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Who Took the Danger Out of Rock-n-Roll?


Never fear, therockmom is here! To advise, to educate and of course, to embarrass you, as most moms are want to do. (Do what you’re good at, I say.)

Yes, I know you’re sinking under a mountain of college debt. Yes, I know it’s tough to get a job or even an internship out there. And yes, I realize you girls don’t even know how to date. Maybe you’re too worried about climate change or budget cuts, I don’t know.

Btw, if you don’t believe me about the dating thing, click here. Weird but true.

But I’ve been contemplating your various issues and crises (and watching Girls once a week) and I think I can help. After careful study, including an exhaustive, multi-generational survey and lots of web surfing, I’ve pinpointed the one area, the one crucial variable, where Generation Y women truly struggle. And if you can change this one thing – say it with me, “Yes, I can!” – I think you’ll find your horizons will broaden, the skies will clear and you’ll enjoy life more.

So what, you ask, is Gen Y’s missing X Factor?

You have no Rock Gods.

Let’s be honest here, your music has a serious masculinity problem. I mean, do you really want to see Jay Z or Pitbull shirtless? Can you imagine Mumford & Sons with groupies? Do they even have groupies? And while he may love his torso and his tattoos, raise your hand if you think Adam Levine is truly dangerous. Come on now, one of 2012’s hottest bands – Fun. – is by name and reputation absolutely not dangerous.

If you still don’t believe me, see my helpful chart below.

Suit and tie, my a**

Suit and tie, my a**

I blame it on two influences: the all-singing, all-dancing, sometimes acting Michael Jackson; and Kurt Cobain and his sweater. You see, the current generation of multi-talented pop types (Usher, Bruno, the Justins) all profess a huge appreciation for and a desire to emulate the King of Pop. And while you can clearly see the genius in “PYT”, you can’t say the man was manly. (Well, maybe in countries where English is not a first language.) Hence, the generation that followed him has somehow forgotten that when you grab your crotch you really need to mean it. Now, over in the rock world, Nirvana influenced huge numbers of bands with its groundbreaking sound, sensitive songwriting and rejection of rock norms. But perhaps Cobain’s lasting legacy will be the fuzzy cardigan he wore for MTV’s Unplugged in New York, released in 1994. With one piece of thrift store clothing he tells the world and young girls everywhere, I want to be comfy. I have no sex appeal, so just ignore my piercing blue eyes and stringy blonde hair.

And all the while the peacocks of old – Plant, Daltry, Morrison, Roth, Rose – wring their hands and cry out in a Jack Black call to arms, “Where is your chest hair? Where are your leather pants?”

Where are your Golden Gods?

Okay, I can tell you’re still a little confused. I thought you might be. Not to worry. I polled a cross section of female friends and asked them to tell me what rock star (past or present) they’d most like to go backstage to… um, meet. With their answers, I’ve put together some bullet points – a handy checklist if you will – that you can refer to as needed when you’re trying to find out if a Gen Y guy is worthy of Rock God status. Do I think there are any 20something rockers out there who compare to previous generations? That’s like asking if Harry & Taylor are the Mick & Marianne of your generation. Get serious. Nevertheless, here goes:

1. He should have hips.

Rock can be political, it can have a sensitive side, sure, but when it comes to the stuff of teenage dreams, you need to remember that all rock stars start with the pelvis – censored like Elvis’, immortalized like Jagger’s or photographed like David Lee Roth’s. And, no, Psy’s dance-y hips absolutely do not count in this equation.

2. He shouldn’t be ashamed of his body.

Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi? Both proud of their bottoms. As are Robbie Williams and Prince (maybe too much in their cases). Even a rock star as articulate as Sting is proud to take off his shirt and sport a little skin. The yoga helps. Justin T, we may have seen you shirtless, but we also know you still get carded on a regular basis, so that’s not quite manly enough for us.

3. He should date a supermodel.

This is really a given, as it furthers the whole rock-as-theater image that we need. Jack White is your best bet for Rock God status right now, being a kick-ass musician and having married and subsequently divorced a model (though I’ve never seen him shirtless, nuts!). And I don’t know where this trend came from of sensitive guys in waistcoats settling down with slim, thoughtful actresses (Gwyneth & Chris, Marcus & Carey), but it needs to stop. We want you larger than life!

4. He has to drive, or sing about driving, or sing about cars.

I know we’re all worried about greenhouse gases but how disappointing is it to learn that Millennials would give up their cars before they parted with their computers or cell phones? You cannot write a great song about being ‘Born to Telecommute’ or ‘I Love My Samsung Galaxy’ or ‘Life in the Wi-Fi Lane’. Rock-n-roll and cars, people, that’s a religion.

5. He needs leather, big hair optional.

Has Lenny Kravitz taught you nothing? Rock is not about fuzzy sweaters, it’s not about comfort. It’s about planting your foot on the edge of that Marshall amp in your motorcycle chaps and letting people worship you! Eighties style! Having said that, however, I’ll give Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl in their flannel a hall pass on this one, because they’re awesome enough as is. And because Ed ditched his first wife to marry a model, so he ticked box #3.

6. He must embrace androgyny.

Play around with your sexual identity, absolutely. But, please, not in some respectable-Rachel-Maddow kind of way. Look at Bowie, still subversive and provocative after all these years. David Lee Roth may have acted like the most hetero guy on the planet but he had long blonde hair and happily agreed to be tied up and photographed by Helmut Newton. So start with black eyeliner and something fishnet-y and work from there.

7. He should rock with the Devil.

This is an oldie but goodie and disappointingly rare these days. A loose connection to Satan – real or imagined – is not required but it helps. Remember: dark, aggressive, occult-ish. For reference, see Nick Cave and paganism, Jimmy Page, The Beatles, even Billy Idol in a pinch.

8. And finally – Act. Don’t Tweet.

When was the last time a young rock star trashed a hotel room? Exactly. Don’t just post something inappropriate, do something inappropriate. (Though not harmful to any member of any gender, natch.)

Wait, rockmom, you’re thinking, we’re 21st century women. We’ve evolved. We work at Google, we volunteer, we’re in charge of our own FB status and we like hanging with our parents. Why would we want to embrace any of these macho, misogynistic stereotypes?

Because you’re young! Because rock should be dangerous! And because rock stars should remember, by extension, that danger is their business.

I rest my case, Millennials. It’s up to you.

Rock on.

Jack White – here to save rock-n-roll. Did you notice that he’s driving?


Roger Daltrey:

Robert Plant: The Sun UK

David Lee Roth:

Justin Timberlake:


Gwyneth Does Glee aka Vote For Me

It’s Friday and it’s a beautiful day outside. I was contemplating a serious blog post this week about overcoming my parental fears as my oldest daughter asks for more freedom and responsibility (like her own gmail account & walking home from the bus stop by herself – cue anxiety attack!).

Instead I’ve made a ‘teen pop’ playlist for the kids – some Glee, a little Usher, Miley and Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Pink, Selena & Cee Lo plus Avril Lavigne rocking the SpongeBob theme – and decided I’m going to write about that rock wife turned rock mom – Gwyneth Paltrow.

You have a lot to answer for, madam.

I blame Glenn Close, and I’ll tell you why. Back in 1996, Close starred as Cruella De Ville in the live action version of 101 Dalmations. Maybe it was the opportunity to bring an animated icon to life. Maybe it was the clothes, the wig, the chance to lighten up. Maybe, most likely, it was the paycheck. Otherwise why would an Oscar-winning actress subject herself to unfunny cartoon violence and being covered in fake manure?

Fast forward a decade or so, and we’ve got Meryl Streep in not one but two chick flicks (Mamma Mia, Devil Wears Prada) and Helen Mirren (She’s the Queen!) brandishing a mounted machine gun and yukking it up with Bruce Willis in RED.

Producer: I got four words for you: Helen Mirren. Automatic Weapons.
Studio Exec: Loving it! What’s the body count?

Now comes Gwyneth Paltrow guest starring on Glee as an all-singing, all-dancing substitute teacher. I watched her version of Cee Lo’s pop gem, “Forget You” (clean version of course) on YouTube and I thought, this isn’t Shakespeare in Love, this is… this is Moonlight and Valentino with singing! Oh, the humanity!

Marlo Thomas, having been clobbered over the head with hooker heels, will now showcase the complete works of Beyonce.

When one student accuses her of being 40, Gwyneth sasses back, ‘Top 40 sweet cheeks.’ Sweet cheeks? Cringeworthy! Is she channeling Reno 911’s Deputy Trudy Wiegel?

Don’t be hating on me, bee-a-tch!

Did I mention that Gwyneth not only gets to sing and dance but that she’s also the Spanish substitute teacher, just so we can marvel at her bilingual abilities! It’s a real Viva Las Vegas kind of gig. You know the plot – Elvis is a race car driver but he sings and dances!

I'm putting this in here because I can!

But you see, I have this theory that Paltrow is the Barack Obama of female movie stars. She’s very intelligent, accomplished, works hard, has a cool spouse and two lovely children but is just not the warmest person in the room. I mean, honestly, if you were gonna hit Ladies’ Night with Gwyneth or Katherine Heigl who would you choose? The gal who traded shots with Seth Rogen or the Oscar-winning thespian who mastered a Home Counties accent for Emma?

And I haven’t even mentioned her blog! (It’s by the way.) When I say ‘almond butter on sprouted grain bread and beet and walnut dip’ as fun alternatives in the school lunchbox’, I AM NOT KIDDING!

Come to think of it, she is Rachel in Glee isn’t she? Even when she tries to lighten up, she’s earnest, diligent… faultless.

But back to “Forget You”. It’s such a fantastic song, it’s hard to mess it up. Gwyneth’s voice is fine, nothing breathtaking but competent. You do cringe when she gets to the mangled cries of ‘Why?’ in the bridge and I wished they’d finessed that a bit. But overall she’s capable, in a Student Council/Debate Captain/yes-we-mock-you-but-we-also-envy-your-Cooking&Travel-show kind of way.

I was absolutely, unequivocably, most definitely not born a Coal Miner's Daughter.

In her next film, Country Strong, she plays this year’s version of Bad Blake (aka Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart) – a country diva fresh out of rehab who hits the road with a younger stud as her opening act. Gwynnie, we will certainly be looking out for you come Oscar time because nothing says ‘Thank you, Academy’ like a strung-out, Southern-accented heroine with cleavage. No doubt your research consisted of watching the entire Jessica Lange collection. I think they should combine the two movies – Country Heart Strong – and send Gwyneth and Jeff on a backwoods road trip in search of a down home creamery butter that’s good for you.

No, make that a creamy almond butter…

Loving it!