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".
The first number-one song on Modern Rock Tracks was "Peek-a-Boo" by Siouxsie and the Banshees. The current number-one song, for the issue dated May 3, 2014, is "The Walker" by Fitz and The Tantrums.
- Artists with the most number-one songs:
- Red Hot Chili Peppers (12)
- Linkin Park (11)
- Foo Fighters (9) (tie)
- Green Day (9) (tie)
- U2 (8)
- R.E.M. (6)
- Artists with the most cumulative weeks at number one:
- Artists with the most top ten songs:
- Red Hot Chili Peppers (24)
- U2 (20) (tie)
- Foo Fighters (20) (tie)
- Green Day (20) (tie)
- Pearl Jam (19)
- The Smashing Pumpkins (17) (tie)
- The Offspring (17) (tie)
- Linkin Park (17) (tie)
- Three songs have debuted at number one on this chart:
- "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" by R.E.M. (1994)
- "Dani California" by Red Hot Chili Peppers (2006)
- "What I've Done" by Linkin Park (2007)
- No single act has replaced themselves at number one on Modern Rock Tracks, although when "All My Life" by Foo Fighters replaced "You Know You're Right" by Nirvana on November 23, 2002, this gave back-to-back chart-toppers to musician Dave Grohl.
- Dave Grohl has made the top of this chart with a record four different bands: Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, and Nine Inch Nails.
- Linkin Park's 2003 album Meteora has generated the most number-one Modern Rock hits, with five.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers' album Californication and Linkin Park's album Meteora have generated songs with the highest total number of weeks spent at number one, each with thirty weeks total.
- The song that has taken the longest time to reach number one on Alternative Songs is "Out of My League" by Fitz and The Tantrums (33 weeks).
- Jane's Addiction has had the longest time between number-ones (13 years), with "Been Caught Stealing" (1990) and "Just Because" (2003).
- The band to have the most charted songs without a number-one single is Korn, with 21.
- The band with the most charted songs is Pearl Jam, with 39.
- "Savior" by Rise Against holds the record for most weeks in the chart, with 65 between 2009 and 2010.
- Seven songs released on an independent record label have reached number one on this chart: "Come Out and Play" by The Offspring, "What It's Like" by Everlast, "Panic Switch" by Silversun Pickups, "1901" by Phoenix, "Lay Me Down" by The Dirty Heads featuring Rome Ramirez, "Little Lion Man" by Mumford & Sons, "Do I Wanna Know?" by Arctic Monkeys and "The Sound of Winter" by Bush.
- 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 songs have spent ten weeks or longer at number one. These are:
- 19 weeks
- 18 weeks
- 17 weeks
- 16 weeks
- 15 weeks
- 14 weeks
- 13 weeks
- 12 weeks
- 11 weeks
- 10 weeks
- List of number-one alternative hits (United States)
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. Modern Rock chart
- "The charts" (fee required). The Sun Herald. 2005-08-25. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
- Gary Trust (2009-06-10). "Chart Beat: Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Shinedown". Billboard. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-13.[dead link]
- Trust, Gary (April 21, 2014). "Chart Highlights: Pharrell's 'Happy,' John Legend's 'All Of Me' Expand Reigns". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
- Trust, Gary (September 30, 2013). "Chart Highlights: Rihanna Returns, Fitz And The Tantrums Rule Rock, Yandel Leads Latin Airplay". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
- "Rise Against - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
- Trust, Gray. "Kenny Chesney Scores A Perfect 10". Billboard. Archived from the original on 28 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
- Bush Back Atop Alternative Songs With Self-Released 'The Sound of Winter'. Billboard. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
- "Modern Rock Tracks". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 106 (27): 102. July 2, 1994. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- Macdonald, Patrick (December 23, 1994). "Music Notes". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
- "Lorde First Woman in 17 Years to Top Alternative with 'Royals'". Billboard (magazine). 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
- "Lorde Links Longest Alternative Songs Reign By A Woman With 'Royals'". Billboard (magazine). 16 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Muse's 'Madness' Rewrites Record For Longest-Reigning Alternative Songs No. 1". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 11, 2013.