Rock Overtakes Pop as UK's Most Popular Genre, Official Data Confirms

40 percent of 2013's best-sellers classified as rock, Top 5 still in pop domain though.

Ultimate Guitar

The latest Official UK Charts Company report had some nice news for guitar-driven fans, confirming that rock has officially overtaken pop as the country's most popular musical style.

According to Guardian, 40 percent of 2013's 10,000 highest-selling albums belong to the rock genre. Although Top 5 best-sellers are from the pop domain, the given figure was enough to earn rock the most popular genre title.

Rock's triumph in 2013 came after two years of pop domination. The light style still rules the singles charts, outselling rock with 36.2 percent to 21.4.

"While the appeal of pop remains consistent, the popularity of rock music tends to ebb and flow a little more, reflecting as it does the excitement that can quickly build around new acts as they burst through," British Phonographic Industry (BPI) spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo stated. "With Arctic Monkeys now taking on near-iconic status, and the likes of Jake Bugg and Bastille to name a few connecting with a new generation of fans, rock music looks set to enjoy another wonderfully vibrant period."

The list of crucial 2013 rock artists in the UK includes Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg, Bastille and Rod Stewart. Prominent pop artists on the other hand include the likes of Emile Sande and One Direction.

68 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bastille is just pop??
    Not to sound like an elitist but... it's also damn annyoing. Me + getting up early in the morning + "Pompeii" playing on the radio = good dose of morning rage.
    Surely rock music becoming more widespread by definition makes it pop music? (As pop music is short for popular music?) Also since when was Jake Bugg considered rock? And Rod Stewart hasn't been rock for about 30-odd years.
    I think most people these days seem to define 'pop' music as repetitive generic beats and generic lyrics about love, sex and the dancefloor and all that.
    I don't know man, I think that it's impossible to draw the line between pop and rock anymore, furthermore "what's rock" I think has changed from what it was originally, I think neither The Beatles or Elvis would be considered "rock" would they have appeared nowadays. I think that what's Pop or Rock is now defined by the artist him/herself and not the music, for example, nobody really considers someone like Avril Lavigne to be "Rock" (except for MTV) even when a bunch of her music could probably fit the description of what a Rock song should be, it's still just Pop music, but we also have bands like Aerosmith or Bon Jovi, or all the Glam Metal bands, which are no much different to what Pop music is, but they're still considered Rock or Metal regardless, so it's clear that defining music genres has become incredibly subjective. If Metallica's next album sounds just like a Michael Jackson record, people would just invent a new label to keep calling them "metal" just because it's Metallica and if Justin Bieber comes out dressed all in black and shrieking lyrics about Cthulhu and stuff, it'll still be considered as "crappy Pop music".
    Yeah, they're calling Taylor Swift, etc. rock. I don't think we should be celebrating that much, otherwise where are all the proper rock bands' awards? Personally, and I want to say I'm not a genre elitist of any kind, but I get really annoyed when these people say that they are rock gods (like that idiot Kayne calling himself the King of Rock or something like that), or they make rock music when they obviously don't.
    I will believe this if you tell me where the boundaries between rock and pop are and who sets them.
    "With Arctic Monkeys now taking on near-iconic status," Its unbelievable how overrated these guys are
    They are talking about the U.K. here, with their 5 albums all reaching number 1, and managing to avoid every album sounding too similar, it's understandable that they'd write something like that!
    No, they aren't. Their first to albums are easily in Top 10 indie-rock records of all time, Humbug is a masterpiece of it's own kind, and Suck it & See, and AM are both beautifully crafted, elegant, sexy, atmospheric and romantic records with masterful lyrics and some of the best instrumental work in recent years. They are, along with The Black Keys, Strokes, Muse, GD, QOTSA and Radiohead, the best band of the 21st century.
    The Strokes had one great album, one good album, an okay album, and some not-so-good albums. I wouldn't put them as one of the best, although Is This It is a wonderful album. The Black Keys are massively overrated, and they're simply a poor man's White Stripes. Speaking of the White Stripes, check them out. You'd probably agree with me that they're what the Black Keys wish they could ever be when you listen to an awesome record like Elephant or De Stijl. I love FWNM and Humbug, and I really liked AM and WPSIATWIN, but SIAS doesn't do it for me. I didn't want to check out the Arctic Monkeys back when that was their latest record. They're really great overall though, and I wouldn't say that they're overrated. I'd say that Radiohead is a little on the verge of being called a "21st century" band, though. Pablo Honey and OK Computer were 20th century, but then again, stuff like Kid A and In Rainbows are incredibly significant releases.
    Radiohead can be considered both a '90s and 2000s band, but I actually think they got even more innovative with their 2000's work.
    Yeah dude, you lost me right away with the Black Keys.
    There's absolutely NO reason to hate The Keys. They are magnificent. Don't listen to what the others say or just listen to a few songs and jump to a conclusion that they suck. Listen to Thickfreakness or Rubber factory and you'll get that they are GREAT.
    they are a bunch of dicks, but that doesn't mean that they don't know how to write good music
    think of the black keys as the AC/DC of blues/garage rock. they can get a little old but the black keys are great.
    The Strokes... one of the best bands of the 21st century... The rest I could see an argument for, but the god damn Strokes? And by GD I hope you don't mean Green Day. I dig Green Day dude but to call them one of the best bands in the 21st century is ridiculous.
    I have to disagree. Favorite Worst Nightmare is an absolutely badass album. Same with Humbug.
    They're a GOOD band. I don't think they're a GREAT band. The only song of theirs I really truly love is Brianstorm.
    It's unbelievable that they are being called a rock band rather than a pop band
    Well if Imagine dragons counts as rock its no surprise. Seems like they got confused and forgot difference between rock and pop.
    I hope this will lead to Rock making a comeback in the mainstream. I want some 50s Rock and Roll again
    That's because the "geniuses" these days have completely no idea what real rock is. Simple as that.
    Thanks for saying it. Other than QOSA and a few others there hasn't been any real rock production in at least 10 years. Arctic Monkeys? Really? Give me a freakin break.....
    Didn't Josh Homme produce an Arctic Monkeys record?
    Yep, 2009's 'Humbug'. Not that I really understand how somebody can look at the last ten years worth of rock music and claim that the production is lacking. One of the most consistent complaints about new albums on this site is 'over-production', so...
    Rock music has never sold that well compared to pop acts. In fact, the same is true for rap. Both genres remain on the margins of the pop radar. It seems every few years they make an impact on the charts but not a lot. For example, Tupac and Nirvana sold a lot of albums but these sales did not even begin to compare with the above average pop sensation. Its time to accept that rock is a lot like jazz. Charles Mingus never outsold a pop act in his time but his records remain far more important and are still listened to. I feel the same way about rock/rap/techno anything thats not pop which is meant to be digested quickly and then forgotten about. Amen
    "Its time to accept that rock is a lot like jazz." Ain't nothing wrong with that. Being the "in" thing is overrated. Classics stand longer than popular opinion which has a short attention span.
    It's because pop music doesn't sell albums as much as it sells singles.. rock is still far behind pop in terms of popularity in the uk. Having said that, there is some smashing indie over here at the moment, long may it last
    Really ? No wonder Lady Gaga's more interesting than the Arctic Monkeys.Anything with a pumping, steady beat and plenty of dynamics is rock these days. Hell, it doesn't even need a guitar in the minds of people of my generation. I'd rather they come up with a new genre name than just rehashing a genre which new music clearly doesn't belong to. Yes, I'm encouraging hipsterism. Whoopdeedoo.
    Bastille?? Jake Bugg?? Those guys are worse than pop music!!! Those guys bring shame on music, let alone the rock genre!!! Rock's domination has come from bands like Black Sabbath and Avenged Sevenfold having UK number one albums. Pearl Jam, Motorhead, and Korn all had very successful albums in the UK
    It ain't rock, it if ain't dad rock. There hasn't been any trve rock music since the past 15 years. Too bad we get many falsies these days calling Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg, QOTSA or whoever the **** is the trend to circle jerk in rock.
    I like that the add Rod Stewart as one of their examples of rock. A bit late on that one?
    The problem is that most people thing that any band that had any sort of beat (that isn't rap) is pop... and that anything that had a prominent guitar (that isn't country) is rock. Then there is the dilema when a band that got famous with rock, like radiohead, releases an album with most of it being electronic, like Kid A, and stick a new genera on it, like Art Rock. Thats the way generas are. They evolve. Indie Rock came from Alt rock which came from punk and metal which came from Rock which came from Rock n' Roll which came from Blues. But in the end, we call it all rock.
    Medal is a post which shits on the Arctic Monkeys? Hmmmm. Less sense around here than I thought.
    The album "Wolf's Law" is one of my favorite UK albums that came out last year.
    All those rock artists, including todays Rod Stewart, are as far away from rock as you can get. When I think of rock, I think of something you can at least head bang a little to, which you can't with any of the artists mentioned. Why is it that anything that would have been called rock 10-15 years ago is now considered metal?
    While I agree that many of the artists here are definitely on the pop end of the rock spectrum, what it sound like you're talking about is hard rock or metal. Rock doesn't have to be aggressive or hard/heavy. Rock is an incredibly broad label, and I'd actually argue that these poppier artists are much closer to what was originally called rock and roll than the kid of stuff your talking about. I think a big part of it comes from the fact that so many people have conflicting opinions about what does or doesn't make something one genre or another. What used to be called rock would now be called folk or country; what was hard rock is now just rock; what was metal is now hard rock; what was country is now Americana; what was pop is now adult alternative, and what was dance is now called pop. The only thing that hasn't really changed categorization is rap (but that's really only because it's based on an undeniable vocal style).
    What parallel universe do you live in. Pop and Rock are 2 different things, totally. always have been. Its all pop now and goofballs like you are trying to sub divide it and then label it as you see fit. You kids all need a lesson in music history and theory....
    So what are the Beatles then? Loads of bands have and will continue to blur your definitions.