Poll: best decade for rock music

  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s

0 voters

Curious what people think here. I tend to lean towards 2000s but I like some from just about all of these eras

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I can’t really decide, I don’t listen them so much

Led Zeppelin in the 1970s!

I am glad that so far people have good enough sense not to vote for this decade. But I don’t get why folks are voting for the 2000s.

I’m mostly there for the punk and emo rock, and TFK and Skillet, but I think people may also be there for Linkin Park

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My nostalgia goggles are too strong for me to rationally vote.


Incredibly hard toss up between 70s and 80s. Most of my absolute, 5/5 albums are in the 70s but I think the stuff I like is more diversified through the 80s. And most of my favorite bands had really good albums then


Interesting–I voted 70s for the same reason, but I also voted for the 60s for the reason you voted for the 80s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 80s, but that’s when genres started to stratify and synths started to dominate everything, which led to less diversity overall imo.

Didn’t vote for the 00s, but if I had, it would’ve been because of alt rock


Well I didn’t know it was a multi-vote at the time.

Okay, first thing about synths - you have definitely heard plenty of 70s music that is synth dominant. :laughing:

As for synthpop/new wave being the trending popular music in the 80s, that’s what makes the 80s interesting for me, to start off with. There’s plenty of happy sounding synth music, but people also knew how to be versatile with synthesizers and make very dark, brooding music.
Examples: Movement by New Order (1981), Dead Can Dance by Dead Can Dance (1984), Black Celebration by Depeche Mode (1986), Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails (1989)

So anyways, there’s a wide array in synthpop and I’m just scratching the surface. Not my point.

There were plenty of people who didn’t quite go along with it, eg The Smiths and REM that are very acoustic guitar driven and have such a good jangly sound. Also 80s. Grunge rock and other, more crazy forms of alt rock also started in the late 80s (Dinosaur Jr., Pixies).

I’ll just lightly touch on the other genres I like with some examples that started in the 80s or were beginning to form. Thrash metal (Metallica), rap (Beastie Boys), post-rock (Talk Talk).

There’s a huge array of music I like that can be found in the 80s that make me feel like this is the decade I could settle with if I lost access to everything else - bits and fragments of stuff from the 70s (prog rock) and things that would be heard in the future : D.


I’m honestly torn between the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. The 80s had an awesome vibe and tons of classic songs, and Green Day, the 90s had grunge like Green Day, and the 2000s had lots of awesome alt rock, like Daughtry, Coldplay, Three Doors Down, Lincoln Park, and Green Day. Hey, wait a second…

Despite rock sadly not being as popular now, I thought the early 2010s had some really good stuff. Like, from 2012 to 2014 there was a lot of Indie, and I loved it. I’m also very fond of Imagine Dragons, which may be controversial.
But then, the 70s had Led Zeppelin and ACDC… You know what? I just love rock period. Each year was great in it’s own way.

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Oh, for sure. The trend started in the mid-to-late 70s. But it wasn’t overwhelmingly dominant like it was in the 80s.

Anyway, there definitely were a lot of genres created/popularized in the 80s, but my problem is that they became stratified. Alt rock didn’t influence rap, metal didn’t influence synthpop, etc. The thing I love about the 60s is that rock cross-pollinated with many other forms of music, rather than stratifying into ever-more-specific subgenres. You get jazz rock from Chicago Transit Authority and Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and at the same time, you get Frank Sinatra putting out soul-influenced music to try to appeal to a similar crowd. The Rolling Stones would occasionally branching out from their usual fare to make a medieval song like Lady Jane, or a samba like Sympathy for the Devil. The Mamas and the Papas covered everyone from the Beatles to Rodgers and Hart to the Temptations, putting their own original spin on famous songs. Creedence Clearwater Revival combined country and folk with hard rock. The Byrds combined folk with psychedelic rock. And of course the Beatles combined basically everything. Even though there were a lot of distinct genres popular, they weren’t isolated from each other or from the music of the past. It even goes down to the level of instrumentation: you could get a flute solo in a hard rock song like Wild Thing, or a hurdy-gurdy in a hard-rock-tinged song by folk-rocker Donovan. There were fewer creative boundaries for popular music in the 60s.

Now, I’m not saying genre stratification is all bad; if it’s limited cross-pollination, it’s expanded the limits of what rock can be. (And of course, in the 80s, there was some of that cross-pollination I illustrated, but it wasn’t as common.) But, and this is kind of the crucial point for me, most of the real creativity in the 80s went on “underground.” In the 60s (and most of the 70s), the most creative groups were often the most popular ones. Who was the most popular musician of the 80s? Probably Michael Jackson. I’m not here to say his music is bad, but is it, and the similar stuff that was also very popular in the 80s, anywhere near as creative as what was dominant in the 60s? Not remotely.

In conclusion, I guess my point isn’t necessarily that the 60s were “more creative” than any other period when you look at the full spectrum of music being produced, but when you focus on what was really successful, they were a high point. I’m not going to tell you your taste is bad or something–I like a lot of the stuff you mentioned, and I’d say the 80s are probably my 3rd favorite decade for rock overall. But, personally, my personal preference is for the wonderfully ill-defined mess of the 60s, rather than the well-defined genres and subgenres of the 80s.

Hopefully that came across as a coherent response and not the ravings of a madman. XD

Edit: another big factor for me is that 60s hits have a lot more emphasis on genuine emotion, whereas 80s hits are more focused on being catchy and “danceable.” But I think this comes down to a fundamental difference in how we look at the music of the past–when judging an era, I focus more on what was popular; you focus more on the totality of musical expression.


Maybe not ‘alt’ specifically (which in the 80s was more what we call indie today anyways) but stuff like No Sleep Till Brooklyn by Beastie Boys, I’m the Man by Anthrax and Run-DMC covering Walk This Way definitely had hard rock/metal and rap crossing over to some level of popularity.

Well, the band Ministry went from being synthpop to one of the first industrial bands…? : p

I know you did admit crossing-over happened, but I’ll even point out your own example and just drop it after that.

I’ll only cite Thriller, because that’s the only one I’ve heard and own, but you have to admit it’s not just “pop”. His general style was an evolution from disco, a 70s product, mixed with plenty of other stuff. Beat It has a solo from Van Halen, Billie Jean has a bass line based off I Can’t Go For That by Hall & Oates. The whole album is a mix of lots of different styles and obviously it has been quite an enduring album.

The 80s don’t come off nearly as groundbreaking with different genres since synth-based music was dominant, but it was very creative the more you look.

Dude people danced to those 60s hits back in the day LOL.

I suppose that’s fair but not all of my examples are obscure picks. :laughing:

EDIT: I’ll refrain from going into detail about how groups like Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon introduced African/world music during the 80s into the mainstream

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Yeah, there definitely are examples; but I was speaking generally. It happened, but not as much, and not as prominently (not that it wasn’t ever prominent). When you look at the 80s as a whole, the genres just don’t intermingle as much as they did in the 60s.

Maybe I’m underselling it a bit, but compare it to the most popular album of the 60s, Sgt. Pepper. Just about every song on that draws from a wildly different musical tradition. Thriller is 80s Disco plus a few touches of other rock-derived genres here and there. And perhaps more importantly, Sgt. Pepper is a much more introspective album. Thriller is more focused on just being fun, without much soul-searching. Which is fine, but I don’t think it’s as meaningful, and I doubt it’ll have the same level of staying power.

Of course! Rock started out as dance music after all, and I’m not at all opposed to dance music. But it’s a matter of emphasis. Soooo many 80s pop hits are focused on danceability, with comparatively little focus on deep emotion or thought. The 60s had plenty of both. (Again, I’m more focused on what was highly popular. When you dig deeper there is plenty of great material. But looking at what was popular, I think the Beatles vs Michael Jackson sums up the 60s vs the 80s pretty aptly.)

For sure. But most of them also didn’t reach the levels of success attained by the most talented 60s groups.

And that was a good innovation. But again, look at those guys vs Michael Jackson. They just weren’t as big a deal. And Paul Simon arguably made his greatest contributions to pop in the 60s. :stuck_out_tongue:

Actually, that brings me to another reason why I love 60s music: there was still a lot of successful jazz and non-rock-based pop music. In the 80s, most popular music was derived from rock in one way or another. Rock had diversified by the 80s, but there wasn’t as much in the way of mostly-unrelated styles competing in the limelight. Though, since this poll is specifically about rock and not popular music in general, maybe that means the 80s actually were better for rock than the 60s? XD

Edit: one other random thing: instrumentals! In the 60s, instrumental rock/pop hits would hit the top 40 a few times a year. There are great 80s instrumentals (lookin’ at you, YYZ), but I don’t think any of them got the attention they deserved.


I don’t think synths are a problem in rock, but I think pop influence is more what’s killing rock rn.

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I wouldn’t exactly say that either; I just think they got too trendy in the 80s. Nirvana pretty much killed that though.

I agree, though I’d argue that what we’re seeing now is the culmination of a long, slow process that began when disco rose from the dead in the 80s. Pop music was a lot more diverse before that. (Granted, the line between rock and pop has been pretty blurry for a long time.)

I define rock as generally loud, fast paced music with heavy use of guitar and drums, whereas I define pop as typically being a lot slower, having overused lyrical content, and being very repetitive. There are two different (non indie-folk) pop songs though, slower acoustic guitar, and fast, upbeat synth.

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Y’all ever listen to the B-52’s? They were very much a new wave band. I’m not exactly sure how popular they were but they utilized a lot of synth sounds but mainly just did strange things to their instruments.


Those are good general definitions, but there’s a ton of stuff that doesn’t neatly fall into either category. This is rock, but it’s slow and fairly quiet. Same for this, and this. The last one doesn’t even feature a guitar. On the other hand, this is loud and guitar-focused, but it’s very repetitive. Meanwhile, this is arguably more pop than rock, but it’s not terribly repetitive–from a compositional standpoint, it’s one of the most complex pop/rock hits ever. I’m too lazy to link more, but generally speaking, artists like Elton John, Billy Joel, Frankie Valli, Phil Collins, Kate Bush, and Sting fall more on the pop side of things, but can’t really be neatly categorized as either pop or rock. Tldr, of course there is a difference between pop and rock, but there’s a TON of stuff that’s in-between.

(The differences become even more complicated when you distinguish between rock-derived pop and jazz-derived pop, which is generally more musically complex than rock, but this comment is long enough as it is. XD )

I’ve been conditioned to hate Love Shack. What I’ve heard of their earlier stuff is fun, though.

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That’s all I was trying to give :stuck_out_tongue:

That was an interesting read though. Thanks!