By Sonora Birnie

Ric Ocasek, the front man and songwriter for the iconic rock band The Cars, passed away on Sunday, September 15th in New York. The band released hit after hit in the 70’s and 80’s and their musical theory and production changed the rock world.

The Cars originated out of Boston, a hotbed for new wave rock. Boston also produced such legendary bands as Aerosmith, which took notes from the movement in England. This new style of music was not immediately popular in the United States, but the sound and look was punk and innovative while still nodding to the greats that came before them. 

The Cars is composed of Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, and David Robinson. They broke onto the Boston punk scene in 1976, an incredibly experimental and inventive time in music, of which The Cars clearly ran with. The sound was obviously rock and roll, but it also incorporated pop elements that made them more palatable to the general public without losing the gritty, layered component of their music. Four years later, in 1979, their self titled album carried them to fame and the top of the charts.

The band ended due to internal disputes, namely between Orr and Ocasek. Orr passed away in 2000, but Ocasek lived to see his band become inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2018).  

The group changed rock (grunge, punk, psychedelic) music forever, but their influence can be seen in today’s pop music as well. Power pop has The Cars, among others, to thank for the genre’s popularity. It would not be too bold to say that modern music, regardless of genre, would not be the same without the existence of The Cars. The Killers are one example of more modern music that draws influence from The Cars. 

The Cars’ music is timeless, their visuals still effortlessly relevant in today’s cluttered musical space. Everything, from their album art to their production and layering of instrumentals and vocals, will continue to inspire generations to come. 

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