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date: 28 January 2020

Arena rocklocked

  • Michael Ethen

Extract

A genre of recorded music and performance that peaked in the 1970s. After a decade of the music’s development, the label stabilized in critical discourse around 1977. It describes a subset of rock music either designed for, or to evoke, performance in large venues, delivered chiefly by American groups backed by powerful conglomerate record companies. As a marker of its wide popularity, the genre drew the scorn of rockist critics but the adoration of unabashed entertainment seekers. Typical songs are either anthemic, encouraging the vocal and visceral participation of audiences, or of a ballad type, providing moments of repose. Instrumental solo features also figure prominently, showcasing drummer proficiency and reinforcing the ideals of guitar-hero culture. Designed for live performance, these songs also succeed as sonic artifacts, since recordings that include pre-recorded audience noise and rhythmic hand claps frequently give the illusion of concerts. Although recordings are equally deserving of the term, more illumination derives from an examination of its performance history....

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