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Fans love Audioslave, critics aren't sure

White Stripes, Trapt, Linkin Park scored alt rock hits this year. By Joe Orshoski
/ Source: Billboard

The self-titled debut from Audioslave -- the band comprising former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and three-fourths of Rage Against the Machine -- polarized music critics. But what do they know? The disc spawned enough hit singles to propel the act to the top of the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart for 2003.

The Epic/Interscope set yielded four charting singles: “Like a Stone,” “Show Me How to Live,” “Cochise” and “I Am the Highway.” The first two led the charge. “Like a Stone” spent 33 weeks on the chart, with two of them at its pinnacle. “Show Me How to Live” peaked at No. 4 and spent 24 weeks on the tally.

All four tracks have helped “Audioslave” sell almost 2 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. In addition, “Like a Stone” and “Show Me How to Live” also played a key role in making Epic the top modern rock label for the year.

Those songs, along with Chevelle’s “Send the Pain Below” and “The Red” and Good Charlotte’s “The Anthem” -- as well as singles from Fuel, Pearl Jam, Vendetta Red, Revis and Mudvayne -- helped the label rise to the top. Twenty Epic titles charted on Hot Modern Rock Tracks this year.

Trapt captures summitWhile Audioslave owned the Modern Rock Tracks chart overall, Trapt scored the chart’s top song of the year with “Headstrong.” Worth noting is that Trapt is largely influenced by Cornell’s former band, Soundgarden, as well as the likes of Korn and Metallica. “Headstrong” spent five weeks atop the Modern Rock Tracks chart and 45 weeks on the tally overall.

Coming in at No. 2 on the year-end chart is the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” which has helped the duo’s V2 set “Elephant” sell more than 1.1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” is No. 3, followed by Chevelle’s “Send the Pain Below” and the Linkin Park singles “Faint” and “Somewhere I Belong.”

Trapt -- whose self-titled debut has sold 800,000 copies thus far in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan -- and fellow Warner Bros. act Linkin Park helped make the label the No. 2 label and the No. 1 imprint on the year-end tally.

While some of the top modern rock artists of 2003 will be lying low in early 2004, others will be very busy.

Epic will continue to promote Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway” into the new year, while the band members take time off. Trapt will return to the road for a Canadian trek with Nickelback and Three Days Grace in late January/early February 2004.

White Stripes frontman Jack White and drummer Meg White will take a break too. But Jack will remain in the public eye with his contributions to the “Cold Mountain” soundtrack, due Dec. 16 on DMZ/Columbia. White contributes five tracks to the album (three covers and two originals) and has a small role in the movie, which hits theaters Dec. 25. He is also producing a new album from country star Loretta Lynn.

Chevelle and Linkin Park recently released new product. In October, Epic issued the DVD “Live From the Norva”; the Internet-only live set “Live From the Road” followed in November. With “Wonder What’s Next” having sold 1 million copies in the U.S., the band will appear at a handful of radio shows in December and will begin preproduction on its second Epic set in January or February.

Linkin Park’s “Numb” single -- from the 3-million-selling “Meteora” -- was still being spun when its live CD/DVD, “Live in Texas,” was issued recently. As a result, both radio and video programmers have begun to play the live versions of the track available on “Live in Texas.” The band begins a North American tour with P.O.D., Hoobastank and Story of the Year in mid-January.