Examining How the Entertainment World Often Turns to Prog and Hard Rock for Inspiration


It is difficult to overstate the huge impact that music of all kinds has on people’s lives. Just browse our selection of reviews and take a look at the articles in our interviews section and you will see just how vital it is to the artists that we cover.

Of course, the importance of music in everyday life means it tends to have an influence on a range of different forms of culture. For example, there have certainly been thousands of books written about every aspect of the subject, while Bohemian Rhapsody is just one recent example of the big screen turning to fascinating stories from rock’s past for inspiration.

However, which other areas of the entertainment world have prog, metal and hard rock gone on to have a major impact on? Here we take a look at just a few fine examples of when the loudest, most frenetic guitar music has had a huge influence on popular culture.

Prog Rock in Video Gaming Moves from Soundtrack to Focal Point

Prog and metal have a very long association with video gaming which takes in many interesting twists and turns. For example, back in 2014, an article published by Renegade Revolution examined the close relationship between prog and Japanese RPGs. Intriguingly, it touched upon how the composer behind Final Fantasy’s music Nobuo Uematsu admitted he was heavily inspired by British bands like Genesis when working on games.

Some metal bands have also appeared in their very own games and it is likely that no discernible rock fan will be surprised to hear that flamboyant rockers Kiss are among the few to make that move. However, prog and metal entered the spotlight in a big way when the Guitar Hero series of games launched back in 2005. Guitar Hero II included a version of Rush’s instrumental YYZ, while the third game in the series also notably featured Dragonforce’s relentless Through the Fire and Flames at its climax.

Rock Provides the Soundtrack to a Different Type of Game

There’s a certain type of game where, in many cases, licensed inspiration has come from TV and film, with slot games often basing themselves on famous names such as Narcos, Game of Thrones and the hit comedy Bridesmaids – to name but a few examples. However, heavy guitar music has also played a key role in this area.

The prog rock titans have not yet had a major impact in this area but, when it comes to slot games, the basic defining features of progressive and heavy rock form a central part of the atmosphere they aim to create. The Immortal Romance slot is  one title whose soundtrack centers around a heavy, progressive guitar for its background and atmospheric piano melodies – somewhat akin to prog rock’s characteristic virtuoso refrains – flowing over the top. The theatricality of the vampirical theme is easily stirred up by our favorite music genre, a feature The Independent lists in its A-Z of progressive rock. So the association between hard rock and slots although subtle is strong.

Wheen Rock Stars Have Taken to the Small Screen

Prog and metal have also had a strong presence on the small screen in the past. For instance, British comedy The Life of Rock with Brian Pern was based around the fictional adventures of a former prog rock star. Elsewhere, Gene Simmons of Kiss was charged with turning a class of schoolchildren into a metal band on Rock School, while Beavis and Butthead’s fondness for all things loud has also been well-known through the decades.

Saying that, if we are going to discuss heavy metal on TV, we have to make some form of reference to The Osbournes. The reality series created by MTV introduced a mainstream audience to everything that Ozzy and his clan had to offer and the show arguably made him even more of a star than he was before.

Theatricality Hasn’t Yet Led to a True Prog Rock Musical

Considering prog and metal often deals in complex themes and many bands have been known to create entire albums inspired by specific stories or concepts, few musicals based on those genres have emerged into the mainstream.

However, hard rock in general has had an impact on this area, with The Who famously creating both Tommy and Quadrophenia which have gone on to inspire stage productions. Queen also influenced the Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You, but it really does seem like there is an opportunity for someone to create the first great prog-infused musical for the stage.

A major inspiration

Prog rock, metal and hard rock are much-loved genres which have not only generated more than their fair share of news headlines through the years, but also gone on to be a major inspiration on many different parts of popular culture.

From gaming to TV and even musicals, their presence has been felt in a range of different media – although it certainly could be argued that the time is right for prog to given more of a moment in the spotlight. With music being such an important part of all of our lives, it will be intriguing to see just how it continues to influence and inspire culture in the years ahead.

Sandra Larson is a published author and freelance journalist. Sandra is also a mental health advocate. She is passionate about creating more tolerance and empathy in the world. 

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