I’ve been hearing composers and performers light-heartedly wishing they could just be rock stars for years. Sometimes not entirely light-heartedly. Most composers and performers I know listen to a lot of–sometimes mostly–popular music (and a weirdly pronounced population of young composers I know seem to be really into the extremes of metal).
Peep this out:
For a large number of younger musicians (by younger I can confidently include people under 50), popular music is their first language, musically speaking. Many (myself included) were encouraged to give up rock in order to be “serious” musicians. Looking back 15 years later, I think I can say pretty confidently that I was serious about the music I was writing, performing, and listening to before I became a music major. It’s too bad that it’s only in the past few years that I’ve felt comfortable really re-embracing that background.