The Foos and Muse lead Billboard‘s Greatest of All Time 30th-anniversary recap of the Alternative Songs radio airplay chart, which began in the Sept. 10, 1988-dated issue. While Billboard first celebrated the chart’s 25th anniversary in 2013, the 30th anniversary brings deeper recaps than before: the top 300 songs and the top 100 artists. (See chart methodology below.)
FOOS WIN FIGHT FOR TOP ARTIST
The Dave Grohl-fronted Foo Fighters continue to reign as the Alternative Songs chart’s No. 1 act over the list’s first 30 years, after leading the 25th-anniversary recap in 2013.
The Foos again stave off Red Hot Chili Peppers, who hold at No. 2. Make no mistake, though: neither are grandfathered into their coveted spots. Both bands released new material in the past five years and notched new No. 1 songs on the chart in that stretch: the Chili Peppers with “Dark Necessities,” their record-extending 13th leader, and Grohl and co. with “Something from Nothing,” their 10th.
Green Day, with 11 No. 1s (including a pair in 2016-17), ranks third among all acts, up from No. 4 on the previous recap. The veteran California rockers take over the No. 3 spot from Linkin Park, which falls to No. 4.
U2 rounds out the top five, achieving four top 30 Alternative Songs chart hits between the tally’s 25th and 30th anniversaries. Therefore, not resting on their laurels, each of the top five artists made the weekly ranking at some point from the last anniversary list to now.
The same can’t be said about R.E.M., which holds at No. 6 (after disbanding in 2011), with Pearl Jam, Incubus, Weezer and The Offspring rounding out the top 10. Of those acts, only Weezer wasn’t in the top 10 recap five years ago, vaulting from No. 12 following a period that saw the veteran act snag three top fives, led by its first No. 1 in a decade, a cover of Toto‘s “Africa,” earlier this year. Weezer displaces Bush, which dips to No. 11.
As for the top debut on the artist ranking since 2013? Cage the Elephant, at No. 15. That should come as no surprise even to casual listeners of alternative radio; the Kentucky six-piece, which had earned three No. 1s by the chart’s 25th anniversary, has since added four more, led by the 10-week 2013-14 No. 1 “Come a Little Closer, the No. 24 track on the all-time songs list.
Imagine Dragons follow among debuting acts since 2013, a year after the band’s first appearance, as the Las Vegas quartet appears at No. 16 on the artists list, having attained four additional No. 1s, including the final chart-topper of the 30th anniversary tracking period, “Natural” (the chart’s current leader) in early September. With 25 weeks at No. 1 on Alternative Songs since April 2017, the band is shaping up to be an even stronger contender on the artists tally once the chart’s 35th anniversary rolls around.
MUSE’S ‘UPRISING’ STILL TOP SONG
Muse’s “Uprising” retains its standing as the Alternative Songs chart’s all-time No. 1 song, a distinction that the 2009 single, which led the survey for 17 weeks, first claimed five years ago.
Rise Against‘s “Savior” is again the No. 2 track, while Portugal. The Man‘s “Feel It Still” enters at No. 3, the highest debut on the 30th anniversary songs list, following its record 20-week reign in 2017. The song’s success, coupled with an additional two-week No. 1, “Live in the Moment,” in early 2018, scores the band its first appearance on the all-time artists list, at No. 90, seven years after “People Say” became its first Alternative Songs entry.
Muse’s “Madness,” No. 3 on the prior all-time ranking (and the previous record-holder for the most weeks atop the weekly chart  before “Feel” came along), slips to No. 4, while Foo Fighters’ “The Pretender” also drops a spot to No. 5.
Much like “Feel It Still,” Cold War Kids‘ “First” has a strong debut on the songs recap, at No. 7, after a 2015-16 stretch during which it ruled for seven weeks and charted for 64 total weeks, second only to “Savior,” which lasted on the list for 65 frames.
Billboard‘s Greatest of All Time 30th Anniversary Alternative Songs & Artists rankings are based on weekly performance on the radio airplay-based Alternative Songs chart (from its Sept. 10, 1988, inception through Sept. 8, 2018). Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower spots earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods. Artists are ranked based on a formula blending performance, as outlined above, of all their Alternative Songs chart entries.