How did the band Bad Religion contribute to music?

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theyellowbookworm | College Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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The punk rock band, Bad Religion was formed in 1979 or 1980 (the band members report that they cannot recall the exact date). The band began in Los Angeles, California and, over the last three decades, has contributed 16 studio albums, 2 live albums, 3 compilation albums, 3 EPs and 2 DVDs to the music world. The band members have changed numerous times; however, lead vocalist Greg Graffin has remained consistent throughout. Currently, the band’s lineup features 3 out of the 4 original members: Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz, and Jay Bentley.

The band was widely successful in America, where it had a large cult following. It was not until 1994, with the release of Stranger than Fiction, that Bad Religion gained international success. The band ranks with NOFX, Green Day, Rancid, and The Offspring as one of the bestselling punk rock bands of all time.

In the 1990s, when Bad Religion began experiencing mainstream success, punk rock and grunge music were gaining notoriety. Bad Religion contributed to an ongoing conversation about social ills and a failing society. However, the band does not contribute the social ills to any one person or group. Graffin believes that centering on a singular person or group would defeat the purpose and simply feed a polarization of perspectives rather than opening the conversation for critique. The band’s music widely critiques the Bush regime and conservative politics, such as pro-life campaigns, as noted in their song “Operation Rescue.” Although the band’s name is Bad Religion, the members do not profess atheism or antitheism. Instead, the band members profess that the name stands as a metaphor to critique anything that does not allow for the freedom to think or for freedom of expression.

Musically, the band has contributed much to punk rock’s use of the 3 part vocal harmonies, which the band refers to as the “oozin’ ahhs.” The band drew from The Adolescents to create their harmonies. Today, Bad Religion is renowned for its sophisticated vocabulary, which is attributed to this 3 part vocal harmony.

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