“Sex, Drugs and Dubstep” Has Us Wondering: Is Rock ‘N’ Roll Dead?

Dubstep goes with sex and drugs just like its predecessor

We’re all familiar with the phrase “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” but what about “Sex, Drugs and Dubstep”?

Yup, the debaucherous-lifestyle motto originally made popular by Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ 1972 song “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” has now been re-purposed for a different genre–dubstep. From t-shirts to internet memes to eponymous tracks, the latest incarnation of this phrase seems to be everywhere we look. But words aren’t the only thing being replaced here. Dubstep very well could be the new rock ‘n’ roll.

Sixty-five years ago, white American teenagers were just beginning losing their minds to the illicit hip shaking and sultry crooning of Elvis Presley, who (according to many) is “the King of Rock and Roll.” So vastly different from the post-swing pop music of the 50s, Presley’s Memphis-bred guitar work–as well as that from others affiliated with the growing rock ‘n’ roll genre–taught rigid bodies how to move and transported listeners into a carefree state. It’s safe to say that dubstep serves a similar purpose for today’s fans, providing an alternate, rule-free reality, though now Presley’s body affecting guitar is instead a wobbling, electronically created bass.

The phrase “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” however, doesn’t only refer to the music genre itself, but also the lifestyle associated with its performers and fans. With its wild beats and energetic choruses, rock ‘n’ roll almost calls for the no-care absence of authority and there is a long list of artists whose entire lives are emblematic of this long-standing cliche. But rock ‘n’ roll in any semblance of its original form is long gone from the mainstream (thanks a lot, Nickelback) and so to an entire generation of new music consumers, rock ‘n’ roll exists as a concept only, one that is easily absorbed by similarly transcendent sounds such as dubstep.

Should we be mourning the death of rock ‘n’ roll–even if it secretly lives on in tiny little pockets of the universe–or look positively on its ideological reincarnation in dubstep? WWARD (What Would Axl Rose do)?