The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

2010: A Music Year in Review

Friday, January 14: 11:41 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Over the last few weeks, several pundits have made splashes with articles declaring the death of “rock ‘n roll.”  After close examination, we here at the Museum see these arguments as more of a testament to the decline of the music industry and not the art form that we celebrate.  The statistics below are the underpinning for these writers’ arguments.  Additional hay has been made by the fact that other stats for the top songs of the year have been reviewed by certain critics and determined by them to include only two or three “rock” songs.  You can probably guess where this latter revelation or “fact” takes me……. how do you define rock

When you step back and take a look at history, so called experts have been predicting or claiming that rock and roll is or will be dead for almost as long as it has been around.  The reality is that more folks, and especially young people,  turn to this art form (as we righteously define it, e.g. rock, RnB, urban, hip hop, blues, etc.) to express themselves than they ever did.  Ya just don’t see gaggles of folk, jazz, or classical, combos spontaneously bubbling up everywhere to make music and change the world.

All in all,  rock and roll remains the art form of choice to make the most noise about how you’re feeling, what’s happening,  how the world should be …..or just to entertain!  Look at Facebook, go to South By Southwest, check out YouTube!

Moreover, I don’t see this changing for lots of reasons.  Yes, it will continue to evolve.  Yes, the changes will challenge many of us who are long in the tooth.  There will even be those who will conjure up new labels to describe it.  For me, a couple of my favorite artists have already said it best.   To quote the Showmen’s hit, “It Will Stand”,  from 1961, "Some will rename it, You might as well claim it, It will be here forever and ever, Ain’t gonna fade, Never no never.”  Or more succinctly as Billy Joel might say,” It’s still rock and roll to me.”

Here’s a nice recap of 2010 in music, according to the Billboard charts.  Some highlights:

·    Album Sales continued to fall in 2010 (down 12.8% from 2009)
·    Only four albums sold more than two million copies.  In 2000, 32 albums sold that much!
·    Digital album downloads posted 13% growth, accounting for nearly 26.5% of all U.S. album sales
·    Eminem’s Recovery (3.42 million) was the top-selling album of 2010.  He previously had the top-selling album of the year in 2002, when The Eminem Show sold 7.61 million copies.  Eminem is the first artist in the SoundScan era (since 1991) to earn the top-selling album in more than one year.

Top Selling Albums of 2010
1)    Eminem Recovery (3.42 million)
2)    Lady Antebellum Need You Now (3.09 million)
3)    Taylor Swift Speak Now (2.96 million)
4)    Justin Bieber My World 2.0 (2.32 million)
5)    Susan Boyle The Gift (1.85 million)
6)    Lady Gaga The Fame (1.59 million)
7)    Sade Soldier of Love (1.3 million)
8)    Drake Thank Me Later (1.27 million)
9)    Usher Raymond V Raymond (1.18 million)
10)   Ke$ha Animal (1.14 million)

Top Selling Digital Songs of 2010

1)    Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg “California Gurls” (4.4 million)
2)    Train “Hey, Soul Sister” (4.31 million)
3)    Eminem feat. Rihanna “Love The Way You Lie” (4.25 million)
4)    Taio Cruz “Dynamite” (4.08 million)
5)    B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams “Airplanes” (4.0 million)
6)    Usher feat. “OMG” (3.76 million)
7)    Eminem “Not Afraid” (3.41 million)
8)    Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are” (3.28 million)
9)    Taio Cruz feat. Ludacris “Break Your Heart” (3.25 million)
10)    Lady Antebellum “Need You Now” (3.18 million)

The Year in Review (From

Eminem's comeback reached another landmark today, as his Recovery LP was officially confirmed as the United States' best-selling album of 2010, with 3.42 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The MC had previously nabbed the top-selling album of the year in 2002, when The Eminem Show moved 7.61 million.

It's the first time since SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991 that an act has copped the top-selling album in more than one year.

Recovery is the biggest-selling album of a year since 2007, when Josh Groban's Noel sold 3.70 million. In 2009, Taylor Swift's Fearless was tops with 3.22 million, and in 2008, Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III reigned with 2.87 million.

Recovery made big news when it arrived on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 1 back on July 10, 2010. It was Em's sixth chart-topper (and sixth No. 1 in a row) and launched with 741,000 copies in its first week. At that point, it was biggest single-sales week of the year for an album, although that feat that would later be broken by the arrival of Taylor Swift's Speak Now, which shifted 1.05 million when it exploded at No. 1 on the Nov. 13, 2010, chart.

Speaking of Speak Now, after only 10 weeks in release, the set finishes 2010 as the third-best seller of the year with 2.96 million. It stands behind Lady Antebellum's Need You Now, which is No. 2 with 3.09 million.

Even with the comparatively late release date of Speak Now, Swift is also 2010's best-selling act in terms of overall albums, with 4.47 million sold. She's just ahead of Eminem, who shifted 4.32 million last year.

Swift is no stranger to the year-end top 10-selling albums tally, as she's placed a set among the 10 biggest albums every year since the 2007 recap. That year, her self-titled album was the ninth-biggest seller, with 1.95 million. In 2008, it was the No. 6 best, with 1.60 million. And, as earlier mentioned, Swift's Fearless was 2009's biggest album.
At No. 4 on 2010's year-end best-selling albums list is Justin Bieber's My World 2.0 (2.32 million), followed by Susan Boyle's The Gift (No. 5; 1.85 million), Lady Gaga's The Fame (No. 6; 1.59 million), Sade's Soldier of Love (No. 7; 1.30 million), Drake's Thank Me Later (No. 8; 1.27 million), Usher's Raymond v. Raymond (No. 9; 1.18 million) and Ke$ha's Animal (No. 10; 1.14 million).

All of 2010's top 10 albums were released in 2010, except for Lady Gaga's The Fame, which was originally issued on Oct. 28, 2008. It ranked No. 4 for 2009 with 2.24 million and No. 6 in 2010, in a rather complicated situation: Gaga's The Fame Monster EP, released on Nov. 24, 2009, came in at No. 21 for '10. But, sales of the deluxe edition of The Fame (which include the Monster EP) were counted toward the older album, which certainly contributed to its sustained sales in '10.

That situation may have made the album the only one of 2010's top 10 not to reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200. It peaked at No. 2 on the Jan. 16, 2010, chart.
During the 52 weeks ended Jan. 2, album sales in the U.S. fell 12.8% to 326.2 million units from 373.9 million units in the prior year, as the sales of CDs fell by nearly 20% for the fourth year in a row. Digital album downloads fared better, posting 13% growth to 86.3 million from the 76.4 million scanned during 2009, accounting for nearly 26.5% of all U.S. album sales last year, according to SoundScan. (The top-selling digital album of '10 was also Eminem's Recovery, with 852,000 downloads.)

While Katy Perry's Teenage Dream album finishes 2010 as the 14th biggest-selling overall album (997,000), she does claim the top-selling digital song of the year, as her former Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 "California Gurls" moved 4.40 million downloads. Perry has three of the 40 top-selling songs of last year, as "Teenage Dream" is No. 12 (3.01 million) and "Firework" is No. 28 (2.33 million).

In total, five songs cleared the 4 million sales mark in 2010, up from four that did it in 2009. On the 2010 list, "Gurls" is followed by Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" (4.31 million), Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" (featuring Rihanna, 4.25 million), Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" (4.08 million) and B.o.B's "Airplanes" (featuring Hayley Williams, 4.00 million).

The year-end sales totals for "Gurls" are off a bit from the champ of 2009, the Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow," which sold 4.76 million that year.
A pair of acts double up in the top 10 digital songs tally, as both Eminem and Taio Cruz place titles in the region. Em owns the No. 3 slot with "Lie" in addition to the No. 7 placing with "Not Afraid" (3.41 million). Cruz does it with "Dynamite" at No. 4 as well as "Break Your Heart" (featuring Ludacris) at No. 9, with 3.25 million).

As for the rest of the year's top 10-selling songs, Usher's "OMG" (featuring is No. 6 with 3.76 million, Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are" is No. 8 with 3.28 million and Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" is No. 10 with 3.18 million.

Overall digital song sales grew 1% in 2010 as sales increased to 1.17 billion downloads last year, compared with 2009's 1.16 billion.

(additional reporting by Ed Christman)

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