Aerosmith is one of the most popular and long-lasting American rock acts still around today. Some contend that it is the all-time best-selling rock band from America. The first true conformation of the band was established in 1971 in Boston, Massachusetts, and they were signed by Columbia records the year after. In 1973 they released their first studio album titled Aerosmith, and this was followed by Get Your Wings the year after.
Nevertheless, it was only in 1975 when they became truly popular with the album Toys in the Attic. The year after, they released Rocks, which was also very popular and consolidated their status as one of the most important rock acts around. All in all, their first five albums have obtained the status of multi-platinum.
The band’s fame brought many negative consequences though, including drug abuse, particularly with heroin, and conflicts between the band members. The first of these was so intense that Tyler could not even see his daughter, Liv, for the first years of her life; Liv’s mother preferred her paternity to be anonymous than to have her around that toxic environment. Furthermore, there was a lot of fighting between the band mates, which even led to Joe Perry and Brad Whitford quitting the band at different moments, and being replaced. This was especially intense at the end of the 1970s, when they were recording Rocks and Draw the Line.
Nevertheless, they both came back in 1984, where the band began a new epoch of their music, establishing a contract with Geffen Records. They began with a comeback tour and the album Done with Mirrors. However, they completely regained their popular status with “Walk This Way”, a song they made with the famous rap group Run-D.M.C. This not only became a sensation, but broadened their audiences to rap listeners.
They have continued to release albums and tour constantly up to this day. Their last album was Music from Another Dimension!, yet they have continued to play and record together. They do not have a record deal anymore, so they are considering whether to release an actual album, or just a string of EPs. They have also established solo musical projects, like Tyler, or released autobiographies, as in the case of Perry.
Their style is particular and somewhat hard to define, although it is definitely rock. Their most famous songs are “Pink”, “Dream On”, “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing”, “Crazy” and “Walk This Way”. They have a definite blues and roots influence, incorporating elements like harmonicas in many of their songs. Furthermore, they could also fit into glam metal due to their image, which sometimes crosses into the feminine.
Nevertheless, they have diversified themselves and become somewhat of a brand. Their music videos became very popular and they appeared in other media, such as video games, film and television. They have even had a theme park ride in Walt Disney World since 1999: the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
They have also exerted a very important influence on other bands, especially hard rock and heavy metal ones. This is especially notable in Guns ‘n’ Roses, whose guitarist, the infamous Slash, has stated that Aerosmith is his number one band. Mötley Crüe and many grunge bands also expressed admiration for this band.
Even though Aerosmith has had many successful and outstanding songs, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is one of their most famous. It has been the only track by them to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Part of this fame is due to the fact that it was included in the soundtrack of the blockbuster Armageddon, released in 1998. This film included Liv Tyler, Steven’s daughter, in the cast.
The song is personally significant for me due to this movie, as it was my former partner’s favorite movie. This was, in fact, how I came to know Aerosmith at all. Thus, I really do not listen to this song too frequently, as I directly associate it to this past amorous experience. Nevertheless, I recognize it as an exceptional song, and I will always hold it dear because it was how I came to know Aerosmith.
In order to establish the musical outline, the lyrics version from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss0kFNUP4P4 was used.
0:00-0:30 This first part of the song is an instrumental prelude, where the orchestra, especially the strings and the percussion, set the atmosphere in preparation for the rest of the song.
0:31-1:10 “I could stay awake just to hear you breathing.” Here, a piano joins in in the background and Steven Tyler begins to sing, uncharacteristically subdued. The strings only occasionally appear, and, only at the end, the drum set kicks in, heralding the new section of the song.
1:11-1:41 “I don’t want to close my eyes.” Now, the complete orchestra kicks in, along with the drum set and Steven Tyler, who is now screaming a bit more. The electric guitar and bass can also be heard in the background of the song, making it complete as a power ballad.
1:42-2:14 “Lying close to you, feeling your heart beating.” Here, one can hear Tyler singing while accompanied by the drum set and the piano. The latter two are amped up with respect to the first time this type of section appeared (the second part in the whole song), raising the intensity. The strings also kick in earlier and swell until
2:15-2:38 “I don’t want to close my eyes.” Again, the full orchestra, drum set, electric guitar and bass, and Tyler’s voice are heard at the same time. It begins as the first chorus did, yet is led towards a bridge.
2:39-3:16 “I don’t want to miss one smile.” Tyler dials down his singing, and the orchestra and electric guitar also lower the intensity until the end, where the drum set kicks it up and Tyler responds with his characteristic screams and wails.
3:17-3:51 “I don’t want to close my eyes.” Here, every element is hiking it up to the maximum level in order to reach the climax.
3:52-4:14 “‘Cause even when I dream of you.” This is the climax of the song, with all the instruments playing full-fledged and Tyler screeching.
4:15-4:56 (end). The song ends in an instrumental section, paralleling the beginning. There is a more melodic violin section that leads the song towards its end, while accompanied with the rest of the orchestra.
This song obviously falls into the subgenre of power ballad. It has the following structure: prelude, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, finish. This subgenre is not unheard of in Aerosmith’s catalogue. They had already had various masterful hits with this type, including “Crazy” and “Dream On.” Nevertheless, what is interesting about this one is that it was not written by them, but by Dianne Warren.
This is the reason why there are a couple of aspects that do not completely fit into Aerosmith’s usual format, and many criticized the group for selling out. The song was obviously done for the film Armageddon, so their traditional style had to be modified for a more popular, universal audience. Nevertheless, this also allowed them to broaden their listeners, and add a new generation of fans who were just then discovering the songs they had made more than a decade ago.
Aerosmith is definitely one of the most important rock bands in American history. Even though they may not have the critical following that other ones have had, they have still managed to maintain themselves in the spotlight for more than 46 years. They have constantly repackaged themselves, yet stayed true to their roots, and one can hear a same style throughout all of their songs.
They have become somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon without compromising themselves or their style. Even though “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was not even written by them and served a movie’s purposes instead of their own, one can still see some hallmark Aerosmith elements in it. This is remarkable, as many other groups that have had a much shorter lifespan have constantly modified their songs’ style.
However, within this style they also have different genres. Even though they are masters at the power ballad, as stated earlier, they also completely succeeded at play, fun rock songs like “Pink”, “Jaded”, “Love in an Elevator” and “Rag Doll”. This relative versatility allows their fans to be both loyal, because they are hearing something in the same style, and engaged, as they are including new and varied elements.
Even though one can consider Aerosmith as a direct product of the historical musical era that they were born in, they have also influenced many bands afterwards. This band was not a great innovator; many of the sounds and techniques that one can hear in their songs had already been around for many years. Nevertheless, Aerosmith’s genius is at producing songs that are plainly excellent, something that not all other bands can attribute themselves.
Even though critics have constantly given them favorable reviews, Aerosmith is more about the fans and entertaining them. Their “Blue Army” is constantly loyal to them because of this, which is ultimately what allows bands to make money at all. While other musical groups sometimes forget their fans in favor of their own musical inclinations and notions, Aerosmith has constantly had their fans in mind.
Nevertheless, they have had some trouble along the way. Their drug addiction was horrible, and completely disrupted their lives for a period of time. Even though they surpassed this terrible moment, it is worth noting that not everything in their path has been positive, and that drugs can completely tarnish a perfectly-lived life.
In conclusion, Aerosmith is one of the most important American rock bands of all time. Their longevity has been the fruit of their constant search to entertain audiences and produce good music. Even though they may not be completely hailed by critics, these factors have helped them reach popular culture status. They may not have innovated in terms of music, but their songs are loved by many.
“Aerosmith.” Rate Your Music. Web. 15 Apr 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WybiA263bw>.