I’m not sure how I feel about the definition of classic rock

By mporter on March 5, 2020

By: Madeleine Porter

Does a clear definition of classic rock exist? As a child of the 90s, I never doubted the great creators of true classic rock music, even though that may be shocking to hear. I was listening to the radio and ‘Pretender’ by Foo Fighters came on; announced as a classic rock band.

Ozzy Osbourne is classic rock. Led Zepplin is classic rock. Mick Jagger is classic rock. Just to name a few. I was so shocked to find Foo Fighters and bands like AC/DC were being grouped in the same genre. So, I must beg the question, what is the cut off to be a true classic rock band?

There is little agreement on the true definition of rock, much less the definition of classic rock. Rock n’ roll appears in many dictionaries all with substantially different meanings.

It’s important to make the distinction between literal classic rock and good oldies. I found classic rock is mostly defined as a radio format derived from AOR (album-oriented rock) in the early 1980s. Classic rock encompasses albums, whereas oldies describe primarily top hit pop singles.

Classic rock has nothing to do with the artist themselves. While the release of an album may have been in the ’70s it doesn’t automatically imply the “classic rock” title. Both Led Zepplin and The Beatles recorded classic rock albums, yet they hardly performed in the same music style. So what is so “classic” about classic rock?

The term was coined to describe a radio format that contained rock music primarily in the ’70s and ’80s. Later, the format included music from the ’50s and ’60s. Today, you may even hear music ranging from grunge punk rock to hairband rock on classic rock stations.

The only way to answer the question lies in the definition of “classic”. Every dictionary I looked at came up with a test to see what is “classic”. The most telling aspect of the adjective is that is describes¬†something about which the same opinion has stood over a long period of time.¬†

People will hear a song and feel the same way about it as the day they first heard it on the radio. To wrap my rant up, I am not sure how to feel about this definition of classic rock. I do know one thing that is a fact; Foo Fighters are not classic rock.


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