Both fun.'s "We Are Young" and Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." topped the Hot 100 and the Alternative Songs chart, and did so in quick succession. The success of both those songs after a number of years when songs from the Alternative Songs chart seemed to be almost completely absent from pop radio might portend a cultural sea change, or at least the instant impact of Billboard beginning to factor Spotify streams into its formula for calculating the Hot 100.
Will a third alt-rock crossover rise to No. 1 this year? Will fun. and/or Gotye score big follow-ups, or begin to accrue the "one-hit wonder" stigma? I don't doubt that both will enjoy a healthy afterglow from their respective smashesfun.'s "Some Nights" has already climbed to No. 8 on Alternative Songs and No. 41 on the Hot 100. But the future reception of those singles is up in the air. Will they continue to dominate both pop and alternative radio, or will they settle in one format? Both acts had followings prior to these songsinternationally in Gotye's case, and in the American indie/emo underground in fun.'s casebut neither had any previous Alternative Songs hits to establish that chart as their home base.
Ever since becoming a significant force in mainstream music in the early '90s, so-called "alternative rock" has struggled with an identity crisis about what, exactly, it's an alternative toespecially after it began to compete commercially with hard rock and metal. But even at its peak as a sales force, alt-rock has always been a relatively minor presence on the pop singles chartsNirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hit No. 6 on the Hot 100, but that victory helped open the floodgates for the band and its contemporaries to dominate album charts and rock airwaves. Hot 100 success remained elusive.