If you look at the latest Billboard 200 chart, you might be surprised at some of the names that appear on the list. Nestled amongst albums from contemporary artists like Pop Smoke, LANY and Juice Wrld are albums by classic rock era by artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, AC/DC Creedence Clearwater Revival and Queen.
There are some logical explanations for the reappearance of some of the classic era artists. In the case of Fleetwood Mac, a viral TikTok by Nathan Apodaca, an Idaho potato worker featured Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” The video clip of Apodaca sipping juice and lip-syncing the 1977 single by Fleetwood Mac propelled the single back on the charts and Mac’s “Rumours” and “Greatest Hits” albums as well.
Van Halen had three albums appear in the top 100, the group’s first album, “1984” and a greatest hits compilation all hit the charts after news of the death of Van Halen’s legendary guitarist Edward Van Halen. It is not unusual for an artist’s album to reappear on the charts after their death.
Bon Jovi is the only classic rock era artist on the list that has an album of original music on the charts. Aptly named “2020,” Bon Jovi’s newest album’s themes address the pandemic and social unrest. Even though Bon Jovi started writing and recording the album last year, it took a new direction after all of the events of “2020.”
AC/DC has been back in the news lately because they finally confirmed that the band has reunited with singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd. The band released an advance single, “Shot In The Dark,” from the forthcoming album entitled "PWR/UP.” The song sticks to the classic AC/DC formula, and the band’s return to the limelight has pushed the band’s “Back in Black” back on the charts. The new album comes out Nov. 13.
Creedence Clearwater’s return to the charts is a bit perplexing. The group recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their “Cosmo’s Factory” album, which resulted in some increased publicity. Their greatest hits compilation “Chronicle” has been on the album charts for a total of 492 non-consecutive weeks. As impressive as that is, two other albums on the current chart have been on much longer. Bob Marley’s “Legend” compilation has been on the charts 647 total weeks, and Journey’s greatest hits compilation has been on 637 weeks.
Queen entered the U.S charts this week with the newly released live recording with Adam Lambert entitled “Live: Around the World.” The album hit number one in the U.K, but in the United States the album debuted at number 56 this week, while the group’s 1981 greatest hits album is at 40 on the charts.
A handful of albums on the charts does not mean there has been a massive classic rock revival, but it is an interesting side note in a year when the recording industry has been dramatically impacted by the cancellation of major tours. There may be a nostalgic element to the reappearance of classic rock artists, or maybe younger fans are discovering some of these artists for the first time.
Once live music fully returns we will likely see some of the former members or current lineups of those bands filling arenas and stadiums.
Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.