Alabama Shakes debuts on the Hot 100 with the latest entry titled 'Hold On.' Is that the most common song title in the chart's more than five-decade history?
Hold on a second. Or third. Or fourth ...
On the latest Billboard Hot 100, Alabama Shakes debuts with "Hold On." The track bows at No. 100 following the band's performance of it on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on Feb. 16. It's the latest chart feat for the song, which topped the Triple A airplay tally back in June.
The song's Hot 100 arrival might also spur a bit of déjà vu. After all, more than a few songs titled "Hold On" have hit the Hot 100. In 1990 alone, two such songs battled for lofty chart space, by Wilson Phillips and En Vogue. The former ultimately rose higher, reaching No. 1 and earning the honor of Billboard's top song that year. Still, the latter peaked at an impressive No. 2, as well as No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
So, is "Hold On" the most common title for a Hot 100 hit?
To find the answer, I sifted through an alphabetical list of every song ever to make the chart – more than 25,000 dating to the list's Aug. 4, 1958, inception.
(First, some fine print: As the goal was simply to find the most common titles, different compositions, such as Michael Buble's "Home" and Phillip Phillips' "Home," counted the same as multiple versions of the same song, such as the Jackson 5's and Mariah Carey's recordings of "I'll Be There." Punctuation also wasn't of concern. So, for the purposes of this research, Justin Bieber's "Baby" was equal to Carla Thomas' hit from 1966 "B-A-B-Y." And, exact titles (by words) only; Rihanna's "Stay," featuring Mikky Ekko, was treated as separate from Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories' "Stay (I Missed You)." Janet Jackson's "Runaway," however, was equated with Real McCoy's "Run Away.")
Now, no more making you ... hold on. Let's count down the most common titles to grace the Hot 100. Here are those that have appeared 10 or more times each:
No. of Versions, Title
10, "I Want You"
Highest-charting: No. 4, Savage Garden, 1997
Highest-charting: No. 12, Scarface featuring 2Pac & Johnny B, 1997
Highest-charting: No. 2, Gnarls Barkley, 2006
11, "I Need You"
Highest-charting: No. 9, America, 1972
Highest-charting: No. 1 (one week), Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs, 1960
11, "Without You"
Highest-charting: No. 1 (four weeks), Nilsson, 1972
Highest-charting: No. 2, Chris Brown, 2008
Highest-charting: No. 1 (one week), Shaggy featuring Rayvon, 2001
Highest-charting: No. 8, Ashanti, 20002
Highest-charting: No. 9, Lloyd featuring Lil Wayne, 2007
Highest-charting: No. 1 (four weeks), Del Shannon, 1961
... and, the most common title of a Hot 100 hit?
16, "Hold On"
Beyond Wilson Phillips' and En Vogue's No. 1 and 2-peaking hits, respectively, other top 40 hits titled "Hold On" include those by Santana (No. 15, 1982), Jamie Walters (former lead singer of the Heights; No. 16, 1995), Ian Gomm (No. 18, 1979), Triumph (No. 38, 1979) and Kansas (No. 40, 1980).
Are there any lessons to be learned from this research? Um ... probably … not … necessarily …? (Other than perhaps that titles about love, based on many of the examples above, tend to repeat.) Overall, however, a song's merit, as judged by the music-consuming public, not its title, ultimately determines its popularity. (Memes help, too.)
Regardless, even with a single week at No. 100 so far, Alabama Shakes joins Hot 100 lore with its song called "Hold On," its first entry on the ranking.
Who'll chart the 17th song to share the title? As @AdamFSoybel noted yesterday when I previewed the topic on Twitter, we'll just have to ... hold on.