Ask Billboard: Will Miley Cyrus Score Her First Hot 100 No. 1?

Miley Cyrus
Elvina Beck

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 askbb@billboard.com. 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

Dear Gary,

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?

Thanks,

Mark Harris
Columbus, Ohio


Hi Mark,

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.


As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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

DECADES OF DECADENCE

Hi Gary,

So … some thoughts:

Eminem's "Berzerk" samples the '80s hit "The Stroke" by Billy Squier, marking the songwriter's, and the tune's, highest peak (No. 3 when it debuted). The original hit No. 17 in 1981.

Meanwhile, "Holy Grail," by Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake, samples the '90s hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. Currently at No. 4, it's the three songwriters', and, again, the song's, highest rank.

So, two rock tunes have been represented via samples in current hit songs. First, it's interesting to note the continuance (now decades-long) of rock and rap blending. Second, this isn't the first time that Em has sampled a classic rock tune. E.g.: his use of Aerosmith's "Dream On" for his top 20 hit "Sing for the Moment." And, third, if "Berzerk" goes to the top of the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, it would be a rarity in that we'd see a rock songwriter (Squier) credited with an R&B/hip-hop No. 1.



More '80s rock? Katy Perry's "Roar" makes an obvious nod to Survivor's 1982 No. 1 smash, "Eye of the Tiger."

Beyond '90s and '80s rock, "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell borrows (steals?) a '70s soul vibe from Marvin Gaye. Meanwhile, songs like Lorde's "Royals," Avicii's "Wake Me Up!" and Lady Gaga's "Applause" are all-new, sung by familiar artists from the past few years to now, i.e., representing the late '00s and early '10s.

The more music changes …

Pablo Nelson (from the '60s to the present …)
Berkeley, California


Hi Pablo,

Great insights, as always. As for more of the '60s, no current single may recall the decade better than Paul McCartney's "New," which rises 27-25 on Adult Contemporary. It's surely one of his most Beatles-esque solo singles.



Still, McCartney says that his album of the same name, due Oct. 15, isn't merely a trip through the past musically. "It's funny, when I play people the album, they're surprised it's me. A lot of the tracks are quite varied and not necessarily in a style you'd recognize as mine," he says. "I didn't want it to all sound the same."


As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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

BASE IS COVERED

Hello Gary,

I've been a longtime follower of Billboard charts and one of my favorite pop acts ever is the top Billboard artist of almost 20 years ago: Sweden's Ace of Base.

Since Sept. 18 marks the 20th anniversary of the act's first U.S. Hot 100 appearance, with the No. 2 hit "All That She Wants," I'd like to know how later releases fared both on the Hot 100 and the Billboard 200. And, how have their releases sold?

Thanks!

Best regards,

Antonio Netto
Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil


Hi Antonio,

Great memory: "All That She Wants" entered the Hot 100 on Sept. 18, 1993, at a modest No. 92. Odd-seeming now, it started the same week on Alternative Songs at No. 26, eventually reaching No. 17.



In 1993-94, Ace of Base absolutely owned top 40 radio. "Wants" led Pop Songs for nine weeks, while follow-up "The Sign" reigned for 14 – still the longest command in the chart's history. How big a hit was it? As big as Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" has been, it led Pop Songs for 10 weeks, a month shy of what "The Sign" accomplished. Third single "Don't Turn Around" (a No. 19 AC hit two years earlier for … Neil Diamond) then tallied six weeks at No. 1 on Pop Songs. On the Hot 100, the songs peaked at Nos. 2, 1 (for six weeks) and 4, respectively.

Incredibly, to date, no group has spent more time at No. 1 on the Pop Songs airplay chart than Ace of Base (29 weeks). Maroon 5 ranks next with 26.

Ace of Base's breakthrough album "The Sign" topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks in a 102-week run. 1996's "The Bridge" reached No. 29 and 1998's "Cruel Summer," its last entry, No. 101. The latter set gave Ace of Base its fourth and final Hot 100 top 10: the title track rose to No. 10, almost tying the No. 9 peak of Bananarama's 1984 original.

Here's a look at the three albums' U.S. sales to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan:

6,504,000, "The Sign"
898,000, "The Bridge"
177,000, "Cruel Summer"

The group's lineup has changed over the years, with its last album, "The Golden Ratio," released in 2010. While it still tours, former member Jenny Berggren said last year: "We're just wishing each other luck at this stage. I have a dream that we'll [all] get back together, so I don't want to bang anyone on the head."

Meanwhile, a day shy of the 20th anniversary of the act's Hot 100 debut, Ace of Base's legacy lives on … perhaps most notably via the artist currently at No. 1. When Katy Perry released "Teenage Dream" in 2010, the proud Euro-pop fan said at the time that her goal was for it to sound like Ace of Base.

"We nailed it," she beamed. "It's roller-skating! It's '90s! It's Ace of Base! It's like all these colors and more."


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