I think it is time everybody learned about my favorite genre of music since I believe it is massively underrated for no good reason. Progressive rock, or prog, as it is often shortened, is a subgenre of the more comprehensive rock music. It developed in the UK and the U.S.A. in the late sixties, a perfect time for music exploration.
It relies more on instrumentation, composition style, diversity and on fusion, rather than on being catchy as it is with pop music and Top 100 artists. Moreover, it is influenced by genres such as blues, jazz, folk and even classical music, which should tell you a lot about its vibe and underlying melancholy.
Under the label of prog, artists were allowed to explore new musical realms and to make lyrics more poetic, to put art back into music and enhance the listening experience in a world where bops made for the dancefloor dominated the charts. As it is the case now, unfortunately. It seems some things never change enough for a shift in the status quo.
For more than half of a century, progressive rock has been the breeding ground for rock’s most outlandish ideas and artists, and the birthplace of some of the most loved albums of our time. And it’s still going strong despite the fact that it has become an underground style of music which is often thought of as a stereotype in the mind of the general public, which is mainly focused on pop culture.
The genre’s genesis coincided with the 1960s economic boom, which allowed record labels to offer more creative control and decision-taking freedom to the signed artists. This meant the music artists created wasn’t affected by statistics, beta listeners, and other redundant stuff that only watered down their vision.
Prog reached a high level of popularity during the 1970s, when it sold incredibly well, but faded soon into a certain level of obscurity. The culprit? Well, some loud voices are saying the rise of punk rock is to blame since the seventies were a bit more rebellious. And the critics too had their share of the blame, as they would often criticize the style of being pretentious and hard to digest.
Soon after the 1970s, progressive rock inevitably fragmented and went on to give birth to many forms of music. Although the hype was over, some bands still achieved commercial success even after the heights of the genre passed.
This form of artistic expression is also related to progressive politics, as it is always the case with music. Even though music has lost some of that political influence because artists would rather sell sex than art, progressive rock remains one of those genres which isn’t afraid to call out the people responsible for the major social issues such as poverty and abuse.