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GENRES DATABASE

Glam Rock

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Glam rock is a style of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s and was performed by musicians who wore outrageous costumes, makeup, and hairstyles, particularly platform shoes and glitter. Glam artists drew on diverse sources across music and throwaway pop culture, ranging from bubblegum pop and 1950s rock and roll to cabaret, science fiction, and complex art rock. The flamboyant clothing and visual styles of performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been described as playing with other gender roles. Glitter rock was a more extreme version of glam rock.

The UK charts were inundated with glam rock acts from 1971 to 1975. The March 1971 appearance of T. Rex front-man Marc Bolan on the BBC's music show Top of the Pops, wearing glitter and satins, is often cited as the beginning of the movement. Other British glam rock artists included David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Slade, Mud, Roxy Music and Gary Glitter. Those not central to the genre, artists such as Elton John, Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury of Queen, also adopted glam styles. In the United States, the scene was much less prevalent, with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed the only American artists to score a hit in the UK; although the former can be argued was not exclusively in the glam genre. Other American glam artists include New York Dolls, Sparks, Suzi Quatro, Iggy Pop and Jobriath; although many of these artist were cross-genre. It declined after the mid-1970s, but influenced other musical genres including punk rock, glam metal, New Romantic, death rock and gothic rock.

Glam rock can be seen as a fashion as well as musical subgenre. Glam artists rejected the revolutionary rhetoric of the late 1960s rock scene, instead glorifying decadence, superficiality, and the simple structures of earlier pop music. In response to these characteristics, scholars such as I.Taylor and D. Wall characterised glam rock as "offensive, commercial, and cultural emasculation".

Visually, it was a mesh of various styles, ranging from 1930s Hollywood glamour, through 1950s pin-up sex appeal, pre-war cabaret theatrics, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, to ancient and occult mysticism and mythology; manifesting itself in outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots. Glam rock is most noted for its sexual and gender ambiguity and representations of androgyny, beside extensive use of theatrics.

File record #: 45


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