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Rock Shock


Will Sandbach casts an eye over Rock music in British Charts and has some interesting findings…

It came as a deep and unpleasant shock to me to discover that the BBC Radio 1 UK top 40 Rock Singles Chart is not composed of great, new, up-and-coming rock bands. Instead it is composed of a vast array of rock and roll legends that are long past their prime or, I’d have thought, their relevance. Unbelievably, songs released in the last five years make up less than a quarter of the songs in the UK Top 40 Rock Singles Chart whilst over a quarter consist of songs from the 1970s and 1980s. It is concerning that the two songs ranked top of the charts (Sweet Child of Mine and Livin’ On a Prayer) were released in 1987 and 1986 respectively while the two songs at the bottom consisted of one of today’s biggest alternative bands- Muse. Having a perusal of the songs from the last 15 years that are being listened to, the results  are indeed troubling and highlight the dearth of top records still being produced by rock artists of our generation…


First and foremost, who on earth is still listening to Evanescence? Ok, yes Bring Me to Life was a good song at the time but, come on! Do we really still listen to it ten years on? The same goes for American Idiot or Wake Me up When September Ends. Nice but… you know. On the other hand, at least these songs are vaguely contemporary; I mean they’re from this century! What is worse is that the Modern Rock Charts contains 6 songs from the 90s, 6 from the 80s 7 from the 70s and even Jimi Hendrix’ 1967 ditty All Along the Watchtower. To put this into context, that would be like an 18 year old man in 1945 listening to Edward Elgar’s 1889 ‘classic’-Queen Mary’s Song. Yes, I suppose the chart covers a plethora of different bands from a variety of rock eras but it also highlights that the days of creating lasting rock anthems are in the past. It is sad that the band with the most singles in the rock charts today, AC/DC, had its hay-day in 1980 with the album Back in Black. While it is nice, to an extent, to see bands like Queen (who have 3 songs in the charts) back in vogue; what is worrying is the question of where the next generation’s big rock bands are going to come from. Last summer I attended the fantastic event which is Reading Festival and witnessed superb performances from the headliners- Green Day, Biffy Clyro, and Eminem- among others. It was great to see Eminem and Green Day in particular, while they can still pass as relatively fresh and not overly old and washed out.


So, is there hope for the future? Well, yes and no. It is worrying that we are not producing the quality or quantity of massive rock icons that were produced in the past. In this respect, I am talking about bands that produced hit records and sold multi-millions of albums such as Queen, Nirvana or the Rolling Stones. It must be noted, however, that most bands do not start out there careers as Headliners and take years, if not decades, to reach that status. We also live in an age of increasingly divergent tastes where there is no ‘big thing’ or main genre in the music world. Young people of this generation want to discover their own music and there is a vast array on offer which includes great material from the past or from the present which is far easier to discover via YouTube or other sites than it was for young people 20 or 30 years ago. On top of this, I would argue that this generation is far more concerned with uncovering new bands and setting their own trends than more fashion conscious generations of yore. Having said this, it is of great concern to ponder what will happen to the great rock events such as Reading Festival or the Isle of Wight Festival when all the big bands reach the age of the members of the Rolling Stones… One of the few saving graces of the current BBC Radio 1 UK Top 40 is the resurgence of Fallout Boy and yet the album upon which this success is based, Save Rock and Roll conveys, in its title alone, the dire situation facing the world of Rock and Roll today.

William Sandbach

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