This Sunday, May 15, the Billboard Music Awards 2022 will take place, an event that will take place in Las Vegas and will feature the participation of artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, Ed Sheeran, Travis Scott and Rauw Alejandro. Likewise, The Weeknd is the most nominated artist with 17 nominations; Doja Cat follows with 14 and Justin Bieber with 13. Regarding the musical event, it is curious to take a look at the past and examine which are the best-selling rock records in history, a musical genre that used to dominate, but has been displaced by pop in the last two decades.
Rock has been one of the genres throughout the history of music that has generated the most influence on culture and, also, one of the ones that has sold the most millions of records. The acceptance of bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles or Pink Floyd was represented in the penetration they achieved in the industry and in the reception they had in music-loving households when they decided to take home a vinyl, cassette or CD (including digital copies) of these iconic bands.
The digital magazine Expansión assures that AC/DC leads the top of the best-selling albums with Back in Black, one of the most iconic titles in history and that it achieved 50 million units in sales, just behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller. This album contains iconic songs like Hell Bells and Back in Black, the album’s namesake. The consolidation of this album occurred just after the entry of vocalist Brian Johnson to the band, who came to replace Bon Scott after his death in 1980.
The British quartet Pink Floyd managed to include two of their albums in the best-selling in history. After experimenting for years to consolidate their sound, and after the release of titles like Middle and Atom Heart Mother, the group managed to condense their psychedelic and progressive proposal on the album Dark Side of The Moon (1973) and which, according to Expansión estimates and other databases, achieved the historic sale of 45 million copies. In this installment songs like Time, Money and Us and Them stand out.
The group made up of David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright also sold 33 million copies of their album The Wall, released in 1980 and which quickly became a trend thanks to songs like Another Brick in the Wall.
The Beatles, probably the most famous band of all time, were also not far behind in terms of sales of music titles. The Liverpool quartet has achieved historic sales thanks to albums such as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (32 million copies sold), Abbey Road (30 million) and their work simply titled “1”, which was released on the year 2000 and got 31 million people to take it home.
There are bands with less popularity, but that undoubtedly marked milestones within the industry and the genre. Eagles with their work baptized as Hotel California achieved the sale of 32 million units in 1976; they even surpassed these sales by releasing their album The Greatest Hits (1971-1975), which managed to attract the attention of 42 million music lovers.
Likewise, groups such as Meat Loaf and Led Zeppelin had a massive acceptance of their compositions by selling millions of copies of their albums Bat Out of Hell (50 million) and Led Zeppelin IV (37 million), respectively. Also on the list is Fleetwood Mac, a UK band that sold 40 million units of their work Rumors, which is mainly remembered for the song Dreams, thanks to the interpretation of Stevie Nicks.
There are groups that share an estimated number in terms of sales of musical works. This is the case of Metallica with the release of their self-titled album in 1991, which managed to sell around 30 million copies. A similar number was achieved by Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana and Dire Strites with their works Appetite for Destruction, Nevermind and Brother in Arms, respectively.
The count of bands named above is only superficial, as it broadly encompasses some of the most iconic albums from the late 1960s and the start of the new millennium.
The truth is that pop was consolidated as the new dominant genre. Although bands such as Weezer, White Stripes, Radiohead and Queens of the Stone Age kept the genre alive, “success was both for artists that Facundo Macchi had been working on before, such as Beyoncé and Britney Spears, as well as for new and emerging artists such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga,” said El Observador about this musical paradigm shift.
The Uruguayan media also assured that in the decades that the end of the 20th century gave way to, electronic music began to gain ground and at some point in its progress it met pop music to form a new super genre that currently dominates the industry attention. “Already in the last few years, between 2009 and 2010, electro-pop was consolidated,” said El Observador.