Where have all the rock stars gone?

Recent years has seen people begin to question where the rock stars have gone.  Those big personalities, who explode into your brain and make you sure you never forget them.  Thirty years ago, they seemed to grow on trees.  Axl Rose, Ozzy Osbourne, John Bonham and co meant that if you wanted a hellraiser, there was never one too far away.  Sadly, they have either gotten old, got fat or died and there is some truth in the idea that they were never replaced.  There are still hard partying musicians out there, but none of them grab the headlines in the way these legends did.

Which leads us to Ronnie Rake and Falling in Reverse.  Some people have been suggesting that Radke is one of these figures.  Now, I don’t know the chap and the only thing I have really read about him is through his Wikipedia page, which suggests he might have taken the wrong parts of those rock and roll mavericks, but all the same, he seems to have some of the credentials.  Even the smallest bit of research suggests he is an outspoken and passionate individual.  But what about the music?  Because these guys weren’t all just fantastic personalities, they were also musical visionaries, who have had a significant impact on our musical world.

Just Like You is Falling in Reverse’s latest album and to be honest the impact it had on me was, ‘is that it?’  Having heard so much about this cool figure and his out there ideas, the whole album just feels a bit flat.  Opener ‘Chemical Prisoner’, comes roaring out the blocks but never feels like anything more than a slab of American radio rock.  While, ‘God, If You Are Above…’, screams Black Parade era My Chemical Romance.  There’s nothing here we haven’t heard before and it’s hard to get excited about this stuff.

Now, lets give the band their due.  They know how to write a hook and there are some songs in here that will worm their way into your head and never leave it.  ‘Just Like You’ is huge and has the kind of pop punk chorus that would have made it a guaranteed hit in the days that Blink 182 and Sum 41 ruled the world.  Which I think also sums up the problem.  I have no real issue with those bands, but they’re not what I want to listen to on a regular basis.  If we really need a new generation of rock and roll heroes, I’d like them to be a bit more intelligent.

That doesn’t change the fact that those hooks are still big and this album does in the whole sound great.  The production is so polished you have to be careful not to slip and it ticks all the right boxes to appeal to the alienated teen market, which thankfully still creates so many rock and metal fans.  So maybe that is it, maybe they are set to be the gateway band for a generation.  There is some heavy moments in here, such as ‘Die For You’, but to be honest they are never more than generic and Radke isn’t much of a screamer, with his sugar sweet choruses being much more enjoyable.  If it does however lead to some kid picking up a decent metal album, then maybe it’s worth it.

Yet, there is also so much shit.  No serious individual should sing ‘Like omg, you make me come, come, come’ on ‘Sexy Drug’.  It’s a 15-year-old writing something that they think is adult and mature and while I at least hope it is meant to have a slight tongue in cheek element, it doesn’t really manage to be funny.  It’s just crass and becomes an instant turn off.  ‘Wait and See’ meanwhile, see’s him pulling out the hip hop influences and is just bad.  ‘The television is fiction, it’s telling lies to our vision.  It’s like a prison we live in and we’re all in the system’ is obviously Radke’s attempts to go political, but once again sound like a teenager who has just discovered political activism and totally gets it, man.

All said, Falling in Reverse are quite good fun.  I can’t pretend I’m ever going to listen to it again and after my three or four listens, I feel like I have had my fill.  What it left me thinking, is that if Ronnie Radke is the rockstar of the future I don’t think I’ll bother with them.  This is all fine, but it’s never great and I know for a fact that there is loads of great and some even better than great, music out there right now.  Sure, it might not all be getting made by guys with the charisma to really pull this rock and roll thing off, which is a shame because I love rock stars, but the real reason I pay so much attention to this shit is because of the music and at the end of the day, you can be the biggest rock star in the world, but if what you are playing doesn’t stand up, we are all gonna forget you eventually anyway.

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