What is the biggest rock band today?

Maybe measured in who has sold the largest number of albums through the last 4 years, or something like that.

My guess would be U2 or coldplay, but I really have no idea.

My guess is U2. One of the few bands who can reliably fill stadiums and top the charts, both in America and abroad.

If it’s albums sold, it’s probably Linkin Park or maybe even Green Day with American Idiot.

Looking past that to bands that “make a difference” - they seem to cross over to mean more than just making music, then U2 has Coldplay beat - it’s not even a contest. Heck, with American Idiot, I would put Green Day out in front of Coldplay.

Coldplay is a big, mainstream rock band, but they don’t have a song like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or “Pride (in the name of love)” to point to as their anthemic song that pushes them into true Rock Star land…

I concur, it’s probably U2 or Coldplay. If we want to nominate an American band, I’d say Green Day.

U2 was what I first thought of. The fact that they’re apparently the official band of the World Cup* supports this.

What about the Stones? They don’t seem to have too many problems selling tickets, and longevity seems like it should count for something.

And if anyone cares, the second band that came to mind is the Police. Don’t ask why. And yes, I know they’ve not been a band for, what, 15? 20? years.
*Don’t know if they actually are, it just seems that every time I see a WC intro, highlight, short report or closing (at least here in the States) the music is U2. Usually “One”

U2. Which is stunning, given that their first album was 26 years ago and their first #1 album was 19 years ago. I can’t think of another rock act that has successfully charted themselves through 3 decades as well as U2.

There’s no chance that U-2 or any oldtime group is a best-seller of albums. All their fans’ money goes into concert tickets, not album sales.

This google cache of a site lists the year-to-date best selling albums. Note how no rock group even makes the top ten.

The biggest rock band? There ain’t any. :slight_smile:

And the highest one was Nickelback. Your statement should read:

Ok, I’m definitely willing to be generous with the definition of ‘rock band’ if it means the Dixie Chicks are the world’s biggest rock band instead of Nickelback. Hell, T.I. can have it if he really wants.

True. The biggest rock acts are almost all old and not very prolific, and besides, they don’t need to support their albums by touring.

Could you explain that? I don’t know what you’re trying to say.

The best-selling albums list is not that useful. We need a list of total album sales for a specific artist.

In fact, to make it properly fair, we should use the album sales for a year in which the band released and album, and add that value to the sales for a year in which the band didn’t release an album.

Dave Matthews fills the house every time he goes out. Never saw him. Heard he’s great.

Well, if we base it on “total career album sales for a band that’s still touring and recording, even if it isn’t all that often,” The Rolling Stones probably grind their three closest competitors into a smooth red paste with occasional crunchy bits of guitar.

If we base it on “total career album sales by a band that’s still active and arguably near the height of their popularity,” I’d say U2. They were more important 15-20 years ago, but they’re still huge.

If we base it on “total career album sales by a band that’s still active and arguably hasn’t hit their commercial or artistic peak yet,”, let’s go Green Day, Linkin Park, Dave Matthews Band.

By the way, those three competitors would be Aerosmith, Rush and ZZ Top.

I second this. A list of the top albums sold in the first six months of 2006 means very little to the purpose of this thread.

The OP asks for “the biggest rock band today.” This should include album, concert and download sales, as well as the less-measurable (and highly debatable) “cultural relevance,” such as: is it a big event when they put a new album out or go on tour? Are they well known throughout the world? Are they named as an influence by a lot of other rock bands? Are they making covers on major music publications regularly? Do they have fans across a wide demographic?

It has to be a currently working band, still releasing albums and touring (the “today” part), not merely one that has strong catalog sales, so this would disqualify The Police. Since “rock band” is specified, not just “band,” I argue that country or other genres don’t qualify, even if they’ve sold way more than any rock band.

Without looking at any figures, U2 sounds like a good guess. The Stones, maybe, but when was the last time they put out an album? Does anyone care about their newer stuff? Metallica or Aerosmith might be up there too, but U2 seems to have a broader appeal than any of these others.

The asteroid belt?

Green Day hasn’t hit their commercial peak? Artistically, maybe they haven’t; but their commercial peak was probably Dookie. After that, each album they released sold fewer copies than it’d predecessor (until American Idiot, obviously). The fact that they put out another album that even approached that level of success is pretty stunning.

Album-sales wise, Dave Matthews Band definitely peaked quite a while ago. Their first album sold six million copies in the US, the second sold seven million, and nothing since then has approached that. The last one went platinum, so it’s not like he’s going broke, but there’s a decline there, too.


They did four different ads promoting the World Cup–I think Bono did three voiceovers and Adam Clayton did one–no money in exchange, just more exposure for their music. Oddly, the song Discotheque was played at Fenway Park between innings a few nights ago. I guess they’ve been around long enough that they have a fan with decision-making authority for virtually every sporting event, ever…

I gotta chime in here to raise an issue - sales ain’t everything. Yes, having blow-out, stoopid millions of units moved should be a main criteria, obviously. But another key criteria has to be something extra for a rock band - whether the band matters - whether they end up transcending being merely a good/great band that sells well to being an artist that is speaking for a large group of people/a generation. You may not have liked the fact that the Clash were called “the only band that matters” but the basic point is there - the Clash were not only popular, but they truly tried to do something with that…

The Stones - from Satisfaction through Exile or even Some Girls, the Stones transcended music and were a part of history.

U2 - with their breakthough, huge hits - including the phenomenon of the Joshua Tree, which blew them through to cross-over popularity - to Bono’s political, activist work - they clearly matter.

The Police - they mattered in their day as the pop progenitors of sophisticated pop-punk with world-beat underpinnings

Coldplay - sorry, but regardless of their “biggest band in the world” aspirations, I have yet to see where they matter - talented? Sure. Good/great songs? Sure. Do they matter like the Stones or U2? Please.

Dave Matthews Band - my favorite line I have heard about them is that “they’re better than they sound.” Find band, great talents. Jammy goodness, but they don’t matter

Green Day - with both Dookie and American Idiot - they both established this band as a band that is trying to make a bigger statement…

Metallica - the metal band that crossed over because they mattered - in a way that perhaps only Sabbath had before them as far as metal bands…

Linkin Park - I can’t stand these guys, but to their generation, these guys matter in a way that Coldplay doesn’t.

Heck, compared to Coldplay, bands like My Morning Jacket, Dashboard Confessional, Sleater-Kinney, etc. all matter much more. Coldplay is too calculated - it isn’t rock n’ roll.

(btw, I am a huge Aerosmith fan, but they stopped mattering pretty much after their first four albums - Permanent Vacation and Pump were great, too, but in a more commericial sort of way.

Being “the Biggest Rock Band” should mean more than just sales.