While Americans Obsess Over Pop + Hip-Hop, Rock Dominates the U.K. Albums Chart
The United States and United Kingdom’s Top Albums charts could not be more opposite. While Americans continue to fall in love with a new generation of hip-hop, country and pop acts, Brits prefer both classic and modern rock bands, and the proof is in the No. 1’s.
In the U.S., the latest rock album to hit No. 1 was AC/DC’s electric comeback, Power Up. It remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for just one week, quickly being knocked off by BTS’ Be. The previous month, Machine Gun Kelly occupied the No. 1 spot for one week for his pop-punk debut, Tickets to My Downfall, making AC/DC and MGK the only rock acts to hit No. 1 on Billboard throughout the entirety of 2020.
Zero rock albums have topped the chart in the U.S. in 2021 so far. Furthermore, rock has claimed the No. 1 spot just four times (AC/DC, MGK, Tool, Slipknot) in the last two-and-half years.
Meanwhile, five rock albums have topped the U.K. Albums Chart in 2021 alone — You Me at Six’s Suckapunch, Bring Me the Horizon’s Post Human: Survival Horror, Foo Fighters’ Medicine at Midnight, Mogwai’s As the Love Continues, and Architects’ For Those That Wish to Exist — while all other genres have claimed the No. 1 spot on only four occasions in 2021.
In fact, rock was consistently No. 1 in the U.K. throughout 2020. A total of 15 rock artists held the top spot on the U.K. Albums Chart, including Green Day, Bruce Springsteen, Biffy Clyro, Yungblud, the 1975 and Paul McCartney.
Though pop and hip-hop often dominate the Singles Chart in the U.K., British rock fans have showed what they really care about with their dollars and their streams. So when someone tells you that “rock is dead,” just point across the pond, because in the United Kingdom, the same week Olivia Rodrigo’s massive song “Drivers License” was No. 1 for eight straight weeks, post-rock veterans Mogwai had the No. 1 album.