Expanding your music: classic rock edition


For generations, music has served to unite the world through the comfort, inspiration and community it provides. At Naperville North High School, music has the potential to change the attitudes of students and staff in a variety of ways. It’s important to diversify one’s consumption of music and introduce new genres and styles to daily listening habits.

Classic rock is a genre just as simple as it sounds: classic. Classic rock has been around for decades, and its variety presents different sounds, techniques and themes within its songs and albums. As a result, sounds from all across the decades can help connect different generations through music. In this monthly installment, each of us will recommend an album from the genre in hopes of expanding your knowledge of music. 

“Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac (Sarah)

Growing up in a family that would constantly play classic rock, I’ve become familiar with various rock bands and albums throughout my life. The most notable of these is “Rumours” by Fleetwood Mac. This timeless album has sold over 45 million copies globally and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. It’s also gone as a 20 times platinum in the U.S. and won Album of the Year at the 1977 Grammy Awards

The band itself is filled with individual talent and the album contains hints of soft rock with a mix of acoustic and electric instruments. The lyrics are beautifully conceptualized and heavily influenced by the dramatic love affairs of the band members. 

“Rumours” continues to be one of my favorite albums of all time. I put this album on when I’m feeling nervous or stressed, allowing the relaxing rhythms to provide comfort. Some of my favorite songs are “I Don’t Want To Know,” “The Chain” and “Go Your Own Way.” 

If you’re looking for artists with a similar feel, I’d recommend David Bowie, Billy Joel or Tears For Fears. 

“A Night at the Opera” by Queen (Bella) 

When I hear classic rock I am reminded of the music my parents would play when I was growing up. Bands like The Rolling Stones, The Police and Led Zeppelin were some of my first introductions to music. Among these bands was Queen, a common name in my household. The rest of the world seems to agree, with Queen ranking second on Last.fm’s top classic rock bands. It’s quite common to hear the band Queen and think of Freddie Mercury and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but let’s break down the album that is “A Night at the Opera.”

Members Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor are what make the band so unique. With the powerful instrumentals and uncommon yet thought-provoking lyrics, it is clear that their music will be studied for generations. Originally released in 1975, the album won numerous awards such as “Best Album of the Year” and “Best Arrangement of Voices.” In 2018, “A Night at the Opera” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. To say this album is a staple in the classic rock genre is an understatement. 

The psychedelic adventure that is Freddie Mercury’s music is evident on every album, and he’s nothing short of an iconic rock figure. To this day, my friends and I will scream lyrics from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “You’re My Best Friend” and “Love Of My Life.” In “A Night at the Opera,” the common themes vary from science fiction to heartbreak. “I’m In Love With My Car” has been named one of the most passionate love songs of all time, expressing Taylor’s love for “the machine of a dream,” his Alfa Romeo you can hear revving in the song. This alongside, “Seaside Rendezvous” and “You’re My Best Friend,” are among my favorite songs of all time.

When you find yourself tapping your foot along to any Queen album, I also recommend checking out Led Zeppelin, Elton John or The Who. 

“Parallel Lines” by Blondie (Maxie)

With a wave of nostalgia that can touch the hearts of multiple generations, classic rock is a genre that hits close to home with my family and I. The most popular rock bands and artists like Journey, Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bryan Adams are bands I grew up listening to with my parents. From there, the genre opened my eyes to a band called Blondie. Their 1978 album “Parallel Lines” features familiar songs such as “One Way Or Another” and “Heart of Glass” which reached No. 1 in the UK in 1979 and ranked in the Billboard Top 100. So, whether you may have heard Miley Cyrus’ rendition of “Heart of Glass” blow up on TikTok or “One Way Or Another” from iconic movie scenes, I highly recommend giving the other songs on this album such as “Hanging On The Telephone,” “Fade Away And Radiate” and “Pretty Baby” a listen as well.

This specific album from the band shaped a new form of rock. Lead vocalist Debbie Harry’s vocal versatility carries throughout the album. Every song sounds different from the previous one and portrays a unique ambiance. The instrumentals enhance the emotion of the songs to blend perfectly with Harry’s voice. She sets an inspiring image for women in the previously male-dominated rock genre.

While I enjoy the most popular hits from this album, there are some hidden gems as well. The opening song “Hanging On The Telephone ” helps me channel my inner rockstar. With dominating guitar instrumentals, heavy drums, and Harry’s resonant, rich, punk tone, this is the epitome of the classic rock image. On the other hand, the closest thing to a slow ballad song is “Fade Away And Radiate” which has a similar feel to slow rock music. It has a softer melody but still contains strong instrumentals with the guitar and bass. Lastly, one of my favorite Blondie songs is “Pretty Baby.” With the uplifting lyrics and fun tune, it is a fantastic ‘getting ready’ type song. 

This album consists of a great lineup of songs for any occasion- singing with your parents on a long road trip, having a late-night dance party in your room, or something to blast while holding an imaginary electric guitar, Blondie will never fail to disappoint with their music. 

If you are looking for similar artists, I suggest giving a listen to The Psychedelic Furs, The Go-Go’s and Pretenders.

Here is a link to our top 3 songs from each of these albums and one for our favorite classic rock songs.