Sam Leith “So rock's dead? Oh well, it was always the David Brent of musical genres” http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jan/16/sam-leith-death-of-rock
The first thing to be said is that the absence of rock from the singles chart doesn't prove rock is dead. It simply proves that the people who buy singles aren't buying rock. It suggests, assuming rock fans do still exist, either that they are buying albums (perhaps the rock fans of today are older and wealthier), or that they are stealing albums (sorry, yes, piracy isn't technically theft – but let's not bore on about that, eh?), or that they are watching rock music live.
My guess is that it's all three. The demise of Melody Maker, the withering of NME, and the amazing retro-ness of the rock scene over the last few years, with bands (Pixies, Jane's Addiction, Dinosaur Jr, Led Zep etc etc) reforming all over the shop and/or playing their old albums (Suede, Flaming Lips, Primal Scream etc etc) indicates that the teenage rock fans of yesterday are the middle-aged rock nostalgists of today. It is kids – or very old ladies, perhaps – who buy singles, and they are listening to pop and R&B.
The problem is that if the kids aren't listening to rock, when they go into the music industry they won't make rock. It is going to run out. We have discovered too late that rock, like fossil fuels, is a finite resource. Sometime in the early 1990s, we hit Peak Rock: we now have only managed decline and a Mad Max style post-rock world to look forward to. Don't get me wrong. I love rock music. I'm so uncool I even sing along to the Killers in the car. But I have to recognise that I am that old fart I warned my younger self about. When I go to rock concerts, I don't look about me and see The Kids. I look around me and see The Man. The world's remaining rock deposits are being stripmined by irresponsible members of the boomer and post-boomer generations.
Just think how embarrassing the continued existence of rock'n'roll is for our children. Look at it from their point of view. What are the signifiers of rock – or "rawk", as professional music journalists like to call it? What is eau de rock? Even those of us who love guitars and drums and shouting must concede that, put down in plain black and white, those signifiers make rock music look like the David Brent of musical genres.
Who are the iconic rock fans in popular culture? They are Beavis and Butthead, Bill and Ted, Wayne and Garth, and Jack Black's character in School of Rock. Rock has given us the worst clothes, the worst haircuts, and the worst dances of all time. It has given us air guitar. It has given us Billy Idol. It has given us people who shout "Rock'n'ROOOLLLL!"
*1:Alexandra Topping “RIP rock'n'roll? Professor of pop reads the last rites” http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jan/10/rock-n-roll-read-last-rites