What Happened to Progressive Rock?

It was the sound of a generation.

It was a scene of vibrating rock concertos taking place in arenas packed with thousands of psychedelic drug induced college kids who would later grow up to be our boring suburban parents, partly explaining its disappearance.

The counter culture generation, who wrote songs about escaping war mongering and hatred, pretty much transformed into the Fox News generation.

But why didn’t the next generations pick up this sub-genre from where the boomers left off?

It is noted that progressive rock anthems can be nearly impossible to recreate. They were often time long ballads, spanning up to over 10 minutes a track, and didn’t rely heavily on a chorus or any sort of decipherable catchy tune. This made progressive rock bands unpopular on the radio and were rarely played at events that someone might expect to dance at.

However, when we look back on some of those most mainstream progressive rock songs, they mostly don’t fit all this criteria. Pink Floyd’s, “Another Brick in the Wall” and, “Yes’s Roundabout” are head bobbingly infectious rather than free form jazzy. These songs have an immediately recognizable sound, yet has made their message trite and even boring because of it being so overplayed.

Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”

Perhaps that is what halted prog rock’s legacy: selling out and fitting in.

I suppose it is worth pointing out that there are progressive artists that have found a following in recent years. Porcupine Tree and its front man, Steve Wilson found its niche in the current world of indie rock and may have even managed to bring progressive rock back to its roots while expanding on its fuzzy horizons.

But when it comes to new listeners needing mind-altering sounds or songs of social change, most turn to electronic and punk artists.

So no, progressive rock should not be proclaimed dead.

The legacy of those bands from the late 60’s and 70’s continues to inspire new artists today, so they will be referenced and imitated for decades yet to come. And, who knows, maybe progressive rock will make a comeback someday.

Until then, continue to support artists that do their best to take up where they left off.

Jesse Drake

Northern Indiana born and raised and currently studying at Lewis University in Romeoville. I love all kinds of music, especially punk rock and typical hipster trash. I'll be reporting on a lot of those genres here at Red Roll, and other news from music in the Chicago area.

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