Weekly Chart Notes: Now With An AC Top 10, Rihanna Appears Here To 'Stay'

March 18: Rihanna recovers and performs live at Air Canada Centre on in Toronto, Canada.


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

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