Is Rock Dead?

Jim Farber of the New York Daily News has issued the following report:

"Is rock dead?

Not quite. But judging from its performance on the charts — and compared to its biggest bands and trends from a few years ago — it's wheezing.

Cast your eye down 2004's Top 10-selling album list and you won't see a single new rock band. The sole hard guitar group is EVANESCENCE — a holdover from 2003. The nearest thing to a new guitar band is MAROON 5, which didn't make it on a rock song but on a soul single, "This Love", and a billowing pop ballad, "She Will Be Loved".

Broaden your view to the year's Top 20 sellers and you'll find just one other rocker — and an aging one at that — PRINCE, who gave away enough copies of his "Musicology" to place it 18th in 2004.

Rap, meanwhile, racked up five albums in the Top 20.

R&B landed the No. 1 slot with USHER's "Confessions", which outsold the No. 2 entry, from NORAH JONES, by more than 2 to 1.

Rap and country were both able to launch huge new stars. KANYE WEST and GRETCHEN WILSON each sold between 2.5 and 3 million copies of their debuts.

Only one breaking rock act, HOOBASTANK, cracked the 2 million mark, and by the skin of its teeth. And the Hoobsters managed that feat only by crossing over with an adult pop single, "The Reason". Considering that "The Reason" was the second-most-played number on radio last year (after USHER's "Yeah!"), HOOBASTANK's album should have sold many more copies.

When rock was more muscular — during the eras of grunge (mid-'90s), punk-pop (late '90s) and rap-metal (turn-of-the-century) — no such tepid pop crossover was even necessary.

What rock lacks these days is a newer band as humongous as KORN, LIMP BIZKIT, METALLICA, NICKELBACK, STAIND, BLINK 182, LINKIN PARK, COLDPLAY or CREED — not to mention the super-power-hitters of grunge, like NIRVANA, PEARL JAM and SOUNDGARDEN.

Each of those groups sold between 3 million and 10 million copies of their prime CDs.

Compare that to the typical sales of today's biggest new rock bands. LOS LONELY BOYS, VELVET REVOLVER, SWITCHFOOT, MODEST MOUSE, JET and YELLOWCARD have all sold fewer than 2 million albums. Another of the top rock albums of the last year, GUNS N' ROSES' "Greatest Hits", harkens back to past guitar glories. Read more.


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