Plus: More enduring rock era classics; Who's better, Mariah or Madonna?; and, a week-by-week analysis of women ruling the Hot 100's top five
Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
GIRL POWER (X5)
In spotlighting the achievement of Katy Perry, Adele, Whitney Houston and Kelly Clarkson two weeks ago, when they filled up the Hot 100's entire top five, how could you have forgotten the very first time that female singers managed the feat?
Forgive me for not having any of my Joel Whitburn books here at the office, but I'm certain that it occurred in the summer of 1979. Perhaps you can look it up in full?
I do know that the fun lasted for just one week, as Kenny Rogers moved to No. 5 the following week with "She Believes in Me."
Last week's "Ask Billboard" spotlight on women controlling the Hot 100's top five centered specifically on instances in which solo women have monopolized the region, but you make a great point by citing the first time that women sang on the entire top five.
The week of June 30, 1979, the top five looked like this:
1, "Ring My Bell," Anita Ward
2, "Hot Stuff," Donna Summer
3, "Bad Girls," Donna Summer
4, "We Are Family," Sister Sledge
5, "Chuck E.'s in Love," Ricky Lee Jones
Such a female domination didn't recur until the week of May 26, 1990:
1, "Vogue," Madonna
2, "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You," Heart
3, "Nothing Compares 2 U," Sinead O'Connor
4, "Hold On," Wilson Phillips
5, "Alright," Janet Jackson
… and again on March 5, 1994 (18 years ago today):
1, "The Power of Love," Celine Dion
2, "The Sign," Ace of Base
3, "Whatta Man," Salt 'N' Pepa with En Vogue
4, "Without You"/"Never Forget You," Mariah Carey
5, "Breathe Again," Toni Braxton
In December 1998, the Hot 100's top five featured women or female groups for the entire month, courtesy of Celine Dion, Deborah Cox, Divine, Lauryn Hill, Shania Twain and then-newcomer Britney Spears. R. Kelly, however, joined Dion on the No. 1 song all that month, "I'm Your Angel." With Brandy in the mix ("Have You Ever?"), women - with Kelly - added three more weeks of top five control in January 1999.
Finally, we get to Feb. 13, 1999, which goes down in Hot 100 history as the first week that solo women ruled the entire top five:
1, "Angel of Mine," Monica
2, "…Baby One More Time," Britney Spears
3, "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here," Deborah Cox
4, "Believe," Cher
5, "Have You Ever?," Brandy
Such girl power, in fact, continued for three more weeks, which included Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" having entered the top five. That can't be considered a coincidence, as McLachlan's creation of the Lilith Fair tour encompassed more than just a series of concerts - it surely helped create an historic feat in the Hot 100's, and music, history.
"Women still don't have job equality. We still don't have equal pay," McLachlan has said. "There's discrimination everywhere. I was trying to uphold what I thought feminism was as best I could by supporting women, by trying to create an opportunity to get women to get together, play music together and celebrate the fact that we are having great success making music on our own and together."
That Perry, Adele, Houston and Clarkson have continued the trend by blockading the top five two weeks ago shows that McLachlan's trailblazing efforts continue to reap rewards for female artists.