Why Queen, Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush are topping rock charts in 2022

Regardless of Gene Simmons’ protestations, rock is certainly not dead. It really depends on how you define “rock”.

This week, Billboard announced an overhaul of its rock and alternative charts. The updated Top Rock and Alternative Albums chart will now feature “all tracks considered rock, alternative (even if core-pop or core-any other genre), and/or hard rock will be eligible to appear.”

And it’s good ! We now have a country singer-songwriter (Zach Bryan) alongside an alternative-leaning pop star (Billie Eilish) and a modern metal band (Motionless in White) on the same list.

But at first glance, this list may transport you back to the late ’70s. Three of the top five chart entries come from acts who were most popular around 40 years ago, including Fleetwood Mac, Queen and Kate Bush. Bush also topped the improved Top Rock Songs chart, which also underwent the same open-eligibility overhaul as the Albums chart.

Although the presence of veteran acts not promoting new music may cause unrest – where are all the New artists? – there are reasons behind all this revitalized success: Queen will probably remain on the list for years because, well, their music is ubiquitous, Fleetwood Mac had a bump a while ago on TikTok, and Kate Bush is rising high on “Running Up That Hill” being used prominently on stranger things.

Rather, the new charts redefine rock and alternative music to be (a little) more inclusive while more accurately reflecting the tastes of today’s music consumers. Rock is not dead – at its best it defies age or category. And that’s certainly more than anxious white people.