In modern music and all of its genres and subgenres, there are few things as ambitious and challenging as writing and producing a rock opera. While not really a sing-and-play opera, a rock opera is a collection of songs and lyrics that relate to a central story. Much like a more common concept album, the themes and concepts are related but also often use storytelling and characters throughout.
A classic roster of rock operas includes albums like “The Wall” by Pink Floyd, “A Night at the Opera” by Queen and “Tommy” by The Who, but that doesn’t mean rock operas are a thing of the past. Concept albums and rock operas are still part of modern music. The list of modern rock opera albums is extensive, but here are six you shouldn’t overlook.
Green Day – American Idiot (2004)
“American Idiot,” the seventh studio album by pop-punk band Green Day, received widespread acclaim despite, or perhaps because of, its extremely political message and protest-worthy lyrics. “American Idiot” follows the story of Jesus of Suburbia, a lower-middle-class suburban American antihero raised on a “soda pop and Ritalin” diet. Jesus of Suburbia leaves his city and heads to the city where he is introduced to St. Jimmy and Whatshername and the realities of rage, erasure, addiction and love. The tracks on this album address the disillusionment and dissent of a generation growing up in an era shaped by events like September 11 and the war in Iraq.
The group, breaking with their traditional pop-punk structures, used unconventional techniques when making this album, including transitions between connected songs and big productions. In 2005, “American Idiot” won a Grammy for Best Rock Album and was nominated in six other categories, including Album of the Year. The stage musical adaptation “American Idiot,” a collaboration between Green Day and director Michael Mayer, premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in September 2009. The production moved to Broadway at the St. James Theater and opened. in April 2010.
Recommended song: “Jesus of Suburbia”
Mariana Trench – Forever (2011)
This ambitious album by Canadian pop-rockers Marianas Trench tells the story of a fictional protagonist and his adventures in the fantastic kingdom of Toyland. Waking up in a strange land in front of a toy factory, an outcast king recounts his fate: being overthrown by his wife Queen Caroline after seducing him into a sense of security and stealing the heart of his daughter Princess Porcelain. Carolina encloses Porcelain’s heart in a box in a tower that contains various things she also stole, including the protagonist’s way home. After hearing this story, he goes in search of Porcelain and returns home. Track by track, this album plays out like a storybook as we follow an adventure through Toyland and meet Porcelain, Carolina, the wise stuttering and the heartless tin soldiers along the way. This hero’s journey takes us through triumph, defeat and a happy forever.
Marianas Trench’s commitment to history is complemented by interludes that tie each song of “Ever After” into one seamless performance. It is filled with authentic orchestration, complex production and technical sonic melodies and bridges. The tracks include a gospel choir and the amazing vocal range and harmonies for which Marianas Trench is known. The epic closing track consists of several musical movements and is reminiscent of not only the earlier tracks and lyrics of “Ever After”, but also the earlier songs in the band’s catalog. The music videos for “Ever After” were each part of the story, telling the story more in intermittent pieces and creating an aesthetic and visual concept that was used in full production performances on tour. The album peaked at number eight on Billboard’s Canadian Albums chart and number five on Billboard US’s Heatseekers album chart.
Recommended song: “Nothing better than being at home”
Cursive – The Ugly Organ (2003)
“The Ugly Organ” is a three-part melodrama that follows the main character, a less than subtle self-insertion of singer-songwriter Tim Kasher called The Ugly Organist, through the trials and tribulations of love and life.
The album’s cover notes prelude the album, with a scene mark: “Enter Organist. Move the center of the stage in grotesque costume. He gestures towards an imaginary audience. Additional stage directions preface each of the song’s liner lyrics to help tell this tale of a disillusioned and pretentious musician who discovers how to get naked for screaming fans, exposing his fear of martyrdom to his art while acknowledging that his wounds are all self-inflicted. The story follows this journey with self-awareness and reflection, making you hate the organist, but also fall in love with how he views his own hand in his destruction. The drama ends with a ten minute chord sequence that ranges from guitar and cello to white noise and drums percussion. The album and the track are erased with a singing refrain which repeats “the worst is over”.
Melodically, Cursive embraces the post-punk midwestern emo structures that were particularly common among their fellow labelmates Saddle Creek, awash in a self-oblique lyrical narrative and fierce noise with bursts of melody and interludes. orchestral. The album was critically acclaimed by Metacritic, and Vulture ranked “The Recluse” as one of the best emo songs.
Recommended song: “The Recluse”
Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (2005)
Like all Coheed and Cambria albums, “Good Apollo” is rich in history and masterful lyrics. The album is the third installment in a projected tetralogy titled “The Amory Wars”, a name that refers to both the comic book and sci-fi series created by Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez, and to the conflict at the center of the story. “Good Apollo,” told from the perspective of the author known as The Writer, begins to solve the problems of a sci-fi quest to protect the Keywork and shed light on the disappearance of Coheed and his Cambria woman.
“Good Apollo” follows the established progressive rock and metal for which Coheed and Cambria are known, with heavy beats and infectious hooks all over this record. It features recurring melodies, self-referencing musical and lyrical cues in certain songs that refer to key moments from several albums related to the overall story. “Good Apollo” includes a cover of “Blood Red Summer” from “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” in the track “The Telling Truth” and the line “Jesse, bad boy, come watch what your brother did, ”A reference to“ Everything Evil ”from“ The Second-Stage Turbine Blade ”.
Recommended song: “The Suffering”
Against me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014)
This album is a grainy memoir filled with emotion and personal reflection, detailing lead singer Laura Jane Grace’s long-standing battle against self-hatred, addiction and gender dysphoria. Grace, who came out publicly as a transgender woman in 2012, recounts her experience through heartbreaking lyrics taken from the title song’s narrative gaze to isolate feelings of dysphoria. The memorial anarcho-punk rhythms and melodies transport the listener through protests of non-belonging, overcompensation to avoid suspicion and an imaginary alternate reality where the overwhelming sense of dysphoria is silenced by death. The closing track offers a silver lining of hope and new beginnings rising from the ashes of pain, hate and survival. The start of this track was Grace’s official announcement of her full transition.
Produced by Grace and released on their own label, Total Treble, the album features quintessential punk structures and melodies. “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is the highest ranking Against Me! album, debuting at number 23 on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Billboard Independent Albums chart.
Grace continued to be a strong advocate for transgender awareness in music, novels and an AOL web series.
Recommended song: “Deux coffins”
My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade (2006)
The story of “The Black Parade” centers around a dying character known as the Patient and follows him as he reflects on memories of his life, his apparent death, and his experiences in the afterlife. The opening of the album, “The End”. begins with a beeping heart monitor and a lyrical invitation for the listener to “find out firsthand” what it’s like to be him, to step down and accept his demise. This track gains in intensity and slides seamlessly into “Dead! », Announcing the death of our main character. As the story continues, we encounter the infamous emo ground note of “Welcome to the Black Parade” as death comes in the form of a parade. This concept was an idea based on singer Gerard Way’s notion of death coming to a person in the form of their fondest memory – in his case, seeing a marching band as a child. The album’s story takes the listener through memories of life, love and loss. He even winks at his Broadway concept ideas with the guest voice of legendary Liza Minnelli. The patient ends his journey with the emotionally and structurally exciting “famous last words”.
The group attributes much of “The Black Parade” and its emotional baggage to the weight of recording at a supposedly haunted mansion in the Los Angeles area. As a result, behind-the-scenes commentary included in the album’s special limited-edition packaging recounts hauntings, gruesome breakdowns, and a curse or two resulting in ligament tearing and third-degree burns. “The Black Parade” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and UK Album charts, was included on Rock Sound’s 101 Modern Classics list at No. 9, and has become a prominent icon in the emo scene.
Recommended song: “Famous Last Words”