The Imagine Dragons phenomenon: Is rock music moving on without us?

Imagine Dragons are the biggest rock band in the world right now – but what does that say about the changing face of rock music in 2018?
It’d be hard to convince any traditional rock fan that Imagine Dragons are a rock band in any traditional sense of the term. There are no crunching riffs or face-melting solos here; instead, they give way to polished electronic beats and the sort of slick, commercially refined arena rock that feels more at home on Radio One or T In The Park than it does The Download Festival. Earnestness and introspection replace the bravado and bluster typically associated with the music we “real” rock fans know and love, and while Imagine Dragons’ music can be moody, angsty and intense, it will never be so to a point that might jeopardise its place on America’s squeaky-clean mainstream rock radio stations.

And yet, when Spotify released its global rock music streaming stats at the end of last year, they revealed that Imagine Dragons were the second most streamed rock band in the entire world, second only to Coldplay (Yeah, we know, Coldplay aren’t a real rock band either – but for reference, Metallica, AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses came in at 8, 13 and 17 respectively). The number of YouTube views on their official videos have more digits than your average telephone number, and they’re currently whipping round the world’s arenas on a tour to support their 2017 chart-topping album Evolve. Last week, they effortlessly packed out the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in London with excited, screaming teenage music fans two nights on the trot. Like it or not, this is the face of rock music in 2018.

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