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Ranking: Every Alternative Rock No. 1 Hit from Worst to Best

on July 05, 2017, 12:00am
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354. Lostprophets – “Last Train Home”


Date Reaching Number One: 4/24/04

Even if Lostprophets lead singer/monstrous child rapist Ian Watkins wasn’t the most genuinely evil figure in rock music this side of Gary Glitter, “Last Train Home” would still be a saggy baby diaper of a hit single, self-important in all of its whining and rallying cries for hope. Worst of all, so many musically snobby college kids bought into this shit back in 2004, passing it off as emo revivalism when it was really just generic nu metal. –Dan Caffrey

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353. Gene Loves Jezebel – “Jealous”

Date Reaching Number One: 8/11/90

One way of thinking of the alternative charts archives is as a time capsule (our very own Wayback Machine) that can transport us back to any week in alternative music over the past 28 years. For instance, we can travel back to that week in the summer of 1990 when Gene Loves Jezebel perched atop the charts: a magical week of cheesy guitars, big hair, and a return to the gallant, impassioned romantic declarations of yore (“I like you a lot/ You are so beautiful, and that is a fact, yeah, yeah”). Or we can always opt to leave the past alone. Yeah, that one please. –Matt Melis

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352. Awolnation – “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)”

Date Reaching Number One: 5/9/15

It’s bad enough that their band name sounds like a lost P.O.D. song, but cribbing beats and rhythms from New Order or When in Rome should lead to automatic jail time. Also, wouldn’t “Hollow Moon” suffice? No need for the parentheticals. –Michael Roffman
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351. Seether – “Fake It”

Date Reaching Number One: 1/5/08

It was almost impossible to go more than an hour without hearing at least one Seether song on the radio for the two years after 2005’s Karma & Effect came out. Their first single to reach number one came from their follow-up, a much weaker album about adjusting to success, with “Fake It” serving as the nadir. (Just watch the video to see the most awkward interaction with models on a plane.) The only single of theirs to hit platinum in the US, the song was a low point for the group, especially with its horrendous choice of lyrics (“I feel so raped”) to describe something other than sexual assault. If you want to look at an example of learning all the wrong lessons from Nirvana, here you go. –David Sackllah

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350. Puddle of Mudd – “Psycho”

Date Reaching Number One: 4/19/08

How Puddle of Mudd managed to snag a No. 1 song for anything in 2007 is an unsolved mystery. That’s a good six years after “Blurry” and “She Hates Me”. Yet, here we are, talking about “Psycho”. Eh, skip the song and rent the movie. –Michael Roffman

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349. Staind – “Believe”

Date Reaching Number One: 9/13/08

Regardless of your feelings about the merits of their earlier work, by the late 2000s, Staind had settled into a complacent facsimile of their past selves, and this was most apparent with “Believe”, the lead single from their sixth album, 2008’s The Illusion of Progress. They knew the formula for turning in bland, vaguely inspirational platitudes and took the safe route on this retread of their better earlier work. –David Sackllah

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348. P.O.D. – “Youth of the Nation”

Date Reaching Number One: 3/30/02

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and P.O.D.’s “Youth of a Nation”, a tale of teen suicide, parental abuse, and shootings told from heaven … yeah, no, it’s already mawkish and weird in hindsight. Mindful, but maudlin. Jesus, American Christian metal can sound so self-sanctimonious. –Blake Goble
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347. Rag’n’bone Man – “Human”

Date Reaching Number One: 3/25/17

How are you supposed to take someone seriously if they call themselves Rag’n’bone Man? Should have been a hard sell on that alone, but it turns out the song is also a Hozier and Everlast hybrid monstrosity. –Philip Cosores
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346. Nickelback – “How You Remind Me”

Date Reaching Number One: 9/22/01

When a song’s so bad it becomes a punchline, you know that band has a giant hit on their hands. At this point, making fun of Nickelback is like kicking someone who’s already being kicked while they’re down. But what do they care? Thanks to the thundering guitar, Chad Kroeger’s growl, and presumably the bottom of every bottle, “How You Remind Me” was the most-played song of 2002 and Billboard’s number one rock song of the decade. Ugh. —Allison Shoemaker

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345. 10 Years – “Wasteland”

Date Reaching Number One: 2/25/06

Ah, the years where overly dramatic post-grunge ballads were king. “Wasteland” was a prime example of the overwrought singles that defined the era, and 10 Years were relegated to history as a one-hit wonder that quickly faded away. Their number one position felt like a fluke, an example of a bland alt-rock power ballad storming the charts because it was too inoffensive to be stopped. –David Sackllah

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344. Three Days Grace – “Pain”

Date Reaching Number One: 3/3/07

The group’s third single to top the alternative charts was one of the biggest boosts for self-hatred and sadism since the heyday of Nine Inch Nails. While some of their earlier singles had brighter moments of distilling anger in its purest form into a four-minute single, “Pain” was more an obnoxious earworm that was inescapable throughout the year the group’s second album, One-X, was released. The fact it was the band’s last single to top the charts was surely no coincidence. –David Sackllah
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343. Linkin Park – “Breaking the Habit”

Date Reaching Number One: 8/28/04

The great innovation of Linkin Park was the way they combined two popular but often violent genres — hip-hop and metal — with lyrics approved by everyone’s mother. “I don’t know what’s worth fighting for/ Or why I have to scream,” Chester Bennington sings, so vague that it’s almost a parody of teenage rebellion. And yet the turntable scratches add an urgency to the song and set Linkin Park apart from other bands going for a similar sound. Besides, someone has to speak for the kids whose moms take them to Hot Topic. –Wren Graves

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342. Crazy Town – “Butterfly”

Date Reaching Number One: 2/17/01

The irony of Crazy Town is that their smash hit, “Butterfly”, is the song that simultaneously launched their career and ended it. Crazy Town themselves resented the success of their biggest (and only) charting single, a bubblegum number masquerading as rap rock. The band’s feelings of alienation as a result of the song’s popularity put them in good company with anyone who ever stepped foot on a gymnasium floor for a school dance in the early aughts. –Zack Ruskin

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341. Creed – “Higher”

Date Reaching Number One: 10/16/99

What kind of deal with the devil allowed Creed to make this garbage a hit? It’s a totally sub-par power ballad drenched in sterilized, post-grunge sound, topped off with trite lyrics and Scott Stapp’s lousy Eddie Vedder impression. This piece of shit won a Grammy, for fuck’s sake. —Allison Shoemaker
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