Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ranking: Every Alternative Rock No. 1 Hit

Consequence of Sound decided to do a ranking of every song to hit #1 on the Alternative Rock chart. Here's where The Cure placed:

263. The Cure – “Never Enough”
Date Reaching Number One: 9/29/90
The straightforward rock guitar strains of the one lackluster new track from The Cure’s 1990 remix collection, Mixed Up, sounded almost as out of place among the most popular alternative singles of the time as it did tacked on the end of a collection of extended mixes, and yet “Never Enough” spent three non-consecutive weeks on top of the modern rock chart in the fall of 1990. –Sarah Kurchak

108. The Cure – “High”
Date Reaching Number One: 4/11/92
At their best, The Cure were able to make you feel happy about being depressed, sweeping you up in their magical wisdom and punchy melancholy. “Wish”, the first single off their 1992 album, High, literally begins with a sparkly twinkle, as if Robert Smith has opened up the storm clouds and swept you off your feet in all his splendor and glory. From there, the song capitalizes on all the band’s accessible trademarks: the cozy bass lines, the earworm guitar hooks, and Smith’s teardrop poetry. For added measure, there’s even a feline overdub that would be way too obtrusive and atrociously precious if it were coming from any other band. Here? It’s David Copperfield-type shit. Now, that’s some power. –Michael Roffman

58. The Cure – “Fascination Street”
Date Reaching Number One: 5/6/89
Disintegration featured a few stellar singles, but the truly interesting comparison here, chart-wise, is the difference between “Fascination Street” and “Lovesong”. The former reached the top of the alt chart, but only hit number 42 overall; the latter never peaked the alt chart, but hit number two overall. So, what makes “Fascination Street” the more alt choice? Perhaps the extended, moody, bass-driven intro. Or the ominous, noisy squealing at the edges? The fact that it’s two minutes longer? Likely all of that at once. “Fascination Street”, though, burns the alt torch brightly, the kind of thing that’d be perfect for a late-night ride through the city. –Adam Kivel

16. The Cure – “Friday I’m in Love”
Date Reaching Number One: 6/13/92
Just how good is “Friday I’m in Love”? Robert Smith was so impressed by the melody he wrote that he could have sworn he stole it from somebody else (he didn’t). The recorded song that appears on The Cure’s 1992 album, Wish, is slightly faster and more upbeat than the version the band rolls out at shows, which is really just as well. It’s a deeply nostalgic love song, and don’t we always remember past romance in a slightly different key? –Collin Brennan

And one Cure cover made the list. This godawful thing:

281. 311 – “Love Song”
Date Reaching Number One: 5/1/04
311 offer up a perfectly serviceable, reggae-flavored tiki bar rendition of this Cure classic. And somewhere back in 1989, Robert Smith is still sitting alone in a cave among stalagmites wondering what he’s gotta do to feel his enduring love reciprocated by the charts. Hopefully, a new generation of spelunking Cure fans soon found him and explained that 311 had sent them. –Matt Melis


  1. "Just Like Heaven" and "Lovesong" are much better songs by the Cure than "Friday I'm in Love," but neither reached #1 on this alt rock chart, apparently. Goes to show how meaningless these charts really are in terms of the quality of songs. It's true that "Friday I'm In Love" was a big "hit," but most true fans don't rank it in their list of favorites.

    1. Friday I'm in Love dropped during a pivotal year of my adolescence. It taught me more about love, loss, and irony than The Catcher in the Rye. Love the song. Hate the novel.

  2. I'm always surprised that people rarely draw the distinction between the annoying extended version of "Never Enough" on "Mixed Up" and the single version, which is the real version of the song, that I was only able to buy on "The Hits" (2001). Never cared much for the song anyway.

    How the heck did "Love Song" not make it onto the list but a cover did?

    1. Never mind. I just read M.C.'s comment about how it's a list of Number One songs. I've always LOVED "Friday, I'm in Love". The band's pop side until 1992 was so powerful and was what made me a fan, which allowed me to eventually realize how equally great their darker songs were.

  3. The alt rock chart started in 1988 for Billboard and the first #1 ever was Peek A Boo from Siouxsie & The there was never a chance for JLH etc etc

    1. Oh I see. That makes sense, then, why for example "Just Like Heaven," or "In Between Days," and the like never made the chart being that it began in 1988. Thanks for explaining that. But I still don't understand how "Never Enough" made the list and "Lovesong" didn't. I believe "Lovesong" was the Cure's biggest hit in the U.S., and Wish was the best-selling album. But I could be wrong. I know this is an alternative chart, but it's still really odd to me. I agree that "Fascination Street" should be on the list, but what about "Lullaby" and "Pictures of You" for example? I know "Lullaby" was a much bigger hit in the U.K. But still. Weird. Oh well. No solid explanation can be given sometimes for these things ;)

    2. I return to my original thesis: These charts seem meaningless in determining the quality of songs or popularity overall. I have many questions and few answers for why certain songs made this list and others didn't, except that it's an "alt chart" and not a general pop chart. Hmm.