Music

Rock Radio Getting a ‘Kick’ Out of New Def Leppard


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Def Leppard bounds back onto Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Airplay chart, as its new single “Kick” debuts at No. 39 on the list dated April 9.

The group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, reaches the ranking for the first time since March 2003, adding its 30th entry on the chart.

Def Leppard, which formed in Sheffield, England, in 1977, first appeared on Mainstream Rock Airplay with “Let It Go,” at its No. 34 best on the Aug. 22, 1981, tally. The band boasts five No. 1s, among 17 top 10s: “Photograph” (for six weeks beginning in March 1983); “Rock of Ages” (one, June 1983); “Let’s Get Rocked” (one, April 1992); “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)” (five, beginning in January 1993); and “Promises” (three, beginning in June 1999).

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The band tallied six of its top 10s from its landmark 1987 album Hysteria, reaching No. 3 bests with both “Love Bites” (which also topped the Billboard Hot 100) and “Armageddon It.”

“Kick” previews Def Leppard’s 12th studio album, and first in seven years, Diamond Star Halos, due May 27 on UMe. The 15-song set takes its title from the lyrics of T. Rex’s classic “Bang a Gong (Get It On),” which hit No. 10 on the Hot 100 just over 50 years ago, in March 1972.

“We were all really influenced by an era that was somewhere between 1971 and 1974, where you were just learning and a sponge for all the stuff you were watching on Top of the Pops,” Def Leppard bassist and co-founder Rick Savage recently told Billboard.

“It was joyful to do,” frontman Joe Elliott beamed of the new album.

That exuberance is translating to radio, where programmers playing “Kick” are praising the latest entry in Def Leppard’s catalog.

“It was love at first listen,” says Robyn Lane, music director/assistant program director at WRAT (95.9 The Rat) Monmouth, N.J. The station played the song 12 times in the week ending April 3, making it WRAT’s 10th-most-played title in that span, according to Luminate, formerly MRC Data. “It’s anthemic and such a great send-up to T. Rex and [its leader] Marc Bolan. Our listeners love it, and I’m thrilled for Def Leppard at this stage of their career.”

In addition to the song’s arrival and the new album’s pending release, Def Leppard is set to launch The Stadium Tour with Mötley Crüe and guests Poison and Joan Jett June 16 in Atlanta. The 36-date trek is due to wrap Sept. 9 in Las Vegas; it was originally scheduled for 2020 before being postponed (again in 2021) because of COVID-19.

Notes WRAT pd Carl Craft, with Def Leppard shows at Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y., and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia June 24 and 25, respectively, “The tour gives us a chance to tie in a few talking points promotionally with one really catchy song. Win-win.”

“Kick” is a “stadium anthem, and we were about to go into stadiums,” Elliott told Billboard. “We didn’t write it for that reason, but [guitarist] Phil [Collen]’s always trying to write the next ‘Sugar’ or ‘We Will Rock You’ or ‘I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.’ We all are, but he actually came up with one.”

“It’s got that glam rock feel, that hand-clap groove, big vocals,” Collen mused. “It was just a no-brainer. It was not only that it’s got to be on the album, it’s got to be the first single, as well.”

“It’s another lyrically catchy, fun-filled, crunchy party anthem,” says Chris Chaos, WCLG (100.1/102.3) Morgantown, W. Va., pd. The station spun “Kick” 14 times in the tracking week.

“The new Def Leppard single was worth the wait,” asserts Terrie Carr, pd of WDHA (105.5) Morristown, N.J., which gave “Kick” 12 plays last week. She cites the song’s “infectious, fresh-but-familiar retro groove, [which] proves the band still rocks, with its influences marching front and center for a big, chunky hook. Listener reaction has been ‘feel-good earworm.’ So glad the Lep is back!”

“Good to have them back on the air,” echoes Andy Austin, pd of WHXR (106.3 The Bone) Portland, Maine, which led all Mainstream Rock Airplay reporters with 24 plays for “Kick” in the tracking week. The song “sounds fresh and vital. Great melody.

“Times change, trends do what they will, but there’s no denying a classic Def Leppard track.”

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