Benavides: Rock music may not be dead, but it’s got a bad knee

Album cover of Weezers upcoming album, Van Weezer. Image courtesy of Atlantic Records

Album cover of Weezer’s upcoming album, “Van Weezer.” Image courtesy of Atlantic Records

The “Hella Mega” tour was recently announced, featuring bands Fall Out Boy, Weezer, and Green Day as the main acts.

Barring Foo Fighters, this is essentially a union of the biggest rock bands still currently playing. I think that’s one reason why people like to say “rock is dead.”

It may not be dead, but it’s been hobbling for quite some time. While these three groups made significant names for themselves during their heyday, listening to their newer music can leave you pining for the ‘90s and early 2000s, when Weezer’s “The Blue Album” and Green Day’s “American Idiot” were dominating the rock mainstream.

In tandem with the tour, the three groups all released new singles at the same time, presumably to build hype. I will briefly go over each single in order from best to worst.

Surprisingly, Fall Out Boy’s was the most aligned with the band’s current sound, and a welcome addition. It is a high-energy track featuring Wyclef Jean, of all people. Normally, I think it’s a bit pandering when rock bands feature a rapper. They usually don’t fit well and overtake the song when it’s their turn — but Wyclef fit right in.

The song is a message to someone’s future self, with a chorus that is actually borrowed from another song, “Hands Up” by INNA. It’s not a particularly special track besides that, but at least there’s some interesting choices made for the song that I think work out fairly well.

Weezer’s single, “The End of the Game,” is a bit misleading. The cover, clearly referencing Van Halen — it features lots of lightning and “Van Weezer” as the only text — implies that either this song is going to be a Van Halen cover, or a Weezer original with direct Van Halen inspiration.

Well, it’s no cover, and the Van Halen influence lasts for all of 20 seconds. There’s a guitar riff reminiscent of the 80s metal days, but then the song breaks down into another typical Weezer song about wanting to be with a girl.

It’s certainly commendable that Rivers Cuomo, the band’s frontman, still sounds like he always has. His boyish voice still works when talking about love and heartbreak, but when he delivers lines like, “You got me cryin’ like when Aslan died,” referencing “The Chronicles of Narnia,” it makes it a little weird to think that this man is 49 years old and still cranking out music that sounds like his stuff from 30 years ago.

Green Day’s “Father of All…” is quite simply a confusing song. For any fans of really any Green Day music prior to this song, the departure from their usual punk rock sound is extremely noticeable. In fact, they seem to have abandoned their old sound for a style that has already been done many times before, but somehow comes off as even more generic than all the rest.

At first listen, I was waiting patiently for frontman Billie Joe Armstrong to start singing. I thought they had an unlisted guest verse until I heard the chorus. Yes, it was, in fact, Armstrong singing the entire time, but there are so many filters added to his falsetto that it was very hard to tell until after the chorus.

While there is still energy in this song and fun to be had with it, it is such a far cry from the old Green Day sound that, at this point, they should consider changing their name. I’m all for a band evolving their sound, but this felt like several steps back and onto a completely different path.

Now I don’t believe that genres of music can or will “die.” I think that the concept of genre itself will die before that happens. We can already see that slow transition with songs such as “Old Town Road” and many Post Malone songs, which feature elements of rock, R&B, and hip-hop that show the artist’s influences — even featuring both Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott in a song on his new album, “Hollywood’s Bleeding.”

And, as any rock loyalist may say, there are still bands that are currently making rock music in the styles of the past. Bands like Greta Van Fleet take great influence from Led Zeppelin, and a particular favorite of mine, Car Seat Headrest, takes the familiar sound and adapts it to something punchy, energetic, and unique to them.

Rock music may not die, but it will continue to stumble and limp as long as hip-hop is the current musical zeitgeist.