Every now and then, usually when listening to the radio, I worry that rock music is fading from popularity.
It’s a silly thing to worry about, really. I’m not sure there are many types of music that really ever fade away completely. And even if rock were to wither away, modern resources will doubtlessly permit the few remaining acts to continue to produce music for their few remaining fans. But that kind of hypothetical situation really doesn’t matter. Rock isn’t dying out, because David Cook is the new American Idol.
According to Ryan Seacrest’s approximation, there were twelve million more votes for the rocker than there were for the balladeer. Twelve million. The pulse of rock and roll is still strong in America.
I really look forward to David Cook’s studio work. The man has such versatility with his voice and his emotions. It’s something refreshing that a lot of mainstream rock has been lacking in recently. I don’t know much about Cook’s guitar skills or songwriting skills, but as long as he sings his heart out, his stuff should be pretty good.
I suppose I’m acting like some idiotic fanboy, but I seriously can’t wait for him to get recording.
Anyway, I’m glad that David Cook won. He certainly deserved it, and it’s nice to see some nationwide appreciation for a truly great rock vocalist.
“Undertow” by Pain of Salvation has long been one of my favorite songs. I love it for its intensity of emotion and the way it conveys these deep, dark feelings with sincerity and beauty. Pretty much awesome stuff all around.
But another reason why I love “Undertow” is because the whole song seems to serve as a frame for the vocals. Every note played on every instrument is wonderful, but it never upstages the singer and only enhances what the he’s doing. Some of the guitar parts are simply unisons with the vocal melody.
And as the music becomes a backdrop for the singing, the focus shifts to the singer. The song is now defined by the vocal performance, the lyrics being sung, and the emotions with which the lyrics are delivered. And all that maximizes the song’s effect.
There are lots of good songs that suffer from poor vocal performances. Every time I hear Chad Kroeger grunt through “Far Away,” I think of how much better that song could have been with a better voice from a singer who at least acted like he felt some kind of connection with the words he was singing. “Undertow” is driven by the top-notch vocals of Daniel Gildenlow, and his emotional (not to mention eclectic) singing is what made me fall in love with Pain of Salvation.
A few days ago, I was browsing YouTube and came across a live performance of “Undertow.” At first, I was disappointed that the arrangement had been modified from the beloved studio version. But as the song progressed and Gildenlow sang his heart out, I began to realize that, though the arrangement had changed, the song had not—it was simply a different but equally effective backdrop for an unbelievably emotional vocal.