So Metallica is atop the Billboard 200 chart. Sort of reminds me of the 70s and 80s, when the Billboard album charts regularly featured rock bands. Now? Not so much. Aside from heavy metal (Metallica at #1, Slipknot at #12), there is almost no rock music atop the Billboard charts. (Darius Rucker’s CD is a country disc, and Kid Rock’s is… well, whatever.) Coldplay clings to #17, but to find any really interesting rock music on the top half of the Top 200, you have to go all the way down to Jack Johnson (#58) and MGMT (#81).
Billboard’s album chart and its singles chart, the Hot 100, used to be very different. Mainstream rock occasionally produced a hit single, but you found those bands largely on the album chart. And in the 80s, hip hop was very much an album-oriented genre too. But rap has successfully crossed over to the Hot 100 singles – without giving up its place on the Top 200 albums. And now, both charts are dominated by rap, R&B, and pop stars from American Idol or the Disney Channel. What we used to refer to as “mainstream rock” is largely absent. Maybe it’s not so mainstream anymore.
Tell us: What has happened to rock music? Has it just fragmented into too many little pieces? Is rock in danger of sliding off the cultural table, the way classical music and jazz did? Leave a comment.