I have had the opportunity to listen to the radio a bit on my way to work this summer. Because of this, I have been able to catch up on the "state of rock," and it should surprise no one that I am not impressed. Hard rock is the genre that I listened to first, and I can detect a number of changes that have taken place in the past five years that make just about every band on the radio completely underwhelming. To explain, I've selected four of the most-played songs that I've heard, so I can insult them.Seether – Country Song: I seriously don't know what they were doing with this one. The chorus is sing-songy, the rest of the song is obnoxious – Seether isn't even a southern rock band, they don't have an excuse for doing a "country song." The real problem is that this song is not as good or as memorable as Remedy or Fine Again. I would've thought a goal of the band would be to improve, and make better songs that will surpass the ones they're already known for. Country Song doesn't do that. It's too gimmicky. Another thing I noticed was that it actually sounds like Remedy, if you ignore the banjo-sounding part. Try finishing every verse or chorus with "back to the Remedy," and you'll hear the resemblance. Yay for creativity. Shinedown – Diamond Eyes: I don't like songs that use made-up words like "boom-lay boom-lay boom" as actual lyrics of the song, because it usually means the song is going to be an anthem. It holds, here. I've been watching Shinedown for a while now, because I actually liked their early albums. Now that they've been around as long as they have, I think it's safe to point out some of their flaws. Firstly, the singer uses the exact same tone of voice throughout the entire song, on every song. This is typical of southern rock, and is my primary reason for thinking southern rock should take a look at itself in the mirror and look for ways to better itself. Secondly, Shinedown seems to be sticking to a formula pretty rigidly. They know what people liked on previous albums, and so they're producing the same stuff with different words (except in this case, the words are "boom-lay"). Like Seether, I think they should take a look back to their best songs: 45, Simple Man, and try to outdo those. Their music had more to it back then. Black Stone Cherry – White Trash Millionaire: What is this crap? I'm getting awfully tired of hillbillies trying to enter the rock scene by appealing to other hillbillies. I detect some grunge influences in this song, but a big difference between grunge and this is that no grunge song started with "I've got a trans-am, and primer paint." I would like to give Black Stone Cherry props for making fun of Lady Gaga in line two, but other than that, this song is pointless, and rock doesn't need it. Being from the south does not mean you have to do southern rock. Sevendust is from Georgia, and they had no problems making top notch hard rock without a single song along the lines of the last three in this post. As a consolation, I did appreciate that Black Stone Cherry had a guitar solo in this song. That's something a lot of other bands have gotten away from, but it makes for better songs. Avenged Sevenfold – So Far Away: I'm not going to bash this song, because they made it to honor their late drummer, but I am going to bash Avenged Sevenfold. Since these guys have gone all Godsmack to their Alice in Chains that is Guns 'n Roses, they've gotten really hard to listen to. Every single song starts with Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance playing some annoying, fast-paced riff in harmony, and then M. Shadows goes on about random dark subject matter in his whiny singing voice, and the song goes a lot longer than it should. I will be frank: the novelty has worn off. When metalcore was still new, even someone like me could give the band some credit because what they were doing clearly took skill and they were doing some things that we hadn't seen before. Now, with a million metalcore bands out there, I can't say Synyster Gates is all that amazing, especially when all of their songs sound the same, and he is doing the same thing every time. Is Avenged Sevenfold's sound instantly recognizable? Yes. Unfortunately, it's because it's annoying, not because it's uniquely good. I won't say southern rock is the only problem with rock today. It's a good third of the problem, but the rest comes down to a lack of creativity stemming from a lot of these bands being 5+ years old. They've all released at least three albums, and they're growing stagnant. This is not passive-aggression, I will state it plainly: I don't see a single band right now that is trying to be better than what we had in 2005. Where is the band that is going to write the next One Step Closer, The Red, Blow Me Away, or even something as basic yet iconic as Bodies? A new band is going to show up that is actually hard, heavy, and raw, and we'll notice the difference in quality immediately.