The death of Australian rock in the pop charts

StingBitten

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Rock is a genre that's still popular across the globe, although it began to decrease in its mainstream appeal once the New Wave synth-pop took a vice grip in 1982-1983.

Even in the height of rock popularity in the 60s and 70s, bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath relied more on album success than releasing singles (although 'Paranoid' and 'Whole Lotta Love' were Top 10 hits).

It's unusual then that Australian rock has always featured prominently in the music charts where other countries forgot them. The Aussie rock scene probably had a later start than the British and American rollers of the 50s and 60s, however Stevie Wright and Daddy Cool broke through with their no-nonsense, catchy electric chords.

ACDC served as the obvious rock pilgrims (almost as the necessary antidote to Olivia Newton John and the homegrown Bee Gees), and the 80s rock-pop scene blossomed with countless legends such as INXS (more rock than pop initially), Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, Men at Work, the Angels, Icehouse, Rose Tattoo, Crowded House, the Hoodoo Gurus, Australian Crawl, the Divinyls etc etc.

Aussie rock was on life support in the late 80s and early 90s, but then we saw the emergence of the new wave - Silverchair, Grinspoon and Powderfinger.

The important thing to note is that during the 90s rock band were still famous overseas, but they weren't charting in the hot 100 whereas Aussie bands were.

Transitioning into the 2000s saw RnB transform the American market, whereas Jet, Spiderbait, Thersty Merc, Eskimo Joe and Wolfmother continued topping Aussie charts. Some of these bands even scored rare hits overseas in America.

But what of the late 2000s period? Those cited bands are either not together or not producing hits anymore - Tame Impala certainly produced some rock tunes earlier on (Half Glass Full of Wine) but these didn't chart, their electro style has gone gangbusters but it's not rock.

So is the Aussie rock band dead in the mainstream sense now? We probably lasted about 15 years or more longer than other Western nations, but have things changed that much that we just won't see it again?

I want to stress again that I'm aware there's some excellent Aussie rock underground and in the love music scene, but none that have translated at the mainstream level.

Personally, there was nothing greater than attending the Big Day Outs with my mates in the early 2000s celebrating great Aussie rock that both teenage boys and girls appreciated, there was a feeling of connection and something uniquely Aussie about the entire experience. It's sad to thing that experience may be as dead as the Big Day Out event itself.
 

Mootsy

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Aussie rock/bands/pop/new wave was amazing in the 80s. Pretty good in the 90s as well!

For starters, pop culture is too dang shallow these days, there is zero excitement and zero humour, zero anything and the average person can't relate to the popular stuff, so it's all a bit of a mess. The Oz mainstream these days is just completely shallow and youtube, social media, last.fm, iTunes all took over that format anyway. If you travel overseas many countries mainstream, radio, tv music media is just better in terms of diversity. Anyway.

I mean i'd say Rock N Roll, punk, bands in general aren't actually all that popular right now at all, Metal is thriving but it's not really featured either. But i agree that there's a lot of decent rock bands out there and indie rock scenes exist. A lot of it is gimmicky, much of it isn't as well. The problem is that a lot of it just doesn't get featured or promoted at all. I would hazard a guess that record companies reached a point where they just went with the trend of focussing on shallow pop and crossover genres as it's something new!

Rock, new wave, indie, power, punk, etc reached a critical peak point from the 60s-00s, and now a lot of what you hear is sort of gimmicky, you've heard it before, although, take a band like Carseat Headrest and that's a nice unique aesthetic, As are the King Lizards! Unique, cool bands and such, and experimentations but perhaps a lacking in actually hearing their music anywhere outside of a personal playlist.

I think people are just burnt out on Rock music, so it's not so bad having the odd decade where it's all hidden away more so.

Some European countries still value rock and their mainstream is separate and unique ways, cultured but still connected to the traditional charts.

What would bring back Rock?? My opinion, Prolific songwriters and a slight shift in culture! Often it's a punk renaissance of some sort of new joy in guitars and band mindsets over shallow pop mindsets and that comes down to people in general. So also a band/s that can actually write memorable and fun songs! this is something missing in the genre that actually occurred in the past. Though it's nice to hear experimental rock and new aesthetics, ideas, you want a great song!! Cool melody, catchy, great baseline and vocals as well.

I have had dreams of futuristic bands and i'm somewhat surprised how ridiculously unused guitar pedals are from many, many bands. As in, a great band who clearly has money could be using some out of this world pedal setups for their guitars, yet, when you hear the album recording, they are so basic, or they haven't used much in the way of pedal sound and distortion whatsoever, now if you've ever been interested in pedals, there are infinite amounts of sound combinations that could be used to create exciting noise, anyway.

I've been listening to a lot of Japanese Rock and i wish the west would also get into it as much. Japan rock is great at the moment and they seem to explore a futuristic at times as well.

So, we need a new band to sort of come around with something akin to great song!/exciting guitars/big global video/futuristic?!/memorable, this seems grandiose, but just something to start it again, to kind of get something started or an indie scene the equivalent of past decades that is actually, well, good and exciting! Not just a scene that exists.

- Guitars to become trendy again in the mainstream! Which shouldn't be that difficult.
- Good songs again, memorable! Prolific.
- Classy, cool, creative and not so shallow, like a lot of pop music is.
- A sense of fun and joy that is unique to blues and rock and guitars.
- Bands, people, down to earth, who love pure music for music sake! Simple!
- A fresh, more trendy take on bluesy rock!
- Futuristic noise, crisp sound! Big sound!
- A new fresh way to market rock using music videos and make guitars and guitar playing trendy, cool! This could be better marketing and bigger production!
- An intention to market the genre again like they market Kpop..
- You also need a magical aura of excitement for the genre and a strong band scene for it to endure, which occurred in past decades.
- Math rock??

It's all a bit ironic, but, it can also start with people just writing stuff on acoustic guitars again..
 
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Mootsy

Norm Smith Medallist
Mar 13, 2015
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But what of the late 2000s period? Those cited bands are either not together or not producing hits anymore
That's also the real kicker! You are on the money. Many of those bands from the later 2000's just stopped! This means that the business side of being in a band and the way indie stopped being promoted had an effect on some bands. Indie rock was a strong scene for a while, but record companies clearly shifted their focus after 2010. The last rock song on the charts that i can remember is Black Keys - "Gold on the Ceiling", 2011. We've seen nothing from not just Oz bands, but international rock bands. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Shins, Strokes, LCD, Wilco, and a heap more a lot of them just completely stopped or took 6+years to release anything, many have released nothing at all. It is bizarre, but they had their decade to shine as well, so not all is lost.

Maybe the genre is just going through it's bored s*!tless phase.
 
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Golumless

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Rock is a genre that's still popular across the globe, although it began to decrease in its mainstream appeal once the New Wave synth-pop took a vice grip in 1982-1983.

Even in the height of rock popularity in the 60s and 70s, bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath relied more on album success than releasing singles (although 'Paranoid' and 'Whole Lotta Love' were Top 10 hits).

It's unusual then that Australian rock has always featured prominently in the music charts where other countries forgot them. The Aussie rock scene probably had a later start than the British and American rollers of the 50s and 60s, however Stevie Wright and Daddy Cool broke through with their no-nonsense, catchy electric chords.

ACDC served as the obvious rock pilgrims (almost as the necessary antidote to Olivia Newton John and the homegrown Bee Gees), and the 80s rock-pop scene blossomed with countless legends such as INXS (more rock than pop initially), Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, Men at Work, the Angels, Icehouse, Rose Tattoo, Crowded House, the Hoodoo Gurus, Australian Crawl, the Divinyls etc etc.

Aussie rock was on life support in the late 80s and early 90s, but then we saw the emergence of the new wave - Silverchair, Grinspoon and Powderfinger.

The important thing to note is that during the 90s rock band were still famous overseas, but they weren't charting in the hot 100 whereas Aussie bands were.

Transitioning into the 2000s saw RnB transform the American market, whereas Jet, Spiderbait, Thersty Merc, Eskimo Joe and Wolfmother continued topping Aussie charts. Some of these bands even scored rare hits overseas in America.

But what of the late 2000s period? Those cited bands are either not together or not producing hits anymore - Tame Impala certainly produced some rock tunes earlier on (Half Glass Full of Wine) but these didn't chart, their electro style has gone gangbusters but it's not rock.

So is the Aussie rock band dead in the mainstream sense now? We probably lasted about 15 years or more longer than other Western nations, but have things changed that much that we just won't see it again?

I want to stress again that I'm aware there's some excellent Aussie rock underground and in the love music scene, but none that have translated at the mainstream level.

Personally, there was nothing greater than attending the Big Day Outs with my mates in the early 2000s celebrating great Aussie rock that both teenage boys and girls appreciated, there was a feeling of connection and something uniquely Aussie about the entire experience. It's sad to thing that experience may be as dead as the Big Day Out event itself.
I think it's safe to say it's dead in terms of mainstream appeal. Probably will remain that way forever, with the occasional album breaking through every now and then with some bullshit pretention of being a revival of a scene, or the occasional life event. I.e. Punk was supposed to make a return with Trump's election. It didn't.

Still there are cool underground scenes, such as the psych-rock scene, but to see a rock band make it now would be getting to a comparable level to your Tame Impalas, and King Gizzards. Hardcore following, but you'll never get airtime at a radio station without a J in its name.
 

Mootsy

Norm Smith Medallist
Mar 13, 2015
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I think it's safe to say it's dead in terms of mainstream appeal. Probably will remain that way forever, with the occasional album breaking through every now and then with some bullshit pretention of being a revival of a scene, or the occasional life event. I.e. Punk was supposed to make a return with Trump's election. It didn't.

Still there are cool underground scenes, such as the psych-rock scene, but to see a rock band make it now would be getting to a comparable level to your Tame Impalas, and King Gizzards. Hardcore following, but you'll never get airtime at a radio station without a J in its name.
Problem is that so much music has been made already, there is a book about this very subject, but what the heck happens once so much musical content has already been created and publishers can easily press for copyright disputes??

Other problem is making music costs way more time and money then what is made back these days, you have to play live or find a way to market it pretty well.

If i was going to start a band up, i'd be doing the Daft Punk/Lordi/Happyland idea, and have a great logo and costume or visual aesthetic.
 

Roobs321

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Australia is arguably the world leader in rock bands today.

I agree that their presence on the mainstream singles charts isn't what it once was. You used to see a fair number of rock singles crack the charts, but hits like Lips of an Angel & Sex on Fire are some of the most recent classic rock-ish songs to really make an impact there. Nowadays they have to do an Imagine Dragons/Maroon5/Twenty One Pilots to really have a hope, and that ain't rock.

Of course rock bands still do fairly well on the album charts, although you seldom see a rock album go several times platinum anymore. It isn't a key pillar of the music industry anymore.
 

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