It’s an interesting experience playing my preferred choice of music around others, especially when I’m in the car. Some of my friends/family aren’t familiar with my music taste. And when the song changes from Madonna’s tropical “La Isla Bonita” into Metallica’s hard-driving “Master of Puppets” (an instance which did happen once), there’s always some sort of reaction.
Mostly people are surprised or even quite intrigued by the change in music genre. They’ll ask me a bunch of questions and then name a rock/metal band they like – usually Arctic Monkeys or Foo Fighters. People also have a lot of interest in early ’90s grunge. I actually had one person categorize Foo Fighters as metal which made me chuckle a bit (seems like the criteria to be metal is to scream a lot).
There isn’t a ton of exposure to rock music anymore for the casual listener as evidenced by its nonexistence on Top 40 radio stations. But individually, when you talk to people, it’s a different story. They’ll ask me for recommendations and then comment on how much they like listening to Pearl Jam’s debut album or how when they were 14 years old, they had “Never too Late” by Three Days Grace on repeat which got them through tough times. They’ll even talk about their older sibling who would blast Pantera from their room while they would eavesdrop because it was just so different to anything they had heard.
Although these listeners don’t actively seek out rock music, they appreciate it and there’s something to be said for that. Rock always elicits a reaction when I play it in the car – either everyone will become quiet and their ears will perk up or it will generate a lot of discussion. Playing pop music doesn’t elicit much of a reaction – sure, they’ll nod their head along to Rihanna as do I but the emotions and reactions are solicited by rock music. And maybe that’s because people are so used to listening to Top 40 that when someone plays something outside that genre, it has to be noted. But I also believe there’s something authentic about rock music that comes through. Just listen to Soundgarden or Alice in Chains and tell me Chris Cornell and Layne Staley aren’t singing from a powerful, soul-stirring place.
And maybe there’s a “stigma” around rock music these days as being quirky, offbeat, or as something young people don’t listen to (not saying it’s true) which makes it harder for the music to appeal to them. It’s obviously not for everyone – people will stick to the music they like best whether that’s Ariana Grande or Tyler the Creator. The point is there’s an appreciation for rock from fans of different genres – they understand its importance and appreciate the musicianship. Of course, sometimes my siblings will have their moments and ask me for something a little more current or easier to listen to which is absolutely fine. I have plenty of Eminem, Lil Wayne, or Rihanna in my music library.
I appreciate those moments though when someone who is a self-professed hip hop head will claim to love Avenged Sevenfold or Guns N’ Roses or Smashing Pumpkins or will ask me for music recommendations.
It’s clear – there’s just something about that rock and roll music that appeals to so many people and it’s not going away anytime soon.