Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 11:24:22 -0500
From: Grant Barrett
Subject: -core, Plus Veering Tangents

"Core" as a multi-purpose music suffix has been in my personal vocabulary since
about 1989 when I began working in college radio. It's kind of like -gate from
Watergate, but instead of implying political wrong-doing when tacked onto any
other word, -core implies a level of intensity and/or ferocity in a particular
form of music.

Its source, as far as I could ever tell, would be from "hardcore," the first of
the "-cores." Hardcore described the New Punk: strident, screaming, mostly
unintelligible lyrics; thrashing discordant guitars; hammering staccato drums,
usually in short, tight songs. Hardcore came about, I believe, in the mid to
late Eighties, as a lot of the posing and farcical attitudes were stripped away
from punk and "fuck you" wasn't enough to offend people any more. The music
began to be perceived as a valid form, and separate from its antecedent.

At some point "hardcore" became kind of like "acid rock": a word misused by
people outside the scene to apply to rock they didn't like because they
couldn't find a melody in it. The -core suffix caught on because the
diversification of popular music had marketers, disk jockeys and bands looking
for way to define the emerging scenes. Bands have always hated defining
themselves by saying something like, "We sound like the Hank Williams crossed
with Husker Du" so the new vocabulary was quickly embraced. There are now a
dozen major branches of dance, a half dozen kinds of hip-hop, six or seven
kinds of straight up rock, three or four kinds of country, "pop" versions of
all of them, and more, and the stuff sells. Check out Billboard's top 100: it
hasn't been purely rock/pop in more than a decade.

Anyway, I think you'll find that many of the -core words can be attributed to
failed coinage attempts. I bet most of the -core words would turn up in a
Lexis-Nexis search a handful of times, each during from its own short period,
never to be never heard from again.

Grant Barrett

From: Yongwei Gao
1. Jonathon Green (Neologisms: New Words since 1960) 1991 s definition
for "-core" is an all-purpose rock music suffix: it includes
thrashcore, grindcore and grunge core which, of course, means nothing
in this case:

-core In 1987, G.B. Jones, guitarist for the all-female low-fi
pioneers Fifth Column, coined the term homocore in J.D.s, a Toronto
fanzine, just as queer-punk scenes began to emerge in reaction to the
prevalence of racist and homophobic skinheads within punk. (95/5/18
Rolling Stone p38) Like its nearest American rap equivalent,
horrorcore#-a ungenre that includes Gravediggaz and Jeru the
Damaja#-trip-hop soaks up the dread and uncertainty of the 90 s and
musically conjures up a kind of paranoiascape: an aural simulation of
the urban environment. (95/5/29 NYT H26) Another category,
known as Loungecore, consists of orchestral covers of rock songs from
the late sixties and early seventies. (97/4 Esquire p75)