In our latest mailbag, a look at acts who've notched multiple No. 2 hits, but no No. 1s, on various charts. Plus, some of the Hot 100's top current hits recall the past, while tomorrow marks a notable anniversary
As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, 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. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20
FIRST, NO. 2s
After peaking at No. 2 twice on the Billboard Hot 100, with "Party in the U.S.A." and "We Can't Stop," Miley Cyrus looks likely, per Billboard's projections, to finally hit No. 1 this week with "Wrecking Ball." Thus, she'd avoid the (slightly) unlucky fate of having only runner-up songs but never a week's winner.
In the Hot 100's history, Creedence Clearwater Revival holds the somewhat dubious record of reaching No. 2 five times without scoring a No. 1. And, Blood, Sweat & Tears and En Vogue each hit No. 2 three times without a No. 1 hit.
I know that on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, Musiq Soulchild has notched four No. 2 hits without (you guessed it) any No. 1s. Across other Billboard charts, what are some artists that have similarly risen to No. 2 multiple times without ever hitting No. 1?
It is kind of a strange distinction, isn't it? On one hand, it's tough to come up short over and over on a chart. Then again, it's quite an accomplishment to keep collecting hit after big hit, even if none ever reach No. 1.
The (Boston) sports fan in me knows how it feels. The Bruins' loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals this spring hurt … but nowhere near as much as it would've if they hadn't won it all in 2011. (I'm still having issues, though, when a Chicago song comes up in my iPod …)
Let's look on the bright side, though, and celebrate some acts – like Cyrus, so far – who've tallied more than one No. 2-peaking hit on various charts but never reached the summit.
On the Billboard 200, since Nielsen SoundScan data began powering the chart the week of May 25, 1991, Kidz Bop Kids are the leading repeat bridesmaids, with five No. 2s and no No. 1s. Since the ensemble constantly releases new editions of covers of current hits, however, it's possible that an upcoming one will sell enough, combined with no superstar release in its way to block it, to become the franchise's first No. 1.
In that same span, two other household names have reached Billboard 200 highpoints of No. 2 four times without perching at the pinnacle. Sheryl Crow has peaked at No. 2 with four sets, consecutively in 2002-08. (No. 2 is also her top Hot 100 rank: "All I Wanna Do" peaked there for six weeks in 1994.) Could her new "Feels Like Home" do the trick at last on the Billboard 200? As with Cyrus, we'll find out this week when it debuts.
Brad Paisley has also tallied four No. 2 albums on the Billboard 200, from 2005's "Time Well Wasted" through this year's "Wheelhouse." Surely easing any frustration of his not ever leading the list are his 18 No. 1s on Hot Country Songs.
On Country Airplay, powered by Nielsen BDS monitoring since the week of Jan. 20, 1990, two acts have each tallied three No. 2 hits, marking their highest-charting hits: Lee Roy Parnell and Hal Ketchum. Still, both were staples of early-to-mid-'90s country radio, racking seven and six top 10s, respectively.
Meanwhile, David Ball, Blackhawk, Andy Griggs and Daryle Singletary all count two No. 2 hits as their biggest on Country Airplay. (Notably, format icon Tanya Tucker somehow managed to peak at No. 2 a whopping six times from 1990 through 1993 and not advance to No. 1 … but she scored an impressive 10 No. 1s in 1973-88 on the pre-BDS-based Hot Country Songs chart.)
On the Alternative Songs tally, which just turned 25 years old, two acts have risen to No. 2 more than once and not notched No. 1s: Soundgarden (three times) and No Doubt (twice). Still, both have become format cornerstones and each has posted a Billboard 200 No. 1. They've also sold a respective 8.5 million and 16.2 million albums in the U.S. in their careers, according to SoundScan. (Read on for more about the Alternative Songs chart's anniversary.)
And, in the Adult Contemporary chart's 52-year history, three acts have each rung up three No. 2 hits but missed the summit. Bobby Sherman was the first, collecting a trio in 1970-71.
Glenn Frey had three such songs in 1982-88 … although, in between, he enjoyed two leaders with the Eagles … but, in another twist, didn't sing lead on either: 1975's "Best of My Love" (sung by Don Henley) and 1995's "Love Will Keep Us Alive" (sung by Timothy B. Schmit).
And, one of the top current groups recently joined the list: Maroon 5. The band has become a core format act, even if it has stopped at No. 2 with its three prior singles, "Payphone," "One More Night" and "Daylight." It's looking to break the cycle with "Love Somebody," which holds at its No. 5 peak this week. (On the Hot 100, Maroon 5 does boast three career No. 1s.)
If "Somebody" also peaks at No. 2 on AC, it would mark four such hits from Maroon 5's album "Overexposed" … which, of course, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Four tries and not getting the ultimate desired result? Adam Levine might think twice next time none of the coaches on "The Voice" have yet to turn around.