Considering the likely expectations for Imagine Dragons' third album, it seems fair to say that it exceeded them.
After all, despite a sophomore effort, 2015's Smoke + Mirrors, that debuted atop the Billboard 200 with 195,000 first-week equivalent album units, according to Nielsen Music, and ended as the No. 4 album on Billboard's year-end Alternative Albums ranking that year, the set failed to produce follow-up singles worthy to be spoken in the same breath as "It's Time," "Radioactive" and "Demons," the three top 20 Billboard Hot 100 hits from the band's 2012 debut full-length, Night Visions. Even the Las Vegas rockers' home genre stock depreciated, with no songs from Smoke + Mirrors crowning the Hot Rock Songs or Alternative Songs charts that had been dominated by the band in 2013 (although lead Smoke single "I Bet My Life" did reach No. 3).
Perhaps the concept of a sophomore slump isn't real and this was nothing more than a coincidence, but in 2017, Imagine Dragons proved any naysayers wrong with Evolve, which helped the band rule as Billboard's Top Rock Artist of 2017, its second time earning the distinction, after taking top honors for 2013.
Not that crowning this year's chart should come as too much of a surprise. In addition to the year-end Top Rock Artist title, the band lands a bevy of No. 1s on artist, album and song chart levels.
Dan Reynolds and co. are the top act on the Hot Rock Songs Artists, Rock Streaming Songs Artists, Rock Airplay Artists, Rock Digital Song Sales Artists, Alternative Albums Artists and Alternative Songs Artists rankings. Evolve takes the year-end cake for Alternative Albums and places at No. 2 on Top Rock Albums, while lead single "Believer" rules Hot Rock Songs, Rock Streaming Songs, Rock Airplay, Rock Digital Song Sales, Alternative Songs and Alternative Digital Song Sales. Follow-up "Thunder" also snags multiple year-end top five placements.
The new album's success has led Imagine Dragons to a combined 31 weeks at No. 1 on Hot Rock Songs, including "Believer"'s 29-week reign, the second-longest in the chart's history after twenty one pilots' 30-week run with "Heathens" (beginning Aug. 27, 2016). The band added 17 weeks at No. 1 on Rock Airplay, all via "Believer." Combined, "Believer" and "Thunder" racked up 16 weeks atop Alternative Songs, a feat that the band wasn't even able to accomplish with its debut LP, which produced the 13-week No. 1 "Radioactive."
And then there's the crossover success. Smoke + Mirrors, which signified a slight departure from the bass-shaking, constantly morphing sound of its predecessor in exchange for Mumford & Sons-esque folk stompers and generally more straightforward alternative rock fare, landed just one top 40 single on the Hot 100: "I Bet My Life," which peaked at No. 28 and also became the album's lone track to appear on the Pop Songs airplay chart, also reaching No. 28.
Evolve, which reconsidered Night Visions' approach on many levels, has brought the band two top 10s on the Hot 100, steering the act toward to the No. 9 spot on the year-end Hot 100 Artists recap for 2017, with "Believer" making the year-end Hot 100 Songs ranking at No. 9. Pop radio joined in for more success, with "Believer" ranking at No. 3 for the year on Adult Pop Songs and No. 15 on Pop Songs.
Portugal's the Man: If there was an alternative rock story that could come close to rivaling Imagine Dragons in 2017, it'd be Portugal. The Man's. A long-running band originally out of Alaska whose best-performing song had been the No. 15-peaking "Purple Yellow Red and Blue" on Alternative Songs in 2013, the quintet stormed the rock – and pop – charts with "Feel It Still," the behemoth single from 2017's Woodstock.
Among the song's accolades: No. 1 on the year-end Adult Alternative Songs chart, No. 2 for the year on Rock Airplay and No. 3 on the year-end Hot Rock Songs and Alternative Songs tallies. Comparatively, yes, Portugal. The Man had made a year-end song ranking before … at No. 49, with "Purple" on the 2013 year-end Alternative Songs ranking. But, nothing else.
All told, the band racked up the distinction of the No. 1 artist on Adult Alternative Songs for 2017 and finishes as the Nos. 2 and 4 acts on Rock Airplay and Alternative Songs, respectively, assisted not only by the runaway success of "Feel" but also follow-up single "Live in the Moment," which hit the Adult Alternative Songs and Alternative Songs charts by the end of the chart year.
In all, "Feel" spent a combined 45 weeks atop Billboard's rock airplay charts in 2017 and even added four- and three-week runs at No. 1 on Adult Pop Songs and Pop Songs, respectively, marking the band's first appearances on either chart. The song became a top five hit on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 4, and stands as a surefire contender for one of the more unlikely success stories of 2017 in any genre.
Chart Revival(ists): The Revivalists traversed a long road to become Billboard's Top New Rock Artist of 2017. The New Orleans-based roots-rock seven-piece released its most recent album, Men Amongst Mountains, in July 2015, adding a one-week cameo on Adult Alternative Songs later that year with "Keep Going," which peaked at No. 29.
Then came "Wish I Knew You," although there's still more to the story here that predates 2017. The second single from Men first made Adult Alternative Songs in May 2016, eventually rising to the chart's apex for a two-week reign in October 2016. In the final chart week of 2016 (dated Nov. 26), the track debuted at No. 37 on Alternative Songs, the band's first appearance on the ranking.
It's still there.
"Wish," which spent the entire chart year on the Alternative Songs ranking, ends as the No. 2 Alternative Songs track of 2017, due in large part to that longevity (it hasn't fallen outside the top 10 since March), including a week at No. 1 on the ranking in May. The song wrapped its run on Rock Airplay, where it peaked at No. 2, in October, having spent 67 weeks on the chart, second all-time only to Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (68 weeks).
'Hardwired…' for No. 1: The only rock act that could take on Imagine Dragons when it came to album popularity in 2017? Metallica, whose Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is No. 1 on the year-end Top Rock Albums and Hard Rock Albums rankings.
The album shifted 1.1 million units in the 2017 chart year, the only rock album to top even 800,000 units. The sum includes a 291,000-unit first week that saw the set debut atop the Billboard 200 in December 2016, arriving as Metallica's sixth No. 1 on the chart, dating to its first in 1991. That effort? The self-titled black album, which moved enough units (268,000) in 2017 to chart at No. 2 on the year-end Hard Rock Albums ranking.
Metallica also continued its long-standing cornerstone status at rock radio, ranking as the No. 2 act on Mainstream Rock Artists for 2017. Five songs from the new album made the survey in the chart year, led by the two-week No. 1 "Atlas, Rise!" in February. That album and song success helped the band to No. 4 on the year-end Top Rock Artist recap.
'One More Light' for Linkin Park: Rap-rock veterans Linkin Park were on track for a strong showing on the Top Rock Artist of the year ranking for 2017 after the May release of its new album. On July 20, frontman Chester Bennington committed suicide and fans flocked to the band's catalog for a measure of comfort. One More Light, the band's seventh studio set, debuted atop the Billboard 200 in June (becoming the group's sixth No. 1) with 111,000 units earned, and lead single "Heavy," featuring Kiiara, had become the band's first top 20 track on Pop Songs in nearly a decade, reaching No. 16 in April.
The band's output surged following Bennington's passing and Linkin Park ends 2017 as the No. 3 Top Rock Artist. One More Light, No. 7 on the year-end Top Rock Albums list, is joined in the top 20 by the band's debut album, 2000's [Hybrid Theory] (No. 20). In fact, Linkin Park is 2017's No. 2 act on Hard Rock Albums Artists, a feat accomplished despite Light not being eligible sonically for the weekly Hard Rock Albums chart, led by the 262,000-unit performance in the chart year for Theory (No. 3 on the year-end Hard Rock Albums chart).
Linkin Park added a record showing on the Hot Rock Songs chart, with nearly half – 23 of 50 – of the Aug. 12 ranking housing the band's songs following increases in sales, streaming and airplay in remembrance of Bennington.
Billboard's year-end music recaps are based on chart performance between the Dec. 3, 2016 and Nov. 25, 2017-dated charts. Data registered before or after a title's chart run are not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are compiled independently by Nielsen Music.