The Monitor (Kampala)
7 September 2008
Posted to the web 8 September 2008
Linkin Park, Nickelback, Three Doors Down, Cold Play, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Avril Lavigne. A few years ago, not very many people in Uganda would have been able to recognise what these are. They are rock bands. Rock music has come a long way from being considered the devil's music to where it is now, seated comfortably in the hearts of many.
Unlike some music genres like reggae-tone that abruptly jumped their way into the hearts of Ugandan music fans, rock took time to finally be accepted. The rise of rock music in Uganda is generally accredited to the all-time popular countdown of Rick Dees.
The way I see it, many Ugandans had already fallen in love with rock music long before they knew it. Besides the songs on Rick Dees, whose titles they might sometimes not have known, they loved rock bands like Aerosmith of the hit song I don't wanna miss a thing, the soundtrack to the movie Armageddon.
Other rock stars like Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Natalie Imbruglia of the hit song Torn (a rock song that got massive radio play in Uganda) were already rock names to reckon with at a time when many considered rock to be the white man's "loud" music. It sounds reasonable to assume that the love of rock music simply started by liking a song on the Rick Dees countdown.
Rock in itself has various kinds; most of us in Uganda like to think we are into soft rock which has bands like Lifehouse, The fray, Nickleback, plus rock stars like Avril Lavigne.
Outside this, there is a minority that loves heavy metal with bands like Systems of a Down, Korn, and Limp Bizkit. Heavy metal (at times simply known as metal) is a kind of rock music which is usually loud with violent beats.
A lot of rock fans in Uganda (and world wide too) seem to have a sort of emotional attachment to the music. Some feel they relate to it, others like to say it soothes them. Those that don't like rock seem to think of it as a bandwagon movement of a bunch of Ugandans trying to feel exotic.
Whatever the attraction to rock music in Ugandan might be, it is definitely strong. So strong that some radio stations like Touch Fm have already developed a reputation for playing mainly rock music and the rest are only starting to notice the new shift in tastes; even though some might be doing it surprisingly slowly.
As proof that rock has definitely arrived, most of Kampala hangouts now take rock music seriously - from Al's Bar to Club Rouge. Steak Out Bar, which arguably has one of this city's most popular rock nights, had one of it's DJs, DJ Tamz, add that, "Rock has grown, (and) it's no longer about the music, but it (rock) is about how it makes people feel."
Whether rock music will also turn out like reggae-tone and be enjoyed for a short time and quickly be discarded is a question only time will answer. But as of now, a lot of people seem to be rocking on.
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