THINK TANK: Alternative Chart Toppers

A few months ago, we hammered through a huge pile of data in an effort to identify which acts and songs had experienced the most success at the Active Rock format in Canada during the Mediabase monitoring era. Some of the results were eye-openers, like the Foo Fighters catalogue collectively spending nearly two years at #1(!!), while others were pretty much as expected, such as the small number of domestic acts rising to the top.

So how does everything shake out at Alternative? Well, in light of The Glorious Sons taking over the top spot this week with “Everything Is Alright,” let’s take a look!

Mediabase first started monitoring radio in Canada thirteen years ago, producing their first chart for all Rock airplay for the week ending April 10th, 2004, eventually splitting that chart into the distinct Active Rock and Alternative formats for the week ending December 20th, 2008. So that gives us a data set of 465-weeks (through to November 11th, 2017), which works out to being just short of nine years worth of stats to play with.

Breaking out the big picture numbers:

— There have been 51 acts (only 12 or 23% of them Canadian) which have produced 83 chart-topping titles (23 which are Canadian).

— The average length of time a song sits at number one works out to be 40 days (or just under 6 weeks).

— Looking at the entire data set, the average number of spins required to hit the top is approximately 386 for International acts, while Canadian acts needed 384 spins. Focusing strictly on airplay from 2016 onwards, the averages increase considerably – International acts now require something in the neighbourhood of 452 spins, while the threshold for Canadian acts sits at 455, which makes sense considering how the reporting panel has expanded over the past few years.

The Black Keys are pretty much the undisputed overall champ at the format, with five titles logging a collective 42-weeks at #1. Metric takes the silver with 33-weeks (spread over 5 titles), while Kings of Leon step on the podium with 25-weeks (also with 5 titles).

— A sizable chunk of Metric‘s overall tally is thanks to “Youth Without Youth”, which was able to hold the top slot for an amazing 16-week run back in 2012, tying it with Mumford & Sons “I Will Wait” (16-weeks) for the title of song with the longest run at #1. Also of note would be The Black Keys “Fever” (15-weeks), X Ambassadors “Renegades” (15-weeks), Arkells “Knocking at the Door” (14-weeks) and City And Colour “Thirst” (13-weeks).

— The past two years (since January 2016) have seen a serious upswing in support for domestic talent, with Canadian acts (Arkells, July Talk, Mother Mother, The Strumbellas, Wintersleep & The Glorious Sons) holding the #1 slot for a combined 45-weeks. Compare that to 2015, when Arkells “Leather Jacket” and Metric “The Shade (I Want It All)” each clocked a solitary week, and then back to 2014 when Arcade Fire “Afterlife” was the only Cancon track to land a #1 (and for a single week at that).

— Looking specifically at domestic songs within our 465-week data set, it becomes quite clear that having a #1 hit at Alternative puts you into a rather small and exclusive club of Canadian artists, as the following list shows:

— And finally, here’s the full list on how many weeks each act has spent perched atop the Mediabase Alternative chart during the current monitoring era: