Though the album was released in mid-2015, Twenty One Pilots‘ Blurryface helped propel the duo to superstardom in 2016, as the act ranks as Billboard‘s top Rock artist of 2016.
Looking at the top three titles on the year-end Hot Rock Songs chart, it’s easy to see why. The twosome (Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun) claims all three positions, with “Stressed Out” ranking at No. 1 after leading the weekly chart for 23 nonconsecutive weeks beginning on Jan. 9.
Follow-up single “Ride” ranks at No. 2 for 2016, after ruling Hot Rock Songs for nine weeks, while Suicide Squad soundtrack song “Heathens” is No. 3, having crowned Hot Rock Songs for 17 weeks, from the Aug. 27-dated chart through the latest tally (dated Dec. 17; 14 of those frames count for the 2016 chart year, which covers charts dated Dec. 5, 2015, though Nov. 26, 2016).
The trio of songs’ dominance doesn’t end there. They also monopolize the top three of the year-end Rock Digital Song Sales and Rock Streaming Songs charts (“Stressed,” “Heathens” and “Ride,” in that order, on each list).
Additionally, Blurryface earns the distinction of the No. 1 title on the year-end Top Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts (after landing on 2015’s year-end rankings at Nos. 7 and 5, respectively).
This kind of dominance on Hot Rock Songs historically? Unprecedented. Since the chart began in 2009, never before had a single artist held each of the top three positions at year’s end. Two came close: Foo Fighters ranked Nos. 1 and 3 in 2011, with “Rope” and “Walk,” respectively, while in 2014, Lorde placed at Nos. 2 and 3 with “Team” and “Royals,” respectively.
Add that the tandem’s three smashes finish in the year-end top 10 on the Rock Airplay chart (“Ride” at No. 6; “Stressed,” No. 7; and “Heathens,” No. 10) plus 28 cumulative weeks atop Alternative Songs (over half the year), when it came to rock music in 2016, Twenty One Pilots flew significantly higher than all other acts.
Anti-Youth Movement: While Twenty One Pilots’ dominated the rock charts in 2016, the year was still a bit of a 1990s and early ’00s revival with respect to alternative.
Blink-182 and Green Day both topped the Billboard 200 during the year, while Red Hot Chili Peppers reached No. 2. And, all three notched No. 1s on the Alternative Songs chart during the year; in fact, Blink’s “Bored to Death” was the trio’s first No. 1 on the chart in more than 12 years.
Success stories for the likes of Jimmy Eat World (first Alternative Songs top 10, “Sure and Certain,” in six years), Metallica (282,000 first-week copies sold of new album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, the best sales week for a rock album in the 2016 chart year, according to Nielsen Music) and Radiohead (the No. 3 Billboard 200 album A Moon Shaped Pool, the band’s highest-charting hit in five years) also proved the staying power of multiple rock vets.
The Lumineers Avoid Sophomore Slump: “Ho Hey,” the folk rock boot-stomper that earned The Lumineers major crossover success earlier in the decade, might have been hard to live up to, but the Denver trio proved it had more to offer.
“Ophelia,” the lead single from The Lumineers’ sophomore LP Cleopatra, is the biggest rock radio single of 2016, ranking at No. 1 on the year-end Rock Airplay, Alternative Songs and Adult Alternative Songs charts. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in April, besting the No. 2 peak of the act’s 2012 eponymous breakthrough.
Disturbed’s ‘Silence’ Was Heard Loud & Clear: In August 2015, Disturbed released Immortalized, its sixth studio album, which features a cover from a perhaps unlikely source: Simon & Garfunkel. More than a year later, the hard rockers’ rendition of “The Sound of Silence” (a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 in 1966, 50 years ago) is maybe one of the year’s most unexpected success stories.
Unlike most Disturbed tracks, or the majority of songs on mainstream rock radio, “Silence” is driven by piano and strings and features only minimal acoustic guitar; i.e., no electric guitars, bass or drum sets. And yet, the haunting “Silence” is the No. 1 Hard Rock Digital Song Sales hit of the year, as well as No. 2 on Mainstream Rock Songs, below Volbeat‘s “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” at No. 1.
“Silence” also became the highest-charting song (reaching No. 42) on the Hot 100 in Disturbed’s decade-and-a-half-long career.
Pretty Impressive: When The Pretty Reckless racked its third Mainstream Rock Songs No. 1, “Follow Me Down,” in 2015, the Taylor Momsen-led hard rockers did what only 3 Doors Down had done before them: send their first three charting singles on Mainstream Rock Songs to No. 1.
In 2016, Momsen and company broke new ground, with “Take Me Down” leading for two weeks, making the act the first to go four-for-four atop the chart from the start. The track ends at No. 5 on the year-end list.
Good News: Kaleo is the top new Rock artist of 2016. The Icelandic quartet lands at No. 3 on the year-end Alternative Songs chart with breakthrough hit “Way Down We Go”; no top new rock artist had earned such a high position on the year-end survey since 2012 rock rookie of the year Gotye, whose “Somebody That I Used to Know” (featuring Kimbra) was the No. 1 Alternative Songs track of that year.
Kaleo’s inroads at all rock formats aided the band’s fortunes. While “Down” ends at No. 27 on the year-end Adult Alternative Songs chart, the band’s “No Good” is also the No. 42 Mainstream Rock Songs track of 2016, having risen to No. 9 on the weekly tally in July.
Billboard’s year-end music recaps are based on chart performance between the Dec. 5, 2015 and Nov. 26, 2016 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.