KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons has doubled down on his previous remarks that rock is dead, saying that "new bands haven't taken the time to create glamor, excitement and epic stuff."
While rock 'n' roll has been king of the music world for decades, in the past few years, it's been unseated by the growing popularity of hip-hop. This has caused many pundits to proclaim the genre "dead" from an industry perspective, noting that it has been eclipsed in all measures by pop, hip-hop, and EDM.
Simmons spoke about rock's supposed diminishing status during a recent interview with Gulf News. Addressing the whole "rock is dead" debate, Gene said: "Rock is dead. And that's because new bands haven't taken the time to create glamor, excitement and epic stuff. I mean, FOO FIGHTERS is a terrific band, but that's a 20-year-old band. So you can go back to 1958 until 1988. That's 30 years. During that time, we had Elvis [Presley], THE BEATLES, Jimi Hendrix, ROLLING STONES, on and on. In disco, you had Madonna, and then you had your hard rock, you had AC/DC, maybe us, a few others. Motown, all that great music. From 1988, until today, that's more than 30 years. Tell me who the new BEATLES is. You can't. There are popular bands. BTS is very popular. All kinds of bands are very popular. That doesn't mean iconic and legacy and for all time. It's different."
Asked if he thinks time will tell if some acts are going to be iconic in another 30 years, Simmons replied: "I doubt it. Because the singularity that was THE BEATLES is a band that wrote their own songs, arranged it themselves, produced it themselves, mostly played all their own instruments. No backing tracks. No digital enhancement. No vocal correctness. Yeah, not gonna happen again. You know, the modern artists rely so much on technology. You may not be able to recognize the artist if they record themselves singing in the shower. You'd be shocked. And none of the rappers play instruments. Don't write songs. They write words. But chords, melodies, harmonies and stuff. It doesn't mean that rap isn't important. It's very important. But it ain't THE BEATLES."
Simmons went on to say that he loves all the contemporary pop artists. "I think Billie Eilish is fantastic," he said. "She's interesting because she and her brother actually write the material and are unique to themselves. Lady Gaga is fantastic in the female category. She writes her own material, she can sing like nobody's business. But she actually is a musician, writes her own songs, plays piano, she can actually do that. The rest of the world reacts to a lot of the pop divas, although mostly they don't write their own songs and can't play an instrument. And by the way, that's okay, too. It doesn't matter what you like. But it ain't THE BEATLES."
The "rock is dead" argument has popped up again and again throughout the years, including in 2018 after MAROON 5 lead singer Adam Levine told Variety magazine that "rock music is nowhere, really. I don't know where it is," he said. "If it's around, no one's invited me to the party. All of the innovation and the incredible things happening in music are in hip-hop. It's better than everything else. Hip-hop is weird and avant-garde and flawed and real, and that's why people love it."
A few years ago, Simmons told Esquire magazine that "rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed and now it won't because it's that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it."
A number of hard rock and heavy metal musicians have weighed in on the topic in a variety of interviews over the last several years, with some digging a little deeper into Simmons's full remarks and others just glossing over the headline.