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The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

The Death of Mainstream Metal

Metallica+poses+for+photo+after+the+success+of+their+self-titled+album
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Metallica poses for photo after the success of their self-titled album

In 1991, Metallica released their self-titled album, selling over 33 million copies worldwide and solidifying itself as the first metal release to go 16x platinum. With 25.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify, Metallica is by far the most popular metal artist on Spotify. But isn’t that not a lot for the leading artist of an entire genre? The most-streamed pop artists on the same platform are The Weeknd and Taylor Swift, with 117 and 103 million respectively. Pop or even rock artists with numbers similar to Metallica are considered only semi-prevalent. This leads to the question, what happened to mainstream, chart-topping metal?

With metal’s popularity proving its apex during the ‘90s and 2000s, its prevalence in the mainstream only continues to deflate. Bands that stood beside Metallica as the most important of their era such as Megadeth, Pantera, Korn, Type-O Negative, Slayer, Dio, and Anthrax have experienced a similar dip in popularity; the most popular in that list being Korn with 10.5 million monthly listeners, and Megadeth as a far second with 5 million. These are metal’s biggest, most current artists– why are their numbers minuscule in comparison to other genres?

Most artists in recent years have gained popularity from involvement in advertisements, music videos, and especially social media. Most chart-topping songs of 2023 owe their popularity to the phenomenon of TikTok. When approached with the topic, editor of The Lasso Ben McCauley said “TikTok has ruined a large portion of what makes music music. Songs are no longer the masterful ballads they were twenty to thirty years ago. They’ve devolved into minute-long beats with a single hook meant to back shorts online. It absolutely breaks my heart.” While it’s apparent that TikTok-able songs tend to favor pop-centric beats, there have been a few outliers. This includes Ghost’s track, Mary on a Cross, which has been included in 3.4 million TikToks as well as starting an editing trend on the site. Similarly, metal bands such as Kittie and Slipknot both experienced their share of a single track going viral on the platform. Kittie’s ‘Brackish has over ten thousand videos and Slipknot’s Custer has over a hundred thousand. On this topic, Danika Ivancic said: “It’s upsetting when someone’s favorite band goes more mainstream and is only recognized for one song.”

Ghost frontman, Papa Emeritus (or Tobias Jens Forge) in front of a Tweet saying “mary on a cross is my running up that hill” in reference to the hit song by Kate Bush

In a world dominated by trendy, TikTok-able pop tracks, how are other genres expected to stay relevant? Well, the answer lies in you. Simply listening to some metal artists (contemporary or not) on your selected music platform helps them immensely. Some recent metal bands include the previously-mentioned Kittie, as well as nu metal artists the Toxhards– a psychedelic metal-opera ensemble, Poppy– a solo artist who’s dabbled in multiple genres, and Flagman–a trippy 3-piece hardcore metal band; all of which have released a new single or album in the past few months. More alternatively, Xavleg is a South African death metal/grindcore band, Cynical Theory– is a band that mixes aggressive nu-metal with emotionally vulnerable alternative rock, The Garden– is a duo that combines metal with breakcore and funk, Utsu-P– a music producer who involves virtual pop star Hatsune Miku in their music, and Origami Angel– a band that combines numerous genres including emo, pop-punk, indie rock, fusion, and more has some of the hardest metal percussive breaks you’ll ever hear. The relevance of metal music– of any genre– lies in the listeners.

Works Cited

Metallica statistics: bestsellingalbums.org access date: 2/24, update: 1/24; wikipedia.org access date: 2/24, update: 2/24; spotify.com access date: 2/24, update: 2/24;

Miscellaneous statistics: chartmasters.org access date: 2/24, update: 2/24; rateyourmusic.com access date: 2/24 update:1/24; metalsucks.net access date: 2/24, update: 1/24; spotify.com access date: 2/24, update: 2/24

TikTok statistics: tiktok.com access date: 2/24, update: 2.24; tiktok.com access date: 2/24, update: 2/24; tiktok.com access date: 2/24, update: 2/24

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About the Contributor
Corrin Santolucito, Staff Writer
Chloe Valentine “Corrin” Santolucito is a Junior at Santa Rosa Academy; born in 2007 in Newport Beach, California. Having grown up in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee in addition to California, Corrin has seen multiple perspectives while growing up. They’re a musician of multiple instruments and an artist of multiple mediums. Their interests include art in the form of comic books, video games, literature, music, and visual arts. 
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