On the Year-End Rock & Alternative Charts, the Time of the Soloist Is Now

On the Year-End Rock & Alternative Charts, the Time of the Soloist Is Now

After 2022 saw six of the top 10 spots on Billboard’s year-end Top Rock & Alternative Artists ranking taken by solo artists (then a record), 2023 finds the entire top 10 occupied by soloists, led by Zach Bryan at No. 1.

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The No. 3 act on the year-end chart in 2022, Bryan rises to No. 1 in 2023 while continuing to showcase the genre-blurring artistry that finds him placed on the year-end Top Country Artist list in addition to Top Rock & Alternative Artists.

In 2023, he released Zach Bryan, a two-week No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, plus the supplementary EP Boys of Faith. The guestlists on both boasted acts who have cred in similarly wide-ranging genre placements, from The Lumineers to Bon Iver, Noah Kahan to The War and Treaty.

Sure enough, Bryan even reached the weekly Alternative Airplay chart – a ranking rarely reserved for acts traditionally considered country – thanks to his collaboration with The Lumineers, “Spotless.”

Bryan’s big year on Billboard’s rock and alternative charts began when 2022’s “Something in the Orange,” from that year’s LP American Heartbreak, climbed to No. 1 on the weekly Hot Rock & Alternative Songs tally in February, kicking off a 20-week reign. The song spent its last week at No. 1 in July, but Bryan wasn’t gone from the point for long; the Kacey Musgraves collaboration “I Remember Everything” debuted at No. 1 in September. (The American Heartbreak album is 2023’s No. 1 on the year-end Top Rock & Alternative Albums and Top Rock Albums charts.)

Both songs – plus “Dawns,” featuring Maggie Rogers – appear in the year-end Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart’s top 10, led by “Something in the Orange” at No. 1. In all, Bryan songs account for 24 of the 100 spots on the year-end list, nearly a fourth of the ranking.

Explore All of Billboard’s 2023 Year-End Charts

The No. 2 Top Rock & Alternative Artists entry had a similar path in 2023: Jelly Roll, whose album Whitsitt Chapel also blurred the lines between country and rock on its way to commercial success. It’s Jelly Roll’s first time in the year-end survey’s top 10, having appeared at No. 14 in 2022.

The rapper-turned-singer’s triumphs were headlined by “Need a Favor,” the No. 3 tune on the year-end Hot Rock & Alternative Songs. Not only did it become the first song in the history of the Billboard charts to rank in the top 10 of both the weekly Mainstream Rock Airplay and Country Airplay tallies – it went one better and was the first to hit No. 1 on both, reigning on the former for three weeks in July and the latter for four frames beginning in August.

“Need a Favor” concurrently ranks at No. 2 on the year-end Mainstream Rock Airplay chart, while Jelly Roll is No. 7 on Mainstream Rock Airplay Artists.

2023 was a breakthrough year for Noah Kahan, who appears at No. 4 on the Top Rock & Alternative Artists ranking and No. 1 on Top New Rock & Alternative Artists. Kahan had some chart success before 2023, dating to 2018, when the Julia Michaels collaboration “Hurt Somebody” peaked at No. 24 on Hot Rock & Alternative Songs. But starting with “Stick Season,” which was released in 2022 and eventually peaked at No. 8 on the weekly Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, Kahan scored a new level of success via songs from 2022’s Stick Season and its reissue with new material released in 2023. That includes “Dial Drunk,” which ranks at No. 7 on the year-end Hot Rock & Alternative Songs, boosted in part by a later remix adding Post Malone.

Kahan ends the year as the No. 1 act on Adult Alternative Airplay Artists, boosted by four appearances on the weekly ranking throughout the year, including a two-week No. 1 in “Dial Drunk” (which slots in at a No. 10 tie with TALK’s “Run Away to Mars” on the year-end Adult Alternative Airplay).

But what about the bands? They begin to appear in the top 20 of Top Rock & Alternative Artists, led by Fleetwood Mac, whose usual formidable balance of streams and sales were fortified by an additional release in Rumours: Live in September. Then comes Linkin Park, who ranks at No. 16.

Linkin Park may have largely become inactive following the death of frontman Chester Bennington in 2017, but the band’s year-end ranking is assisted by some newly released material thanks to the 20th anniversary reissue of 2003’s Meteora. The lead single from the re-release, “Lost,” racks up the following radio-related accolades: top song on Rock & Alternative Airplay (including 20 weeks at No. 1 beginning in February), Mainstream Rock Airplay (eight weeks on No. 1 beginning March), Alternative Airplay (six weeks at No. 1 beginning in March) and Rock & Alternative Airplay, and it’s No. 2 on the year-end Hot Hard Rock Songs chart, behind Bad Omens’ “Just Pretend.”

And as for the No. 1 on Top Alternative Airplay Artists? That goes to Fall Out Boy, which after nearly two decades on the weekly chart finally scored a No. 1 in “Love From the Other Side,” a six-week ruler beginning in March and No. 2 on the year-end Alternative Airplay behind Linkin Park’s “Lost.” The band boasted three top 10s on the ranking throughout the year, including “Hold Me Like a Grudge” and its rendition of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” updated with new lyrics referencing events that occurred since Joel’s original.

Metallica, meanwhile, snags No. 1 on the year-end Top Mainstream Rock Artists on the strength of five entries throughout the year, including three weekly No. 1s. Two of those songs reach the year-end Mainstream Rock Airplay in “Lux Aeterna” at No. 6 and “72 Seasons,” the title track from Metallica’s latest album, at No. 8.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts from Nov. 19, 2022, through Oct. 21, 2023. 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 detail, and the November-October time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Luminate.

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