British rock is now dominated by ‘bedwetters’ – and that’s a good thing
In 2018, the Grammy Awards demoted the rock category to the pre-release ceremony, where gongs for fringe genres such as Bluegrass and Latin Jazz are handed out. The only recognizable rock band in the UK singles top 100 this week is Metallica, whose 1986 song Master of Puppets went viral on TikTok after recording Stranger Things on Netflix.
However, tomorrow the oft-maligned Coldplay begin a six-date residency at Wembley Stadium. By the time they tour the rest of the world, they will have played to over half a million fans in the UK. Again, is Coldplay even a rock band? When they released their debut album in 2000, former Oasis label boss Alan McGee notoriously dismissed them as “bed wetting”. It was telling to suggest that Coldplay was too soft and girly for real rock. Their sound is sleek, melodious and colorful, utilizing the processed beats and digitally manipulated effects of 21st century pop. Their latest global hit, My Universe, was a collaboration with Korean boy band BTS, which scored over a billion streams in 2021.
Maybe we should stop defining rock by its past. Coldplay is what rock looks like when it has evolved to meet the needs of a new musical era, adapting to technological and stylistic changes and emotional and sociological shifts, creating rock that is empathetic, inclusive and in tune with the social constructions of the post-millennium. youth culture. They make Oasis look like dinosaurs.
Rock is no longer a dominant mode of youthful musical expression – to be expected, perhaps, as it is effectively over 70 years old. But perhaps rock is best thought of as a state of metamorphosis. Spotify’s biggest streaming song last year was Glass Animals’ Heatwaves, an Oxford original band playing twisty, arty pop rock with guitar, bass, drums and keyboards owed more to Coldplay than at oasis.