16/11/2011 21:51 | By Tom Townshend, contributor, MSN Music

Is rock dead?

With less rock music in the charts than at any time in recent memory, Tom Townshend asks if this once dominant genre has had its day…


Jimmy Page (© Rex)

Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin

How many rock records do you think have made the UK Top 10 singles chart this year? Go on, have a guess.

If your guess was any greater than one, you were wrong. There has only been one rock single to chart inside the all-important Top 10 in 2011.

And it was by the Goo Goo Dolls. Anyone want to own up to buying that? It's ok, we won't point and laugh.

This proves nothing, of course. Rock fans have always been more album-centric in their buying habits. After all, the mighty Led Zeppelin didn't release singles in Britain during their career, preferring to present their work in LP form.

So that's where the rock will be, won't it? In the album charts.

Sure enough, April 2011 saw Foo Fighters get to number one with Wasting Light. And then, hmm... Well then it wasn't 'til September until rock was back at the top, thanks to the return of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

It was a bit of a rock-less summer, all told. Kasabian's Velociraptor! also triumphed in September, only to be replaced by the mum-pleasing sounds of James Morrison followed by the best of Steps. Come on rock, fight back!

Do we count Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds as rock? In this war, we're gonna need it on side, despite its tendency towards laidback melodies. Because otherwise the album charts belong to pop and R&B, with a smattering of indie. Rock is on the ropes.

Kurt Cobain (© Rex)

Kurt Cobain

The titles in this week's Top 100 albums would also suggest we're suffering one of the worst rock droughts in music history. Worse even than 1989.

If we're not careful, the government will have to impose an air guitar ban. There's clearly not enough to go round.

Apart from those aforementioned keepers of the faith, and a few metal and punk lone wolves such as Disturbed or You Me At Six, rock is mostly represented in the current chart by reissues and compilations from another era.

Pink Floyd are there, and as long as there are students they probably always will be. The 20th anniversary deluxe edition of Nirvana's Nevermind is there too, to remind us we're far older than we like to think.

Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits is still selling way more than their last album did (Chinese Democracy was actually released in the end, wasn't it? Sometimes we think we imagined it).

And bless my soul if that isn't a Rush live album we see; a new entry at number 70. It brings a tear to the eye.

And no, we're not ignoring the fact that Metallica's collaboration with Lulu... sorry, we mean Metallica's collaboration with Lou Reed on their album called Lulu poked its nose just inside the Top 40 last week. It's just that we haven't yet decided if the record itself is music or a very frightening cheese dream we once had. We'll get back to you on that.

We don't doubt for a second that the hoary rock gods of old will always have a place in our hearts and our charts, but where in hell are the newcomers? Have teenagers stopped turning their amps up to 11? Do they even know where that joke comes from? We're getting worried there's a generation for whom a rock really is out of the question.

Cee Lo Green (© PA)

Cee Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley

And we need look no further than that barometer of lowest common denominator thinking, X Factor, to see just what dire straits rock is in.

For the show's rock-themed week, girl group Rhythmix (as they were then known) were given a mash-up of Tik Tok by US pop sensation Ke$ha and a hip hop standard by Salt & Pepper, while The Risk were given Gnarls Barkley's modern dance classic Crazy.

It took Gary Barlow to point out that the groups' mentor Tulisa (of UK rap act N-Dubz) had a strange idea of what constituted rock music.

Has it come to this? That on a panel of supposed music experts, only the songwriter for Take That will speak up for a once proud and all-conquering genre?

Where are the new bands and where are the new fans? Can it be true that all anyone under 25 wants to be is a rapper or Rihanna? Why are kids making beats when they could be banging drums? Can the looping of a sample on Garageband ever match the thrill of cranking out a riff in a garage?

What can rock do to survive when we now live in a world where the most famous Gaga is Lady, not Radio?

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Is rock dead?

Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results

  1.  
    5 %
    Yes, it's over.
    3 votes
  2. 84 %
    No, it's only sleeping. Rock will rule again!
    51 votes
  3.  
    3 %
    Not quite but it will be soon.
    2 votes
  4.  
    8 %
    No, but it won't ever be more than a niche genre again.
    5 votes

Total Responses: 61
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