassociated themselves from the synthpop rock influence (Macan, 1997).
The 1980s rock ages were graced by the emergence of famous and competent bands such as the Def Leopard. The band was started in 1977, located in Sheffield in the United Kingdom. The band advanced its music at a time when the new wave was at its peak in England. The band became one of the top-selling rock bands through out the world. It sold thirty-five million albums in America and at the same time selling sixty-five million all over the world.
The band was composed of students who had met by chance after missing a bus. In the first instance, they had named the bad Deaf Leopard but afterwards changed the name to distinguish the band from other punk bands. In 1980, many fans that had followed the bands’ music religiously were with time being turned away by the spirited effort by the band to appeal to the American audience. The release of the song Hello America was very disappointing to many fanatical English fans. The band was not intending to pay attention to the fans’ opinion since their sales were soaring high (Hebdige, 1979).
Secondly, Van Halen is one of the most outstanding hard rock bands of all times. Its formation dates back to 1972 in Pasadena, California. After releasing their album in 1978, the band enjoyed a dominant lead in the American charts. The album placed them in position nineteen of the Americans best selling band of all time. The following albums had commercial deterioration. The band mainly focused on hard rock, heavy metal and glam metal (Frith, 1979).
Thirdly, there is also the Kiss band which gained its prominence in the 1970s. Though, they criticised that they spent a lot of their time on facial decorations. The band was formed in 1973 in New York, America. The band took rock music to another stage through their comic costumes. Through involving the fans, the band maintained a selection of the best designs. Their main type of rock was hard rock and heavy metal. In 1983, the band dropped the costumes culture and made their first public appearance in MTV without the costumes (Macan, 1997).
The Impact of Hard Rock on the American Society
In an analysis to focus on the influence of rock music in American society, it is worth appreciating the fact that any type of music must achieve clear communication to its audience. The accuracy of achieving that role is very vital in the music context. Though the nature of the music substantially differs when interpretation is desired, the clear hearing of the words is essential. However, it is very disturbing for a musician to learn that his/her audience does not interpret the music in the rightful context.
These defects are cured by the performer taking the music to an extra mile and pouring out his/her emotional for the audience to understand the context clearly. The harmonious agreement created by the musician and the audience is the sole test to measure the flow of communication. The youths in these music scenes had an unnatural style of dressing and dancing. Many of the facial masks were of animals. One of the members of the Kiss hard rock group wore a mask of a fox.
The animal symbol has been said to suggest a break away from the normal rules. It is worth noting that the break away from the cultural rules should not in any way be confused with the lack of rules which altogether is a very distinct thing. In their treasured costumes, they communicated to their listeners by stating the importance of courage (Lusted, 1991).
Many of the alternative rock stars did not achieve a considerable mainstream sale, but the substantial impact which was later experienced in the 1990s was hatched during the 1980s. Hard rock music of all times has been described as a transmitting vehicle of cultures.
The look of their attires used and the facial decorations had formed the development of new fashions among the youth. The experience of the 1980s punk music or otherwise rock music had long coming effects to the society and more specifically the American society. It should be noted that the influence of rock, just like any other type of music, was irresistible. A given society could not choose to accept hard rock while at the same time resisting its influence (Hebdige, 1979).
The influence of hard rock music was not only felt in America, but it was a world wide issue. In Britain, it is said that the reception of punk music was a major threat to western civilisation. The gross influence experienced by the strength of the rock style was fascinating. The influence is understood when the subculture is subjected to meaningful interpretation at the given time. The rock style was emerging at a period when the effects of the world’s major wars were being felt.
Rock music can not be said to have impacted the social setting only but the political outset which was affected the same way. The effects were achieved in a really hard to understand language since rock music is said to have possessed the internal logic not easy to decipher. The contribution in shaping the political scope by the subcultural groups was finally realised (DeNora, 1999).
The post war period is said to have given birth to a classless youth who had social groups which were famously crowned as the age of leisure pursuits. The flexible way of the subcultural structure was resistance to classes (Walser, 1993). In the working youth atmosphere, it is clear that the issue of forming classes was considered a priority. The said resistance was achieved through having a language, style and fashion distinct from the working parents. The distinct ways of style had been a foundation of the staunch political opposition. It is not surprising from the above analysis to discover the free association between the 1980s youth despite their colour.
Rock style brought the dressing fashion in a uniform state through using of the same style. The said stage was famously known as the Phantom history. Antagonism in music was cured by bringing on board through rock performances the black and white fans and artist. The comprehending of rock music can not be attained without the study of the subcultures of rock music. Further, the subcultures are to be analysed with style. The connection and the dire need to discuss rock music is that the practical lives enjoyed by the majority of the American citizens had been influenced (Macan, 1997).
The Def Leppard group, one of the renowned hard rock groups in America, had its traditions in the black music and is said to have joined the Teddy boys in opposing the Immigration of Black youths in the United Kingdom. They used hard rock music to portray their staunch political commitment. The relationship between blacks and white youth in such circumstances was interpreted to show the exchange of language through rock songs. On the other side, the punks gave unwavering support to the fight against the vice of racism. The mingling of black and white youths was a milestone in achieving a British free racist society at the same stage (Frith, 1979).
It is in the rock concerts that the role of the women in the subcultures and to further shows how the youth of the post war societies were organised. A subcultural relations analysis shows the presence of girls in punk shows. It ought to be remembered that way back in the 1980s the women rights talked of today were still in their infant stages, but through rock music, the gap which existed was bridged.
The proponents of rock music have all along contended that there is something more than the sound in rock music. Rock’s significance can only be listened in the spirit of the themes articulated. The 1980s fight against racism could not be achieved without the role of rock music. Later reggae music was born, which was a key nationalism strategy. The music steered the white youth to be at the same level as the blacks. The white youths found it easy to help the blacks in the racism fight since they had shared the same Clubs and Discos (Macan, 1997).
It is important to appreciate the fact that hard rock from its inception had been rebellious music and sometimes termed anti-authority. The influence of rock cannot be taken as bringing racism to an end. However, it is a major factor which created an environment of dialogue between the white and the black youth. There are major critics who have vehemently questioned the classless society formed by youths through rock music. Many have termed such societies as alienation (Frith, 1979).
Many of the hard rock bands were formed by high school teens, for instance, the Del Leppard who formed the band after a school bus had left before they could catch it. Thereby, there is a strong nexus between punk rock and the 1980s high school music movement. Music styles full of historical ideas in schools were fused to bring a fashionable way of rock music. The age of the music composers combined with the rebellious nature of teenagers was a landmark in fostering strong political sentiments. Artistes such as the Kiss used comedy and unique customs which facilitated the use of imagery, a gesture which largely drew the attention of the audience.
At this era, the perception towards hard rock had considerably changed, and for once, the hard rock was perceived as a solution, not an existed problem. It cannot be forgotten that hard rock music was a leisure tool in addition to those other named functions. The focus during this stage was not how the rock music was being used but the purpose of using it. Rock music market grew to the extent that rock music was no longer for folk consumption, but massive production was required (Barker & Beezer, 1992).
The punk style which dominated the hard rock music is said to have passed over their styles to other genres of music and in life generally. The appearance in their shows in boots was a true representation of the working class. The spiky hair and the famous pogo dancing has been said to be a deviation from the mainstream society (Hebdige, 1979).
Different dressing and dancing styles by the rock artistes have been said to form a basis of expression whereby the message is clearly sent to the fans and the world. It is achieved through subcultures which are defined as the way oppressed groups not only verbally demand their rights but also engage in over the acts to show their level of discontentment. Many of the hard rock artistes selected an inherent attribute they hoped to maintain but, in contrast, combined it with a contrast of the desired initial attribute. The Kiss rock group in the United States wore an anti-racism head and face mask containing the British identity while the face was of an immigrant. This helped to show some intensity of the subcultures in an organised fight on racism (Jones, 2008).
The essence of style in any society is that it has the effect of presenting the viewers of such a society with a different outlook. American society has been known to embrace democracy, but the dark days of racism in the early 1980s cannot be ignored. It is a style that opened the view of the said oppressions. The accuracy of communication in the hard rock has been to trigger different level of emotions and sometimes intellect (Lusted, 1991).
The fact that hard rock had since inception not being seen to support conventional morality had been graced with criticism. The criticism did not target the rock singers, but it was also extended to the fanatical supporters. Dating back in the 1950s, the original Rock-and-Roll was said to erode the morals evident in civilisation. British rock music was viewed as antisocial. The birth of progressive rock was at the same time viewed as a forum whereby the youth counter culture aired their grievances and discontentment through music. It can be said that their message to the government of the day was communicated through rock music.
At the moment, American society was facing the worst political unfairness. The main political issues at the time were to spear heard the civil rights for black Americans. In addition, American society was dissatisfied with the American army involvement in Vietnam. The move was termed imperialistic in nature and, at the same time, the society that a lot of the army officers were losing their lives without a defined course to fight for. The exploitative nature of the capitalist society was becoming hard to bear, and in the years after the world war, America was trying to spread capitalism aggressively.
It was not welcomed by the majority of the Americans since the foreign missions were mainly funded through the tax payer’s money. A lot of American resources were being channelled to wars of no benefit to American society. In the eyes of the government of the day rock music was viewed and interpreted to mean opposition to authority. The basis of rock was not mainly opposition to authority but the prevailing ideology. Rock music has been viewed as antagonistic to mainstream or commercial tendencies of many artists through time. The rock music has with few exceptions shown to portray a very deep commitment to art.
The approach of rock music is that art is embraced hence drawing a sharp distinction between commercial pop music and the original rock music. It is with no doubt; I assert that the derivation of originality from the African American societies gives rock music an element of liberal advocacy. The very evident traits of rock music make it to stand out. Needless to say, creative rock has through time been said to be in its class.
Rock music has been rooted in cultures. Hence through time, it has pointed out the pressing injustices in that society. Rock music is said to have taken cultures of society to another level by practically legitimising the cultural norms considered immoral. Contrasted to pop music, which is more appealing to the elites of society, rock music is classless. In fact, rock music cuts across all generations, and it is not discriminative in nature (Hebdige, 1979).
The status in society is always a stumbling block towards liberalism, but the fact that rock music has an appealing character to the lower class in the society it is of help. The material quest has been a tool whereby different music groups have moved away with time from creative rock music to commercial rock music. In Britain, such unhealthy competition was said to be the genesis to marginalisation. The initial rock music was largely made up for men. The meaning of music has been held not to be found in the inherent design, but in growing with criticism. It is in the exchange of claim and counters claim that makes the music graduate from one level to the next (Lusted, 1991).
While a considerable population in American society appreciated the role and the soundness of rock music in the society, it was noise to others. Many stated that since the music was widely dominated by the youth, for instance, the Vale Halen, it was an expression of immaturity. The radical revolutionary nature of rock music opposed to the ruling class since they benefited from the prevailing injustices in society.
It is still contended that rock music just like any other popular music has formed the basis in which a cross-section of the society identifies itself with certain living styles. The living styles were built on the type of music played, and the solidarity gained in the joints that the respective group is hanging out. The demand for such music has been engineered and prevailed consistently. The fanatical youth supporters of rock music find it hard to disassociate themselves with the youth even after growing old. That precisely explains why shows of hard rock bands such as The Kiss are filled with old rock fans.
The music is said to remind the aged of the powerful, energetic youth days. The comfort enjoyed by the grey-haired in such music concerts is sometimes very shocking. What hard rock music offers is a warm sense of belonging that many other types of music had failed to achieve (O’Hara & Brown, 2006).
Hard rock has been highly praised by many individuals in the industry. It has been argued that it is not a type of music created for one’s hobby after the long day work, but it is more than that. It is also essential to look into the role of rock music in a predominantly capitalist economy. The influence on the economy, which consequently affects the culture, is the key element in gauging the impact of hard rock in the 1980s capitalist American economy.
The effects of the heavy metal to create a middle ground between the different demographics can not be ruled out. The targeted audiences did not receive the music, just has planned by key individuals in the industry. In fact, the effects of such hard metal move were counteracted with a total opposition by the radio stations whereby their music was not played, and the albums sold poorly. The results were due to the fact that the 1970 rock industry was dominated by young male white artists who were not appealing to the oppressed black audience. With time, the effect was handled by the 1980s emergence of bands which were gender-balanced. The heavy metal rock had increasing received all types of audiences (University of Northern Colorado, 1991).
The mainstream, reception of heavy metal hard rock in the United States and making about forty per cent selling. It has been said that some rigid boundaries have been drawn mainly by the music industry to enhance more sales which led to the 1988 failure of the heavy metal concert. The concert was a disappointment to the fans and key stakeholders in the music industry. The event was expected to be the greatest metal concert since big bands such as the Van Halen had attended (Lusted, 1991).
No doubt that the 1980s era of rock music has been held as the most outstanding moments when popular rock music was put to the test. Different ways of addressing the style of politics was a sufficient test during that age. However, the politics were well covered by what was famously known as the conscience hard rock which took many critics by surprise. Rock artists in the mid-1980s joined hands, and they stretched their outreach to international social issues.
The focus of different hard rock bands was mainly concerned with the effects of drought and famine, which was at the time killing people in large parts of Africa. The main events organised by the 1980s rock bands were to initiate the desired awareness. They are said to have built strong channels for collecting money for social interventions in different parts of the world. The popular name given to such funds was the Bands Aid. The 1981 detection of AIDS was greeted with many worries. Still, rock bands were traversing all over the world, creating the needed awareness of how the epidemic could be combated. The awareness went past the vocals, and funds were raised to help in those campaigns (Jones, 2008).
Band Aid became profoundly successful in the mid-1980s through what was termed as the rock brotherhood. A new rock outlook was eventually initiated through the political consciousness while the cultural movements were created to forge a balance between the factors influencing society and subsequently look for a clear harmony. Deductions that were drawn from the hard rock music clearly emphasises on the point that music is a symbol of distinct cultural struggle (Jones, 2008).
Alternative rock music has been said to politicise certain issues in the cultural setting from which it emerges. In the 1980s, Del Leppard band was highly held to release music using feminism sentiments. They would pick a vice such as sexual assault in society and take minutes to analyse a stand against it in their concerts. It can be said that the said campaigns were not more pronounced, but they remained evident in their music.
The predominant culture of hard rock is that it tried to change the rules of the rock music image though the trait of dialogue could not be avoided. By and large, it has been interpreted that it exposed cultural spaces of the time and, to a greater extent, a few elements of political feminism. Rock music artists are said to compose their music without the help of conventional teaching like other types of music. They are praised for their invoking of unconventional effects.
Rock music is termed as purer since the musicians sieve the creative part and ignore the conventional influence. Rock music has existed through the strength of its ideology which makes it appeal in a raw way. If not for its primitive simplicity, there are countless doubts whether the message commitment would be the same. Much has said about rock music, but the music stands very real (Macan, 1997).
Much of the analysis done on popular music and more specifically the 1980s rock music is to provide an appreciated means of expression by the young people. The youth by the nature of the said stage is naturally rebellious to their parental authority. Hence rock music, just like any other popular music, achieved that trait. For instance, Van Halen was extremely rebellious, and they strongly denounced the fore founders of rock music (Leyshon, 1998).
The gauging of the effects of the hard rock music would be unfair and at the same time unrealistic if it would centre at the positive impacts of the hard rock music. There are numerous effects associated with the emergence of hard rock music in American society, which later reached the other parts of the world. In fact, music is a communication spread without limitation. Just the same way there are positive attributes associated with hard rock.
There are other numerous negatives effects. It should be remembered that rock music, since its inception has been an antagonist to the already established norms. There are values and threats that held society before the growth of rock music. The rebellion of the youth against parental control was the beginning of a rotten morals society. In Britain, rock music was said to be a threat to civilisation since it violated many values. In its initial stages, many radios in American societies found it hard to play hard rock music (Garofalo, 2008).
No wonder, in some places, it was termed the catalyst to moral decay. Although the anti hard rock media tendency was finally waived, it remained explosive and only selected, edited lyrics could be played. In fact, to motivate acceptance by the greater mainstream society, the hard rock artistes had to drop the cursing language evident in their lyrics (Jones, 2008).
In addition, their style of life and the way the hard rock stars presented themselves pioneered the fashionable, flamboyant fashions in the society which was hard to maintain. The youth was introduced to a new form of life whereby the mode of dressing mattered considerably. Conflicts between the parents and their youth became the order of the day. The fussing of different groups in the social places for rock entertainment formed potential crime groups.
Criminals would camouflage themselves in the said rock groups. In addition, the new dressing fashions were hard to maintain and hence to sustain that life crime was the only option left at the disposal of those youths (Hallam, Cross & Thaut, 2009).
Still evident in the groups was the promotion of drugs consumption. Evidently, the youth who is known to be easily swayed by lifestyles, easily adapted to the culture of drinking which they had seen in the clubs. Many of the rock musicians were seen as the promoters of alcohol. With time, some of the original band members of the Def Leppard had to be replaced due to the drinking excessively which deprived them the power to make public performances or even play the instruments.
Though rock music was a key element in the struggle towards the blacks fight for civil rights, it was still sometimes producing violent action, which was a negative effect on the breach of peace in society. Music should beyond the underlying functions of creating hope and new possibilities where they never existed. Instead, hard rock music has been seen advocating themes such as death made the society feel curse