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Glass Animals Pick Up Where They Left Off: The Year in Rock & Alternative Charts 2022

The band is the year's Top Rock & Alternative Artist and its "Heat Waves" is the year's top song.

Most songs wouldn’t be the No. 1 on Billboard’s year-end Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart – or any other genre-based chart of a similar ilk, for that matter – two years after its initial release.

But “Heat Waves,” Glass Animals’ still-inescapable No. 1 of the year, isn’t most songs.


Explore All of Billboard’s 2022 Year-End Charts

A year after “Heat Waves” climbed to No. 2 on the year-end ranking (alongside Glass Animals’ own first-time rule on the 2021 Top Rock & Alternative Artists survey), the Dreamland tune lifts to No. 1 for 2022, staving off challenges from songs released in 2021, 2020 and even 1985. Which is of course emblematic of the music industry as a whole as 2022 comes to a close: old can be new, two years isn’t necessarily too long a runway against which to gauge a song’s success, and what seemed to work to break an act years ago may not be part of the playbook anymore.

Thank TikTok and other short-form video apps especially. The year-end Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart’s top 10, after all, is full of success stories from that corner of the Internet – and there’s even more to discover in the top 20, the top 30 and so on.

“Heat Waves” famously cracked the code in 2021, driving the song to an eventual 37-week reign on the weekly Hot Rock & Alternative Songs list that began in September 2021 and only concluded for good in June 2022.

“Heat Waves’” tremendous success fuels Glass Animals’ finish at No. 1 on the 2022 Top Rock & Alternative Artists recap.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts dated Nov. 20, 2021 through Nov. 12, 2022. The rankings for Luminate-based recaps reflect equivalent album units, airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that the titles appeared on a respective chart during the tracking year. Any activity registered before or after a title’s chart run isn’t considered in these rankings. That methodology details, and the November-November time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Luminate.

The No. 2 Hot Rock & Alternative Songs title of the year, GAYLE’s “Abcdefu,” initially blew up on TikTok in late 2021 and climbed to No. 2 on the weekly survey. Imagine Dragons and JID’s “Enemy,” the No. 3? It did well on TikTok alongside its radio and streaming success after its initial premiere as the theme song to Netflix’s Arcane: League of Legends.

Speaking of Netflix: count the film and TV streaming service as one of the other main drivers of success on the Billboard charts in 2022. It singlehandedly caused the return of 1985’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God),” previously a No. 30 hit for Kate Bush that year on the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, it wasn’t so much a return to form as it was a new cultural high for the song, which eventually peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100 and ruled Hot Rock & Alternative Songs for 11 weeks once the reign of “Heat Waves” had ended.

“Hill” wasn’t a flash in the pan brought about by a quick sync in film or TV, as is sometimes seen in the entertainment industry. It was reserviced to radio, playing a part in prolonging its impact alongside the song’s return in Stranger Things’ second part of its fourth season later in the summer. All told, it’s the No. 4 song on the year-end Hot Rock & Alternative Songs list and ranked as the No. 1 on the year-end Rock Digital Song Sales tally, while alternative radio stations embraced it to the point that it appears at No. 17 on the Alternative Airplay Songs year-end survey.

And that wasn’t all for Stranger Things. Released a year after “Hill” in 1986, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” boasted similar virality with its sync in the back-end of the fourth season, reaching the Hot 100 for the first time (peaking at No. 35 in July) and crowning the weekly Hot Hard Rock Songs chart for nine weeks, a run that drove the song to be No. 1 on the latter’s year-end ranking while Metallica itself is the year’s Top Hard Rock Artist. All that for a band that last released an album of fully new material in 2016, while Bush last did so in 2011.

Other TikTok and streaming successes include Zach Bryan and Steve Lacy, who rank as the Nos. 1 and 2 artists on the New Top Rock & Alternative Artists chart for 2022, respectively. Both, in addition to rock and/or alternative cred, create music difficult to neatly assign to just one overarching genre – Bryan in the country and folk corners of the industry, Lacy with material spanning pop, R&B and soul.

Bryan’s chart success was buoyed not only by his 34-song major label debut American Heartbreak and subsequent EP Summertime Blues (the former crowning the weekly Top Rock & Alternative Albums survey for eight weeks) – he also boasted entries in the chart year from the self-released DeAnn from 2019 and Elisabeth from 2020.

In addition to ranking at No. 1 on the new artists rundown, Bryan also appears at No. 3 on the Top Rock & Alternative Artists list for 2022.

Lacy, meanwhile, sported chart hits from 2022 album Gemini Rights as well as the 2017 TikTok trender “Dark Red,” reaching the top 10 of the year-end Rock Streaming Songs list twice, with “Bad Habit” at No. 3 and the aforementioned “Red” at No. 10. “Habit” even climbed to No. 1 on the Hot 100, reigning for three weeks late in the year.

Bryan, Lacy and Bush are three of six soloists in the top 10 of Top Rock & Alternative Artists, exemplifying the continued rise of single-person acts on the rock and alternative charts. They’re joined by Billie Eilish, GAYLE and Machine Gun Kelly at Nos. 5, 6 and 8, respectively. In no other year since Top Rock & Alternative Artists (formerly Top Rock & Artists) began in 2011 did more than four soloists reach the top 10.

By the way, Eilish was no slouch in 2022. She’s No. 1 on the Top Alternative Artists chart for 2022 and boasts the No. 1 on the year-end Top Alternative Albums ranking: Happier Than Ever, initially released in August 2021 and the No. 5 entry on the 2021 recap.

The year-end radio tallies see Red Hot Chili Peppers return in a big way following a pair of albums, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the band’s first LPs since 2016’s The Getaway and the pair that marks the return of guitarist John Frusciante to the fold.

“Black Summer,” the lead single from the first release, comes in as the No. 1 Top Rock & Alternative Airplay song of the year and the No. 2 Alternative Airplay song, while also appearing at No. 6 on the year-end Top Mainstream Rock Airplay list.

The band is kept from No. 1 on the Alternative Airplay recap by the aforementioned “Enemy” from Imagine Dragons and JID, a juggernaut that’s now spent over a year on the weekly list, including nine weeks at No. 1 early in the year. Imagine Dragons last crowned the year-end Alternative Airplay song ranking in 2017 with “Believer.”

The Black Keys nab the No. 1 on Adult Alternative Airplay Songs for the year with “Wild Child,” the band’s first to do so since “Fever” in 2014, while Spoon ranks atop the artist-based survey after a trio of hits at the format, one of which – “The Hardest Cut” ruled for three weeks. And at Mainstream Rock Airplay, it’s perennial heavyweight Three Days Grace who takes top artist and song honors with “So Called Life,” their first time ruling the latter since “Break” led 2010’s year-end tally.