Glam rock, also known as glitter rock, is a music genre that emerged in the early 1970s. It is characterized by its flamboyant and theatrical style, combining elements of rock and pop with a heavy emphasis on image and fashion. From 1971 to 1975, the UK charts were filled with glam rock acts. The movement is often considered to have begun with Marc Bolan's appearance on the BBC's Top of the Pops in 1971, where he sported glitter and satins. This event is seen as the catalyst for glam rock. Other notable British glam rock artists during this period included David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Slade, Mud, Roxy Music, and Gary Glitter.
Musically, glam rock draws inspiration from various genres including rock, pop, and glam art. The genre features catchy melodies, anthemic choruses, and energetic guitar riffs. The rhythm section is often driving and upbeat, creating a contagious energy that encourages audience participation.
Glam rock artists experimented with diverse musical elements, incorporating piano, synthesizers, and orchestral arrangements into their songs. The use of theatricality and flamboyance extended to stage performances, where artists would incorporate elaborate costumes, makeup, and extravagant stage sets.
Glam rock's sound is characterized by its larger-than-life quality, captivating listeners with its catchy hooks and infectious energy.
Lyrically, glam rock explores themes of individuality, rebellion, and self-expression. Many songs celebrate nonconformity, encouraging listeners to embrace their uniqueness and stand out from the crowd. The lyrics often convey a sense of liberation, promoting freedom of expression and breaking societal norms.
Glam rock also delves into themes of fame, identity, and sexuality. Some songs address the challenges of navigating the entertainment industry and dealing with the pressures of fame.
In the United States, the glam rock scene was less prominent compared to the UK, and only Alice Cooper and Lou Reed managed to achieve hits in the UK. Other American glam artists included the New York Dolls, Sparks, Suzi Quatro, Iggy Pop, and Jobriath. The popularity of glam rock declined after the mid-1970s, but its influence persisted in other musical genres such as punk rock, glam metal, death rock, and gothic rock. Additionally, the New Romantic movement, starting as an underground fashion subculture in nightclubs in the late 1970s before becoming mainstream in the early 1980s, was also inspired by the visual style of the glam rock era.