US music industry magazine Billboard has published its annual year-end chart documenting the 200 best-selling albums of 2021, and there’s not one rock/metal album released in 2021 on the list.
With Billboard chart rankings factoring in radio airplay statistics alongside physical and digital sales plus online streaming stats, their year-end charts naturally skew towards mainstream, radio-friendly artists, but none-the-less, the 2021 list will make sobering reading for rock and metal fans.
The top end of the year-end Billboard 200 list is completely dominated by solo artists, with not one band appearing in the top 20. Canadian rapper Drake is at number 5 with Certified Lover Boy, Taylor Swift takes the number 4 slot with Folklore, while the year’s third best-selling album in the US is Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon by Pop Smoke, which was released in July 2020, five months after the 20-year-old rapper was shot and killed during a robbery at an Airbnb property in Los Angeles.
The year’s second-biggest album in America is Sour by pop punk-influenced 18-year-old Disney star Olivia Rodrigo, while 2021s best-selling album in the US is Dangerous: The Double Album by country singer Morgan Wallen, who made headlines this year after a video showing him using racial slurs went viral.
And the biggest-selling rock album of 2021 in the United States? That’ll be Queen’s Greatest Hits, first released in 1981, which registers on the list at number 23, one place higher than Machine Gun Kelly’s 2020 album Tickets To My Downfall. Queen’s Greatest Hits finally broke into the Billboard top 10 last November, after 413 weeks on the charts.
The only other rock albums listed among the top 100 sellers of 2021 will be instantly familiar to rock fans worldwide. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, released in 1977, is at number 34, Journey’s Greatest Hits is at number 66, AC/DC blockbuster Back In Black is at number 68, Nevermind by Nirvana is at number 97, and Metallica’s self-titled ‘Black Album’, re-released this year for it’s 30th anniversary, is at number 99.
Those looking for positive news for younger rock acts can should take note that Ayron Jones and Mammoth WVH fared well on Billboard’s year-end Mainstream Rock Artists chart, placing behind Foo Fighters, while Eurovision Song Contest winners Måneskin are number one on Billboard’s Top New Rock Artists chart. There is good news too for Yorkshire’s Bring Me The Horizon, who topped the Mainstream Rock Songs chart with Teardrops, from 2020’s Post Human: Survival Horror EP.