Chart Beat

Twenty One Pilots Bring 'Christmas' to Alternative Airplay Chart for a Rare Holiday Entry

Twenty One Pilots
Lindsay Fishman

Twenty One Pilots

"Christmas Saves the Year" is the first holiday-themed song on the list since 2012.

Twenty One Pilots' latest entry on Billboard's Alternative Airplay chart is a holiday-themed song, as "Christmas Saves the Year" bows at No. 40 on the list dated Dec. 19.

The debut marks a rarity on the chart: Despite airplay for classic alternative-leaning seasonal titles each year on stations, few such songs have ever garnered enough spins in a given week to reach Alternative Airplay, while others precede the tally's September 1988 creation.

"Christmas Saves the Year" is the first seasonal tune to chart on Alternative Airplay since Dropkick Murphys' "The Season's Upon Us," which appeared for two weeks during the 2012-13 holiday season, peaking at No. 28. (Interestingly enough, it's also the Boston-based rockers' only Alternative Airplay hit to date, and it ties into a holiday for which they're likely less known; usually, St. Patrick's Day boosts the band's sales and streams each March.)

Before Dropkick Murphys, though not explicitly themed around one of December festivities, Vampire Weekend's "Holiday" was promoted to alternative radio leading up to Christmas 2010, when it was also included in Tommy Hilfiger and Honda ads. It charted on Alternative Airplay for five weeks, peaking at No. 31.

Then there's Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song," which has logged five weeks on the survey (or 35 crazy nights). It debuted during the 1995-96 holiday season and returned in 1997-98 and 1998-99, reaching No. 25.

Some of the alternative genre's most enduring holiday titles were released prior to the Alternative Airplay chart's existence, including The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping," U2's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York," featuring Kirsty MacColl. Others such as Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings" and Blink-182's "Won't Be Home for Christmas" either were not fully promoted as singles to the format or were but did not chart.

Musical Christmas Gifts From Justin Bieber & BTS Are Coming Soon! | Billboard News

Released Dec. 8, "Christmas Saves the Year" also sold enough downloads before the Dec. 10 close of the sales tracking week to debut at Nos. 5 and 6 on the Alternative Digital Song Sales and Rock Digital Song Sales charts, respectively, with 2,000 sold in that span, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

The song is likely to continue climbing Billboard charts next week (dated Dec. 26) following its first full week of sales, streams and airplay tracking.