I'm a huge rock fan – although my mom insists that I only listen to metal, which is not true. From Billy Joel to Children of Bodom, my iTunes library is filled with the softest to the hardest branches and subgenres of rock you could imagine; and no, grandma, none of them are praising Satan.
Nevertheless, rock has suffered a lot in the past five years or so. It's still alive and doing very well, but there's always that alternative act that sneaks into rock's extremely broad scope and makes people like me very, very angry; I'm talking Imagine Dragons, American Authors, OneRepublic, Bastille, etc. You may like them, but they're hardly rock music, and hardly can they be comparable in lyrical or musical composition to real rock. OneRepublic's hit "Counting Stars", for example, consists of a total of four chords repeated through the whole song, in the same order.
It'd be easy to ignore these artists and trends if they weren't invading the bands that I actually like. The last few years have seen some of these bands change their style dramatically, trading smart lyrics for catchy pop garbage, and throwing musical composition out the window for overproduced studio sounds. The following are some of the most personally painful examples of what I'm talking about.
5. Maroon 5
Okay, so these guys have always been kinda poppy, I admit that. But you know what they used to be too? A band. A band with musicians, with members. I dare you to tell me the name of one of the members that isn't Adam Levine. Yeah, you probably can't, because they don't even want you to be able to.
Adam Levine's rise to popularity over the past five years has been very notable, but has sadly buried the rest of the band under his shadow, and given every single aspect of Maroon 5 a twist, focusing solely on Levine. Does Levine have one of the most enviable falsettos in the modern music scene? Absolutely, but it's a shame that it gets absolutely wasted in the overproduced, extremely shallow compositions that Maroon 5 has released lately.
Compare the band's early sound. It's still very pop-rock, but it's undeniably good, in spite of not being musically amusing. You can hear actual instruments, the lyrics are witty, and the video has footage of the rest of the band, not just their frontman. Levine is even playing a guitar!
In contrast, listen to this piece of crap. Sure, the video's fun and all, but what the hell are those drums?!
4. All That Remains
Okay, so you may not have heard about this band before; it's fairly heavy metalcore, so that's fine, don't worry. You don't need to know this band to understand what I'm talking about when I say they completely sold out, and changed their focus from being musically interesting and complex to having catchy radio-friendly choruses.
I get it, metal is not very commercial, but metal fans are probably the most loyal music fans in the world, and the band lost a lot of them when they changed their sound. It was a slow process, getting softer and softer with each album, until I accidentally caught them on mainstream radio and I just couldn't believe what I was hearing.
Take a quick listen to this. I warn you: it's HEAVY. You probably won't like it, but I think you'll understand my point.
This next song is the one that I caught on the radio, and just couldn't believe it was the same band. Even the video is just cheesy beyond what I'd have ever imagined from them. Fortunately, the music isn't that bad.
3. Panic! At the Disco
You probably know P!ATD from their various hits they've had the last five years or so. I personally know them from their first album, 2005's A Fever You Can't Sweat Out. This band featured a very baroque and experimental sound from their very beginning, and, like Maroon 5, always featured pop elements, but were still rock music nonetheless.
Sadly, after guitarist Ryan Ross's departure, the band just lost their sound. If I ever said "overproduction" earlier in this article, you can simply turn to Panic's three latest records – all after Ross left – and listen to the intense focus on vocals and lack of instrumentation. Vocalist Brendon Urie has gotten better with age, I would argue, but he's definitely wasting all of his talent in shallow, commercial products that sound almost nothing like what his band used to make.
You most likely know "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies" from their first album, so I won't show you that. Instead, here's another song from that album, which is still very different, fast-paced, and catchy, but still features good musicality and vocals. There's real drums, real piano, and Urie's real voice.
(Song starts at 0:31)
And now, something they released after Ross left the band. I think it speaks for itself.
Drum machine, voice correction, studio music, complete focus on vocals and being catchy. And, just like Maroon 5, Panic! At the Disco is no longer a band, but the stage name of a vocalist.
This one hit me very hard when I first realized it. 2007-11 Paramore is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I was very disappointed when I heard that the Farro brothers – drums and lead guitar – were leaving the band. What followed right afterwards was an EP full of pretty good songs and interesting sounds. After that... Oh boy.
I was excited when I first saw that Paramore had released a new song off their most recent album. After I heard it, I felt like vomiting. Just like I said about previous artists, Paramore exchanged their musicality and originality for cookie-cutter sounds. Paramore used to have heavy pop punk guitars, fast drum beats and amazing vocals by Hayley Williams. Although the vocals are, thankfully, still there, the rest has been forgotten. And just like I mentioned previously, Paramore is no longer a band, but Williams's personal project, in which she's the center of everything.
Here's one of my favorite songs by them. It's hard, fast, and the vocals are just so damn good. I can't listen to this song without headbanging.
Up next is a song that showed me not only that Paramore had changed for the worse, but that the Grammys are even more of a joke that I thought they were.
This song won the Grammy for Best Rock Song, featuring repetitive lyrics, one guitar riff, and Williams being the center of attention again. Fortunately, it at least features real instruments, but it's still miles away from what the band used to be.
1. Fall Out Boy
I try not to use the word "hate" too much, as I think it takes away from the real meaning of what hating something is. I try to use it when something very personal affects me in a negative way, and that's why I say that I absolutely hate what Fall Out Boy is doing with their sound.
FOB used to be my favorite band between the ages of 12 and 14, and I still really like them, even with my new sense of musicality and the vast variety of artists that I listen to. Their first three albums are great, and their fourth album is okay, with some very good songs. After they went on hiatus in 2009, I thought I'd never hear from them again.
Then, in 2013, they released the video for "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark", to which I had very mixed feelings about. Patrick Stump's voice is as incredible as ever, but their extremely "2010s alternative rock" sound really threw me off. The rest of the album had some good songs in it, but nothing compared to what they did before.
Songs like "Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner" or "A Little Less Sixteen Candles" really showed bassist Pete Wentz's talent for writing smart and playful lyrics, while songs like "The Take Over, the Breaks Over" and "What a Catch, Donnie" demonstrate that the band had musical chops behind their pop punk sound.
Drummer Andy Hurley has a pretty good solo in the band's concert DVD, and guitarist Joe Trohman has demonstrated his talent with other, different bands. Stump, like I said, is an amazing singer, and you can consult any album – even the crappy ones – if you got any doubts about that.
Just listen to the lyrics in this song:
Or the vocals here:
Or the super fun guitars in this:
But then came their latest album. A piece of overproduced, repetitive, unoriginal, uncreative, copy-paste, commercial garbage that cemented Fall Out Boy into the pop scene, but out of my iTunes forever. When I first heard "Centuries" I couldn't believe what had happened to one of my favorite bands. Where did Hurley's drums go? Where are the guitars? The catchy but smart and witty choruses? The amazing lyrics? Nowhere. They're gone. They've been replaced for voice effects, drum machines, and a complete lack of musical composition.
Just compare the three very different songs that I showed you with this piece of bull feces:
It really bothers me to put the once great Fall Out Boy in the #1 spot, but there's just no other band I can think of that sunk so much into pop and completely ruined their sound. I'm very sorry for the talents that have been lost or are being shut down by these artists, as they've all got more than enough to show for it.
I hope I didn't offend anyone; the fact that you like crap doesn't necessarily mean you're crap, right?