At least that’s what people said about “Royals” back in 2014 when it won the VMA for Best Rock Video. I understand that was 3 years ago, and people made plenty of jokes soon after, but it still stands as a shining example of how rock as a genre has had its lines blurred to the point that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Even the other nominees for the rock category seem like a stretch. Imagine Dragons, Arctic Monkeys, and The Black Keys all fit into a weird area of… yeah, I guess I could maybe call it rock, but it’s more of like an indie sort of rock. The only nominee in 2014 that I would genuinely consider rock would have been Linkin Park, but I certainly wouldn’t have considered them the only rock band with a song in the running for “Best Rock Video” of that year.
What is Rock Music?
Suffice it to say, “rock music” doesn’t mean much anymore. I understand that with all the sub-genres and combinations within rock, it does encompass a rather wide range of musical styles. Still, there is at least a tentative boundary in my mind of what IS rock and what ISN’T rock. I can’t exactly give qualifications or firm conditions, but it is evident when I hear it what counts as rock in my opinion.
Now, with my criticism of the rock genre explained, I am left in a predicament. I don’t listen to FM radio much anymore, and I refuse to pay for streaming services when I already own a huge library of music. Between the garbage that passes as music, the annoying talk shows that play on my way to work, and the “HEY FRIENDS, JAY GILSTRAP HERE” commercials, I just can’t do radio. As such, I don’t really encounter much new rock music. Genuine rock music, I mean. The stuff that I actually enjoy listening to.
WTPT 93.3 The Planet Rocks
One tactic I’ve employed recently is looking at the station log for WTPT 93.3 The Planet Rocks. The problem there is that The Planet is notoriously bad about playing the same handful of songs over and over. Not quite as bad as people joke about, but there are a few songs that get played entirely too often. Specifically, songs that I already know about, and either own, or know that I don’t like. I want to learn about new rock music. If I want to listen to music that I already know I like, I’ll just play it from my collection.
Another issue with rock music (and I suppose any genre) is that the 1-hit wonder, flash in the pan artists make it into the charts for a few weeks, only to die back down and fade away into obscurity. Any of you remember “My Demons” by Starset? Probably not, but even if you do, that was one among many. A stellar song, one that stayed near the top of the charts for a few weeks back in November 2016, and subsequently disappeared. Those crop up so often, and disappear so quickly, it is absurdly easy to miss some real gems just because you didn’t catch them for the short time that they were popular.
I had an idea for a pet project at one point to combat this permanent disappearance. My plan was to create a little utility that would activate once per hour or so and scrape the HTML for the station log of WTPT. From there, it would grab the song and artist information, and pump these into a database or spreadsheet. Songs that were already stored would be omitted, while new songs would be saved. If implemented properly, this would yield a log of every unique song that has played on The Planet since I started running the utility. Sure, most of it would be those songs that they play over and over again, but mixed in would be the one-off songs that you rock out to when they play, but forget about in a few months. I never went through with creating the program, but it is still on the backlog of neat programming projects I would like to work on eventually.
LA Lloyd Rock Countdown
A few years ago, I would regularly listen to the LA Lloyd Rock Countdown for the latest top songs and artists. The music featured on the show fit much more into what I would call “rock music,” while still giving more variety than just a very specific sub-genre. However, see above for why I don’t bother with the radio. Plus, I can’t exactly sit down for hours at a time just to hear the top rock songs for the week. I’m busy enough doing everything else, and any spare time that I do get can be better spent doing more entertaining things.
I had all but forgotten about the countdown when I searched for it and found a full-fledged website. It seemed odd that the archives for previous weeks only went back to November 4, 2017. After tweeting LA Lloyd directly, he explained that this was when he revamped the website. In the future, each week should be archived.
With a consistent and arguably superior way to discover new rock music, I don’t have to listen to the radio and deal with the ads and junk. I can go straight to the top 30 each week and get the good stuff directly. Anything I don’t recognize, I can look up on YouTube and listen to it specifically. Perhaps I’m putting too much analysis and work into music discovery, but I love hearing new music that I enjoy. I really think that the Rock Countdown is the best way to do that.