List of Billboard number-one alternative singles of the 1980s

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A black-haired woman wearing a leather jacket sings into a microphone.
"Peek-a-Boo" by English rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees was the first single to top the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Alternative Songs is a record chart that ranks the most-played songs on American modern rock radio stations. Published by the music industry magazine Billboard, it was created in the midst of the growing popularity of alternative music on rock radio in the late 1980s.[1] As less-established alternative acts were receiving minimal exposure on album-oriented rock (AOR) radio stations, their labels turned to modern rock stations for airplay.[2] Billboard introduced the chart in response to demand within the music industry for consistent information on the commercial performance of alternative music.[3] During the decade, it was known as the Modern Rock Tracks chart and tabulated based on weighted reports from twenty-nine radio stations: eighteen established standard-bearer commercial stations and eleven non-commercial college stations.[3][4]

The Modern Rock Tracks chart debuted in the September 10, 1988 issue of Billboard, with the inaugural number-one single being "Peek-a-Boo" by English rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees.[1] Upon its debut, several publications noted the presence of more independent artists on Modern Rock Tracks compared to its companion chart, Album Rock Tracks.[2][5] By the end of the decade, twenty-two singles had topped the chart.[6] Alternative rock band R.E.M. and new wave group The B-52's each scored two number-one singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart during the 1980s, the most for any artist within the decade.[6][7][8] The R.E.M. single "Orange Crush" spent the longest period atop the chart during the decade, staying at number one for eight consecutive weeks from November 1988 to January 1989.[6] The final number one of the 1980s was "Blues from a Gun" by Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain.[6]

Number-one singles[edit]

Key
daggerBillboard year-end number-one single
– Return of a single to number one
Contents
1988 • 1989 • 1990s →
A blue-tinted photograph of musicians in front of an industrial background. From left to right: a long-haired male stands with his back to the camera playing bass guitar, a middle-aged Caucasian male sings into a microphone, a middle-aged Caucasian male plays behind a black-and-silver drum set on a riser, and a guitar player is mostly cropped from the extreme left of the photo.
A group of musicians perform on a lighted stage. From left to right: a short-haired man plays bass guitar, a blond-haired woman plays the bongos, an red-haired woman holds a microphone, and a man wearing sunglasses and a blue shirt sings into a microphone.
R.E.M. (top) and The B-52's (bottom) each attained two number-one hits during the decade.
On a purple-lit stage, two men play guitars while a third man sits behind a drum kit.
The Cure spent seven weeks atop the chart in 1989 with "Fascination Street".
Single Artist Reached number one[6] Weeks at
number one[6]
"Peek-a-Boo" dagger[9] Siouxsie and the Banshees September 10, 1988 1
"Just Play Music!" Big Audio Dynamite September 17, 1988 1
"Peek-a-Boo" ↑ dagger[9] Siouxsie and the Banshees September 24, 1988 1
"All That Money Wants" Psychedelic Furs, TheThe Psychedelic Furs October 1, 1988 3
"Desire" U2 October 22, 1988 5
"Orange Crush" R.E.M. November 26, 1988 8
"Charlotte Anne" Cope, JulianJulian Cope January 21, 1989 1
"Stand" R.E.M. January 28, 1989 2
"Dirty Blvd." Reed, LouLou Reed February 11, 1989 4
"I'll Be You" Replacements, TheThe Replacements March 11, 1989 1
"Veronica" Costello, ElvisElvis Costello March 18, 1989 2
"Mayor of Simpleton, TheThe Mayor of Simpleton" XTC April 1, 1989 5
"Fascination Street" Cure, TheThe Cure May 6, 1989 7
"So Alive" dagger[10] Love and Rockets June 24, 1989 5
"Disappointed" Public Image Ltd. July 29, 1989 1
"Channel Z" B-52's, TheThe B-52's August 5, 1989 3
"Come Anytime" Hoodoo Gurus August 26, 1989 3
"Love Shack" B-52's, TheThe B-52's September 16, 1989 4
"Sowing the Seeds of Love" Tears for Fears October 14, 1989 1
"Pictures of Matchstick Men" Camper Van Beethoven October 21, 1989 3
"Proud to Fall" McCulloch, IanIan McCulloch November 11, 1989 4
"Love and Anger" Bush, KateKate Bush December 9, 1989 3
"Blues from a Gun" Jesus and Mary Chain, TheThe Jesus and Mary Chain December 30, 1989 3

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Whitburn 1996, p. 8.
  2. ^ a b Milward, John (November 24, 1988). "Billboard Has A New Top 10 List: 'Modern Rock' Is Meant To Chart Up-and-coming Acts". The Philadelphia Inquirer (Knight Ridder). Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "'Billboard' Answers Call For Alternative Music Data". Los Angeles Daily News (MediaNews Group). September 19, 1988. Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ Cateforis 2011, p. 65.
  5. ^ Shipley, Al (September 10, 2008). "Celebrating 20 Years Of Modern-Rock Countdowns, From Siouxsie To Staind". Idolator. Buzz Media. Archived from the original on June 13, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Whitburn 1996, p. 248.
  7. ^ "The B-52s – Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on August 17, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ "R.E.M. – Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on August 17, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "1988: The Year In Music & Video (Year-End Charts)". Billboard (BPI Communications) 100 (52). December 24, 1988. 
  10. ^ "1989: The Year In Music (Year-End Charts)". Billboard (BPI Communications) 101 (51). December 23, 1989. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]