List of Billboard number-one alternative singles of the 1990s

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Four musicians perform on a lighted stage.
Six songs by Irish rock band U2 became number-one alternative hits in the 1990s, the most for any artist during the decade.

Alternative Songs is a record chart published by Billboard magazine that ranks the most-played songs on American modern rock radio stations. Introduced by Billboard in September 1988 and named Modern Rock Tracks until June 2009,[1] it was initially compiled based on weighted reports from several national rock radio stations.[2] On the chart week of June 12, 1993, radio airplay data compiled by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems – which electronically monitors various radio stations on a daily basis – was introduced as a factor in determining chart rankings.[3] Modern Rock Tracks later became solely based on Nielsen data, a change which took effect on the chart issue dated January 22, 1994.[3]

141 singles topped the Modern Rock Tracks chart in the 1990s; the first of these was "Blues from a Gun" by Scottish alternative rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain, which spent three weeks at number one from December 1989 to January 1990.[4] The modern rock radio format experienced a substantial growth in popularity during the decade,[5] with the success of Nirvana's 1991 single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" marking a "return of the crossover rock hit".[6] Speaking to Billboard, chart commentator Max Tolkoff stated: "[In previous years,] people didn't care what was a hit on modern rock. Now everybody wants to be involved."[6] The first formal number one debut on the Modern Rock Tracks chart also occurred during the 1990s, with "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" by R.E.M. entering at number one on the chart for the issue dated September 24, 1994.[7]

Irish rock band U2 scored the most number-one hits during the decade, with six of their singles topping the chart for a total of twenty-three weeks: "The Fly", "Mysterious Ways", "One", "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me", "Discothèque" and "Staring at the Sun".[4][8] "Scar Tissue" by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers topped the chart for sixteen consecutive weeks in 1999, the longest time at number one for any single during the 1990s.[9] The band themselves spent a record twenty-seven weeks at number one on Modern Rock Tracks during the decade, with four number-one singles: "Give It Away", "Soul to Squeeze", "My Friends" and "Scar Tissue".[4][10] "All the Small Things" by American rock band Blink-182 was the final number-one hit of the decade.[4]

Number-one singles[edit]

Key
daggerBillboard year-end number-one single[a]
– Return of a single to number one
Contents
← 1980s • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000s →
A man wearing a black jacket sings on a stage illuminated with yellow and purple lights; a bassist, a guitarist and a drummer perform along with him.
"Blues from a Gun" by The Jesus and Mary Chain was the first Modern Rock Tracks number-one hit of the 1990s.
A short-haired man sings into a microphone.
Peter Murphy spent seven weeks at number one in 1990 with "Cuts You Up".
A side-view photograph of a blonde-haired man playing a guitar and singing into a microphone, along with a brown-haired man playing a bass guitar.
Nirvana attained four number-one singles during the decade, including the crossover hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
A blue-tinted photograph of musicians performing 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.
R.E.M.'s "What's the Frequency, Kenneth" was the first number-one debut in the chart's history.
Three men wearing black shirts stand in a hallway.
Marcy Playground stayed at number one for fifteen weeks in 1998 with the single "Sex and Candy".
A band performs on a stage while several audience members raise their arms up. In the background, two spotlights flash brightly.
Red Hot Chili Peppers spent twenty-seven cumulative weeks at number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart during the 1990s.
A black-haired man plays a guitar while another man plays a drum kit in the background.
"All the Small Things" by Blink-182 was the final number-one single of the decade on the chart.
Single Artist Reached number one[4] Weeks at
number one[4]
"Blues from a Gun" The Jesus and Mary Chain December 30, 1989 3
"House" The Psychedelic Furs January 20, 1990 3
"Cuts You Up" dagger[13] Peter Murphy February 10, 1990 7
"Nothing Compares 2 U" Sinéad O'Connor March 31, 1990 1
"Blue Sky Mine" Midnight Oil April 7, 1990 1
"Metropolis" The Church April 14, 1990 1
"Enjoy the Silence" Depeche Mode April 21, 1990 3
"The Emperor's New Clothes" Sinéad O'Connor May 12, 1990 1
"Forgotten Years" Midnight Oil May 19, 1990 1
"Here's Where the Story Ends" The Sundays May 26, 1990 1
"Policy of Truth" Depeche Mode June 2, 1990 1
"Way Down Now" World Party June 9, 1990 5
"Joey" Concrete Blonde July 14, 1990 4
"Jealous" Gene Loves Jezebel August 11, 1990 1
"I'll Be Your Chauffeur" David J August 18, 1990 1
"Jealous" ↑ Gene Loves Jezebel August 25, 1990 1
"Stop!" Jane's Addiction September 1, 1990 1
"Every Beat of the Heart" The Railway Children September 8, 1990 1
"Stop!" ↑ Jane's Addiction September 15, 1990 1
"Suicide Blonde" INXS September 22, 1990 1
"Never Enough" The Cure September 29, 1990 2
"Merry Go Round" The Replacements October 13, 1990 1
"Never Enough" ↑ The Cure October 20, 1990 1
"Been Caught Stealing" Jane's Addiction October 27, 1990 1
"Merry Go Round" ↑ The Replacements November 3, 1990 3
"Been Caught Stealing" ↑ Jane's Addiction November 24, 1990 3
"More" The Sisters of Mercy December 15, 1990 5
"Kinky Afro" Happy Mondays January 19, 1991 1
"All This Time" Sting January 26, 1991 2
"Right Here, Right Now" Jesus Jones February 9, 1991 5
"Losing My Religion" R.E.M. March 16, 1991 8
"See the Lights" Simple Minds May 11, 1991 2
"The Other Side of Summer" Elvis Costello May 25, 1991 4
"Get the Message" Electronic June 22, 1991 2
"Kiss Them for Me" Siouxsie and the Banshees July 6, 1991 5
"Rush" dagger[14] Big Audio Dynamite II August 10, 1991 4
"Until She Comes" The Psychedelic Furs September 7, 1991 2
"So You Think You're in Love" Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians September 21, 1991 5
"Give It Away" Red Hot Chili Peppers October 26, 1991 2
"The Fly" U2 November 9, 1991 2
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" Nirvana November 23, 1991 1
"Mysterious Ways" U2 November 30, 1991 9
"Sax and Violins" Talking Heads February 1, 1992 1
"What's Good" Lou Reed February 8, 1992 3
"Hit" The Sugarcubes February 29, 1992 5
"One" dagger[15] U2 April 4, 1992 1
"High" The Cure April 11, 1992 4
"Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)" Cracker May 9, 1992 2
"Weirdo" The Charlatans May 23, 1992 1
"The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" XTC May 30, 1992 2
"Friday I'm in Love" The Cure June 13, 1992 4
"Good Stuff" The B-52's July 11, 1992 4
"Midlife Crisis" Faith No More August 8, 1992 1
"Tomorrow" Morrissey August 15, 1992 6
"Digging in the Dirt" Peter Gabriel September 26, 1992 2
"Blood Makes Noise" Suzanne Vega October 10, 1992 1
"Drive" R.E.M. October 17, 1992 5
"These Are Days" 10,000 Maniacs November 21, 1992 2
"Somebody to Shove" Soul Asylum December 5, 1992 1
"Steam" Peter Gabriel December 12, 1992 5
"Not Sleeping Around" Ned's Atomic Dustbin January 16, 1993 1
"The Devil You Know" Jesus Jones January 23, 1993 6
"Feed the Tree" Belly March 6, 1993 3
"I Feel You" Depeche Mode March 27, 1993 5
"Regret" dagger[16] New Order May 1, 1993 2
"Walking in My Shoes" Depeche Mode May 15, 1993 1
"Regret" ↑ dagger[16] New Order May 22, 1993 4
"Pets" Porno for Pyros June 19, 1993 5
"Break It Down Again" Tears for Fears July 24, 1993 3
"Soul to Squeeze" Red Hot Chili Peppers August 14, 1993 4
"My Sister" The Juliana Hatfield Three September 11, 1993 1
"No Rain" Blind Melon September 18, 1993 1
"Soul to Squeeze" ↑ Red Hot Chili Peppers September 25, 1993 1
"No Rain" ↑ Blind Melon October 2, 1993 2
"Heart-Shaped Box" Nirvana October 16, 1993 3
"Into Your Arms" The Lemonheads November 6, 1993 9
"Daughter" Pearl Jam January 8, 1994 1
"Found Out About You" Gin Blossoms January 15, 1994 1
"All Apologies" Nirvana January 22, 1994 2
"Loser" Beck February 5, 1994 5
"Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" Crash Test Dummies March 12, 1994 1
"God" Tori Amos March 19, 1994 2
"The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get" Morrissey April 2, 1994 7
"Selling the Drama" Live May 21, 1994 3
"Longview" Green Day June 11, 1994 1
"Fall Down" Toad the Wet Sprocket June 18, 1994 6
"Come Out and Play" The Offspring July 30, 1994 2
"Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)" Counting Crows August 13, 1994 1
"Basket Case" Green Day August 20, 1994 5
"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" R.E.M. September 24, 1994 5
"Zombie" The Cranberries October 29, 1994 6
"About a Girl" Nirvana December 10, 1994 1
"Bang and Blame" R.E.M. December 17, 1994 3
"When I Come Around" Green Day January 7, 1995 7
"Lightning Crashes" Live February 25, 1995 9
"Good" Better Than Ezra April 29, 1995 5
"Misery" Soul Asylum June 3, 1995 3
"Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" U2 June 24, 1995 4
"You Oughta Know" Alanis Morissette July 22, 1995 5
"J.A.R." Green Day August 26, 1995 1
"Tomorrow" dagger[17] Silverchair September 2, 1995 3
"Comedown" Bush September 23, 1995 2
"Name" Goo Goo Dolls October 7, 1995 1
"Hand in My Pocket" Alanis Morissette October 14, 1995 1
"Lump" The Presidents of the United States of America October 21, 1995 1
"Name" ↑ Goo Goo Dolls October 28, 1995 3
"My Friends" Red Hot Chili Peppers November 18, 1995 4
"Glycerine" Bush December 16, 1995 2
"Wonderwall" Oasis December 30, 1995 9
"1979" The Smashing Pumpkins March 2, 1996 1
"Wonderwall" ↑ Oasis March 9, 1996 1
"Ironic" Alanis Morissette March 16, 1996 3
"Champagne Supernova" Oasis April 6, 1996 5
"Salvation" The Cranberries May 11, 1996 4
"Mother Mother" Tracy Bonham June 8, 1996 3
"Counting Blue Cars" Dishwalla June 29, 1996 1
"Pepper" dagger[18] Butthole Surfers July 6, 1996 3
"Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" Primitive Radio Gods July 27, 1996 6
"Who You Are" Pearl Jam September 7, 1996 1
"Down" 311 September 14, 1996 4
"Novocaine for the Soul" Eels October 12, 1996 2
"What I Got" Sublime October 26, 1996 3
"Swallowed" Bush November 16, 1996 7
"#1 Crush" Garbage January 4, 1997 4
"Discothèque" U2 February 1, 1997 4
"Lakini's Juice" Live March 1, 1997 1
"One Headlight" The Wallflowers March 8, 1997 5
"Staring at the Sun" U2 April 12, 1997 3
"The Freshmen" The Verve Pipe May 3, 1997 3
"Semi-Charmed Life" dagger[19] Third Eye Blind May 24, 1997 5
"The Impression That I Get" The Mighty Mighty Bosstones June 28, 1997 1
"Semi-Charmed Life" ↑ dagger[19] Third Eye Blind July 5, 1997 3
"Push" Matchbox Twenty July 26, 1997 1
"Fly" Sugar Ray August 2, 1997 8
"Walkin' on the Sun" Smash Mouth September 27, 1997 5
"Tubthumping" Chumbawamba November 1, 1997 7
"Everything to Everyone" Everclear December 20, 1997 1
"Sex and Candy" dagger[20] Marcy Playground December 27, 1997 15
"The Way" Fastball April 11, 1998 7
"Closing Time" Semisonic May 30, 1998 5
"Iris" Goo Goo Dolls July 4, 1998 5
"Inside Out" Eve 6 August 8, 1998 2
"One Week" Barenaked Ladies August 22, 1998 1
"Inside Out" ↑ Eve 6 August 29, 1998 1
"One Week" ↑ Barenaked Ladies September 5, 1998 4
"Inside Out" ↑ Eve 6 October 3, 1998 1
"Celebrity Skin" Hole October 10, 1998 3
"Slide" Goo Goo Dolls October 31, 1998 1
"Celebrity Skin" ↑ Hole November 7, 1998 1
"Slide" ↑ Goo Goo Dolls November 14, 1998 1
"Fly Away" Lenny Kravitz November 21, 1998 2
"Never There" Cake December 5, 1998 3
"What It's Like" Everlast December 26, 1998 8
"Every Morning" Sugar Ray February 20, 1999 1
"What It's Like" ↑ Everlast February 27, 1999 1
"Every Morning" ↑ Sugar Ray March 6, 1999 5
"My Own Worst Enemy" dagger[21] Lit April 10, 1999 11
"Scar Tissue" Red Hot Chili Peppers June 26, 1999 16
"Higher" Creed October 16, 1999 1
"The Chemicals Between Us" Bush October 23, 1999 2
"Learn to Fly" Foo Fighters November 6, 1999 1
"The Chemicals Between Us" ↑ Bush November 13, 1999 2
"Higher" ↑ Creed November 27, 1999 1
"The Chemicals Between Us" ↑ Bush December 4, 1999 1
"Higher" ↑ Creed December 11, 1999 1
"Re-Arranged" Limp Bizkit December 18, 1999 1
"All the Small Things" Blink-182 December 25, 1999 8

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Modern Rock Tracks year-end number-one single of 1994 was "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden,[11] which peaked at number two on the chart for the week ending July 2.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Molanphy, Chris (April 19, 2012). "100 & Single: Gotye And fun. Help Alternative Rock Go Pop Once Again". The Village Voice. Voice Media Group. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  2. ^ Cateforis 2011, p. 65.
  3. ^ a b Whitburn 2008, p. 8.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Whitburn 2008, pp. 342–349.
  5. ^ Keith & Sterling 2008, p. 165.
  6. ^ a b Boehlert, Eric (April 9, 1994). "Modern Rock Comes Into Its Own". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 106 (15): 69. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  7. ^ "Powter Stays Hot, Chili Peppers Sizzle On Charts". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  8. ^ "U2 – Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  9. ^ Trust, Gary (February 11, 2013). "Muse's 'Madness' Rewrites Record For Longest-Reigning Alternative Songs No. 1". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  10. ^ "Red Hot Chili Peppers – Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on August 19, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  11. ^ Macdonald, Patrick (December 23, 1994). "Music Notes". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  12. ^ "Modern Rock Tracks". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 106 (27): 102. July 2, 1994. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  13. ^ "Janet Wins Big At Billboard Awards". Billboard. BPI Communications. 102 (49): 37. December 8, 1990.
  14. ^ Harrington, Richard (January 1, 1992). "1991's Chart-Toppers: Garth, Mariah & C C". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2013. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  15. ^ "Garth Brooks Ropes In Seven Billboard Awards; U2 Wins Five". The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. December 10, 1992. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  16. ^ a b "Billboard Music Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. VNU Publications. December 9, 1993.
  17. ^ "Here's A Look At Year's Top Music". Orlando Sentinel. Tribune Company. December 29, 1995. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  18. ^ Campbell, Chuck (January 2, 1997). "Musically, 1996 Was Lackluster". The Cincinnati Post. E. W. Scripps Company. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2013. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  19. ^ a b "The Year in Music: Hot Modern Rock Tracks". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 109 (52): 78. December 27, 1997. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  20. ^ "The Year in Music 1998: Hot Modern Rock Tracks". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 110 (52): 84. December 26, 1998. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  21. ^ "1999 – The Year in Music: Hot Modern Rock Tracks". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 111 (52): 90. December 25, 1999. Retrieved June 26, 2013.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]