As humans, it’s our natural instinct to categorize things. Lizzo is on the radio? It must be pop music. As the Music Director of modern rock station WICB-FM, I am here to tell you that is wrong. Perhaps our narrow method of categorizing music is outdated. Lizzo is modern rock.
Modern rock is a genre that is meant to encompass many types of music. Generally it is described as rock music released from the 1990s to the present day. However, with today’s music changing and changing so much, who can say what really sets a modern rock song apart from a pop song or indie rock song or even a rap song?
In most of the songs you hear on the radio or on Spotify, you can hear the influence of modern rock. You can almost guarantee that when you hear a song that has been released in the past year or so, it has been influenced by a rock artist past or present. However, sometimes it’s not easy to look past heavy drum beats and synth sounds. Pop music tops the charts every day, meaning “popular music”, which is what is most promoted to listeners. These days when you ask someone for their favorite song, it has usually been or is at the top of the pop charts. When asked to describe this music, people will tell you that it is actually pop music.
What if it wasn’t that easy?
Modern rock is a term meant to encompass many genres. It is a term to represent all the latest releases in a way that they have never been represented before.
Back when rock was being born, it was all about challenging the system. Rock music was all about making a statement and going against the grain. What is so different between that and the music that comes out today? It is about taking a stand, especially in our current political and social climate. The way I like to think about it is simple: I believe that all indie rock, another word for alternative music, can be considered modern rock, but not all modern rock can be considered indie rock. Take that same principle and apply it to other genres of music, and you will start to see a pattern. While there are a lot of new artists with genre music, it always comes down to the fact that there are rock influences. He’s everywhere and can be seen in music you might not expect.
Take Brockhampton’s new album, “Ginger”, for example. Brockhampton is considered a rap group. They create rap music and release rap albums. However, on closer inspection, the essence of rock is still there. From guitar riffs to vocals to lyric content, there is no doubt that there are these influences. With the genre of modern rock still expanding, who can say it’s not modern rock?
The key word here is modern. The modern is new, the modern is the present. This new kind of rock is whatever you want it to be. It could be Brockhampton’s new album, Soccer Mommy’s new single, or Sofi Tukker’s latest EP. He’s always expanding and always up for whatever comes next.
So, the next time you hit shuffle on your favorite Spotify playlist, try listening outside the bounds of your typical music genres. Do you hear modern rock?