Ask Billboard: Songs Two Good Not To Be No. 1

PSY's 'Gangnam Style' joins the list of memorable No. 2 Hot 100 hits; fun.'s 'Some Nights' does the same for No. 3-peaking songs; Demi Lovato's sales; and more soundtrack stopgap hits.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Dear Gary,

Love your column. I recall some additional instances of soundtrack stopgap singles I'd like to share with you and your readers.

R&B group Dru Hill bridged a gap following its double-Platinum debut album in 1996 with two soundtrack singles: "We're Not Making Love No More," from the 1997 film "Soul Food," and "How Deep Is Your Love," from 1998's "Rush Hour 2." The latter also appeared on Dru Hill's 1998 sophomore CD, "Enter the Dru."

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony followed their 1995 breakthrough "E. 1999 Eternal" with a soundtrack single from the movie "Set It Off." "Dayz of Our Lives" arrived in October 1996, a full 10 months before their second full-length album, the double-CD "The Art of War."

It was noted that the star-studded 1995-96 "Waiting to Exhale" soundtrack featured Brandy's soundtrack single that spanned her debut and sophomore sets. Also on that album are songs by Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, SWV and TLC that were offered between those artists' huge debut and/or breakthrough studio albums and their follow-ups.

The late, beloved Aaliyah released three incredibly successful soundtrack singles in the five full years between her second and third (and, unfortunately, final) studio album. "Are You That Somebody" reached No. 4 on the Radio Songs airplay chart in fall 1998 (before non-commercially available singles were eligible to chart on the Hot 100). Two years later, "Try Again" became the first song to top the Hot 100 without being available as a single for purchase and "I Don't Wanna" was a No. 1 hit on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Both of those songs were from the film and soundtrack to 2000's "Romeo Must Die," in which Aaliyah also starred. Aaliyah's self-titled final album while she was alive was released in July 2001. (As an aside, although not a Hot 100 hit, 1998's "Journey to the Past" was issued as part of the soundtrack to the film "Anastasia.")

R. Kelly has released soundtrack singles between albums on three separate occasions. His Grammy-winning "I Believe I Can Fly" was from 1996's "Space Jam," with "Gotham City" following in 1997 as part of the "Batman & Robin" soundtrack. These two singles were between 1995's "R. Kelly" and 1998's "Rated R" albums. In 2000, between "Rated R" and "TP2000," Kelly was featured on the "Shaft 2000" soundtrack, from which "Bad Man" was a top 30 R&B hit. Then, between "TP2000" and "The Chocolate Factory" in 2003, "The World's Greatest" was another top 40 R&B hit from the 2001 "Ali" soundtrack.

Also, re: "Space Jam": "For You I Will" was a top five Hot 100 hit for Monica from the soundtrack between her first and second studio albums.

With so many successful examples, it can definitely be concluded that a top-selling debut or breakthrough album should be followed with a soundtrack single within a year to maximize an artist's visibility, and viability, before a subsequent studio set.

I've been a Billboard reader for 27 years and have always enjoyed the Chart Beat and "Ask Billboard" columns. =)

Dave Nisbett (aka @JNez)
The Bronx, New York City

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the kind words (with credit, too, to Chart Beat predecessors Fred Bronson and Paul Grein!)

Since you've covered the R&B genre so well, I'll add a couple more examples from pop music's other close cousin, country. (First, though, another note about "Anastasia": the film and soundtrack granted Donna Lewis a follow-up hit to her introductory 1996 smash "I Love You Always Forever," which peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 for a whopping nine weeks. (See how related chart topics are?) The ballad "At the Beginning," a great duet with Richard Marx, rose to No. 3 on Adult Contemporary. She added the No. 1 Dance/Club Play Songs hit "Love Him" in late 1998, but, so far, the sweet-voiced Lewis has yet to return to Billboard's charts.)

Following five Country Songs top 10s from their breakout set "Wide Open Spaces," Dixie Chicks served up "Ready to Run" from the Julia Roberts film "Runaway Bride" in 1999. The song, also included on the group's album "Fly," released shortly after, continued the group's run of hits at country radio, reaching No. 2.

LeAnn Rimes likewise followed the largely country-exclusive success of her debut album, 1996's "Blue," with the pop single "Looking Through Your Eyes," a No. 4 AC hit in 1998, from "Quest for Camelot." The song subsequently appeared on her second proper studio album on Curb, 1998's "Sittin'' on Top of the World."

Her prior single, "How Do I Live," is perhaps the all-time almost-soundtrack hit, as it was originally intended to accompany the 1997 action film "Con Air." As '90s legend has it, Disney (which oversaw the film's release) felt that Rimes, then 14, was too young to sing the song and Trisha Yearwood was drafted to re-record it. Yearwood's cover reached No. 2 on Country Songs, and, while Rimes' take stopped at No. 43 on the ranking, it topped AC for 11 weeks and reached No. 2 on the Hot 100. (For how many weeks? Scroll back to page 1).

The song's 69-week run on the latter chart is the longest by a woman in Hot 100 history and second among all acts only to Jason Mraz's 76-week residence in 2008-09 with "I'm Yours."