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Arena rock

Arena rock is a loosely defined style of rock music, often also called stadium rock or opera rock. Arena rock is usually medium hard rock, but lacks the edginess or rage often inherent in heavy metal. Simple rhythms, acoustic/electric guitar interplay, and keyboards define the instrumental sound, and vocally the music is far closer to mainstream pop than most hard rock or metal.

In the 1960's the tremendous popularity of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones led to the use of larger venues to accommodate audiences. By the 1970s the ability to perform for huge crowds in sports arenas and stadiums became a prerequisite for rock stardom.

While many groups toured in massive venues, the term "arena rock" is usually used to refer to 1970s hard rock groups that occupied a middle ground between the heavy metal sound and the softer adult oriented sounds of country rock and the singer-songwriters of the decade. Critics named the rock group Queen with their frontman Freddie Mercury the best ever concert-giving-band. The most well known arena in the 1980s for concerts was Wembley Stadium. Bands such as Boston, Journey, Kansas, Styx, Foreigner, and performers such as Peter Frampton and Eddie Money directed their appeal to a young white American audience who favored bombastic, anthemic rock. Critics never favored these groups, "arena rock" has long had a pejorative connotation, but their records sold in the millions.

The rise of MTV and new wave music adversely affected many of these groups, but some continued to be successful in the 1980s. Hair metal bands such as Twisted Sister and Warrant, in retrospect, are essentially a continuation of this style and sound. Indeed, even some heavy metal acts were able to break into the fold, most notably Metallica whose drummer Lars Ulrich was recorded as saying that they desired to "...fuck with the concept of arena rock," during their extensive stadium tour in 1992. This was a departure from the band's initial desires that shunned similar popular practices, but showed that as the popularity of a group increases, so too must the venue at which it performs. However, "arena rock" retains much of its pejorative meaning, as some popular "alternative" groups of the 1990s such as Stone Temple Pilots were tagged with this label by dismissive critics. In the early 2000s, Creed was similarly labeled.


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