Battle Of The ‘00s Hard-Rock Bands

Jeff Forney

Battle Of The ‘00s Hard-Rock Bands

Jeff Forney

Change is inevitable. The clock ticks, the earth travels around the sun, we age and celebrate birthdays/anniversaries, and time marches on. But if you tab over to Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Airplay chart, a funny thing happens. Time is frozen, like an everlasting gobstopper or one of those perfectly preserved midcentury interiors you see on TikTok. There, hard-rock lifers Three Days Grace are up against genre rivals/contemporaries Shinedown for the most number ones in the 40-year history of the chart. This week Three Days Grace have a song called “So Called Life” (which should read “So-Called Life” — ugh, my chronic urge to copy-edit song titles) at #1. It’s the band’s 16th chart-topper and its first since 2019 (“Right Left Wrong”). The competition is amplified, too, by the fact that both bands are releasing new albums this spring, with Three Days Grace dropping Explosions in May and Shinedown releasing Planet Zero in April.

When I think of Three Days Grace, which to be honest I haven’t since about the year 2003, I think of that Top 40 anger-banger “I Hate Everything About You,” which enjoyed a real hot streak at the time; it’s the band’s longest running song on the Modern Rock chart at 45 weeks. And if I had to spend more time thinking about Three Days Grace, I’d remember how they were one of a cluster of post-grunge and nu-metal-adjacent acts that sprang out of the early aughts, on par with Hoobastank, Sevendust, Chevelle, and Seether. As an adult, I’ve dependably received press releases about these bands every couple of years and am reminded that these bands still release music, still tour, and — lo and behold — still chart. While people spent the last decade complaining that the guitar and rock music were dead, these early-to-mid-aughts guitar bands tags as “Guys’ Night Out” kept chugging along.

If you, like me, haven’t spent much time thinking about Three Days Grace since The O.C. was on the air, let’s do a brief history of their career. Formed in Ontario in 1992(!), Three Days Grace originally called themselves Groundswell until switching to their current name five years later. Eventually, “I Hate Everything About You” caught the attention of the then still-hot Jive Records and the group dropped their self-titled debut album in 2003, which, by 2006, had sold more than a million copies. In 2004, their second single “Just Like You” became their first to hit #1, and in the years since, they’ve steadily released a stream of new albums, from 2006’s One-X and all the way up to this spring’s forthcoming Explosions. Three Days Grace kept raking in the number ones even after longtime frontman Adam Gontier left the band in 2013, with Matt Walst taking his place.

Shinedown, meanwhile, originally hail from Jacksonville, Florida, and while they formed nearly a decade after Three Days Grace, they broke through at a similar time in rock music. Both bands have sludgy nu-metal guitars in common, but Shinedown lead singer Brent Smith seemed more intent on channeling Stone Temple Pilots’ Scott Weiland via howling singles like “Fly From The Inside” (still slaps), “45,” and “Burning Bright.” Their debut studio album Leave A Whisper also dropped in 2003 and went platinum two years later. Shinedown, too, have released albums every few years: Us And Them (2005), The Sound Of Madness (2008), Amaryllis (2012), Threat To Survival (2015), and Attention Attention (2018).

Three Days Grace and Shinedown are obviously different bands from different countries, but isn’t it funny how they keep bumping up against each other in the pit?

Before this week, Shinedown had amassed the most #1 singles on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, with 16 total. But the two bands have been battling it out for much of the last decade for that top spot. As Billboard reports, Three Days Grace previously held the record for the most Mainstream Rock Airplay number ones when it surpassed Van Halen in 2018. In 2020, Shinedown tied Three Days Grace at 15 number ones apiece and subsequently beat them with its 16th number one later that year. Now, however, “So Called Life” puts Three Days Grace on equal footing with Shinedown.

For their part, both bands appear to be on just fine terms with one another — in 2012, they teamed up for an arena tour, and more recently they shared a stage at SiriusXM’s Octane Home Invasion Festival. Just this past year, when “So Called Life” dropped, Walst addressed the chart “rivalry,” telling the Scotty Mars Show:

Those guys are super supportive of us. We were on a co-headlining tour with them back in 2012 when I joined the band, and you know, it was kind of a shock to them too because they were co-headlining with Three Days Grace and now the singer had changed, but Brent Smith from Shinedown was super supportive, came out saying, “We just wanna put on a great concert, we support these guys and what they’re doing.” So if that band would had turned around and said ‘We don’t want to do this tour; your camp has changed,’ then that wouldn’t have happened and it would’ve been a big blow to the band. We had pyro, they had a ton of lights… We’d love to get back on tour with them and just play hits.”

That’s a nice statement, and I don’t doubt its authenticity. (So-called “rivalries” tend to be born of editorializing more than anything else, I think.) Relic-y acts like this should stick together, for potential ticket sales, if nothing else. The more worrying issue, perhaps, is that this radio format is still being ruled by bands that were popping off when Billie Eilish was a baby. Change is inevitable, and change is good. I’m not trying to hate on either Three Days Grace or Shinedown — there are some decent hooks there, and I have a weird soft spot for ’90s/’00s post-grunge (I did interview Fuel, after all). But I wish “modern rock” was actually, well, modern.

There are exceptions — certain younger acts are shaking up the format. Scrolling through Octane’s playlists, I notice Fame On Fire, who sounds like Post Malone meets Linkin Park meets Metallica. And a moody quartet named Bad Omens sounds like the second coming of Evanescence. There’s also a group called Northlane that forges strobing EDM and electronica from a hard rock/metal foundation. Like other popular genres, hard rock has adapted to the “genreless” format, cherrypicking from a vast quantity of available influences. But I fear these newer acts have a much steeper incline to achieve Three Days Grace and Shinedown status. The older bands caught the post-grunge wave while it was still mid-air, resulting in gold and platinum debut albums. The guitar is only just starting to wake up from its ’10s mainstream slumber. How long will the younger set have to wait?


The Encanto soundtrack continues its reign over the Billboard charts this week. On the Billboard 200, the album remains at #1 for a fourth week thanks to 113,000 equivalent album units, including 16,000 in sales. That might have been enough to hold off some big-splash debut from a challenger, but no new albums have entered the top 10 this week. The rest of the top 10: the Weeknd, Gunna, Morgan Wallen, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Adele, Drake, the Weeknd again (this time his greatest hits collection), Doja Cat, and Olivia Rodrigo.

On the Hot 100, Encanto‘s big hit single “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” — credited to Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, Stephanie Beatriz, and the Encanto cast — also stays at #1. Last week it became only the second song from an animated Disney movie to top the chart. Now it’s the only Disney hit to spend multiple weeks at #1. It’s also the first time a soundtrack and one of its singles have topped the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 for multiple weeks since the 8 Mile soundtrack and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” 19 years ago.

Adele’s “Easy On Me” remains at #2, with #3 through #5 holding steady as well: Glass Animals’ “Heat Waves,” the Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s “Stay,” and Kodak Black’s “Super Gremlin.” GAYLE’s “abcdefu” hits a new #6 peak, followed by Ed Sheeran’s “Shivers” at #7. Jessica Darrow’s “Surface Pressure,” also from Encanto, rises to a new high of #8. Rounding out the top 10 are Gunna, Future, and Young Thug’s “Pushin P” at #9 and Doja Cat’s “Need To Know” at #10.


BENEE – “Beach Boy”

If you decide to move to Southern California, you need an “I live in LA now” song. Kind of like Taylor Swift’s “Welcome To New York,” but for the opposite coast. The super-breezy, “Beach Boy” would be that song for BENEE, and it’s exactly carefree and good time-y as its title indicates.

Machine Gun Kelly & WILLOW – “emo girl”

This song is such a hybrid of 2022 micro trends, it almost makes me dizzy. You can practically visualize allllll of the TikTok teens lip-syncing as they DIY-cut some side bangs. Is “emo girl” a thematic rip-off of Something Corporate’s “Punk Rock Princess”? Kinda. Does it still rip? Absolutely, 100%.

Tate McRae – “She’s All I Wanna Be”

Love that Tate McRae got superproducer Greg Kurstin (who also produced the BENEE song above) behind the board for “She’s All I Wanna Be,” an alternative pop bop that tackles everyday gaslighting by a love interest who tells you their perfect-seeming female bestie is “nothing to worry about.”

Rosalía – “SAOKO”

“SAOKO” is a strong style pivot for Rosalía, who reimagines Daddy Yankee and Wisin’s 2004 reggaeton hit “Saoco” while adding her own jazzy flourishes.

Jennifer Lopez & Maluma – “Marry Me”

Jennifer Lopez is a well-documented romantic. Frankly, I adore that she’s swooping in to rescue the romcom and dropping a starry-eyed marriage ballad to boot. Have I mentioned that I, too, am a romantic?


  • Machine Gun Kelly announced his new album title, Mainstream Sellout, after getting the previous title tattooed on his arm. [TikTok]
  • Lady Gaga announced another Jazz & Piano residency in Las Vegas. [PR Newswire]
  • Mickey Guyton will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. [Taste Of Country]
  • Anitta performed “Boys Don’t Cry” on Fallon. [YouTube]
  • Now Justin Bieber and the Kid LAROI have joined Benny Blanco in messing with Charlie Puth on TikTok. [TikTok]
  • Lady A, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum, settled their legal dispute with the blues singer of the same name. [Billboard]
  • Bastille covered Taylor Swift and Bon Iver’s “Exile” for SiriusXM. [YouTube]
  • Adele will perform at the BRIT Awards tomorrow. [Twitter]
  • Ed Sheeran appears to be teasing a remix with Taylor Swift. [Billboard]
  • Ryan Lewis recorded the music for The Deck, the new series from true crime podcast empire Audiochuck. [New York Times]
  • CNCO will make their acting debut in Disney’s 4 Ever. [Billboard]
  • Kelly Clarkson and Dolly Parton recorded a melancholic remake of “9 To 5” for a new documentary about gender inequality in the workplace. [Variety]
  • Nicki Minaj did an Adele impression on James Corden. [YouTube]
  • Dua Lipa announced a new podcast with iHeartRadio, Dua Lipa: At Your Service. [iHeartRadio]
  • Megan Thee Stallion released “Flamin’ Hottie,” a Salt-N-Pepa-interpolating rap about Cheetos. [YouTube]
  • On Instagram, Lizzo shared a nude video soundtracked by a brand new song. [Instagram]
  • Billie Eilish paused a concert to give a fan an inhaler. [Instagram]
  • Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner had another child. [TMZ]
  • K-pop band Big Bang are prepping their first new music in four years. [Hype Bae]
  • Joe Jonas’ dance-pop band DNCE is coming back with a lineup change: “I can kind of foresee it becoming this E Street Band where members come and go.” [Rolling Stone]
  • Lauren Spencer-Smith, riding high off viral hit “Fingers Crossed,” announced a partnership with Island and Republic Records. [HITS]
  • Coldplay and Selena Gomez released a video for “Let Somebody Go.” [YouTube]
  • Beabadoobee says her next album “sounds very 2006”: “I’ve been really getting into a band called Stars.” [Alt Press]
  • Lauren Spencer-Smith, riding high off viral hit “Fingers Crossed,” announced a partnership with Island and Republic Records. [Hits DD]


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