RAP IS CRAP IS THE KINGBad and sad news from the world of music:

Rock is no longer the top dog in music.

For the first time ever, R&B/hip-hop has surpassed rock to become the biggest music genre in the U.S. in terms of total consumption, according to Nielsen Music’s 2017 year-end report.

Eight of the 10 most listened-to artists of the year came from the R&B/hip-hop genre, led by Drake, with 4.8 million album equivalent units (combined album sales, song downloads and streams), and Kendrick Lamar (3.7 million). Rap also experienced the second-highest growth of any genre, spiking 25% over 2016 and coming in just behind Latin music, which was up 30% in total volume.

Rap might be growing but its top dog status arguably owes more to the collapse of its musical competition. And it has to be seen against the backdrop of the overall continuing decline of if not the popular music itself than certainly the old-style music industry:

Album and song sales were down overall in 2017, dropping 19% against the year before. But streaming surged in their wake, growing 43% with 400 billion streams total (compared with 252 billion in 2016).

Streaming killed the radio star. It’s certainly killing the music album as we know it. “Album equivalent units” my ass.

Ed Sheeran’s Divide was the most popular album of the year with 2.8 million album equivalent units. It was followed by Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. (2.7 million) and Taylor Swift’s Reputation (2.3 million).

Reputation was released in mid-November, but still sold a whopping 1.9 million copies in 2017 — enough to make it the top-selling album of 2017. It’s one of only two albums to surpass 1 million in sales last year, along with Divide.

This is all rather staggering for anyone with a modicum of long term interest in the music industry. It wasn’t that long ago, after all, – the early 00s – when I used to scan the Billboard Top 50 and see, for example, Creed’s “Human Clay” still rattling around the charts even after having sold over 10 million copies in the US alone. Go back earlier and mega-sellers used to be quite common; forget Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” which was a freak all in its own category, but just think of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” or Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”. Selling one or two or three million units was so common in the olden days that it was difficult to stay in the charts for any length of time without scoring a gold or a platinum status. Now you have to be an absolute top international megastar (like Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift) to achieve that.

There are no doubt many complex explanations for today’s sad state of affairs. But one of the simpler ones is that most music nowadays is crap. Writing good tunes is a dying art. Look at the top 50 albums in Australia this week – only 20 of them are albums with new material, released over the past few months; the other thirty are compilations, “best of” collections, soundtracks, concert albums and some old albums that continue to sell.

Now get off my lawn and learn how to music properly.

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