Is the guitar solo dead?

Guitar solos used to be a requirement in every song up until the 90's grunge music came on the scene. Ever since then, guitar solos have taken less and less air play time. Why did this happen and is the guitar solo really dead?

We think in order to answer this question we need to identify the genre of music in which we are trying to define the mortality of the guitar solo. If we are talking pop or pop rock, guitar solos were never really a huge part. Now, if we're talking rock/metal then the guitar solo is alive and well. It's just that rock and roll and metal music are not as mainstream as they used to be in the 80's and the 90's. Although bands like Avenged Sevenfold have done a great job making metal music mainstream (whether A7X is a Metal Band or not is another discussion that will require it's own blog post), it is still not even a fraction of what it used to be in the 80's and 90's.

Now if we look at the mainstream rock/metal, the solo has changed dramatically. The biggest reason for this we feel is the change in the length of the song. In the Metallica days (they still do this...but they are Metallica!!) songs used to be 8 and 10 minutes longs if not longer. With that kind of time frame, there was always time for one or even multiple guitar solos. Nowadays, songs are 3 and 4 minutes long and trying to add a flashy guitar solo just for the hell of it eats up a third of the song.

The guitar solo has been making a comeback though. It's just that these solos are short and try to add some meaning to the song. I feel that music nowadays focuses more on the song as a whole. A solo is not a requirement in the song but an enhancement that might not be necessary. This in my opinion is a good thing. It forces or should force the guitarist to dig deep as he has fewer notes play and each one counts. In my band, we certainly only add a guitar solo when the song asks for it.

In our band All Rights Reserved, we have a mixed opinion about this. However, we all share the same vision that music is evolving and so are people's taste. Our attention span is becoming shorter and shorter. So, guitar solos we feel will never die, they're just going to sit on the bench and be called upon when needed. So, what do you think? Do you like guitar solos or feel that they are unnecessary? Please leave a comment below.