In this week’s AI post, MCQ said he doesn’t get my negativity towards David Cook. I decided to write a long, self-indulgent post to answer him rather than just reply in a comment. (And I’ll probably insult most everyone’s music tastes in the process. Bear with me. This should be fun.)
I don’t have anything against David Cook personally. Do I think he can sing? Yes. Does he have stage presence? Yes. Is he talented? For sure. He’s also an example everything that’s wrong with today’s rock music.
When I was a teenager in the 80s, hair/glam metal was what was passing for popular rock music. Bands like Poison, Winger, Cinderella. Meanwhile, I was going to see bands like Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Nivana, and Tad play in little all ages clubs. Bands that really rocked. None of this “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” shlock. (Not that I don’t love shlock. I love plenty of shlock, believe me. Just don’t call it rock, please.)
And then Nirvana broke. Huge. And Soundgarden. And Pearl Jam. Like a huge breath of fresh air for the world of rock. Music that was raw, fresh, heavy. Real rock music.
Then Kurt died. Soundgarden broke up. Pearl Jam turned its back on the music industry machine and stopped making videos, tried to take on Ticketmaster, started pressing bootlegs of their own shows. Really decided to do things their own way. I love that about them. They basically turned their back on popular music. Or at least, the machine that is popular music.
Unfortunately, they spawned a whole slew of copycat bands. Bands that copied their sound, I mean, not their ethics. Maybe “copied” is a strong word—I mean they influenced a whole generation of bands. The freshness of grunge was lost. Alternative music became mainstream. And you can’t become mainstream without becoming watered down, over-produced, and way, way overplayed and overexposed. Kurt Cobain’s probably turning over in his grave.
We went from grunge, to Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins, to Creed, to Nickelback, to Daughtry—and this year, it’s David Cook. Today’s rock bands are the 80s’ hair metal bands: cheesy, overproduced, and barely recognizable as “rock.”
To me, anyway. Sorry to break it to you, David Cook fans, but you’re all really just Poison fans.
Today’s rock sound was old and tired more than five years ago. (I’ve actually been making this same complaint since the 90s. You’ve probably already heard it from me more than once.)
I keep waiting for something really rocking to break through. Something with teeth. (Or as my favorite hardcore metal band, Converge, puts it, “teeth with claws.”) Something new to dethrone the Creeds and the Nickelbacks and the Daughtrys. I’m beginning to lose hope that anything ever will.
Maybe I’m wrong, and it’s better that nothing new and fresh happens. It’ll just become part of the machine eventually, anyway.