For the first time in nearly 26 years, Depeche Mode has a top 10 song on Billboard’s Alternative Airplay chart.
“Ghosts Again,” the lead single from the act’s new album, Memento Mori, lifts from No. 11 to No. 10 on the April 15-dated survey.
It’s Depeche Mode’s seventh top 10 on Alternative Airplay, which began in 1988. The band first reached the top 10 with the No. 3-peaking “Personal Jesus” in 1989 and had last reached the region in 1997, when “It’s No Good” peaked at No. 4. (Depeche Mode first appeared on Billboard’s charts in 1981, a year after it formed in England.)
A total of 25 years, nine months and one week passed between Depeche Mode’s previous week in the top 10 (July 5, 1997) and its return (April 15, 2023), the second-longest break between top 10s in the chart’s history. The longest wrapped just last year, when Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” marked her first top 10 in 28 years, five months and one week.
Bush’s “Running,” however, made for a slightly different situation than “Ghosts,” as her break ended with a catalog song, originally from 1985, promoted again sparked by virality from its synch in Netflix’s Stranger Things. Depeche Mode completes the longest break between fully new top 10s, surpassing Gorillaz, who went 16 years, six months and one week between the final week in the top 10 for “Dare” in 2006 and the first for “Cracker Island” in 2022.
Depeche Mode’s elder-statesmen status at the format has certainly not deterred programmers from playing the new song.
“Depeche Mode has always been a massive band in Utah, and KXRK has played all their songs,” Todd Noker, program director of KXRK Salt Lake City, which reports to the Alternative Airplay chart, tells Billboard. “Depeche Mode delivered an excellent album, and ‘Ghosts Again’ fits into X96’s playlist quite perfectly because we target adults 25-54. For that age group, they are a heritage band.
“With the tragic death of [group co-founder] Andrew Fletcher last year to their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020, Depeche Mode are back with something to prove to the world. They are still viable songwriters and performers, and ‘Ghosts Again’ is like a victory lap for one of the world’s biggest alternative bands.”
KXRK played “Ghosts” 30 times in the most recent tracking week (March 30-April 6), among the format’s leaders on the song, according to Mediabase, which provides data to Luminate for Billboard’s airplay charts. WWCD Columbus, Ohio, led all stations on the Alternative Airplay panel with 58 plays.
Concurrently, “Ghosts” bullets at its No. 2 high on Adult Alternative Airplay and ranks at No. 12 on the all-rock-format, audience-based Rock & Alternative Airplay chart, after rising as high as No. 9, with 2.4 million audience impressions, according to Luminate. When the song reached the top 10 of the latter list a week ago, it also set a record, for the most time between an act’s first appearance on the chart and its first top 10.
Memento Mori, Depeche Mode’s 15th studio album, debuted at No. 2 on the Top Rock Albums chart dated April 8 with 32,000 equivalent album units earned.