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Bieber, Gaga, this too shall pass

I was recently asked the question &quot;Why do we have to live in Justin Bieber's world?&quot;<br />

During a lecture to broadcasting students at Fanshawe College in London last Friday, a question was floated about the dire state of rock music: “Music is so awful now. Why do we have to live in Justin Bieber’s world?” My answer to that was simple: “This, too, shall pass.”

I’ve been involved in music long enough to remember all the times when teen dreams dominated mainstream consciousness and rock was declared dead. It felt hopeless when the Bay City Rollers were selling millions in the 70s. There was much despair during the New Kids on the Block/Debbie Gibson/Tiffany crisis of the late 80s. Rockers felt helpless during the Spice Girls/Britney/Backstreet/’N Sync apocalypse of the late 90s. And now, panic has set in over Bieber and Gaga.

There were other scares, too. The Beatles were refused a contract by Decca in 1962, who said that “guitar groups are on their way out.” The disco plague hit in 1976. That was followed by the early 80s synthesizer revolution which filled the air with predictions of the death of guitar-based rock. The rise of the DJ and dance culture struck twice, first in the late 80s and then in the late 90s. “Rock will be killed by armies of turntables! And if they don’t finish the job, the rise of hip-hop will!”

But a funny thing has happened every single time: rock rebounded to resume its spot as the preeminent form of popular culture.

I’ve written much on the theory of the Rock-Pop Cycle, a 12-13 year period in which they battle each other for mainstream supremacy. It’s a complicated dance, rooted in demographics, economics and whether there’s a Republican or a Democrat in the White House or if there’s a Liberal or Conservative living at 10 Downing Street. You can trace this cycle all the way back to the birth of rock’n’roll in the early 1950s.

And the next rock renaissance has already begun. Radiohead’s new album is out. Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye will appear Tuesday. Green Day, the Foo Fighters, the Chili Peppers, U2 and Coldplay will have new albums in the coming months. At no time since the summer of 2005 will so many major rock artists have albums in the marketplace. And with major albums come major tours and major media attention.

So sorry, Bieber fans. To everything there is a season.

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