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When The Who's Roger Daltrey said rock music is dead


The Who’s Roger Daltrey has always tenaciously shot from the hip, and the frontman rarely sugarcoats his opinion. He’s been a prominent member of rock’s aristocracy for close to 60 years, but Daltrey now believes that the genre’s lost all its cultural credit.

When Daltrey was first interested in rock music as a teenager during the late 1950s London scene, the genre was railing against the establishment and played a critical role in a cultural shift. The movement only grew in importance over the decade that followed, a time when the genre came to the forefront of a progressive shift in society.

However, all good things come to an end, and rock music is no longer as culturally significant as it once was. After all, it’s only natural for music to evolve and for different genres to become the new voice of rebellion.

For Daltrey, his main point of exasperation derives from rock musicians deciding to play it safe, frightened to say anything which could potentially ruffle feathers. As rock music has been around for so many decades, the genre has now perhaps become the establishment, which might go a long way to explain why it’s no longer the youth’s preferred way of venting their frustration.

Speaking with The Times in 2016, a deflated Daltrey said: “We’re a boy band. Boys like to fight. There’s still a danger about the Who, but then rock music is a safety valve and it has probably prevented a Third World War: it releases the tension of youth and let’s face it, youth is aggressive by nature.”

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According to Daltrey, aggression is a vital organ of rock, and that’s what he believes is missing from the current crop of artists. While undeniably, there are still many rock bands who have something important to say and are fuelled by fury. Yet unfortunately, they tend to not infiltrate the mainstream. Daltrey continued: “The sadness for me is that rock has reached a dead end. The only people saying things that matter are the rappers, and most pop is meaningless and forgettable. You watch these people and you can’t remember a bloody thing.”

One would assume that his comments would mean that he’s a fan of hip-hop and how it’s filled a void left behind by rock, but that’s also not free from the wrath of his sharp tongue. During a conversation with Rolling Stone in 2018, Daltrey quipped: “It’s kind of meaningless to me, to be honest with you. I like some of the rhythms of rap. But [it] hasn’t gone anywhere from the first record [that] ever came out with those kind of rhythms, has it?”.

After being probed on his comments, The Who’s frontman added: “Has hip-hop evolved? I don’t think it has at all.”

To an extent, Daltrey is accurate when he claims that rock music has become less meaningful. However, the overarching conclusion from his series of comments is modern music isn’t to his appetite, and he seemingly believes nothing will ever come close to replicating the output of his youth.

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