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The Glam Rock Aesthetic Is Officially Back

Rock legends like David Bowie and Prince may be gone (RIP), but they’re certainly not forgotten.

Look no further than the music scene of today. Artists are drawing major inspiration from the flamboyant glam rock style and sound that elevated Bowie, Freddy Mercury of Queen, and others to fame in the 1970s.

Although we’re obligated to give credit to the pop punk stars who brought back guyliner the first time around circa 2007 – thanks Pete Wentz, Brendon Urie, and Gerard Way – we are currently in a new age of male artists not giving a damn about gender roles or what the world thinks of them. And oh, what a glorious liberation it is!

Let’s rewind to February 2016, when British synth-pop band The 1975 first debuted their monochromatic pink aesthetic and released their second album. Since then, the band’s entire presentation – their slick suits and leather pants, their stage design, and their songs – has been a glossy, glittery rock dream.

Matty Healy famously wore soft blue eyeshadow in the group’s music video for “Love Me” and basically single-handedly made black nail polish cool again. The 1975’s third album, Music for Cars, is coming later this year, so it should be interesting to see if their bold style continues or if it goes in a different direction!

Another face of the new glam rock movement is everyone’s favorite former boy band member, Harry Styles himself. When he released his debut single, “Sign of the Times,” new listeners compared the soaring track to Bowie’s limitless sound. Overall, Styles’ debut solo album is mostly influenced by Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles, but he has wholeheartedly embraced his Mick Jagger superstar side on stage every night.

Harry’s obsession with seventies-esque suits has turned into a brand campaign with Gucci. The former 1D member also played around with nail polish during his boyband days, but now wears it regularly, along with a gorgeous assortment of rings. He even donned a kilt for an April 14 show in Glasgow, which drove Scottish fans (and let’s be real, every fan worldwide) absolutely crazy.

His flirtation with androgynous fashion, suave carefree attitude, and charming good looks say it all – Harry Styles is a glam rock god in the making, and it is hot.

Finally, there are four more newcomers to this revival of glitz and glamour: the men of Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer. The band is currently promoting their upcoming album Youngblood (due June 22) and recently released two singles, “Want You Back” and “Youngblood,” that are best described as a mix of inspiration from the dark underside of 1970s and 80s power ballads and the clean synth sounds made popular by The 1975. More than that, though, the band members are also experimenting with makeup. Lately, their pre-performance grooming routine has expanded to include colorful nail polish, eyeshadow, and glitter on their faces, and fans are loving it.

Drummer Ashton Irwin recently wrote on Instagram, “We wear glitter a lot, it empowers the [characters] we portray onstage, it represents a softness, and is a powerful addition to confidence.
It feels like an extension of expression.”

Even though this is 2018 and we live in a fairly progressive society, it’s still a breath of fresh air to see male pop artists who are redefining masculinity and beauty norms through their style and stage presence, a la Prince, Bowie, and many more big stars from the seventies and eighties.

Will this trend continue across genres of music and maybe throughout other industries as time goes on? We hope so, but either way, glam rock is having a moment right now, and we’re here for it!


Morgan is a senior journalism major at Temple University with a minor in political science. She previously served as Social Media Director for Templar Yearbook and Public Relations VP of Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and she is also involved with several other campus organizations. Morgan has loved to read & write since she was young and she hopes to have a career in magazines or the larger media industry. Her many interests include concerts, politics, making Spotify playlists, meditation, pop culture, and spending far too much time on Pinterest. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @magicalmorganx.
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