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May 11, 2014 | by  | in Online Only Opinion VUWSA |
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Exec Column

Declan Doherty-Ramsay | Engagement Vice-President

I can still remember the very first time I went to a gig. It was 2004, the New Zealand Schools Tour was the best thing ever, and the headliner was Goodnight Nurse. Being an awkward and gangly 13-year-old at the time, I was the target market for the impending wave of emo pop-punk that Goodnight Nurse delivered in spades. In that short lunchtime set in our school hall, I became hooked in to the world of rock.

Ten years on and with a nearly finished music degree, still awkward and gangly, I would like to say my musical tastes expanded from these rather humble beginnings. Sadly, all that progress was for naught when Joel Little, the lead singer of Goodnight Nurse, recently produced a track called ‘Royals’ and became cooler than Captain America at the end of The First Avenger. So I’ve been forced to reflect on how far I’ve actually come musically, and whether Joel Little’s move from punk rock to international pop is symptomatic of music in general – has the world moved on from rock?

It certainly can look a bit dire if you look at the Top 40. Apart from the occasional appearance of Kings of Leon and the Foo Fighters every few years, the charts seem devoid of straightforward rock. Sub-genre mashups like folk rock appear with a bit more frequency with Sonford and Mums (I dare not actually write their name for fear of a surprise banjo solo) kicking out singles every couple of months, the ever-present reggae/soul/BBQ rock that Fat Freddy’s, Kora and the like specialise in continues to get NZ On Air funding and subsequent airtime, and the staples of pop-rock like Coldplay, Elbow and Paramore all continue to succeed at the charts.

But who cares about the Top 40 in this day and age, anyway? With Spotify and YouTube, I can access pretty much anything released in the last ten years. At my fingertips are the entire discographies of the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, both releasing really cool albums last year AM and Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action respectively). But both of those bands formed in 2002. So is their success due to the albums being good (which they are), or in part because of their audiences’ nostalgia for the early 2000s?

Regardless of whether rock is dead or making a comeback, being in such a bizarro world where Joel Little can be cool again gives me hope. VUWSA has been running some cool events this year and this week is no exception; this Friday, we’re supporting the Fred V & Grafix Graduation Party at Bodega. With discounted tickets for students available at our reception, I think I can safely safe VUWSA is as about as rock‘n’roll as Joel Little – maybe not as much as we used to be, but definitely on the way up.


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