Sunday, July 07, 2013

Modern Mom Rock

Mom Rock never went away. It just changed form. Mom Rock was a label slapped on those softer rock bands from the 1970s and 1980s like Seals + Croft, Bread, Air Supply, Ambrosia, as well as solo artists like Dan Fogelberg. There were guitars alright, and definitely lyrics about intimate sessions, but it was done all in a nice, sweet way. Attractive singers usually, but not the rock star bad boy druggie. Many of my late Gen X or early Millenial friends have been joking about mom rock, and how they aren't cheesy like their moms listening to soft, wussy rock. Snark snark, we're not like that snark, snark. They're wrong. They are the moms now, and mom rock has changed. The rock of their formative years is now mom rock.

***Hitchock dolly zoom on a 30 year old white mom***

Signs your listening to a Mom Rock station - The dj, if they exist, is over 40. Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas. DJ talks about going to concerts still but not staying awake for all of the Oscars' telecast. Third Eye Blind. Ads might be for a feminine waxing place, but they mention their average customer is 37 years old. Goo Goo Dolls. The station jingle is upbeat but not in your face. The broadly popular tunes of the Dave Matthews Band's catalogue. It's a station where the entire car can turn on but set at a low volume, offending no one. Gin Blossoms.

These songs are all softer than other rock tunes from that era. The people listening to them when they came out originally were mostly chicks. Chicks loved the attractive, nonthreatening lead singers and the emotional music, which often centered on relationships good or bad. Many of the break up songs were of the "I loved her and always will but she was complicated". Same formula as the '70s/'80s Mom Rock bands. I'm not saying the bands are bad, but they had a healthy female audience that 15 years later, is still listening and having children. Face it early-Millenial and later Gen-X women, you're moms now. The rock music from your teen and college days is now mom rock. Mom Rock: the message + marketing of the bands stays the same, only the moms change.

1 comment:

Drunk Idiot said...

Back in the 80s and 90s, the Baby Boomers were bogged down in a 20-plus year war against acknowledging that they were getting older, and were no longer the youngest, hippest kids on the block.

That's why 60s/70s flower power rockers Jethro Tull famously/ludicrously beat out Metallica for the "Best Heavy Metal Performance" Grammy in 1988.

The Boomers used to say "never trust anyone over 30." But then they turned 30 ... and 40 ... and 50 ... and they more or less reformulated their battle cry to something along the lines of "never trust anyone who wasn't around in the 60s and who's not old enough to understand that Vietnam and Woodstock and Watergate are the most important events in the history of the world."

There's nothing new under the sun: so now, just as their mothers did 20-30 years ago, the ladays of the late Gen X and older Millennial demographics are hitting the post-30 wall and starting to get hit with the bitter truth -- that they're not the youngest, hippest, and hottest/most badass chicas on the bock anymore.

But of course, they're loathe to admit as much.

BTW, you should add Five For Fighting and Train to your list, along with Dave Matthews wannabe John Mayer. Mom rock stations actually play new music too, but mainly just whiny chick songs from "grrl power" artists like Kelly Clarkson and Pink. Interestingly, some of the softer offerings from legit 90s alternative rock icons like Green Day and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are in the rotation on mom rock radio stations as well.

The (insufferable) band "Fun" seems to be positioning themselves to be the Goo Goo Dolls/Gin Blossoms of the present era ... which should cement them as cornerstones of mom rock in about 20 years. Lady Gaga will move into Madonna's current role of playing to basketball/hockey arenas full of aging, 40-something and 50-something harpies and gays (Madonna will move into Joan Baez and Judy Collins's role of playing on PBS and to local theaters full of 60 and 70-somethings), and "Fun" will play mid-sized venues while they're on tour with the Killers and Thirty Seconds to Mars.

Incidentally, Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty are currently on tour with the Goo Goo Dolls. They know their audience, and they're making bank on it.

But as a later Gen X sort (born in the mid 70s; late 30s in age) who remembers hearing "soft rock" playing in every restaurant and shopping mall store I was dragged into as a little kid in the early 80s, I've got to admit that I'd take the old school mom rock/Yaht Rock (more here) from yesteryear over today's (or tomorrow's) mom rock any day ... though fifteen years ago, I never would have imagined I'd say such a thing.