It’s of course impossible to exactly prognosticate what trends and genres will swing to the forefront; perhaps guitar-based music will once again rise to the top of the charts. With pop icons Miley Cyrus and Harry Styles now embracing a more organic sound, a shift in mainstream tastes may even be imminent. Historically speaking it’s well overdue. The natural ebb and flow of rock music’s popularity has been disrupted this decade by the crushing weight of the monogenre and the cycle’s been broken, or at least delayed. Where in the past we had punk, grunge, and garage rock heralding the dawn of a new age at the beginning of a decade, there’s been no such shift in the 2010’s.
Ironically enough it’s this lack of a new direction that’s allowed Foo Fighters to retain their status at the top of the food chain. Without the catalyst of a generational divide in rock music the band’s been able to continue thriving on nearly the exact same sonic blueprint they were birthed in. There’s been no forays into hip-hop beats, no induction of synthesizers into the band, no folk fusion experiments. It’s just a lot of guitars and Dave Grohl‘s reliable vocal melodies.
The consistency has paid off massively. There are still hundreds of rock acts from decades past that are still raking in millions on the concert circuit. Fellow 90s icons Pearl Jam and Radiohead are still celebrated and flocked to, but they, as most of their peers, are legacy acts. Foo Fighters had an entire television series devoted to their last album release. Their latest single “Run” was reported on not just by music blogs, but by most mainstream rock stations. It wasn’t added into heavy rotation simply in active rock markets in non-metropolitan districts- it was added into heavy rotation everywhere. Bluntly put: Foo Fighters are still a thing.
Though it might be strange, humour has played a large part in this success. Grohl’s sly self-awareness has been key to the band’s longevity, and the man’s ability to stay relevant is remarkable. There’s a good natured (albeit sometimes twisted) core to the man, a playful spirit with just the tiniest hint of residual darkness from his Nirvana days. Though the band’s able to play the staid, emotive type, they’re also regularly goofing off. (“Fresh Pots!” is a meme unto itself). They’re not the grim tight-lipped acts from their birth scene. They know how to stay fresh. Will the industry climate allow for another artist (let alone another rock band) to ever again reach these sort of heights? We’ll see if 2032 has a new Lumineers single burning up the charts.