Metallica Death Magnetic
The album cover for “Death Magnetic,” Metallica’s ninth studio album.
Buddy Holly
Artist Jürgen Schuschke’s rendition of 1950s rock icon Buddy Holly. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Ah, Rock’N’Roll, a nutritious part of any complete teenage angst. 10 grams of rebellion, 30 grams of energy, 20 grams of loud. May contain: Challenges to societal norms, strong language, ripped jeans, and soy products. Okay, I am not usually one to beat the dead metaphor horse, but rock culture is an essential vitamin and mineral that Malden High School is seriously malnourished of. It is said that Rock never truly dies, and while that may be true, it is definitely on its last legs at MHS. Born in the 50’s and still kicking, Rock has been a part of American culture for as long as there have been people fed up with social norms and teenagers with Restless Heart Syndrome (a very serious condition among most teens that drive them to make decisions with their hearts and not their heads.) Rock is still very much alive today, but the question is: for how long?

Before I can even begin to make my case as to why this news is extremely troubling, I must first explain just what exactly Rock is, and what it means to those who listen to it religiously. It is said that Rock is for those who were born kicking and screaming (actually, I just say that,) and really it was; it was created by and for those with furious fire in their hearts and crackling thunder in their voices. One can take any sample of Rock music from any age it has existed (50’s to the present day) and you find one simple purpose: to say something. Obviously one has to say something if a song contains lyrics, but I mean really say something. To move your mouth is to make sound, but to feel a burning fire in your heart whether it be born of passion or anger and shout to the world with the decibels turned up high or low is to say something. In all generations of Rock there is something always to be said, whether it be political, social, or emotional. In the 50’s you had the Beatniks, fed up with their conformist parents. The 60’s followed with an era of preachings of peace and free love. The 70’s exploded with a mix of rage and love in Rock. So on and so forth.

Rock is such an important aspect of American culture because it really is the voice of the underdogs, rejects, rebels, and otherwise unhappy or unaccepted people. More importantly, it is the voice of those who are unaccepted but are not afraid to be so. Our world is filled with more people than ever before in history, and with these people come more problems than ever seen before. If these problems exist, then Rock exists to challenge them, to bring them into the light, and shout out to the world in protest against them. It is so unfortunate and almost sad when one looks at many of today’s popular music artists and hears nothing but noise. Now do not get me wrong here, I am not one of those anti-pop pessimists who think every song has to have a deeper meaning or is not great unless there is a guitar present. I get it, songs can be fun, they can be great to dance to, they are allowed to mean nothing sometimes. The problem is, too many artists are beginning to say nothing almost all the time, and because of a catchy beat or famous singer, these songs will be the ones to rise to the tops of the charts today.

weezer album cover
A promotional image for the alternative rock band “Weezer.”

I am not going to criticize a specific song or artist, for sake of preventing myself from judging an artist too harshly on one song or creating a flame war in general. I will however, use an example of a great Youtube channel that takes real teens’ reactions to real music today. This channel would be React, specifically their videos regarding teens reacting to song lyrics with no context as to prevent bias. By the end of the lyrics of many recent pop songs, teens are too often confused as to the point or disgusted by how shallow the actual point is. These teens are often surprised to find that the songs they love can sometimes repulse them when actually understood. I mean really, how many times can we listen to the same song talking about money, the club, or how awesome the artist is before getting tired? Apparently the answer is A LOT. I say the same song, because essentially that is what many of the songs I hear today are. Different artists, different beats, same message: nothing. What is even worse is when songs that are downright abusive or offensive to people based on gender, sexual orientation, or race, yet the very people who are being abused love this music simply because they are too caught up in the fun beat to notice they are being insulted. I will get specific here, just because this issue bothers me so much I could write a rock song on it. The amount of objectifying or sexualizing or just plain disrespecting to women in popular music today is both astounding and disgusting. But I digress.

Point is, so many have fallen into this never ending trance of loving music for the sake of fitting in or just listening to what is popular, nevermind the song’s actual message or if it is actually anything different than what has been pumped out the past couple of years. This is why I hold Rock so dear to heart and never grow tired of it: rock always has a message and it is (in my experience) impossible to find two bands with the same sound. I am not advocating that people go out and drop all the pop music they listen to, I am not advocating that Rock is the master genre, or even that Rock is for everyone. I am advocating however, that everyone actually listens to the music they are enjoying next time it comes on the radio. Do not just hear it, actually listen to it. What kind of message is it sending? Is it offensive to you, to a friend, to an entire group found in society? Is it worth your time? Is it different? If any of those answers are negative, it is possible you may need your daily dose of vitamin R (no, not the Simpsons kind, but that is great too.) You do not even have to listen to actual Rock, I do not care, but I do ask you to consider Rock culture and its message. Everyone, especially us angsty teenagers, needs to keep what Rock stands for alive, and to fight what we do not seem fit. I am not condoning violence at all by any means whatsoever, but I am condoning fighting what is wrong with your heart and your words. And if you are one of Rock’s faithful listeners out there, whether it be grunge, hard, soft, alternative, indie, classic, or whatever it is you listen to, know that we are all in this together. By we I do not mean Rockers, I mean we of Malden High School. Do not let the spirit of Rock, the spirit of actually saying something, die. Go forth, challenge the world, be who you want to be, stick out like a sore thumb, spread the love, and for the love of Elvis Presley do not hear, listen. Do not sound. Say something.

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