This article is about the music chart. For the music genre, see Alternative rock.
Alternative Songs (also called Alternative and formerly known as Modern Rock Tracks and Hot Modern Rock Tracks) is a music chart in the United States that has appeared in Billboard magazine since September 10, 1988. It lists the 40 most-played songs on modern rock radio stations, most of which are alternative rock songs. The chart was introduced as a companion to the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and its creation was prompted by the explosion of alternative music on American radio in the late 1980s.
The chart is based solely on radio airplay. As of 2012, approximately 80 radio stations are electronically monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. Songs are ranked by a calculation of the total number of spins per week with its "audience impression", which is based upon exact times of airplay and each station's Arbitron listener data.
Many rock artists do not release commercial singles in the U.S. 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 Modern Rock Tracks.
During the first several years of Modern Rock Tracks, the chart featured music that did not receive commercial radio airplay anywhere but on Modern Rock radio stations, of which there were few. This included many electronic and post-punk artists. Gradually, as alternative rock became more "mainstream" (particularly spearheaded by the grunge explosion in the early 1990s), the Modern Rock Tracks and Mainstream Rock Tracks charts began featuring more of the same songs. Today, the Alternative Songs chart (Modern Rock) favors more alternative rock, indie rock, and punk rock bands while the Mainstream Rock Songs favor more hard rock, post-grunge and heavy metal.
The chart was renamed Alternative Songs beginning with the June 20, 2009 issue after Billboard fully absorbed Radio & Records, whose similar chart was called "Alternative" instead of "Modern Rock".
Although Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" did not hit number-one on the chart where it only peaked at number-two on July 2, 1994, it actually became the Modern Rock Tracks year-end number-one single of 1994, the only song to do so without ever being number one on the weekly chart.
In August 2013, Lorde became the first woman to top the Alternative Songs chart since Tracy Bonham in 1996. In September 2013, Lorde surpassed Alanis Morissette to become the woman with the longest-running single at number one on the Alternative Songs chart when "Royals" spent its sixth week at number one.
Thirty-one songs have spent ten weeks or longer at number one. These are: