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Classic Rock

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A radio format that generally plays rock music from the '60s, '70s, and '80s

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
TheHestinator on Apr 24th 2016 at 8:16:19 PM
Last Edited By:
TheHestinator on Oct 28th 2017 at 1:16:46 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Classic rock is not, strictly speaking, a musical genre, but rather a radio format that features old-school rock songs. There is no set definition of "classic rock," with just about everybody having their own personal criteria. The unwritten definition used by the website (and many people) generally seems to be any music created by a non-alternative note  rock band/artist who was at the peak of their/his/her career between the rockabilly/rock and roll (using the strictest definition of the latter term) and the grunge/alternative rock eras (basically, rock from the mid-ish-early-ish '60s to the very early '90s). That being said, classic rock radio stations have started playing more recent music, including grunge and alternative artists, diversifying their playlists. While the rock and roll/rockabilly artists of the '50s and early '60s are indeed classic and rock, they tend to not be considered "classic rock," since they virtually never seem to get played on stations of that radio format.

Classic rock radio stations are common in the United States and Sirius XM Radio features several classic rock-oriented stations, including: The Bridge (classic soft rock), Classic Rewind (late '70s and '80s classic rock), Classic Vinyl ('60s and early '70s classic rock), Deep Tracks (classic rock deep cuts), 1st Wave (classic New Wave, punk rock, and post-punk), Hair Nation (hair bands), and Ozzy's Boneyard (classic hard rock and heavy metal).

There are also several syndicated radio programs that play classic rock bands and artists, including The House of Hair with Dee Snider, Nights with Alice Cooper, The Classics with Steve Downes, and Off the Record with Joe Benson.

Some Genres Associated with Classic Rock Include:

  • arena rock (also known as album-oriented rock [AOR], stadium rock, or corporate rock) - polished, slick, radio-ready, and commercially-friendly (generally without being out-and-out pop-rock) rock that was at its peak between the mid '70s and mid '80s (although it remained popular into the early '90s) and featured hard rock anthems and soft rock power ballads
  • blues-rock
  • boogie rock
  • country-rock
  • folk-rock
  • glam rock - flamboyant, theatrical rock music that was at its peak in the '70s and often featured performers in androgynous outfits
  • hair band (also known as hair metal, glam metal, or pop-metal note ) - slick, generally radio-ready rock music that was at its peak between the mid '80s and early '90s and featured artists in glammed-up costumes performing hard rock anthems and power ballads that still rocked pretty hard
  • hard rock
  • heartland rock - rock music that appeals to blue-collar Middle American ethos
  • heavy metal - this genre is similar to hard rock, except that its sound is heavier/harder (see the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness) and it has a darker, more sinister, more menacing, more intimidating edge to it
  • jazz-rock (also known as jazz fusion)
  • New Wave - a style of oft-quirky pop-rock and pop that evolved out of punk rock and was at its commercial peak between the late '70s and mid '80s
  • pop-rock
  • post-punk - rock music that evolved out of punk rock that was more experimental
  • progressive rock (sometimes shortened to prog rock or prog, and frequently used synonymously with art rock) - a somewhat experimental genre dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what rock music is artistically capable of
  • psychedelic rock (frequently used synonymously with acid rock)
  • punk rock - stripped-down, hard-rocking, often politically-charged music that developed in the mid '70s and often revolved around short songs
  • roots rock - rock music that imitated the sound of earlier rock 'n' roll
  • soft rock
  • soul-rock
  • Southern rock - rock music originating from the Southern United States

Classic-Era, Non-Alternative note  Bands/Artists Associated with Classic Rock Include:

Note: The bands'/artists' primary genres are listed as well, with arena rock being considered a subgenre of hard rock and soft rock, the hair bands a subgenre of hard rock, New Wave a subgenre of pop-rock, and punk rock a subgenre of hard rock. When these subgenres are listed, their larger genre is not, to avoid redundancy.

Newer and/or Alternative Bands and Artists That Sometimes Get Played on Classic Rock Radio Include:

Feedback: 10 replies

Apr 25th 2016 at 8:34:16 AM

I assume that this will be a Useful Note, right?

Apr 25th 2016 at 9:01:40 AM

@ Arivne: Yeah, probably.

I'm not an expert on any of the bands/artists listed, so if you disagree with any of the genres listed for them, just say so. Also, please speak up if there's any new bands/artists you want to add to the list.

Jan 5th 2017 at 11:57:48 AM

a useful notes page on Radio Formats in the US as a whole would be really cool, but this is a great start. cool

Jan 5th 2017 at 1:49:44 PM

This didn't exist already?! Classic rock is one of the most important musical genres!!

Anyway, description should go into more detail on the hustory of some of the seminal bands.

Jan 6th 2017 at 11:14:24 AM

Added twenty new bands/artists to the list (Nazareth, Cream, Derek and the Dominos, Accept, Europe, Survivor, Winger, Dokken, Damn Yankees, Krokus, Jackyl, Blondie, The Police, The J. Geils Band, Supertramp, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Phil Collins, Steely Dan, and The Clash). Anyway, I declare this TLP article Up for Grabs. Feel free to add (or delete) whatever you want and launch it if/when you feel like it's ready.

Jan 6th 2017 at 2:55:23 PM

Exactly what type of rock music constitutes Classic Rock is not a set definition. Most "Classic Rock" stations now include 90s and early 2000s acts like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Foo Fighters in their rotation. Basically, it's come to mean any rock music that's more than 10 to 15 years old.

Jun 9th 2017 at 10:43:20 AM

Alright, I've changed the introduction to state that there is no set definition of "classic rock," leaving in the previously-stated definition as a potential one that's sometimes used, but also mentioning that more recent artists have started getting airtime. As I mentioned earlier, this article is Up for Grabs, so if anybody feels that this is unsatisfactory, feel free to change it.

June 9, 2017 Edit - I added Y&T and Coverdale/Page to the list of artists (I believe I heard the latter of a couple of times when iTunes had classic rock stations on it), as well as a very brief blurb about syndicated programs like House of Hair and Nights with Alice Cooper. Article is still Up for Grabs, though.

Jun 9th 2017 at 1:55:10 PM

I wouldn't classify Def Leppard as a hair metal band. The Other Wiki lists them as Hard Rock, Heavy Metal or Glam Metal. The band are on record saying they never considered themselves part of the "hair metal" genre.

Jun 18th 2017 at 8:34:27 PM

Wikipedia uses glam metal as a synonym for hair metal, with their glam metal article currently opening with "Glam metal (also known as hair metal and often used synonymously with pop metal) [...]". TV Tropes' hair metal page also lists them as that genre. It is true, though, that Def Leppard themselves aren't fond of being described by that label, according to Wikipedia. Perhaps we could have somebody else weigh in on the issue before we change anything?

June 18, 2017 Edit - I added a list of rock genres associated with classic rock music.

Oct 27th 2017 at 12:00:20 PM

Okay, I made a few updates. I added Blackfoot, Yes, The Moody Blues, The B-52s, The Tubes, Quiet Riot, Tesla, Simon & Garfunkel, Don Mc Lean, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Metallica, Budgie, The Cult, Axe, Robert Palmer, and Peter Gabriel to the standard classic rock list. I also made a list of newer and/or alternative artists/bands that still sometimes get played on classic rock radio (I don't know any of them well enough to list the genres they're associated with, so somebody else, who knows them better than I, should either edit the page to include them or just tell me what they are). It should again be noted that I'm not an expert on any of the artists/bands listed, so, if you disagree with my choice of their primary genres listed, just say so.

Two questions: 1. If I were to launch this useful notes, how would I turn it from a trope page to a useful noted page? 2. If I were to launch this page, where would I list this useful notes page in terms of indexes, so this page doesn't become, in Wikipedia terms, an "orphan?"