Cock Rock
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Cock Rock
Male cock-rocker displaying his bare chest
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, considered one of the key acts in the development of cock rock, onstage in New York in 1973
Female cock-rocker using a bass guitar as a phallic symbol
Suzi Quatro, the first female bass player to become a major rock star, onstage at Bad Kissingen (Germany) in 2011

Cock rock is a genre of rock music that emphasises a form of male sexuality. The style, developed in the later 1960s, came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, and it continues into the 21st century.


Cock rock is a musical genre.[1][2][3] Philip Auslander uses Simon Frith's description of cock rock characteristics:

"cock-rock performance means an explicit, crude, 'masterful' expression of sexuality ... Cock-rock performers are aggressive, boastful, constantly drawing audience attention to their prowess and control. Their bodies are on display ... mikes and guitars are phallic symbols (or else caressed like female bodies), the music is loud, rhythmically insistent, built around techniques of arousal and release. Lyrics are assertive and arrogant, but the exact words are less significant than the vocal styles involved, the shrill shouting and screaming."[4]

Use of the term

The meaning of the term cock rock has changed over time. It was first mentioned by an anonymous author in the New York-based underground feminist publication Rat in 1970,[5] to describe the male dominated music industry and became a synonym for hard rock, emphasising the aggressive expression of male sexuality, often misogynist lyrics and use of phallic imagery.[6] The term was used by sociologists Simon Frith and Angela McRobbie in 1978 to point to the contrast between male dominated sub-culture of cock rock which was "aggressive, dominating and boastful" and the more feminised teenybop stars of pop music.[7]Led Zeppelin have been described as "the quintessential purveyors of 'cock rock'".[8] Other formative acts include the Rolling Stones, The Who and Jim Morrison of The Doors.[9]

In 1981, Frith described the characteristics of cock rock in a way that could apply to female performers, not just male ones.[4] In 2004, Auslander used this description of cock-rock characteristics to show that Suzi Quatro (the first female bass player to become a major rock star) is a female cock-rocker.[10]

Since the 1980s, the term has been sometimes interchangeable with hair metal or glam metal.[11] Examples of this genre include: Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Warrant, Extreme, Cinderella, Pretty Boy Floyd, Jackyl, L.A. Guns, and Poison.[12] Despite the name, many of these bands had or have large numbers of female fans.[13] The spoof documentary This Is Spinal Tap is an acclaimed parody of the genre.[14] In the 21st century, there was a revival of the genre with the sleaze metal movement in Sweden, with acts including Vains of Jenna.[15]


See also


  1. ^ Burton, Jack (Spring 2007). "Dude Looks Like A Lady: Straight Camp and the Homo-social World of Hard Rock". Forum, University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & the Arts. University of Edinburgh. 04: 10. Retrieved 2014.
  2. ^ DeLane Doktor, Stephanie (May 2008). "Covering the tracks: exploring cross-gender covers of the Rolling Stones' 'Satisfaction'" (PDF). University of Georgia: 24. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ Ramirez, Michael (December 2007). "Music, gender, and coming of age in the lives of indie rock performers" (PDF). University of Georgia: 1. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ a b Frith, Simon (November 1981). Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure, and the Politics of Rock 'n' Roll. New York: Pantheon Books. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-3945-0461-2.
    Cited in Auslander, Philip (28 January 2004). "I Wanna Be Your Man: Suzi Quatro's musical androgyny" (PDF). Popular Music. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. 23 (1): 2. doi:10.1017/S0261143004000030. Retrieved 2014.
  5. ^ T. Cateforis, The Rock History Reader (CRC Press, 2007), ISBN 0-415-97501-8, p. 125.
  6. ^ R. Shuker, Popular Music: the Key Concepts (Abingdon: Routledge, 2005, 2nd edn., 2005), ISBN 0-415-28425-2, pp. 130-1.
  7. ^ M. Leonard, Gender in the Music Industry: Rock, Discourse and Girl Power (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2007), ISBN 0-7546-3862-6, pp. 24-6.
  8. ^ a b c S. Waksman, Instruments of Desire: the Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), ISBN 0-674-00547-3, pp. 238-9.
  9. ^ P. Auslander, Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music (University of Michigan Press, 2006), ISBN 0-472-06868-7, p. 201.
  10. ^ a b Auslander, Philip (28 January 2004). "I Wanna Be Your Man: Suzi Quatro's musical androgyny" (PDF). Popular Music. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. 23 (1). doi:10.1017/S0261143004000030. Retrieved 2014.
  11. ^ C. Klosterman, Fargo Rock City: a Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural Nörth Daköta (Simon and Schuster, 2001), ISBN 0-7434-0656-7, pp. 100-1.
  12. ^ "Hair metal", Allmusic retrieved 30 December 2010.
  13. ^ R. Moore, Sells Like Teen Spirit: Music, Youth Culture, and Social Crisis (New York, NY: New York University Press, 2009), ISBN 0-8147-5748-0, pp. 109-110.
  14. ^ J. Gottlieb and G. Wald, "Smells like teen spirit: riot girls, revolution and independent women in rock", in A. Ross and T. Rose, eds, Microphone Fiends: Youth Music & Youth Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), ISBN 0-415-90908-2, p. 259.
  15. ^ M. Brown, "Vains of Jenna", Allmusic, retrieved 19 June 2010.

External links

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