Rock Is No Longer the Most Popular Genre in the U.S.

Kendrick Lamar © RMV/REX/Shutterstock
Kendrick Lamar © RMV/REX/Shutterstock
Photo of Ryan Kristobak
Music Editor18 July 2017

For the first time, hip hop and R&B music is the dominant genre in the U.S. musical landscape.

Nielsen Music recently released their annual mid-year report, and with it came some non-surprises: Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” is the year’s hottest track, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is the year’s top album, and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most popular vinyl, thanks to its 50th anniversary reissue. (Check out the charts below to find out who rounds out the top 10 in each category.)

And while the dethroning of rock as America’s favorite genre has long felt inevitable, to see it finally happen is still a bit shocking.

In terms of total consumption—“digital song sales with streaming equivalent on-demand audio”—hip hop and R&B scored 25.1 percent, whereas rock now sits at 23 percent. And while rock continues to win favor in physical sales (40 percent of the nation’s album sales), streaming’s continued surge is finally beginning to overtake the descent of records purchased.

For example, eight of the 10 most streamed songs fit somewhere along the spectrum between hip hop and R&B. Add in that “on-demand audio streams have reached over 184 billion streams so far in 2017, a considerable 62.4 percent increase over the same time period in 2016,” and that 29 percent of all on-demand streams in the U.S. belong to hip hop and R&B, and it’s not too hard to understand why this shift has finally occurred and will most likely only expand through time.

Download the full report here.

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 Albums (Based on Overall Equivalent Album Units)
1. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN. (1,772,000)
2. Ed Sheeran, ÷ (Divide) (1,749,000)
3. Drake, More Life (1,693,000)
4. Bruno Mars, 24K Magic (1,110,000)
5. Migos, Culture (1,002,000)
6. The Weeknd, Starboy (981,000)
7. Soundtrack, Moana (819,000)
8. Future, Future (760,000)
9. The Chainsmokers, Memories… Do Not Open (760,000)
10. Post Malone, Stoney (711,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 On-Demand Audio Streams
1. Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (354,245,000)
2. Kendrick Lamar, “Humble.” (345,980,000)
3. Future, “Mask Off” (327,281,000)
4. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito” (316,581,000)
5. Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee” (313,596,000)
6. Lil Uzi Vert, “XO TOUR Llif3” (277,610,000)
7. Post Malone featuring Quavo, “Congratulations” (273,964,000)
8. Kyle featuring Lil Yachty, “iSpy” (271,738,000)
9. Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” (261,115,000)
10. Big Sean, “Bounce Back” (230,278,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 On-Demand Song Streams (Audio and Video Combined)
1. Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (689,756,000)
2. Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee” (648,129,000)
3. Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, “Despacito” (624,375,000)
4. Bruno Mars, “That’s What I Like” (522,071,000)
5. Kendrick Lamar, “Humble.” (519,887,000)
6. Future, “Mask Off” (505,473,000)
7. Kyle featuring Lil Yachty, “Ispy” (494,113,000)
8. Post Malone featuring Quavo, “Congratulations” (483,252,000)
9. Lil Uzi Vert, “XO TOUR Llif3” (474,220,000)
10. Kodak Black, “Tunnel Vision” (388,186,000)

2017’s Mid-Year Top 10 Selling Vinyl Albums
1. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (39,000)
2. Soundtrack, La La Land (33,000)
3. Soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (30,000)
4. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend (30,000)
5. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (27,000)
6. Ed Sheeran ÷ (Divide) (27,000)
7. The Beatles, Abbey Road (26,000)
8. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain (24,000)
9. Tennis, Yours Conditionally (24,000)
10. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (23,000)

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