12 Signs That Rock Will Dominate Music In 2020
Let’s be real: in the recent past, rock music — specifically hard rock, punk, metal, and their many offshoots — has been relatively underground. Sure, huge bands like Guns N’ Roses and Foo Fighters have remained in the public eye their whole career, but even they have felt a level more entrenched than the average rap star or pop singer over the past decade. But while plenty of critics have often made the tired “rock is dead” argument, or wondered if rock will ever “reclaim its throne”, fans and artists within this community have been focusing on what’s important. If rock isn’t the flavor of the week, we’ve realized, then we have to work to make it happen.
Maybe that’s why it felt like 2019 was one of rock’s biggest years to date. Huge bands reunited, underground stars rose to the forefront, and once again the community rallying behind these musical subcultures became too loud to ignore. On top of that, these self-contained and culturally-devout genres became fascinating to those outside of them, who are fascinated by the idea of people believing in something after being fed a whole lot of nothing. It feels as though rock’s power has built in 2019 — and 2020 will be the year the dam breaks, and all the riffs surge forth upon the world at large.
Here are 12 signs of the oncoming arockalypse in 2020…
The MCR reunion was the biggest piece of music news this year
There was no news in 2019 as massive and widely-responded to as My Chemical Romance announcing their return to the stage. Not only did fans flip their lids, but artists from across every genre of music chimed in their appreciation and excitement. That the band who was initially considered paragons of emo are coming back to thunderous universal applause suggests that rock music has been bubbling below the surface of everyone’s minds — and now the volcano is erupting.
Modern hip-hop stars love goth, punk, and metal
For years, the narrative being suggested by lots of mainstream publications and critics are that hip-hop eclipsed rock. But this year proved that the next generation of rappers have been listening to lots of misanthropic guitar-based music. Artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Ghostemane, SCARLXRD, and the late Juice WRLD have been public about their love of artists like Marilyn Manson and blink-182. One only has to watch Post Malone perform with Ozzy Osbourne to know that no matter what the genre, real recognizes real.
Everyone’s talking about Mötley Crüe
Think about that — it’s 2019, 30 years after Dr. Feelgood came out, and all anyone can talk about is Mötley Crüe, king of hair metal bands. Between their massive Netflix biopic The Dirt and their recently-announced Stadium Tour, the kings of sleaze are on the tongues of listeners the world over. If you’d told the average music fan ten years ago that Mötley Crüe’s star would be on the rise at the turn of the next decade, they might have laughed. But in 2019, watching mainstream metal’s biggest name reclaiming their throne, one can’t help but feel hopeful for the future.
…AND Marilyn Manson
Over the course of 2019, Marilyn Manson has truly cemented himself as an immortal musical idol. Even as The God Of Fuck turned 50 this year, artists all around him paid homage to his talent — Halsey dressed up as him for Halloween, rapper Travis Scott had him play his festival, and The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus stopped off to grab chicken with him. All this, and Marilyn still managed to tour the country with Rob Zombie and work on his new album. When the scourge of 1999 is a hip-hop icon in 2019, it’s a sign of the times.
The Green Day/Fall Out Boy/Weezer tour is going to be unbelievable
The only thing more insane than the public response to the Hella Mega Tour was the fact that it even happened at all. Before, the idea of bringing together three such massive names in rock music was unthinkable, with bands more focused on bringing along easy-to-beat openers or rap stars to diversify crowds. But Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer made a point of showing just how enormous a tour can be when it gives fans their three favorite acts all in one place. This one is going to rule the coming year on every stop it makes.
Death metal bands are underground superstars again
For a time, extreme metal was its own contained microcosm — either you were into thrash, death, and black metal, or you weren’t. But 2019 was the year of the breakout extreme metal band. All any metal stars wanted to reference was Gatecreeper, while acts like Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation leapt to the top of many respected year-end lists. All this, plus the excitement surrounding Dethklok’s return to the stage, suggests that death metal’s ceiling has been broken, and the monsters are emerging into the spotlight.
Tool’s album debut was bigger than Kanye’s
Kanye West has been one of the biggest artists in music and popular culture…but the launch of 2019’s Jesus Is King was overshadowed by another release, from, of all people, a gang of experimental music nerds. Tool’s long-awaited epic Fear Inoculum beat out Jesus Is King in its first week by approximately 6,000 sales. While that didn’t necessarily dwarf Kanye’s album release, it certainly proved that audiences are as hungry for their favorite rock band’s albums as they are for pop culture’s most famous rapper. Plus, Tool didn’t serve anyone Kraft singles at a prayer meeting.
Rock is finally confronting its issues
The past five years have been difficult ones for rock’s mental health, marked by the loss of such legends as Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Jill Janus, and Kyle Pavone. This year was no different, with The Prodigy’s Keith Flint dying of an apparent suicide. But in return, rock has begun confronting these issues, with figures like Sam Carter and Lzzy Hale emphasizing the importance of getting help and overcoming addiction. When rock music is unhealthy, it’s easy for it to be kept in the dark; once it becomes the most self-aware music out there, it’s impossible to ignore its message.
All of the ‘Never gonna get made’ rock movies are getting made
The Dirt, Lords Of Chaos, Bohemian Rhapsody — all of rock’s big biopics were mired in rumor and studio development for ages. But 2019 saw them dropping one after another, each receiving more hype and acclaim than the last. The trend got so big that even South Park cracked a joke about it. It’s obvious that rock’s mythology is being seen as just that, and tells the kind of stories that audiences around the world want to hear.
Massive rock fests are popping up everywhere
For a while, rock festivals were either rare, gigantic occurrences like Download and Wacken, or single-day traveling affairs like Ozzfest and Warped Tour. But right now in America, there are rock, metal, and punk festivals all throughout the year, from Epicenter to Exit 111 to floating events like 70,000 Tons Of Metal or Coheed And Cambria’s SS Neverender cruise. It’s as though promoters and organizers have realized that rock deserves these huge, bigger-than-life moments, and have made a concerted effort to make those happen. If 2019 was any indication, 2020 is going to be a gauntlet of epic sets by the best bands in the world (well, except for Slayer — RIP).
Even the GRAMMYs seem to have their shit in order
For ages, the GRAMMY Awards were a place where rock and metal were at best snubbed and at worst totally mishandled. But last year’s victory for High On Fire, and this year’s nominations of bands like Candlemass and Death Angel, all seem to prove that someone in the Recording Academy actually listens to heavy music. One can only hope that this is a trend that’ll continue in the future, with more entrenched and heavy acts being accepted into the fold, while more of rock’s genuine stars get recognized for everything they’ve done.
The biggest pop star in the world is a diehard rock fan
Plenty of rock fans grumbled when 17-year-old pop star Billie Eilish admitted that she didn’t know who Van Halen were (Van Halen, meanwhile, were totally cool with it). But though she’s too young to idolize hair metal, Billie’s a massive rock fan — she famously wore a top made of sewn-together shirts from artists like Cradle Of Filth and Type O Negative, and at the AMAs this year, she introduced Green Day by saying, “Growing up, no band was more important to me.” The new queen of pop has fiery riffs flowing through her veins — and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
Green Day marked the end of the U.S. leg of the Hella Mega Tour by pranking Weezer onstage while the band performed Surf Wax America.
Another fragile dose of new Sleep Token ahead of their album next week.