Rock music has been with us for a long time. For more than 6 decades, we have been enjoying great rock music, with each decade giving us something new, while still respecting the foundations of rock. Genres exist for a reason, as you cannot expect people to express themselves all in the same way. Today, with the advancement of technology, we have even more genres.
While having more does not mean having good music, nor even something you would classify as music, some genres are more popular than others, which is usually telling of the times. These are the most popular genres of rock music today.
What, how is heavy metal a subgenre of rock? It is, inspired by the three greats, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the genre of metal started to take over audiences in the 70s, even. While on the path to becoming what it is today, it spawned multiple genres of its own. One of the most popular genres of heavy metal is thrash metal, with bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer leading the charge. They are popular to this day, as is the subgenre. Progressive metal is one of the fusion genres, combining metal and progressive rock, with bands like Dream Theater and Tool showing extreme musical and technical prowess. Other subgenres include black metal, nu metal, glam metal, power metal, and more, all of which are popular today.
Alternative rock or alt rock, is an old subgenre, dating back to the late 70s. Some would even call the 60s band Velvet Underground an alt rock band. There are plenty of subgenres of alt rock which include grunge, indie rock, Britpop, and many more. The bands which have been popular over the years are, Radiohead, Coldplay, Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, The Strokes, Muse, and so many more. The alt rock genre is one of the most popular ones as it covers a lot of other genres like electronic, for example.
Progressive rock or prog rock is a term synonymous with other terms like art rock, symphonic rock or even classical rock. The term prog was added in the 90s, so the genre itself was not really as defined. Having said that, the genre is very, very broad and encompasses a lot of bands.
It started in the 60s with the Beatles and Yardbirds who made good music better by adding more complex layers, whether chord progressions, harmonies or rhythm.
The 70s saw a bloom in progressive rock with bands like Jethro Tull, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Camel, Kansas, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson, Rush, Mike Oldfield, Frank Zappa, Kansas, Boston, Styx, Dixie Dregs, and Return to Forever (though they were a jazz fusion band, more than a prog rock band). Queen, to an exten, is a progressive rock band, though they experimented with so many genres that they cannot really be placed in a single one. The 70s were arguably the most successful years of this genre, yet all of these bands and artists are listened to today and even go on tours. ‘
Today, there are bands like Mastodon and The Mars Volta who are keeping the genre alive and well, not to mention all the greats still playing.
These are the current most popular rock subgenres.