rock music

The Late 1970s to the Present—Punk Rock, the Music Video, and Middle-aged Rockers

A turning point in rock music occurred in the mid-1970s in the form of punk rock, which was a response to the stagnation of the genre and a nihilistic political statement. The music was filled with contempt for previous styles; its fast-tempoed songs, usually propelled by electric guitar, featured irreverant lyrics often obscured by the clangerous music. Evident in Great Britain, performed by such bands as the Sex Pistols and the Clash, punk also quickly became popular in the United States, played by the Ramones and other American groups. By the early 1980s, it had changed rock music considerably as Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and other groups adopted political protest themes as the core of their music.

During the 1980s music videos became a popular form of promotion and entertainment. In the late 1980s, however, several bands, including Nirvana and Pearl Jam, continued to follow the path of early punk rock by focusing on political themes and celebrating their own lack of technical virtuosity. Punk persisted into the 1990s with such bands as Green Day and the Offspring. Also in the 90s the continuing popularity of older bands, such as the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones, bore witness to the enduring appeal of this form among both the young and the increasingly middle-aged. The appeal of older and past rock bands was also evident in the fanfare surrounding the opening (1995) of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Meanwhile, a young audience made rap music, with its pounding rhythms and strong, sometimes shocking spoken lyrics, a popular phenomenon, and other young rockers, largely club-goers, made the dance-based, electronically sophisticated techno another, though less pervasive, popular form.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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