Weekly Chart Notes: Now With An AC Top 10, Rihanna Appears Here To 'Stay'
Having set records on Pop Songs, Rihanna reaches a key career milestone, as her former No. 1 on the ranking 'Stay' becomes her first Adult Contemporary top 10
Madonna did it.
And, Cyndi Lauper.
So did fellow pop/dance divas more recently like Fergie, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.
Now Rihanna has, too.
Like those female stars, Rihanna's career path to further crossover success reaches a notable milestone: with an 11-9 rise, "Stay," featuring Mikky Ekko, marks her first top 10 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. (Earlier this month, the ballad likewise became her highest-charting entry on Adult Pop Songs, having reached No. 2.) In contrast, last month "Stay" became Rihanna's record-setting 10th No. 1 on Pop Songs, where she also holds the marks for most top 10s (23) and appearances (36). She first arrived on the latter list eight years ago with the No. 2 dancehall-ready "Pon De Replay," but she didn't grace AC until three years later, when "Take a Bow" nudged to a No. 21 peak.
Rihanna's road to top 10 AC status follows those taken by other female soloists who arrived conquering pop radio but with songs that were far from adult contemporary-friendly, at the time anyway. In 1983, Madonna blasted in with her debut No. 16-peaking Billboard Hot 100 hit "Holiday." But, with AC being dominated then by Christopher Cross, Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand, the song never reached the AC chart. Madonna didn't win all-out AC support until 1985, when ballad "Crazy for You" reached No. 2. A year later, "Live to Tell" became her first of five AC No. 1s.
Fellow mid-'80s pop ingénue Lauper was deemed too unusual by AC when 1983's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 but didn't touch the AC chart. Only with, again, a ballad did she cross to adult radio, with "Time After Time" granting her an AC No. 1 in her first visit to the chart. (Reflecting her evolution, she's now only one award– an Oscar – short of winning an "EGOT"; her first Tony Award win a week ago followed her capturing two Grammy Awards and an Emmy, the latter won for her 1995 guest turn in NBC's "Mad About You.")
In recent years, Fergie ("Big Girls Don't Cry"; No. 1, six weeks, 2007), Cyrus ("The Climb"; No. 1, 15 weeks, 2009) and Perry ("Firework"; No. 1, one week, 2011) followed initial pop acceptance with ballads that led AC. Earlier this year, Perry also peaked at No. 2 on AC with "Wide Awake," which marked a 180, musically and, more importantly to AC, lyrically, from her debut pop smash "I Kissed a Girl."
The ultimate benefits that acts reap from adding AC success after scoring at pop? Reaching adult consumers, who are more affluent and, thus, more likely to buy albums than younger pop audiences. AC hits can also have much longer shelf lives – by years – than pop-only titles, so a song like "Stay" might become an AC staple in a way that only a handful of pop hits do on current-based pop radio. It may also open programmers' thinking to her prior hits. Rihanna's "Umbrella" was too young-leaning for AC in 2007, but it receives play at the format now, just like "Holiday" has become an AC standard for Madonna.
Essentially, "Stay" might be putting a song to the name Rihanna for adult listeners, who are likely familiar with her pop culture-wise but might not have been that familiar with her music. Now, she's gaining that musical familiarity. (So, too, for that matter, are bands like fun., Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters and Men, as acts that start at rock likewise are only the right hit away from scaling the AC chart.)
So, while the run of "Stay" on Pop Songs (where it falls 7-10 in its in 19th week) is waning, the song's AC rise may mean that its radio lifespan is only beginning.
NEXT: Alicia Keys Unlocks A First On Adult R&B
KEYS TO SUCCESS: Alicia Keys becomes the first artist in the Adult R&B chart's nearly 20-year history to tally 10 No. 1s, as "Fire We Make," with Maxwell, rises 2-1. It's her first leader since "Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)" ruled for 10 weeks beginning three years ago this month. The new topper is Maxwell's sixth.
Here's a look at the acts with the most Adult RB No. 1s dating to the chart's Sept. 18, 1993, launch:
10, Alicia Keys
7, R. Kelly
6, Toni Braxton
6, Whitney Houston
6, Brian McKnight
6, Luther Vandross
5, Anita Baker
5, Boyz II Men
5, Musiq Soulchild
It shouldn't be that surprising that Keys and Maxwell reign on a duet: She's has spent the most time at No. 1 on Adult R&B (80 cumulative weeks), while he ranks second (57).
A LOT TO 'LIKE': With an 11-9 lift on Adult Pop Songs for "People Like Us," Kelly Clarkson extends her record for the most top 10s by a woman (13) in the airplay chart's 17-year history. Her RCA Records labelmate Pink follows with 11.
Among all acts, Clarkson and matchbox twenty (also 13) trail only Goo Goo Dolls and Maroon 5 (14 top 10s apiece). It looks like the latter act will soon have the record all to itself, as "Love Somebody" bounds 15-13 as the chart's Greatest Gainer. Goo Goo Dolls' current single "Rebel Beat" bullets at No. 18 after reaching a No. 16 peak.
AN IN WITH 'OUT': Critically-acclaimed Brooklyn band the Lone Bellow makes its first appearance on a Billboard songs chart, as "Bleeding Out" begins at No. 29 on the adult alternative Triple A airplay tally.
The group's self-titled debut set has spent 20 weeks on Folk Albums, reaching No. 5 and selling 40,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
'BEGAN' BEGINS: "Glee" star Matthew Morrison enters the Billboard 200 at No. 95 with his second solo album, the covers collection "Where It All Began." His self-titled debut debuted and peaked at No. 24 in 2011.
The new set also doubles as the first release on Adam Levine's 222 Records imprint.
"The songs on this album are timeless and iconic, and they're the songs that (people have) been singing them since the '50s and '60s," Morrison recently told Billboard. "There's an appetite for this music, for fresh, young people to reinterpret this music in their own way." The set includes a duet ("Ease on Down the Road") with the legendary Smokey Robinson.
As a member of the cast of Fox's "Glee," Morrison shares in the act's record for the most Hot 100 hits (206, all since the show's 2009 premiere). Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield notes that fellow "Glee" stars Darren Criss, Lea Michele, Amber Riley and Naya Rivera are all working on their respective solo debut albums.
FALSE ADVERTISING: A shout out to Billboard.com-menter RockGolf, regarding this week's Billboard 200.
"Number of albums in the top 10 this week by Barenaked Ladies and Queens of the Stone Age: two," he observes.
"Number of actual females in Barenaked Ladies or Queens of the Stone Age: zero."
(If only Internet message boards had existed at the heights of success for 10,000 Maniacs ...)