Big-selling records from homegrown artists such as Sam Smith, Paloma Faith and Ed Sheeran have helped pop overtake rock as the most popular music genre in the United Kingdom.
According to new figures released by labels trade body the BPI, pop accounted for more than a third (34.5%) of album sales in the U.K. in 2014 – its highest level since 1999. Pop also made up almost half (48.8%) of the compilations market, claiming six of the top 10 biggest-sellers of the year.
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For a sixth consecutive year, the genre also ruled the singles market, making up more than a third (36%) of all singles sold.
Historically pop has long vied with rock as the most popular music genre in the U.K., with four out of the last seven years seeing rock land the biggest share of the albums market. In 2013, it was once again the leading genre, accounting for 33.8% of all albums sold.
Although 2014 saw pop narrowly overtake rock, new albums by Royal Blood, Foo Fighters and AC/DC helped the genre maintain its popularity among U.K. record buyers and account for 33.2% of the U.K. albums market.
Despite having seldom come within a country mile of a distortion pedal, acoustic troubadour George Ezra was rock’s biggest selling artist in both the Official Albums chart and Singles Chart, with his breakout single “Budapest” helping the genre claim its biggest share of the singles market in four years (24.3%).
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EDM also enjoyed a bumper 2014, claiming its biggest share of the U.K. singles market since 2006 (16.2%) and maintaining its second place position in the compilations market with 23% share. However, EDM’s share of the albums market fell to 7.7%, down from 8.3% the previous year.
The next most popular genres in terms of albums sold were easy listening (6.5% market share), R&B (5.6%), classical (3.2%), hip-hop (2.7%) and country, which following Dolly Parton’s headline-making Glastonbury performance, increased its share of the albums market from 1.7% to 2.3%.
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Country’s rising popularity in the U.K. appears to be no flash in the pan, either. Earlier this year, The Shires became the first home-grown country act to score a Top 10 album with its debut release Brave.
“Be it pop hits, rock classics, dance anthems, classical compositions or country collaborations, British artists and labels continue to work together to make music loved by fans across the nation,” said BPI spokesperson Lynne McDowell in a statement.
“The U.K has a rich and diverse cultural heritage and we can be proud of the cross-genre music royalty that we have produced down through the decades to this very day,” McDowell went on to say.