The state of rock and the alternative, I guess.
Photo: John Salangsang / Variety / Shutterstock / Genius / Youtube
The music industry has spent the last few days changing a lot of the names of things – mainly to account for racism, from Republic Records prohibition the word “urban” to Lady Antebellum becoming Lady A. (Some things never change: When the Grammys removed “urban” from one of its categories, the awards show only created more problems in the process.) In the midst of it all, it seems like Billboard I thought he could slip in a little redefinition rock and alternative charts too. The biggest change is a new 50-seater Hot rock and alternate songs table, which replaces the Hot Rock Songs table. It expands the reach of the charts – based on radio play, streaming and sales – to now include “music which is often viewed as alternative, but which does not fit within commonly accepted rock boundaries.” Translation: It’s a way to put alternative pop musicians like Billie Eilish and alternative rap musicians like currently top of the charts, Powfu on the same charts as “guitar music,” while drawing lines. And a concrete example: the change will also introduce two 25-place graphics, Hot alternative songs and Hot hard rock songs, which basically looks like dividing the first graph in half on gender lines. The former will feature songs “with an alternative bent”, while the latter will focus on “only guitar-based rock songs with a heavier edge”.
It’s not that bad, seen BillboardThe only previous “alternative” chart of Alternative songs, which only ranks based on radio readings. But the alternative tends to sound more like an empty radio designation these days anyway, for the kind of station that would broadcast Eilish, Powfu, and Panic! at the disco (which marked a whole year at the hot top [not-hard] Rock Songs last fall) back to back. If you are wondering if this painting will finally bring Billboard on the lookout for the flourishing world of contemporary rock, it will be necessary to temper your expectations a little. Here are the first five spots of the first graph, dated June 13:
1. “deathbed”, Powfu with beabadobee
2. “whatever I wanted”, Billie Eilish
3. “Supalonely”, Benee with Gus Dapperton
4. “Dance Monkey”, Tones and I
5. “Level of concern”, twenty-one pilots
It’s more about corporate rock, TikTok hits and lowercase names already widely recognized on Billboard‘s other graphics. If there was anything positive, this would be it Billboard puts more women on a chart with “rock” in the title – except those women are then drawn to the non-rock alternative chart. Not to mention that it doesn’t seem like this painting is giving way to greater recognition for women like Fiona Apple and Waxahatchee‘s Katie Crutchfield, whose recent career highs defined the year in rock, even if the charts would make you think otherwise. The Hot Hard Rock Songs offshoot, meanwhile, feels like another twist on the mid-2000s hellish landscape that is radio. Mainstream rock songs graphic. Falling in Reverse, a band that apparently still exists, tops Hot Hard Rock with “Popular Monster”, having overtaken Mainstream Rock with the song a month ago. Powfu also tops the Hot Alternative Songs chart, which leads us to believe that placing your song at the top of Hot Rock & Alternative will give you of them No. 1 in most cases. (Maybe even three – Billboard tells us that some songs are alternative and hard rock, but don’t expect to see Dogleg Where Jeff Rosenstock there anytime soon.)
So if you like music “with an alternative bent” or “guitar-based rock songs with a heavier side”, maybe Billboard can help you find new favorites, like Falling in Reverse or Powfu. But if you love rock, you still must be wondering what the fuck are you doing checking out the Billboard graphics for this in 2020.