The year was 1964 when over 73 million Americans tuned in to The Ed Sullivan Show one fateful evening. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison took the stage that night and proceeded to change the world of music. 50 years later, My Chemical Romance came out with Welcome to the Black Parade, an icon of its era. Both, despite having wildly different sounds, are considered rock ‘n’ roll classics. Rock has seen more change than any other genre since its conception in the late ’50s—from suits and ties to skinny jeans and eyeliner, things have gotten pretty odd for the voice of a generation.
Although rock was born in the late ’50s, the genre found its soul in the 1960s. The melodic bliss of songs such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “I’m a Believer” provided a strong start to an era of musical expression like the world had never known before.
Contrasting the soft sound of the ’60s, the ’70s gave way to one of the loudest bands of all time—Queen. Their biggest song, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” spans several distinct sections: an intro, a ballad, an opera, a heavy rock segment and finally a reflective conclusion. The flamboyance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” defined the ’70s and pop culture as a whole. Queen is well known for shaking up the rock genre and laying the groundwork for glam rock and the sound of bands to come.
Three words. Don’t. Stop. Believing.
A fitting follow up to the unique sound of the ’70s, the ’80s hit the ground running with such hits as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” possibly the catchiest song of all time, and “Livin’ On A Prayer,” Bon Jovi’s ballad about a hard life worth living. The decade provided a bridge between the different sounds of the ’70s and ’90s while still forging its own way.
The ’90s gave birth to many popular rock bands such as Blink-182, Weezer and possibly the greatest band of our generation, Green Day. With such classics as “Basket Case” and “When I Come Around,” Dookie is exemplary of pop-punk greatness.
Another large rock movement of the ’90s was grunge. Headed by Nirvana, the grunge movement provided a bridge between hard rock and post-punk rock subgenres. Nirvana’s best known song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is the epitome of this trend and the ’90s as a whole.
The new millennium led to a serious 21st century breakdown, as the world seemed to become a darker place than it had ever been. Green Day’s American Idiot preached about life in a post-9/11 society, where paranoia runs rampant and the nation is controlled by the media. The third track on the album, “Holiday,” represents this best, referencing the war in the Middle East and the aggressiveness of the Bush administration. New bands heavily influenced by the sound of the 90’s were able to forge their own voice. One such band is the late, great My Chemical Romance. Gerard Way’s deep lyrics about emotional pain and neglect rang true with many young people at the time, and MCR became a heavy influencer of the early 2000s “emo” scene. The music of this era reflected the unrest of the youth struggling to find their way in a world where everything isn’t meant to be OK.
With the splitting of MCR in 2013 and the departure of all but one of Panic! at the Disco’s original members, the golden days of 2000’s rock had officially ended. Fortunately, 2013 also saw the reunion of Fall Out Boy and the release of Save Rock and Roll. The album definitely lives up to its name, despite a very different in sound. “We’re at a time where… you could do two things,” said Pete Wentz, the band’s bassist, in a recent interview on “The Woody Show.” “You can really pander to people and have a bunch of Swedish guys write your songs—and there's a bunch of songs like that I really dig—or you could go and put put out some pretty authentic stuff.”
You can either write the same song over and over, or you can make something new and meaningful. This really symbolizes not only Fall Out Boy’s growth from Evening Out With Your Girlfriend to Mania, but rock’s evolution as a whole.
As a genre rock has survived by changing, adapting to the status quo and then twisting it to form something unique. People from all walks of life have changed it to say what they need to say and make something beautiful. To quote a personal favorite, “Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t noise pollution, rock and roll will never die.”