Alternative Airplay (formerly known as Alternative Songs and Modern Rock Tracks) is a music chart in the United States that has appeared in Billboard magazine since September 10, 1988. It ranks the 40 most-played songs on alternative and modern rock radio stations. Introduced as Modern Rock Tracks, the chart served as a companion to the Mainstream Rock chart (then called Album Rock Tracks), and its creation was prompted by the explosion of alternative music on American radio in the late 1980s. During the first several years of the chart, it regularly featured music that did not receive commercial radio airplay anywhere but on a few modern rock and college rock radio stations. This included many electronic and post-punk artists. Gradually, as alternative rock became more mainstream (spearheaded by the grunge explosion in the early 1990s), alternative and mainstream rock radio stations began playing many of the same songs. By the late 2000s, the genres became more fully differentiated with only limited crossover. The Alternative Airplay chart features more alternative rock, indie pop, and pop punk artists while the Mainstream Rock chart leans towards more guitar-tinged blues rock, hard rock, and heavy metal.
The chart is based solely on radio airplay ranked by a calculation of the total number of spins each song receives per week. As of 2012, approximately 80 alternative radio stations across the United States are electronically monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.The chart had 30 positions when it was introduced in September 1988 and expanded to 40 positions on September 10, 1994.
The chart was renamed to Alternative Songs beginning with the June 20, 2009, issue after Billboard fully absorbed Radio & Records , whose similar chart was called "Alternative" and to reflect the music industry's more common use of the term.In June 2020, Billboard introduced the separate Hot Alternative Songs chart, which uses similar methodology as the Billboard Hot 100 by measuring the popularity of songs classified as alternative across all radio formats, streaming services, and sales within the United States. To avoid confusion, Alternative Songs was renamed Alternative Airplay.
The first alternative chart, called Modern Rock Tracks, appeared in the September 10, 1988, edition of Billboard magazine.The first number-one song of the chart was Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Peek-a-Boo", which topped the charts for two weeks. In the chart's early years, the chart was closely associated with college rock, new wave, post-punk and electronic genres with a large presence of British, Irish and Australian artists, as only 24 of the chart's first 82 number-one hits were by American acts. Bands including Depeche Mode, Pixies, The Cure, New Order and R.E.M. were amongst the most popular acts on Alternative radio in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many rock artists do not release commercial singles in the United States. Several popular songs which were not released as commercial singles did not qualify for the Hot 100 before December 1998, but performed very well on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.
In 1991, with the release of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana (which reached No. 1 on November 23, 1991),grunge became a new form of alternative rock to chart. However, grunge did not have a dominating presence on the chart in its heyday; over time, grunge would grow into popularity as a representation of alternative rock in the mainstream. Iconic grunge songs fared decently on the Alternative Songs chart but better on the Mainstream Rock Songs. For example, "Black" by Pearl Jam peaked only at No. 20 on the former but No. 3 on the latter. This was because the college rock and new wave of the 1980s remained the dominant styles of the format, while grunge became an alternative rock style that was popular on the Mainstream Rock format.
In the mid-1990s, alternative rock songs began to crossover to Pop radio, with acts such as Green Day, The Offspring and Alanis Morissette being played on Pop stations after establishing hits on the Alternative chart.Dominant genres included pop punk and softer alternative rock, as grunge acts such as Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots did not reach No. 1, while Britpop, a form of alternative rock from the UK, was represented only by Oasis. By the late 1990s, the Alternative Songs chart was ruled by relatively lighter alternative rock bands such as Third Eye Blind, Matchbox Twenty and Sugar Ray and a plethora of one-hit wonders.
At the turn of the century, alternative radio embraced nu-metal/rap rock with bands including Korn, Limp Bizkit and most famously, Linkin Park. Chris Molanphy of Pitchfork stated that "possibly the most loathed period for music of the last half-century, the rap-rock years—when looked through the prism of the Modern Rock chart’s evolution—are a logical endpoint to a decade when alt-culture steadily de-wussified itself."Garage rock from the likes of The White Stripes and The Strokes also became hits in the early 2000s as a counter to the over-aggression of rap rock.
In the mid-2000s, the Alternative charts were ruled at the top by its most dominant members. From 2003 to 2008, the No. 1 song was by either Foo Fighters, Green Day, Incubus, Linkin Park or Red Hot Chili Peppers 49% of the time – 152 out of 313 weeks.During this time, 1990s alternative groups such as Nine Inch Nails and Weezer enjoyed their biggest success, while emo (Jimmy Eat World), indie rock (Modest Mouse) and pop punk (Fall Out Boy) also were popular. In 2007, "The Kill" by Thirty Seconds to Mars set a record for the longest-running hit in the history of the US alternative chart when it remained on the national chart for 52 weeks. Rise Against's "Savior" later broke the record by spending 65 weeks, followed around the same time by "1901" from Phoenix at 57. In 2009, Billboard renamed the chart to "Alternative Songs".
In the 2010s, the Alternative charts were led by softer indie pop and folk, and crossed over new acts to pop radio for the first time since the late 1990s, such as Foster the People, Imagine Dragons, Fun, and Gotye.The chart also began to diverge from the Mainstream Rock chart, as only 10 of 40 songs were shared between the two in November 2012, compared to 23 of 40 in November 2002. For the chart's 25th anniversary in 2013, Billboard published a list of the 100 biggest hits in the history of the Alternative chart. "Uprising" by Muse was listed at No. 1, having spent 17 weeks on the top of the chart and 53 weeks in total. "Savior" by Rise Against was listed at No. 2, peaking at #3 but staying on the chart for a record-breaking 65 weeks.
On October 11, 2018, Billboard released its Greatest of All Time Alternative Songs 30th-anniversary recap. The Foo Fighters continued its reign as the chart's No. 1 act over the list's first 30 years, after leading the 25th-anniversary recap. Muse's "Uprising" retained its standing as the all-time No. 1 song. Rise Against's " Savior" again ranked at No. 2, while Portugal. The Man's "Feel It Still" entered at No. 3, the highest debut on the 30th anniversary songs list, following its record 20-week reign in 2017.Six bands have charted in all four decades of the chart's existence – Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Jane's Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2 and Beastie Boys. Although the Alternative Songs chart "tends to be heavily male-dominated", Billboard released the list of the top-performing women in the chart's archives on the same day—as part of the 30th anniversary of the Alternative Songs chart, with Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries taking the lead spot.
|Weeks at No. 1||Artist||Source|
|86||Red Hot Chili Peppers|
|58||Twenty One Pilots|
|33||Red Hot Chili Peppers|
The following songs have charted for more than 51 weeks.
|64||"First"||Cold War Kids|
|58||"Do I Wanna Know?"||Arctic Monkeys|
|56||"Wish I Knew You"||The Revivalists|
|55||"Sit Next to Me"||Foster the People|
|53||"Feel It Still"||Portugal. The Man|
|52||"The Kill"||Thirty Seconds to Mars|
The songs with 16 or more weeks at number one.
|20||"Feel It Still"||Portugal. The Man||2017|
|18||"The Pretender"||Foo Fighters||2007|
|"Monsters"||All Time Low ft. blackbear||2020–21|
|16||"High Hopes"||Panic! At The Disco||2018–19|
|"Boulevard of Broken Dreams"||Green Day||2004–05|
|"It's Been Awhile"||Staind||2001|
|"Scar Tissue"||Red Hot Chili Peppers||1999|
|42||Running Up That Hill||Meg Myers|
|33||"Out of My League"||Fitz and the Tantrums|
|33||"Novocaine"||The Unlikely Candidates|
|32||""Mountain at My Gates"||Foals|
|29||"Feel Good Drag"||Anberlin|
|28||"Might Be Right"||White Reaper|
|26||"No Roots"||Alice Merton|
|1||Dolores O'Riordan (The Cranberries)|
|2||Meg White (The White Stripes)|
|3||Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie & the Banshees)|
|4||Shirley Manson (Garbage)|
|6||Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson (The B-52s)|
|7||Gwen Stefani (No Doubt)|
|8||Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs)|
|9||Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (Of Monsters and Men)|
|10||Hannah Hooper (Grouplove)|
"Faint" is a song by the American rock band Linkin Park from their second studio album, Meteora. The song was released as the album's second single on June 9, 2003 and is the seventh track. It entered the top thirty on the majority of the charts it appeared on. On the Hot 100, it peaked at #48. The song reached #1 on the US Modern Rock Tracks, becoming the band's third number-one hit on the chart. The song would later be featured on the group's mashup EP with Jay-Z, Collision Course, where it was mashed up with lyrics of the song Jigga What from Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life.
"Scar Tissue" is the first single from the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers' seventh studio album Californication, released in 1999. It is one of their most successful songs, spending a then-record 16 consecutive weeks atop the US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart as well as 10 weeks atop the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and it reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also successful in Iceland, New Zealand and Canada, reaching numbers one, three and four, respectively. In the United Kingdom, it charted at number 15 on the UK Singles Chart.
Mainstream Rock is a music chart in Billboard magazine that ranks the most-played songs on mainstream rock radio stations in the United States, a category that combines the formats of active rock and heritage rock. The chart was launched in March 1981, as Rock Albums & Top Tracks, after which the name changed first to Top Rock Tracks, then to Album Rock Tracks, and finally to its current Mainstream Rock in 1996.
"Dani California" is a single from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' ninth studio album, Stadium Arcadium. The single was first made available at the iTunes Music Store and then was officially released on May 2, 2006. The international radio premiere was April 3, 2006, when Don Jantzen, from the Houston radio station KTBZ-FM, played "Dani California" continuously for his entire three-hour program.
"The Zephyr Song" is a song by Red Hot Chili Peppers and the second single released from the band's eighth studio album, By the Way, released on August 17, 2002. The song, as a single, was released in two parts. Both editions held two previously unheard-of B-sides, making it, collectively, hold four non-LP tracks.
"Aeroplane" is a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers from their 1995 album One Hot Minute. It was the third single released from the album and a music video accompanied its release. Although the song was left off the band's Greatest Hits album, the music video was included on the accompanying DVD.
"My Friends" is a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the fourth track on their 1995 album One Hot Minute. It is a melodic ballad and was released as the second single from the album. It is the only song from One Hot Minute to be included on their Greatest Hits compilation, though the music video for "Aeroplane" appears on the DVD. It became the band's third number-one single on the US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, where it remained for four consecutive weeks, and their first number one on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart.
"Soul to Squeeze" is a song by the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers that was originally recorded during the production of their fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991). Although it was not featured on the record and was used as a B-side on the singles "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge", "Soul to Squeeze" was later released as a single in 1993. The song was included in the Coneheads film soundtrack. "Soul to Squeeze" was eventually re-released for the 2003 Greatest Hits album. It can also be found on the band's Live Rare Remix Box and The Plasma Shaft.
Since 1984, the American funk rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers has released 11 studio albums, two live albums, 12 compilation albums, 11 video albums, five extended plays, 61 singles, and 48 music videos. To date, the band has sold over 80 million albums worldwide. They have been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards, of which they have won 6. The band has produced 13 number one singles, just four off from the 17 by The Beatles. They have the most cumulative weeks at number one (87) and most top-10 songs (25) on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
"One Headlight" is a song by American rock band The Wallflowers. The song was written by lead singer Jakob Dylan, and produced by T-Bone Burnett. It was released in February 1997 as the second single from the band's second studio album, Bringing Down the Horse. Dylan has said that the song is about "the death of ideas".
"The Pretender" is a song by the American alternative rock band Foo Fighters. It was the first single from the group's 2007 album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. It is one of Foo Fighters' most successful songs; peaking at number 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100, only "Learn to Fly" and "Best of You" beat its position on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Outside" is a song by American rock band Foo Fighters released in August 2015. It is the fifth official single and third radio single from their eighth studio album, Sonic Highways. The song marked a 30th appearance by the Foo Fighters on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart tying them with Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers for third-most appearances.
"Dark Necessities" is a song by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers and is the first single from their eleventh studio album, The Getaway. After announcing the single through their Twitter page on May 2, 2016, the single was released three days later on May 5, 2016. The music video was released on June 17, 2016. The song was released as a limited edition cassette single that was included in a deluxe package of The Getaway available only through the band's website.
"Go Robot" is the second single from The Getaway, an album by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band's label had originally wanted "Go Robot" to be the album's first single, though they ended up going with "Dark Necessities", which became another chart-topping hit for the band. The music video for the song was released on September 8, 2016.
"Bang Bang" is a song by American rock band Green Day, released as the lead single from their twelfth studio album, Revolution Radio (2016), on August 11, 2016. Regarded as combining elements of the band's early punk rock days with themes from their politically motivated later albums, the song was inspired by the events of mass shootings in the United States and is written from the viewpoint of a mass shooter.
"Still Breathing" is a song by American rock band Green Day. It was released on November 12, 2016, as the second single from their twelfth studio album, Revolution Radio (2016). It is considered to be an emotionally dark song that explores the theme of individuals finding strength in the face of hardship and tough times. The song's music video – released on November 7, 2016 – reflected upon that theme.
"Saint Cecilia" is a single by the American rock band Foo Fighters, from their EP Saint Cecilia. It peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in 2016.
"Get Up" is a song by American rock band Shinedown. It was the second single off of their sixth studio album Attention Attention. The song's accompanying music video was released on August 8, 2018. In November 2018, the song gave Shinedown their eleventh song to reach the top ten on the Billboard Rock Airplay chart and broke the Foo Fighters previous record with ten songs. The following month, "Get Up" reached number one on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in December 2018 where it remained for two consecutive weeks. The song's number one peak gave Shinedown their 13th Mainstream Rock number one, and tied them for second place with Van Halen for the most number ones on the chart. It was also the band's first single to chart on the Adult Top 40 chart since 2010's "If You Only Knew".