The top three spots on Billboard’s Top 10 Rock Songs list are dominated by one band: Imagine Dragons, who were perhaps to the 2010s what Nickelback was to the aughties.
It’s rare for music charts to be the topic of general conversation, so I was surprised to find BillboardThe ranking of the best rock songs of the 2010s being discussed on Radio One Mumbai on a Sunday night. I rarely check my Twitter and Facebook timelines (to save myself from much of the vitriol that permeates social media), so I was unaware of the online chatter behind the post’s controversial list (see below ). In case you also missed it, many fans of the genre Express surprised, shocked and even disgusted that the biggest rock hits of the last decade are not really “rock”.
BillboardTop 10 rock songs of the 2010s —
1.”Believer“, Imagine Dragons
2.”Thunder“, Imagine Dragons
3.”Radioactive“, Imagine Dragons
4.”high hopes“, Panic! At the disco
5.”Ho hey”, The Luminous
6.”pagans“, Twenty one pilots
7.”shut up and dance”, Walk the Moon
8.”feel it again“, Portugal. Man
9.”Ride“, Twenty one pilots
ten. “Stress“, Twenty one pilots
The top three are dominated by one band: Imagine Dragons, who were perhaps to the 2010s what Nickelback was to the 2000s. In other words, they’re too pop a band to be considered rock. . The same argument could be made about Panic! At The Disco, The Lumineers, Twenty One Pilots, Walk The Moon and Portugal. The man.
The strong reaction to BillboardThe charter asks an important question: how do we define rock in the 21st century?
Does it necessarily have to include guitars and drums? Or is rock an attitude? According to BillboardLorde is considered rock, although many of her hits, such as her debut single “Royals”, which is No. 15 for the decade, do not use guitars. Diamondsthe best-of compilation by Elton John (perhaps the most important purveyor of pop piano music of all time), is No. 15 on the Top Rock Albums of the 2010s chart (which is topped by Twenty One Pilots ‘ blurred face).
Since its origin in the 1950s, rock has evolved to incorporate a wide range of subgenres and today Billboard manages not one but five rock charts. There are rock, mainstream rock, alternative rock, album alternative rock, and hard rock surveys, each of which is based on the highly segmented US radio markets. What is the difference between rock and mainstream rock? Apparently mainstream rock is basically classic rock. And “the adult alternative” refers to to “softer” alternative rock. (There is also something called active rockBesides.)
Not included in the graphic coverage of the industry bible are several other spin-off styles that may not be as huge as they once were, such as punk rock, glam rock, and emo. For reasons I don’t know, the magazine only published end-of-decade charts for the main rock chart. However, he uploaded year-end charts for the other subgenres. The #1s of 2019 were: Electro-Pop”Trampoline” from Shaed was the top alternative rock piece, the folky »Missed connectionof The Head and the Heart crowned the adult alternative sounding, metal »Remember when” by Bad Wolves was in pole position on the mainstream rock list and somewhat questioning,”Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen was the bestseller on the Hard Rock digital song sales chart.
The questioning aspect isn’t that a 44-year-old smash was the most popular of 2019 – as you probably know, Bohemian Rhapsody the film revived interest in the band’s back catalog – but why Queen is classified as hard rock. Most rock fans would agree that Queen is a rock band, even though they had a lot of success on the pop charts. They would probably also recognize heavy metal band Bad Wolves as rock.
Indian fans in particular would probably say that the traditional rock charts are closest to what rock really is, but therein lies the problem: much of what traditionalists consider rock is a sound which is – for lack of a more sensitive term – exceeded. Take a look at another top 10 from the end of the decade, the most played mainstream rock songs by airplay monitoring company Nielsen of the 2010s on US radio. No, I didn’t accidentally share the 1990s chart. The last hit was from 1994.
Nielsen’s 10 Best Mainstream Rock Radio Songs of the 2010s
1.”Smells like Teen Spirit!“, Nirvana
2.”man in the box“, Alice in chains
3.”Come as you are“, Nirvana
4.”Stuffed toy”, Drivers of the Stone Temple
5.”Regular flow“Pearl Jam
6.”Self love“, Offspring
7.”In bloom“, Nirvana
8.”Enter Sandman“, Metallica
9.”Sun black hole“, sound garden
ten. “Lithium“, Nirvana
It may seem like mainstream American rock stations and their listeners are stuck in a time warp, but their tastes aren’t much different from those of Indian consumers. Tracks by Eagles, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Queen are all in the top 10 of the iTunes India rock song charts.
Yet to say that a certain act is not rock would risk being guilty of the same sort of so-called musical bias that has made Billboard eliminate “Old Town Road” of the country table.
Many of these debates have as much to do with race and sound as they do with perception. A few days ago I did a double take when I read that “Delicious” by Justin Bieber is currently No. 1 on the R&B chart. Bieber’s brand of pop might incorporate elements of R&B, but I’d be hard pressed to find anyone who considers it an R&B band.
It’s important to note that charts are a measure of commercial success, and as you might expect, the most commercial songs are likely to become the biggest hits.
Each genre grows to embrace several derivative styles. The term “alternative”, which is synonymous with “alternative rock”, has adapted to also include types of pop, dance and hip-hop.
So, like it or not, Imagine Dragons are the most popular rock band on the US charts right now. Instead of raging on Twitter, I suggest petitioning to create a new genre for more pop rock bands. Perhaps we can call it COR or Commercial Oriented Rock. It would be a nice pun, since these songs tend to be used heavily in commercials.
Amit Gurbaxani is a Mumbai-based journalist who has been writing about music, particularly the country’s indie scene, for nearly two decades. He tweets @TheGroovebox