Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks - History


This chart began with the March 21, 1981, issue of Billboard. It was originally titled Top Tracks and accompanied by a Rock Albums chart, which was discontinued in 1984 (a new chart with the same name was introduced in 2009). Before this, Billboard did not compile a chart specifically for rock songs. The closest thing to it was an Album Radio Action page which named the top albums (but not songs) receiving airplay on album-oriented rock stations. The Top Tracks chart originally listed 60 songs. The first number-one song was "I Can't Stand It" by Eric Clapton. The chart changed its name to Top Rock Tracks in September 1984, then Album Rock Tracks in April 1986.

In order to give more recognition to modern rock radio stations, Billboard began a separate Modern Rock Tracks chart, beginning with the September 10, 1988, issue. Within two months of the first Modern Rock Tracks chart, the song "Desire" by U2 became the first song to reach number one on both rock tracks charts.

In 1996, Album Rock Tracks changed its name to Mainstream Rock Tracks. This occurred soon after Billboard established the Adult Top 40 chart. Like Hot Modern Rock Tracks, Adult Top 40 also had some songs in common with Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. Ironically, Adult Top 40 has often featured artists who were once prominent on the Rock Tracks charts, but were now considered too "soft" for rock radio.

Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks was published in the print edition of Billboard for the last time in its July 26, 2003, issue. The chart is still compiled, but it is only available through the magazine's website. The chart could be accessed free until June 2009, when it became subscriber-only. At that time, a new chart named Rock Songs was introduced that combined the data from Mainstream Rock with that from Alternative and Triple A.

In recent years, there has been more crossover between the Mainstream and Modern Rock Tracks charts. For six and a half years, following "Jaded" by Aerosmith in 2001, every number one song on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart also appeared on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, with 26 of them topping both rock tracks charts. This string was finally broken by Ozzy Osbourne's "I Don't Wanna Stop" in July 2007.

Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks has had 383 number-one hits. The current number-one song on for the week ending December 22, 2012, is "Been Away Too Long" by Soundgarden.

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