Why Queen, Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush Are Topping the Rock Charts in 2022
Billboard redefined its rock music rankings and now it’s 1979 all over again
No matter how much Gene Simmons protests, rock is certainly not dead. It really depends on how you define “rock.”
This week, Billboard announced a revamp of its rock and alternative charts. The updated Top Rock & Alternative Album Chart will now feature “any titles deemed rock, alternative (even if core-pop or core-any other genre) and/or hard rock will be eligible to appear.”
And this is good! We now have a country-ish singer-songwriter (Zach Bryan) alongside an alt-leaning pop star (Billie Eilish) and a modern metal band (Motionless in White) on the same list.
But at first glance, this list may transport you back to the late ’70s. Three of the top five chart entries hail from acts that were most popular 40-or-so years ago, including Fleetwood Mac, Queen and Kate Bush. Bush also tops the improved Top Rock Songs chart, which also underwent the same open-eligibility revamp as the albums chart.
While the presence of veteran acts not promoting new music may cause some unrest — where are all the new artists? — there are reasons behind all of this revitalized success: Queen will probably stay on the list for years because, well, their music is ubiquitous, Fleetwood Mac got a bump a little while back on TikTok, and Kate Bush is riding high off of “Running Up That Hill” being used prominently on Stranger Things.
If anything, the new charts redefine rock and alternative music to be (somewhat) more inclusive while also more accurately reflecting the tastes of today’s music consumers. Rock isn’t dead — at its best, it defies age or category. And it’s certainly more than white guys with angst.
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