Credit Chris Tuite

Death of the rock star

By Matt Benson

How rock ‘n’ roll can you truly be when your promoter is begging you to jump on the next TikTok trend?

In light of the release of Liam Gallagher and Dave Grohl’s new co-written single Everything’s Electric, taken from the former’s upcoming album, the pair have been extremely complimentary of each other. While describing the motivation behind the track, Grohl praised Gallagher, labelling him “one of the few last remaining rock stars”. However, as much of a fan as you may be of the foul-mouthed, booze-addled, ever-tweeting Mancunian, it’s hard not to ask yourself: What does it say about the state of the music scene that kids today are told to idolise a 49-year-old man? Although it’s still impressive that the former Oasis frontman can sell out two shows at Knebworth, why does he have to? Shouldn’t he be passing the baton rather than running with it himself and accidentally popping his hip out?

Of course, you could say that it’s only down to a decline in the genre’s popularity and you would have a very strong case. UK rap/grime now dominates the charts and, although there are certainly huge icons of the genre, it is understandable why people are hesitant to brand them as “rock stars”. But why? Dave recently played an electric guitar that shoots fire while performing on stage at the Brits – it doesn’t get much more rock ‘n’ roll than that! After all, “rock” nowadays is practically indistinguishable from indie, perhaps due to the sparseness of fans of the genre among the youth. 

Granted, there are still a few names which carry the mantle of rock and are able to chart highly such as Arctic Monkeys, but even they are at risk of fading into obscurity if their new record is anything like their latest jazzy, lounge-pop LP which, although enjoyable, did seem to divide their fans. Sam Fender is probably the closest thing you’ll get to a modern-day rock star, playing sell-out shows, dressed in a classic Adidas jacket, and giving interviews in a thick northern accent while violently hungover on BBC Breakfast. Actually, he might just be a modern-day Gallagher.

Perhaps it’s down to the rise of social media and smartphones. You could argue that it’s a helpful tool in getting bands and artists recognised or signed to labels, but how rock ‘n’ roll can you be when your promoter is begging you to jump on TikTok bandwagons? Or maybe it’s the fact that a rock star can’t engage in any “mischief” nowadays without finding themselves either cancelled or trending. Not to condone any antisocial behaviour, but fans of the genre long for this character that will say what they think, do what they want, and live the life that the general public can’t. It’s been too long since we’ve seen one. Move over, Ed Sheeran. 

Jokes aside, this is a serious call for the next John Lennon, Keith Richards or Kurt Cobain to show their face to the world. We’re not saying smoke a thousand cigarettes, get admitted to rehab over substance abuse or sleep with half of your fanbase; we’re just asking you to be ready, complete with the right tunes and a bit of attitude. The music is half of it, but at least kick over a few amps along the way.


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