RIAA alternative singles surprising gold and platinum certifications
[Photos via Green Day/Spotify, Avril Lavigne/Spotify, All Time Low/Spotify, Foo Fighters/Spotify]

10 artists whose certified most popular releases may surprise you

A few months ago, we presented you with artists’ most and least streamed Spotify tracks that we thought might surprise you. Now we’re back to blow your minds again with some surprising top releases as indicated by gold and platinum certifications.

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In case you don’t know what the hell we’re on about, certifications are awards granted to artists by various organizations based on preestablished criteria. The Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) certifies releases on the basis of sales.

Adjusting to the digital age, RIAA now equates 150 streams (on Spotify or elsewhere) to a single download/sale. A release must accrue 500,000 sales for gold certification, 1 million for platinum and 2 million for multi-platinum. Needless to say, these honors aren’t easy to come by.

Here are 10 alternative artists whose RIAA certifications might surprise you.

The 1975 – “Sex”

The 1975 have received all sorts of certifications since they dropped their debut album in 2013. One song that we didn’t expect to be top-performing was “Sex.” Despite being put forward on the band’s 2012 EP, the track paled in popularity compared to many of its album mates and following releases. As of 2019, though, it became one of four of the band’s singles to be designated gold by RIAA.


Would you believe us if we told you that the alternative powerhouses behind 3OH!3 haven’t earned a single RIAA-certified album? Well, it’s the truth. They do have four certified singles, though. You could probably guess that “DONTTRUSTME,” “STARSTRUKK” and “My First Kiss” made the list. “IMNOTYOURBOYFRIENDBABY” totally caught us off guard, though. The track was designated gold in 2012, only four years after its release.

A Day To Remember – “Have Faith In Me”

When looking back on Homesick, “Have Faith In Me” is often overshadowed by the album’s bookends, “The Downfall Of Us All” and “If It Means A Lot To You.” Don’t underestimate the album’s interior, though, because this track is one of the band’s few RIAA-certified songs. Also boasting “I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?,” four out of five songs with the designation come from that record. The last one, of course, is “All I Want.”

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All Time Low – “A Love Like War”

When you think of All Time Low hits, a number of different songs may spring to mind. You know the ones we’re talking about: “Dear Maria, Count Me In,” “Weightless,” “Remembering Sunday…” While all of them have been certified by RIAA in some capacity, “A Love Like War” can also be added to that list. The single, which features Vic Fuentes, dropped in 2013 and was certified gold in 2016. Believe it or not, “Remembering Sunday” only received the designation in 2020.

Avril Lavigne – “Smile”

There’s certainly some ongoing debate over which Avril Lavigne album is the best, but Goodbye Lullaby is often overlooked. The album itself took over seven years to reach gold status by RIAA standards—longer than any of its counterparts. Interestingly, however, its second promotional single, “Smile,” achieved the milestone in just over two years. Even “Complicated,” one of the most recognized tracks in her discography, hasn’t received this particular designation.

blink-182 – “Bored To Death”

It’s pretty apparent that the departure of Tom DeLonge created quite the rift between blink-182 fans. Unsurprisingly, their first album featuring Matt Skiba, 2016’s California, was met with varying responses. Despite the circumstances, its lead single, “Bored To Death,” was the first to be certified gold by the RIAA since “Feeling This” in 2005. “I Miss You” was the only other track to receive this distinction, earning gold in 2004.

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Fall Out Boy – “I Don’t Care”

Even well over a decade later, Folie À Deux still has early Fall Out Boy fans divided. Naturally, we were surprised to find that its lead single, “I Don’t Care,” had gone platinum within two years of its release. Just to be clear, noted scene staple “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” has only ever been certified gold, and it preceded Folie by over a year-and-a-half.

Foo Fighters – “DOA”

Looking at Foo Fighters‘ RIAA certifications, you might expect an abundance of ’90s alternative hits. Rest assured, “Everlong” did make the list, first securing gold in March 2006 and eventually going multi-platinum. So, what’s surprising about that? Their 2005 track “DOA” was certified gold on the exact same day—less than a year after its release.

Green Day – “Know Your Enemy”

Don’t get us wrong: Green Day‘s “Know Your Enemy” deserves every ounce of recognition it gets. That said, the context behind its gold certification is surprising. The track comes off 21st Century Breakdown, a controversial album among fans, and achieved RIAA gold status less than six months after its release. To put that into perspective, “Basket Case” has never reached that milestone, and “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” took nearly eight years to do so.

Read more: 10 opening songs that made these alternative albums perfect from the start

Weezer – “Africa”

We best know Weezer for gracing us with a number of original alternative hits such as “Island In The Sun” and “Say It Ain’t So.” Believe it or not, though, one of their few certified gold tracks isn’t even their own. Initially released in May 2018, Weezer then dropped their video cover of Toto‘s “Africa,” featuring Weird Al Yankovic, in September. The cover was released as part of their Teal Album, which came out in January 2019, and had earned gold status by March 6.

Which bands’ popular releases most surprised you? Let us know in the comments!