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Covers Are Nothing New: Remakes Keep Hitting Rock Radio Charts, Led By Chris Cornell’s Guns N’ Roses Redo

Three remakes debut on Billboard’s rock radio charts dated Aug. 1, joining a host of other updates of older material on various rock airplay rankings.

Leading the way among debuting tracks is the late Chris Cornell’s version of Guns N’ Roses’ “Patience,” which bows at No. 16 on Mainstream Rock Songs and No. 36 on Alternative Airplay. Cornell appears on both charts posthumously for the first time, following his May 2017 death. He’d last hit Alternative Airplay with “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” which reached No. 18 in December 2015.

On Mainstream Rock Songs, he had last charted in May-June 2016 with another cover, of the Prince-penned “Nothing Compares 2 U” (a four-week Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 for Sinead O’Connor in 1990), following Prince’s passing that April 21.

On the all-rock-format, audience-based Rock Airplay tally, “Patience” bows at No. 13 with 3 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

Cornell’s rendition of “Patience,” which Guns N’ Roses sent to No. 4 on the Hot 100 in 1989, also starts at No. 17 on the multi-metric Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, garnering 453,000 U.S. streams and 5,000 downloads sold in the week ending July 23, following its July 20 release. The latter count spurs the track’s start at No. 1 on Rock Digital Song Sales, marking Cornell’s first leader on the list solo or with his bands Soundgarden or Audioslave.

Also on Mainstream Rock Songs, Three Days Grace returns at No. 31 with its version of Gotye’s eight-week 2012 Hot 100 No. 1 “Somebody That I Used to Know,” featuring Kimbra. The original topped a barrage of charts in multiple formats, including Alternative Airplay for 12 weeks, and finished as the No. 1 hit on the 2012 year-end Hot 100.

And on Alternative Airplay, Silversun Pickups debut at No. 40 with “Toy Soldiers,” an amped-up take on Martika’s two-week 1989 Hot 100 No. 1.

In addition to the three makeovers above, two other acts currently have hits on Billboard rock radio charts with songs first popularized by other acts. Sevendust’s “The Day I Tried to Live” rises 24-23 in its fourth frame on Mainstream Rock Songs. The original version? By Cornell’s band Soundgarden, a No. 13 hit on the ranking in 1995.

Additionally, Rock Airplay features Billie Joe Armstrong’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” at No. 46, after it reached No. 37 in early July. Tommy James and the Shondells first climbed to No. 4 on the Hot 100 with the composition, while Tiffany sent her version to No. 1 for two weeks in 1987.

Among other songs that boast built-in familiarity, three entries on Mainstream Rock Songs are updates of tracks by acts that previously recorded them. Metallica’s new rendition of “All Within My Hands,” with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (No. 6), was originally released by the band in its 2003 album St. Anger; The Hu’s “Wolf Totem,” featuring Jacoby Shaddix (No. 7), was initially recorded and released without Shaddix in 2018; and Breaking Benjamin’s “Dear Agony,” now with Lacey Sturm (No. 20), was reworked from the original on the band’s 2009 album of the same name.

Likewise on the Adult Alternative Songs airplay chart, Kacey Musgraves debuts at No. 39 with a reworking of her 2018 Golden Hour track “Oh, What a World,” rerecorded for Earth Day this year.

In June 2018, Billboard posted a list of the then-15 most recent covers to grace the rock radio charts, all of which had appeared over the prior two years. Since then, 11 others have charted, including “Patience,” “Somebody That I Used to Know,” “Toy Soldiers,” “The Day I Tried to Live” and “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Three have hit No. 1: Five Finger Death Punch’s “Blue on Black” on Mainstream Rock Songs (original artist: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band) and Lana Del Rey’s “Doin’ Time” (Sublime) and Meg Myers’ “Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush) on Alternative Airplay.

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