'THE LONG-AWAITED DAY HAS ARRIVED' read the headline in the "Hot 100 Singles Spotlight" column in the Billboard issue dated Nov. 30, 1991.
Eighteen years ago this week, the Billboard Hot 100 transformed from a tally combining ranked airplay and sales reports submitted by radio stations and retailers, respectively, to one based on electronically-monitored airplay by Nielsen BDS and piece counts of singles sales according to Nielsen SoundScan. (Playlists submitted by small-market radio stations continued to contribute to the chart).
Wrote then-Billboard director of charts Michael Ellis, "for the first time, the music industry has a singles chart based on actual radio airplay and actual number of singles sold."
The Hot 100 continued Billboard's evolution to a chart menu based on BDS and/or SoundScan information. Country Songs had converted to BDS data for the chart week ending Jan. 20, 1990, and the Billboard 200 segued to SoundScan-powered figures on May 25, 1991. The Mainstream Rock chart (then-titled Album Rock Tracks) converted to BDS-fueled rankings in the Nov. 23, 1991, issue, a week before the Hot 100's makeover.
P.M. Dawn led the first revamped Hot 100, as "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," featuring a sample of Spandau Ballet's 1983 hit "True," rose 3-1. Rounding out the top five were "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Michael Bolton at No. 2, "Black or White" by Michael Jackson (pictured, above) at No. 3, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" by Boyz II Men at No. 4 and "Cream" by Prince at No. 5.
BIG HIT: A Billboard Singles Review this week in 1991 previewed a future No. 1 on the Hot 100: "To Be With You" by Mr. Big.
"Headbangers get folky on this harmonious strummer. Hand-clapping, sing-along chorus entices, while front man Eric Martin's voice has rarely sounded sweeter," touted the appraisal.
"The right push could turn this into a multiformat surprise."
"To Be With You" went on to lead the Hot 100 for three weeks beginning in February 1992.
After 14 years, Mr. Big broke up in 2002 but reunited earlier this year. The band recently wrapped a European and Asian tour and released a new live CD/DVD, "Back to Budokan."
PARTY ON, GARTH: The top 10 on the Billboard 200 this week in 1991 sported a wide variety of styles, from country and adult pop to rap, R&B and hard rock.
Garth Brooks led the list, as "Ropin' the Wind" spent its eighth of 18 weeks at No. 1, while his prior album "No Fences" rebounded 12-9. Since 1991, Brooks has spent a chart-best 51 weeks atop the Billboard 200. Mariah Carey ranks second in that span with 30 frames in the lead.
Here are the Billboard 200's top 10 albums 18 years ago this week:
No. 1, "Ropin' the Wind," Garth Brooks
No. 2, "Too Legit to Quit," Hammer
No. 3, "Death Certificate," Ice Cube
No. 4, "We Can't Dance," Genesis
No. 5, "Nevermind," Nirvana
No. 6, "Use Your Illusion II," Guns N' Roses
No. 7, "Metallica," Metallica
No. 8, "Time, Love and Tenderness," Michael Bolton
No. 9, "No Fences," Garth Brooks
No. 10, "Cooleyhighharmony," Boyz II Men