View Full Version : Whatever Happened To the Rock Anthem?

Jun 22, 2010, 05:52 PM
I was pondering the matter of the fabled "rock anthem", because supermarket cashiers have little else today at eight in the morning, and it occurred to me that there had not been, that I could think of, anything truly approaching that status in the last ten years. And I don't seem to be the only one- various critical lists such as this ( are unwilling to mark out much from the 90s, and the barest handful, if anything, from the 2000s. Why is this, I wondered? Has music gotten worse? Or has it gotten more refined, less likely to appeal to the lowest common denominator? Or is it simply that the fandom is more fractured, more nichey than it once was, less dominated by narrow streams of communication? Or has it just not been long enough to tell?

The last option certainly seems the obvious, given that the further back you go the more unanimously accepted rock anthems seem to emerged, but even something like "Smells Like Teen Spirit (" (perhaps the last great hurrah of the rock anthem?) had established itself pretty thoroughly in the public mind within a few years of it's release (albeit helped by the considerable branding iron of Kurt's passing), while even after a decade there is nothing in contemporary rock that really leaps out.

But, then, there still seem to be niche anthems, anthems within particular subcultures or fandoms. Machine Head's "Aesthetics of Hate (", for example, has become anthemic of the so-called "New Wave of American Heavy Metal", and I'm certain that equivalents exist in other genres and styles. Individual band-followings certainly have anthems, even beyond the bands most popular or successful song, such as (and, again, forgive my narrow pool of reference), Amon Amarth's "Pursuit of Vikings (", noted for it's blunt riff and audience participation-friendly lyrics, lending it an anthemic quality lacked by more commercially successful output.

However, does there still seem to be a bridge. I'm sure plenty of indie and punk fans will look with distaste on my examples, while most rock fans could appreciate something like Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love (", and almost any rock fan can enjoy "Don't Stop Believin' (", if only because it is so anthemic. Is that simply because we've insulated ourselves with time, so that usual differences of taste are smothered by a sort of misplaced collective nostalgia? Has rock simply fallen far enough from popular grace that there is no longer enough of a galvanising effect to crystallise acknowledged classics

I suppose I am not sure.

Any thoughts, opinions or insults? Speculation, hypotheses and derisive comments on my taste in music? Any suggestions for contemporary anthems, niche-specific, or, perhaps, otherwise? Am I simply talking a load of old nonsense? Discuss!

Jun 22, 2010, 06:12 PM
I think it's how music is made today. In the past, you had to bring an album to market to get listeners. Today, it seems much different with iTunes (etc) and harder to get the kind of brand loyalty the great old bands garnered. Not sure if that's accurate but it's what seems to make sense to me.

Anyhow, I can think of a couple "this decade" songs that have become anthems in Chicago.

Chelsea Dagger
Shipping up to Boston

After seeing Michael Franti before John Mayer at a concert he definitely got the crowd going with Say Hey. Maybe some potential in a Jimmy Buffet kind of way.

Jun 22, 2010, 06:16 PM
I just think that the proverbial anthem (as far as rock goes) has died out with the 90s. or rather that rock or american rock or "hard rock" just fell out of favour.

I'd add a last one to your list which actually does not fit with the rock theme so much but embodies what anthems are today. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. somewhat alternative but it permeated mainstream (heck, it was on SImpsons) and is basic, non-glam-rock. there will not be another Final Countdown, which for me is last of the rock anthems. thank the gods for that.

Jun 23, 2010, 05:15 AM
The rise in Indie/Alternative pretty much killed off the rock anthem.

Jun 23, 2010, 06:58 AM
I think the rise of corporate radio has had an impact. One characteristic of many rock anthems is that they are long compared to many contemporary songs. And that discourages radio play for songs that do not have a history behind them. The music industry today plays it safe. Particularly radio. And that leaves much less room for something new to break in.

Jun 24, 2010, 05:53 AM
today, radio is determining what people listen to way less than in the second half of the 20th century.

you dont have to have radio behind you to promote your songs really widescale nowadays.

Jun 24, 2010, 10:26 AM
Today radio sucks.

Jun 24, 2010, 11:01 AM
rock is dead?

When I was young, rock was a fairly popular genre. The genres seem more fragmented now. Rock especially seems divided along gender lines. You have the chick stuff like Avril Lavigne, and the guys stuff that is much heavier. There seems to be little in between stuff like Journey in the 80's (a band both guys and girls liked equally). That's my 2 cents, for what it's worth.

Jun 24, 2010, 11:05 AM
Rock is not only more diversified, but commercial broadcast radio does an extremely bad job of getting new rock to the audience. If you want one of those many forms of different rock, you have to know what you are hunting for, and then go hunting. The rock anthems of the past were delivered to us all the time. Any new ones require going out of your way to find them.

Jun 24, 2010, 11:27 AM
Rock especially seems divided along gender lines. You have the chick stuff like Avril Lavigne, and the guys stuff that is much heavier. There seems to be little in between stuff like Journey in the 80's (a band both guys and girls liked equally). That's my 2 cents, for what it's worth.
Can't say I've noticed that, to be honest- most mainstream and indie rock seems to be pretty split, and even alternative rock and punk still has a huge female contingent. Metal is the only rock genre that I would really think of as male-dominated, and it's always been like that- an Iron Maiden gig was as much a sausage-fest in 1980 as it is today, and that's never stopped them from producing ( ( (
Perhaps it's just Britain? Rock has always had a more secure mainstream position over here, for whatever reason, so I suppose it's likely to fall into the sort of niche that leads to that kind of segregation.

Jun 26, 2010, 02:57 AM
The rise in Indie/Alternative pretty much killed off the rock anthem.
This. I'll also add that it started with the emergence of punk in the late 70s and it's rise into the mainstream in the form of grunge and britpop. Indie anthems ftw (

@Disgustipated: most popular rock bands today (Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne, Green Day, Tokio Hotel etc) are marketed for angsty teenage emos. So it just seems "girly".

Jun 26, 2010, 03:29 AM
Oasis is considered Indie?

Jun 26, 2010, 03:40 AM
Oasis is considered Indie?
It says in the article:
"(criteria? your guess is as good as ours)"

The way i see it they chose songs the were highly influential on indie and 2000+ indie. They did this because when indie began to gain popularity, the listeners got intrested in the bands that influenced indie a lot. This way, a lot of songs from the 80s and 90s became "indie" anthems even tho they are not indie.

That's my opinion. I think the truth is much simpler than that. The record label that signed Oasis was an independent label. (first 3 albums) Therefore it is indie by definition.

Jun 26, 2010, 06:38 AM
Does indie stop being indie when it becomes popular?

Jun 26, 2010, 07:10 AM
no, it's the whiny style that makes it indie.

Jun 26, 2010, 03:46 PM
Does indie stop being indie when it becomes popular?
"Indie" tends to be considered a genre these days, generally a sub-set of alternative rock, rather than a state of being. The name's a bit of a misnomer in this day and age, granted, but that's the typical usage. By the same token, there are plenty of "indie" punk and metal bands, but few would subscribe to the label.

Jun 27, 2010, 04:23 AM
The ones having indie as a genre should go to hell, it shouldn't be a genre at all.

Jun 28, 2010, 06:29 PM
Long live rock!!! :rockon: (hopefully) :(

Jun 28, 2010, 06:31 PM
thread needs slayer


Jun 29, 2010, 02:46 AM
Hey, not so long ago Lordi won Eurovision (and, coincidentally, hell froze over).