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What's the difference between AOR and melodic rock?


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Been trying to review some of Alien's CDs. Got some AORs, a tiny bit of hard rock, but according to Heavy Harmonies, their latest album (Eternity) is "melodic rock". I'm not quite sure what that is. Apparently, Wikipedia seems to link AOR and melodic rock to "arena rock".

 

Gah, I'm such a n00b at music genres, but I've still got a lot to learn. So, can someone tell me what the difference between AOR and melodic rock is?

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For me, AOR is Adult Orientated Rock.

I think of rockier versions of Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Elton John etc

 

Melodic Rock I see as being fairly light, hooky, perhaps leaning towards Danger Danger light or Trixter light

 

Probably a pretty small difference between the two, but that would be it for me.

I like some of these types of music, but not all that much.

 

I guess Guiffria fits in there pretty well, and maybe Roxus is coming close but is probably a but 'heavy' to be labeled either.

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Hmm, I don't think I've ever had them clearly defined. The way I differentiate is typically with keys. AOR, to me, are bands that are not heavy enough to be considered Hard Rock, and feature keys. Melodic Rock bands are also not heavy enough to classify as Hard Rock, but they don't use keys often. Tyketto is a great example of Melodic Rock. Journey a classic example of AOR. KIX are absolutely Hard Rock. And then the heavier bands that use keys are either Melodic Hard Rock or Melodic Metal. Eclipse are the former, while Pretty Maids are the latter.

 

If I'm wrong, someone correct me.

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Hmm, I don't think I've ever had them clearly defined. The way I differentiate is typically with keys. AOR, to me, are bands that are not heavy enough to be considered Hard Rock, and feature keys. Melodic Rock bands are also not heavy enough to classify as Hard Rock, but they don't use keys often. Tyketto is a great example of Melodic Rock. Journey a classic example of AOR. KIX are absolutely Hard Rock. And then the heavier bands that use keys are either Melodic Hard Rock or Melodic Metal. Eclipse are the former, while Pretty Maids are the latter.

If I'm wrong, someone correct me.

Yeah, you're right about the keys mate.

There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to categorizing music/bands and i'm sure there would be opinions that would differ when it comes to certain bands.

They're a broad guideline at best.

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I agree re keys, but I think they usually fit the style.

For instance Van Hagar was full of keys but not AOR to me.

Yeah, that's why I said typically. There are always exceptions. Van Halen is one.

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For me AOR is a lite version of Melodic/Hard Rock. Journey, Survivor= AOR, Danger Danger, Dokken= Melodic/Hard Rock.

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Album Orientated Rock is basically a term which harks back to the US radio stations of the 70s and 80s which were famous for playing deeper cuts by bands such as Journey Styx Foreigner REO plus a whole host of others.

 

So i guess AOR is now associated with bands who represent that style...lighter melodic rock with presence of keys.

 

Van Halen is probably an AOR band by the pure definition and era but as some have said dont quite fit with most peoples idea of the term.

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It's too awkward and annoying to try and differentiate stuff like this. Even to the point you can't even label a band like Journey as one thing. For sure their 80's stuff is AOR. But fast forward to their more recent output, especially a song like 'Remember Me' off the 'Armageddon' soundtrack... to me that is melodic rock. But it is so annoying and pointless to bother trying to differentiate.

 

I absolutely hate putting labels on music any more detailed than calling it either rock or metal. And then just general terms like pop, blues, dance etc. No two people in the world will ever have the same view on what is what when you get into deeper detail, so why bother?

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I have written in depth on this and actually wrote a scholarly article on the subject back when I studied musicology. I have pasted the most relevant parts in regards to your question from the article below. I hope this clears things up for you.

If one imagine the AOR music on a horizontal scale, one could imagine that the pure AOR-style lies in the middle, while the westcoast style is located further to the left. Even further to the left, we find styles such as pop and soul. Sometimes the westcoast style borders more in this direction, to sometimes stylewise move more to the middle. If we move to the right of the pure AOR on the scale, we soon find ourselves in the borderland to the melodic hard rock. The limit for which kind of music should be called AOR respecitvely melodic hard rock is often subtle and can be debated indefinitely. The term "Melodic hard rock" (henceforth abbreviated "MHR") is, like the westcoast, strongly linked with the term AOR. Just like westcoast and pure AOR, the styles often slips into one and another and the musical difference between what is known as AOR respectively MHR is often very small. It should certainly be noted, that MHR is a problematic concept, since in principle all forms of hard rock - from the 70s classic hard rock to today's most extreme metal forms - more or less can be said to possess at least some form of melodic element. From an AOR-perspective, however, MHR most often is about some element in the music differing from the pure style, for example that the electric guitar provides a more prominent role in the sound or that the use of keyboards is not as widespread as one is used to when it comes to pure AOR. The term "melodic rock" is often used by music critics to describe this fusion of AOR and hard rock/metal, but even the meaning of this term may not always stand out as totally obvious for the uniniated."

The problems with the terms AOR and MHR is in many respects that their sheer musical content lies very close to each other. Regarding the pure AOR-style, it could without a problem be called melodic hard rock since it's about melodic and hard rock. However, it's important to also see to the context and on what kind of bands the terms are used. If we, for instance, have a band who started out as a pure metalband, to later develope to become more melodic and commercial by involving typical pop elements in their music (and thus, approach themselves the ideals of AOR), maybe it's not in it's full right to for that reason call them an "AOR-band". If we on the other hand have a band, that from beginning have played in this style and who furthermore also stated being influenced by the classic AOR bands, perhaps the name may be more appropriate. Another important aspect to include is of course what main audience the band in question is targeted to. For example, we can investigate the band/artist's texts: are they mainly intended for young people or adults? Are they targeted mainly towards a youthful audience, perhaps one should reflect on if the AOR-term really is appropriate.

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It's too awkward and annoying to try and differentiate stuff like this. Even to the point you can't even label a band like Journey as one thing.

Or any other band for that matter, my thoughts exactly! And then ''metalheads'' who go on and subcategorize everything into the weirdest genre names is just ridiculous to me

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It's too awkward and annoying to try and differentiate stuff like this. Even to the point you can't even label a band like Journey as one thing.

Or any other band for that matter, my thoughts exactly! And then ''metalheads'' who go on and subcategorize everything into the weirdest genre names is just ridiculous to me

I love it. To me, it's part of the hobby. But I do understand what you're saying, and it is annoying when the elitists start correcting you for getting a genre wrong. I'm a bit OC, so categorising music into genres and sub-genres literally feels good.

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Glen, on 17 Jan 2017 - 1:44 PM, said:snapback.png

Yeah that really helped :unsure:


lol, sorry about that Glen. I was at work when I posted that and didn't have time to elaborate any further.

My answer to this is basically very simple... real AOR has to contain at least a minimum amount of keys, while melodic rock necessarily must not... that is the main difference.

Melodic rock I would say is that gray area between AOR and melodic hard rock that many bands operates within, not least nowdays...case in point: the latest Palace CD. Classic example of a melodic rock record, where most of the music is too heavy to fit within the classic AOR spectrum while still too light to be labelled pure melodic hard rock. You basically have a 50/50 mix of those two genres and that's the definition of melodic rock in my book.

Now the thread starter was wondering where arena rock fitted into all this and my answer to that is also very simple... Arena Rock is not really a seperate genre but as a musical style concept basically synonymous with the pure AOR style of bands like Journey, Foreigner, Boston and so on. There are so many of these labels tossed around everywhere but when we talk about AOR as an overarching style concept, there are really only three main subgenres where you can cathegorize most bands and that is the lightweight or westcoast style, the classic style and the hard or melodic hard rock style.

I'll explain what I mean by that...(also cut and pasted from my article on the subject)

 

 

Subdivision of AOR music in three general styles

(1) The lightweight style/westcoast rock


Style names that in one way or another are connected with or can be housed within the lightweight AOR-style: westcoast rock/pop, MOR (Middle-Of-The-Road), soft rock/pop, adultpop/rock, AC - adult contemporary, FM Rock, high-tech AOR, lite AOR

Examples on bands/artists within the lightweight AOR-style: Toto, Chicago, Michael Bolton, Richard Marx, Airplay

(2) The classic style

Examples of the style names which in one way or another are connected with or can be housed within the classic AOR style: AOR, adult rock/pop, heavypop, melodic rock, pomp, pure AOR, arena rock, album rock

 

Examples of bands/artists in the classic AOR style: Boston, Foreigner, Survivor, Kansas, Styx, Reo Speedwagon, Journey.

(3) The hard style/MHR

It is debatable whether you should define the melodic hard rock to a subgenre within the metal genre or within the AOR genre. Simply put, MHR (of the type discussed above) have a lot in common with both styles, and it is really equally right to regard it as a softer subgenre of heavy metal that as a harder style of AOR. Since this article is written from an AOR-perspective, I therefore regard MHR as a harder style within the AOR genre.

 

Examples on terms that in one way or another are connected with or can be included within the hard AOR-style: melodic hard rock, melodic rock, pop metal, MHR

 

Examples on bands/artists within the hard AOR/MHR: Red Dawn, Tour De Force, House Of Lords, Harem Scarem, Network, Valentine

 

 

 

 

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It's too awkward and annoying to try and differentiate stuff like this. Even to the point you can't even label a band like Journey as one thing.

Or any other band for that matter, my thoughts exactly! And then ''metalheads'' who go on and subcategorize everything into the weirdest genre names is just ridiculous to me

I love it. To me, it's part of the hobby. But I do understand what you're saying, and it is annoying when the elitists start correcting you for getting a genre wrong. I'm a bit OC, so categorising music into genres and sub-genres literally feels good.

 

 

I even gave up splitting my music into modern and non-modern. Even that was too annoying. Now, it's all just music and that's the way I like it. The only differentiation I perform these days is shit music = gone. Good music = keep.

 

For the record, in my head I know clear as day the difference between AOR, melodic rock and melodic hard rock. But the annoyance is putting the thought into actually trying to pen or explain it. If I listen to something, and think about it, I know what I think it is, and that all anyone should really care about... what it sounds like to them. If you're an avid Backstreet Boys fan and stumble across Toto and say to your friends you just discovered this awesome new heavy metal band, good luck to you. Who really cares anyway? ;)

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It's too awkward and annoying to try and differentiate stuff like this. Even to the point you can't even label a band like Journey as one thing.

Or any other band for that matter, my thoughts exactly! And then ''metalheads'' who go on and subcategorize everything into the weirdest genre names is just ridiculous to me

I love it. To me, it's part of the hobby. But I do understand what you're saying, and it is annoying when the elitists start correcting you for getting a genre wrong. I'm a bit OC, so categorising music into genres and sub-genres literally feels good.

 

 

I even gave up splitting my music into modern and non-modern. Even that was too annoying. Now, it's all just music and that's the way I like it. The only differentiation I perform these days is shit music = gone. Good music = keep.

 

For the record, in my head I know clear as day the difference between AOR, melodic rock and melodic hard rock. But the annoyance is putting the thought into actually trying to pen or explain it. If I listen to something, and think about it, I know what I think it is, and that all anyone should really care about... what it sounds like to them. If you're an avid Backstreet Boys fan and stumble across Toto and say to your friends you just discovered this awesome new heavy metal band, good luck to you. Who really cares anyway? ;)

 

Exactly, I'm a little OCD as well which is why I'm not categorizing this stuff cause I could never get it ''perfect'' so I just won't bother with it. I remember back when I still had an iPod and was ripping CDs to iTunes W.A.S.P.'s ''Crimson Idol'' was listed as Gospel :D

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I remember back when I still had an iPod and was ripping CDs to iTunes W.A.S.P.'s ''Crimson Idol'' was listed as Gospel :D

 

What's so strange about that?

That is Gospel as far as i'm concerned.

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It's too awkward and annoying to try and differentiate stuff like this. Even to the point you can't even label a band like Journey as one thing.

Or any other band for that matter, my thoughts exactly! And then ''metalheads'' who go on and subcategorize everything into the weirdest genre names is just ridiculous to me
I love it. To me, it's part of the hobby. But I do understand what you're saying, and it is annoying when the elitists start correcting you for getting a genre wrong. I'm a bit OC, so categorising music into genres and sub-genres literally feels good.

The only differentiation I perform these days is shit music = gone. Good music = keep.

But that's an important distinction to make.

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