Friday, 24 January 2014

Born To Be Wild: The Golden Age Of American Rock

Born To Be Wild: The Golden Age Of American Rock - Tonight on BBC4
The 80's was the decade of poodle rock. The likes of Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, and Poison sported heavy make-up, flashy clothes and huge hair. The song's featured sex, hard partying, plus the obligatory drink and drugs in excess.
Born to be Wild - 80's Rock!

The final part of this fascinating documentary series covers the the 1980's and the eventual demise of what had been a golden era of rock.
The 80's saw the birth of MTV, which changed the music industry for good and created superstars like Billy Idol.
In LA a new scene emerged, party pop-metal anthems perfect for the MTV generation was its forte. However, the other side of the American rock mainstream was still rebelling. John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen produced music tackling social and political issues, whilst still appealing to America's working and middle classes.
As the decade went on, the industry realised that its artists getting MTV exposure could produce massive profits for the labels. Pop-Metal began to dominate and saturate the market. Power ballads, big choruses, and even more ridiculous hair were the order of the day, with Bon Jovi a perfect example.
The rot had set in, and it was time someone brought about a change. It was Guns N' Roses who stepped up as the antithesis to what they considered fake rebellion, soft-rock drivel. Even they, though, in the end, would become neutralised by the commercialisation of the rock industry.

Of course American rock music didn't die with the end of the 1980s,  However, it is arguably the last era when singers were gods, guitarists were axe-men and songs were anthems. Once Grunge came along in the early 1990s it ridiculed this traditional rock star image overnight. This is where the series ends.

Tom Petty summed up this end of an era perfectly: "I think the seismic eruption in rock was the Nirvana period. Kurt Cobain came and mowed them down like wheat before the sickle. And you saw what was left of those hair guys, trying to get into plaid shirts and looking a little less sprayed up because they were done for. And if that can happen to you then you're doing the wrong thing.

He concludes by saying, "Right after that, rock slips from the music of the day into the background. Hip-hop is in the foreground now. Young people identify with that music, and rightfully so."

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