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Classic vs. Current

If you have cable, you probably get Vh1 Classic and that means you likely recognize the phrase "Classic Current."

I started really thinking about "classic" versus "current" yesterday after buying my George Michael tickets. Yes, I write about "modern" bands here from time to time: Crashdiet, Vains of Jenna, Bullet for My Valentine...We all know these are relatively new rock acts - but what happens when a band makes a comeback - or releases new material?

I told all the people I work with about George Michael. Most of them didn't recognize the name - and trust me, I am one of the youngest employees of the Fortune 500 company. So I was surprised at their confusion, but not bothered. Many  coworkers took the time to look up old George to put a face with the name. Then it started to click. Anyway, one of these coworkers kept referring to George as "current." Yes, she knew he had a lot of fame in the 1980s.

So, what makes a band or artist "current?"

I realize I deal in nostalgia here. I talk about the bands I love - you love them too. Here's a question: if (when) Motley Crue releases a new album this summer, does that make them a current band?

Can you be current without being popular among the Hot Topic set?

The members of Motley Crue are pretty famous. Much more famous than a whole lot of other musicians. Band members still get mentioned in Rolling Stone, People, The New York Times. Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee go to movie premieres. They stay in the spotlight.

Bret Michaels and the rest of Poison are pretty famous too. Bret is enjoying a resurgence of popularity thanks in part to Rock of Love on Vh1 Classic. When Rikki Rockett was arrested on a strong arm rape charge just days ago, the news circled the Internet, newswires and made national magazines. 

If bands stay in the limelight, continue to record new music and tour, are they current?

The Rolling Stones have a big movie coming out based on their live shows. When you think rock royalty, the Rolling Stones are clearly up there with the cream of the crop. Not many bands - save Led Zeppelin - are more famous. The Rolling Stones have been making music for more than four decades - but are they current?

Vh1 Classic uses the term "Classic Current" most commonly during Metal Mania video blocks. At this point I know that if a Motley Crue video pops on the screen it will be followed by SIXX: AM's clip for  "Life is Beautiful."  This is good marketing for both bands - but what sort of message does this send to fans?

Personally, I think if a band is making an effort, they are current. Current and new are two totally different things. Thoughts? 


Reader Comments (10)

I think that what they general public equates with "current" is "popular". To me, they are two separate things but to most people, and the labels, they are one in the same.

I believe that if a band continues to make new music then they can be called current. If they just tour and release greatest hits records, they are a nostalgia act. Bon Jovi is current, Ted Nugent is current, Bruce Springsteen is current.....all have new records but they might not be as popular. My favorite band, KISS, is nostalgia.I'd also say Poison is nostalgia.

I like the Classic/Current segments but VH-1 Classic needs to find another video to use besides Sixx AM and the new Bruce.

Heavy Metal Addiction
Who doesn't know who George Michael is? That one shocks me. Unless you're in your 60's or 70's you would think you would know who George Michael is even if all you do is listen to top 40 once in a while. The guy was so huge for quite a while between his Wham! stuff and the whole "Faith" song and album.

My wife had a similar experience the other day. One of her co-workers (who's almost 30 years old) had no idea who Pat Benatar is! Even though she'd be likely considered a nostalgia act now as she doesn't usually release new material, when I was young she had so many hits. I guess it all depends on what type of radio you listened to in the past.
April 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
I seem to forget that everyone doesn't share my passion for music and it shocks and amazes me at times when people are like "who" when you mention someone you saw in concert etc. Instead of being irritated - I usually just try to educate them - all the while saying to myself "what a dumb ass :)"

The more you expose yourself to good music - the better you are!

April 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHollpass
Motley is great but current? Nope.
It sucks to grow old but if you can remain true, musically, to who you are... You'll never die.
April 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterValentine
I'm not sure when Motley's new material comes out if I'd consider THEM current; but I might consider the song current.

Motley's a classic act, and songs like Looks that Kill and Dr. Feelgood are classic songs, but they're new songs will be current songs.

If that makes any sense?
April 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMakel
not really
April 2, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdon
My take on this subject is when one speaks of current music, take modern-glam, no one says "oh and did you hear the new Dokken sound clips?" They refer to Vains of Jenna, Crashdiet, and Hardcore Superstar. So even though a classic act is releasing current material; they are known for their classic sound. Case in point again, Dokken. They are going back to their 80's sound on their new disc.
So my opinion is once a band is classic, they stay there even though I love it when they put out new Dirty Looks or White Lion.
I'm also with Hollpass, educate the people's minds. Though inside you are screaming.
Great thinking topic!!!
April 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCrazynights
>>So my opinion is once a band is classic, they stay there even though I love it when they put out new material.

I agree. It's like Sinatra was already a classic in 1953 when he started his second and even greater singing career (in my opinion) with Capitol records with the talents of Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins and Billy May.

Frank Sinatra would undoubtably not be called current in 1966 when "Strangers in the Night" hit No. 1 or even a year later with "Somethin' Stupid, a duet with daughter Nancy (which gets stuck in my head from time to time) hit the number one spot and stayed there for four weeks.

Motley Crue, George Michael, Poison, could be called classic, but then that would mean that I am getting old. And I don't like it one bit.
April 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTommy
Tall Tom,

You made me smile! I miss our afternoon chats.

April 3, 2008 | Registered CommenterAllyson B. Crawford
I miss those chats, too. Perhaps sometime in the near future. And by near, I mean before I die a few decades from now, I'll have weekends off.
April 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTommy

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