You hit the seek button once and you find a hip-hop station. You hit the seek button again and you find a country station. On your third try you find a station playing indie-pop. After five minutes of searching, the most modern form of rock music you can find is eighties hair metal.
If you are a fan of rock music living in Northwest Oregon, you have most likely already come to the realization that there is no true modern rock station in the area. Sure, there are stations that play Portugal. The Man and Twenty-One Pilots, but any person who has ever picked up an instrument can tell you, this is not rock music.
This lack of real rock music is interesting, considering Portland is home to pioneers of nineties
alternative rock, like Everclear, whose song “Santa Monica” cracked the Billboard’s modern rock top-five in 1995. 173 miles north of Portland, in Seattle, Grunge was born.
It is hard to believe the Pacific Northwest has strayed away from its modern rock roots, though
there are a couple causes that could have led to this. First, the concept of rock music has become outdated and conservative. And the form of music no longer caters to the ever-changing and progressively liberal nature of the Pacific Northwest.
Despite its birth from African American blues, most modern bands today are inherently white, creating a racial divide within the genre. Another cause for this shift away from modern rock could be a result of the modern emphasis placed on party culture and the music surrounding it.
While modern rock can be vastly artistic, it tends to focus more on darker aspects of life. People do not want to play games and dance to Chris Cornell singing “Blackhole Sun” or Adam Gontier singing about being in pain. It seems today we care more about whether the song gets us hyped at the club, rather than its artistic value.
The genre is also at the mercy of a very technocentric age. The simplicity of hip-hop today makes it easy for anyone to create the same genre of music, allowing it to be mass-produced at a higher quantity. Compared to rock music, where an entire band has to record their parts separately.
All of these are formidable reasons as to why modern rock has lost its appeal in Portland. However, I feel it is mostly due to the lack of a specified radio station. There are plenty of classic rock stations in the area, but as a teenager you tend to avoid listening to your parent’s music.
Without a modern rock station, most people are forced to grow up listening to hip-hop, country or some exotic techno-indie genre. It is unfortunate to see this shift because I feel there is still a plethora of great modern rock music being made, with no outlet to really share it.
I am not trying to bash these other genres of music, however, it is sad to see music I grew up listening to fade away because of a lack of a channel. We need to bring a modern rock station to Portland.