Opinion: MGK’s “Mainstream Sellout” Is Crushing It In Sales – Metal/Rock/Punk Deserve Better

Foto: Stefan Brending
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The new Machine Gun Kelly album Mainstream Sellout is doing incredibly well in terms of sales. Per an article via Billboard published on April 3rd, Mainstream Sellout hit the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units, compiled by Luminate. The Machine Gun Kelly album Mainstream Sellout earned 93,000 equivalent album units in its first week of availability.

Per Billboard, Mainstream Sellout is the first No. 1 rock album on the Billboard 200 in over a year, since AC/DC’s Power Up spent a week at No. 1, debuting atop the list dated Nov. 28th, 2020.

Machine Gun Kelly recently shared in an interview with Billboard how he and his previous studio album, Tickets To My Downfall, helped to “revive rock;” MGK said that the album “opened the lane back up for people to make money. It opened up these festivals. [Rock] needed a defibrillator. Who cares who gives it, just as long as that motherfucker doesn’t die?”

While it is a VERY unpopular opinion… given the numbers behind Mainstream Sellout… is MGK in fact helping rock? If you look at the current Billboard 200 albums chart as of today’s writing – if you don’t count the plethora of Greatest Hits albums on the chart – there are roughly FOUR other rock/heavy related albums on there. Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge from My Chemical Romance sits at #100, Back In Black by AC/DC is placed at #125, Impera by Ghost is at #135, and the Black Album by Metallica is at #176. Where’s Immutable by Meshuggah (which just came out on April 1st)?

Now granted, there are some nuances when it comes to placements and rankings, but still, why the hell is Machine Gun Kelly the current representation of rock music?

A question like this involves a great deal of nuance – how many rock/metal/punk fans purchase physical media over streaming? How much are people aware of X rock/metal/punk band? We aren’t blind to the extreme – no pun intended – mainstream attention Machine Gun Kelly has ahold of; the success of Mainstream Sellout is sort of expected given how much cultural attention he has garnered.

The number of heavy music listeners that exist in this world is far beyond our count, and yet, when you look at the top 200 albums – a lot of the heavy music that is on there involves older releases. Could you image a world where the latest Cattle Decapitation kicked so much ass in sales that it made its way on that list? That would not only be awesome for the band, but also greater exposure for heavy music in the pop culture lens. Hell, while Metallica’s Black Album is on the list, there isn’t their 2016 album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct. Why is that?

And by “why is that?,” – we mean to ask why aren’t newer rock/metal/punk records making these lists? Of course exceptions exist like that of a Slipknot, Korn, and even Ghost, but a lot of other folks get left out. Now obviously it goes without saying, but no band needs to be on such lists to be considered successful; there are so many bands kicking incredible ass in the world of music that, unfortunately, won’t probably see Billboard rankings. Like some folks will tell you MGK’s Mainstream Sellout is “heavy,” – HA! – go listen to Immersion by Primitive Man. There’s real heavy.

To be real – we are never going to judge folks on the music they listen to and enjoy; music is a gift of art that is meant to be both a special personal and communal experience. That said, why the hell does Machine Gun Kelly have to represent the current attitude and philosophy of rock music? We don’t want to come off sounding like elitists, cause we also believe that metal, rock, and punk don’t have to be exclusive clubs. Frankly, we love when pop acts embrace qualities of heavy music – we’d just like to see more of the bands working so damn hard to stand out more in the masses. To get a little more of the attention they deserve.

What do you think of not only Machine Gun Kelly’s Mainstream Sellout doing so well, but the current state of rock, metal, and punk popularity? What bands do you feel are heavy and pushing themselves further into the mainstream pop culture light? Are you someone who would prefer for heavy music to remain more “exclusive?” Are you against the idea of heavier music making its way into the greater pop culture discussion?

We understand that maybe the likes of Undeath, Blood Incantation, Brand of Sacrifice, or Body Void may not get major radio play – but, wouldn’t it be great if these bands could get more representation for their art? To perhaps find some sort of extra success that introduces more people to their music, and ultimately, puts more money in their pockets?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Words by: Michael Pementel