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“Rock is Dead”, or so the music industry pundits have claimed for the last twenty years, but that’s slowly beginning to change.
I’m not just talking about renewed interest in legendary rock bands and artists thanks to biopics (even fictional ones) from Hollywood like “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Rocketman”, or the latest incarnation of “A Star is Born”, but brand new rockstars who are just getting started.
Rock has always been around in one flavour or another in the twenty first century, but up until a couple of years ago its fanbase was limited to an aging demographic (Foo Fighters can still sell out stadiums, but it’s mostly people who were original fans of Dave Grohl when he was Nirvana’s drummer).
This most recent resurgence of rock started with a band that was composed of young men (two of them brothers as is often the case) with 9 toes out of ten stuck very much in the past, but they caught on like wildfire despite being barely more than a Led Zepplin cover band: “Greta Van Fleet”.
Sure “The Kings of Leon” is a far more original band and was extraordinarily popular back in the late naughties (2006-2009), but that was mostly in Europe and while their music was definitely more rock than not, it was really more alternative and experimental, kind of like an REM/early Radiohead hybrid. Greta Van Fleet struck a chord with a new generation of rock fans, despite initially sounding almost identical to classic Led Zepplin. Their newer music has diverged from Orthodoxical reverence of Plant and Page and they’ve begun crafting their own sound (good on them).
More recently Miley Cyrus has had tremendous success with her conversion to the church of rock. Her 2020 album “Plastic Hearts” is on its way to RIAA Gold certification. “On the verge” artists like Willow are dipping their toes into rock/pop-punk, as is Olivia Rodrigo. Olivia is by far having the most commercial success with hits like “Good 4 U” and “Brutal” both of which are so derivative she had to afford writing credits to other artists who already had hits with nearly identical guitar riffs/hooks/choruses.
Machine Gun Kelly (aka Megan Fox’s boyfriend) has also been having a lot of success by blending pop-punk, rock and even death metal, with hip hop over the last few years and currently has over 16 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
This evolution brings us to another band who has been steadily gaining an underground, and now not so underground popularity, “Måneskin”. They’re a classic rock quartet (drummer, bassist, guitarist and lead singer/frontman). Their music isn’t as derivative as some of the more recent artists mentioned above, but it is also more primal and unsophisticated…in other words; it’s rock.
They have over 38 million monthly listeners on Spotify and their 10 biggest hits alone have been listened to over 1.8 billion times on that streamer alone.
Here they are performing their biggest hit to date with nearly 704 million Spotify streams last night on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon “Diggin’”:
They look like a mixture of Jane’s addiction meets Abba (they even have a song called MAMMAMIA” though it sounds like a cover of an unreleased White Stripes song), but they definitely project rockstar optics with pretty much zero inspiration from the world of hip hop, or even contemporary pop. Their look and sound could fit any period over the past 50 years, and that’s definitely a “rock” quality. They look like an opener for a Ziggy Stardust era Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins or Miley Cyrus.
People Grace’s age are into Måneskin, Miley and most certainly Olivia, and this is priming the pump very nicely for Grace to come in and blow people away. Her new music is raw in emotion, but lyrically sophisticated and backed by solid melodies and now that she’s no longer afraid to use a bass and electric guitars to propel her songs there’s no stopping her.
Greta Van Fleet, Måneskin and Olivia Rodrigo opened a new generation’s eyes to what rock could do for them, but Grace is going to, Clockwork-Orange-style, pry them open with clamps and blow their minds with rock music that is more than just superficial or derivative.
I’m assuming Columbia is already well aware of this, and it may be one of the reasons why they are supporting Grace in her desire to write new material for her upcoming EP rather than recycling songs like “Don’t Assume What You Don’t Know” that she wrote when she was 15.
I can’t wait for this new rock era of Grace. Bring it on!