Over the past few years, KISS frontman Gene Simmons has had a lot to say about the death of rock music. He was rebuffed by various modern musicians (including Greta Van Fleet frontman Josh Kiszka), but that didn’t deter him. In a new interview with metal hammerSimmons doubled down on the idea.
“I stand by my words: rock is dead,” he told the publication. “People who killed it are fans. Fans killed what they loved by downloading and sharing files for free. How do you get someone who loves guitar to get into that creative process? You gotta invent yourself. And so rock is dead.
To illustrate his point, Simmons suggested that there has been little to no evolution or innovation in the genre in recent years.
“Point to a new look,” he said. “I’ve played this game before and it should be noted, rock is still dead. 1958 to 1988, 30 years, right? You’ve got Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and so on right now. Motown. You’ve got the surf stuff and the Beach Boys, the British invasion – hundreds of bands. The Hollies are hardly ever talked about, they’re a great band. Disco stuff, Madonna, Prince, Bowie , all that great stuff. You’ve had the heavy bands Metallica and Iron Maiden, all of those 30 years. Eternal music and bands.
“But from 1988 to today, who are the new Beatles? BTS? ” He continued. “There is no denying that BTS are world famous. But am I going to form a garage band to do these songs? No. I think they’re well-designed and professional, but One Direction and NSYNC and all the boy bands aren’t changing the world. It makes little girls’ hearts beat faster and then they disappear. It doesn’t matter. Influential bands, which make someone want to pick up a guitar, learn to play songs and be in a band don’t exist, because you can’t make a living.
We’ve written a lot in the past about why the “rock is dead” argument doesn’t hold water. (In short, just because the genre isn’t as white male dominated as it was decades ago and you have to look past the top 40 charts to find it doesn’t mean it isn’t. doesn’t exist.) But to address his new assertion that “boy bands don’t change the world,” what were the Beatles originally if not a boy band that made “little girls’ hearts beat faster”? Simmons meant it dismissively, but appealing to teenage girls has always been key to achieving any kind of significant cultural capital.
Sure, bands like BTS might not inspire anyone to pick up a guitar, artists like Phoebe Bridgers and TikTok favorites like Beach Bunny certainly are.
The days of Simmons being influential may be over, but that doesn’t mean rock is too.
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