The track marks the Frankenmuth, Michigan, four-piece’s first entry on the ranking, making the act just the second to earn an initial No. 1 on Mainstream Rock Songs in 2017. The group joins Ghost, whose “Square Hammer” ruled for two weeks beginning on the chart dated Jan. 28.
Greta Van Fleet is the first act to top Mainstream Rock Songs in a first visit this year, and the first since Red Sun Rising nearly two years ago, when the Ohio rockers’ “The Otherside” led the Oct. 31, 2015-dated chart.
It gets more impressive than that, though. “Highway Tune” hits No. 1 in its 14th week on the chart, and although that may not be the quickest rise to No. 1 in 2017, the acts that led just as or more quickly are among the powerhouse names in rock radio: Papa Roach, Foo Fighters, Stone Sour, Seether, Green Day and Metallica.
Only two other acts in the 2010s have reached No. 1 more swiftly with a first Mainstream Rock Songs entry, and both require a bit of an asterisk. Zac Brown Band’s “Heavy Is the Head,” featuring Chris Cornell, took eight weeks in 2015, but the band was already a well-established country hit machine that made a (however brief) foray into rock with the single. Before that, Device’s “Vilify” took 11 weeks to reign in 2013, a rise no doubt helped by the fact that the act’s lead singer was Disturbed frontman David Draiman.
The predecessor to those two songs, going by this stat? Chad Kroeger’s “Hero,” featuring Josey Scott, back in 2002; again, a special case, as Kroeger’s band Nickelback had by then posted a pair of No. 1s.
So really, to get a sense of Greta Van Fleet’s accomplishment as a fully new act, one must go back to March 2001, when Louisville rock band Tantric hit No. 1 in 13 weeks with its debut single “Breakdown.” Tantric sported an unknown singer in Hugo Ferreira, but three of its members were also early members (see: everyone but the singer) from Days of the New, which earned two No. 1s in the late ’90s (all with those three members part of that band). If that’s still a little too close to former fame for you, 3 Doors Down’s debut hit “Kryptonite” reached No. 1 in its 10th week in April 2000.
Regardless of the chart milestones “Highway Tune” accomplishes, Greta Van Fleet guitarist Jake Kiszka is simply “overwhelmed and elated” that the song took off at all. It “did have a certain quality from the beginning,” Kiszka tells Billboard. “The riff that the song starts with, we knew right away that we had something special. Then you have Josh [Kiszka, vocals] and Danny [Wagner, drums] coming into the song at same time and with the same amount of power. It’s un-ignorable.”
“Highway Tune” is the lead single from Greta Van Fleet’s debut EP Black Smoke Rising, which reached the Hard Rock Album Sales chart weeks after its arrival (on the June 3 tally, after its April 21 release). It’s risen as high as No. 4, on the Sept. 9-dated ranking (with 2,000 copies sold that frame, according to Nielsen Music).
The track also continues climb the all-rock-format Rock Airplay chart, bumping 18-14 on the latest tally with 4 million audience impressions. As the band rides high with the success of its first single, Kiszka tells Billboard that it’s currently “selecting the songs we want to put on our first full-length,” with a release date “probably sometime in 2018.”