Rock critics as 'Mouldy Modernists'

Becky Shepherd


Contemporary rock criticism appears to be firmly tied to the past. The specialist music press valorise rock music of the 1960s and 1970s, and new emerging artists are championed for their ‘retro’ sounding music by journalists who compare the sound of these new artists with those included in the established ‘canon’ of rock music. This article examines the narrative tropes of authenticity and nostalgia that frame the retrospective focus of this contemporary rock writing, and most significantly, the maintenance of the rock canon within contemporary popular culture. The article concludes by suggesting that while contemporary rock criticism is predominately characterised by nostalgia, this nostalgia is not simply a passive romanticism of the past. Rather, this nostalgia fuels a process of active recontextualisation within contemporary popular culture.

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