Even if “rock is dead” has become an overplayed claim, we can all agree that 2014 didn’t produce many great counter-arguments.
Coldplay, who rock about as hard as the Kidz Bop Kids, earned the best-selling rock album of 2014. Eek. And that’s only if you count albums released in 2014. In the rock realm, Coldplay actually got outsold last year by Lorde (and her music is very tenuously “rock” in the traditional sense) and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack — and nearly every song on that soundtrack came out before Chris Pratt was even born. While Guardians shows that people still love rock, it hardly indicates the genre is alive and kicking.
Thankfully, 2015 is shaping up to be a much stronger year for rock. Fall Out Boy tops the Billboard 200 this week with American Beauty/American Psycho, which moved 218,000 units (either through traditional albums, track-equivalent albums or streaming-equivalent albums). That number gave FOB the biggest sales week for a rock album since Coldplay’s Ghost Stories moved 383,000 copies in May 2014.
But they’re not the only act buoying rock into the top 10 of the Billboard 200. Both Marilyn Manson and the Decemberists notched big sales weeks for their debuts. Portland’s Pitchfork darlings debuted at No. 7, followed by the ’90s shock-rock king at No. 8. (The Decemberists’ What a Terrible World, What a Wonderful World just barely outsold Manson’s The Pale Emperor; both moved about 51,000 apiece.)
For comparison, you have to go back to 2013 to find a better week for the top three rock albums (not including soundtracks). The last time the top three rock albums on the Billboard 200 sold more than 40,000 apiece was the week ending Nov. 2, 2013, when albums from Pearl Jam, Paul McCartney and the Avett Brothers gave rock a lively showing on the chart.
FOB, Manson and the Decemberists aside, we can also celebrate a respectable debut from last week’s most acclaimed rock album: Sleater-Kinney‘s No Cities to Love, their first album since 2005, bowed at No. 18 with 28,000. No, it didn’t burn up the charts, but for a band that exists light-years away from the world of radio rock, that’s not half bad.
Keep your fingers crossed (and devil horns in the air) that rock continues a healthy return this year.
–Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield and Silvio Pietroluongo.