Heavy metal justice? Calibrating the economic and aesthetic accreditation of the heavy metal genre in the pages of Rolling Stone, 1980-1991: part one 1980-85

Brown, A.R (2021) 'Heavy metal justice? Calibrating the economic and aesthetic accreditation of the heavy metal genre in the pages of Rolling Stone, 1980-1991: part one 1980-85.' Metal Music Studies, 7 (1). ISSN 2052-3998 (Forthcoming)

Abstract

Given the genre name heavy metal can be traced to a negative adjective that emerges out of 70s rock journalism and which reflects a widespread dissensus among rock critics about its value and impact on North American rock music, how are we to explain the gradual or cumulative shift away from this majority aesthetic disapprobation, in the 1980-85 period, towards a widespread economic accreditation, particularly in the pages of leading rock magazine, Rolling Stone? Is it simply a belated recognition of the longevity of the genre and its resurgent popularity with majority audiences? If so, how are we to explain the subsequent shift, clearly evident in Stone coverage in the 1986-91 period, from economic to aesthetic approbation of selective bands, particularly those identified with a thrash metal underground, which is nevertheless seen to emerge from within the genre or to be an aesthetic development of some of its key musical features, while rejecting others. Drawing on a comprehensive survey, composed of album reviews, lead or feature articles and interviews, drawn from the RS archive, my research reports, in Part One of this article, a definite shift in the critical reception of heavy metal to economic accreditation in the 1980-85 period, based not only on the genre’s persistence and sustained economic success but also its ability to appeal beyond its core metal audience and therefore challenge the dominant rock and pop aesthetic. For some critics this means that a selective set of popular bands, such as AC/DC, the Scorpions and Def Leppard, can be afforded a degree of aesthetic approbation, even the status of ‘artists’. But this praise also leads to the Great Metal Question: can they now seek to move beyond the musical and lyrical conventions of heavy metal in order to appeal to a wider audience beyond their core fanbase?

Item Type: Article
Keywords: economic accreditation, rock criticism, heavy metal, dissensus, aesthetic disapprobation, proto-punk, David Fricke, AC/DC, Def Leppard, producer-collaborators, **** record ratings, the Great Metal Question
Divisions: School of Creative Industries
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 14:09
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2020 13:32
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