Eminem at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards

Eminem peforms at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Your knowledgeable responses about hit songs with samples, from Eminem to the 'Macarena.' Plus, John Legend has added class to the Hot 100

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


In the last "Ask Billboard," we noted how Aloe Blacc's "The Man" has equaled the No. 8 Billboard Hot 100 peak of the song on which it's based, Elton John's 1971 classic "Your Song." From there, we were off and running in seeking other songs that have done as well as, or better, than songs from which they borrow or sample.

We included some examples, and solicited more from always knowledgeable Chart Beat readers. Here is a ... sample … of your insightful responses.


Wonderful how great minds think alike! I, too, have wondered about songs that chart higher on the Hot 100 than the originals they sample!

The first one that came to mind (other than the ones you mentioned) was P.M. Dawn's "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," which spent a week at No. 1 on Nov. 30, 1991. It famously samples "True" by Spandau Ballet, which reached No. 4 in the fall of 1983.

Another is M|A|R|R|S' No. 13 hit "Pump Up the Volume." The 1987-88 dance hit remains significant in the history of samples, as the U.S. radio edit contains at least 18 of them. Of those, Bobby Byrd's "Hot Pants – I'm Coming, I'm Coming, I'm Coming" reached No. 85 in 1971 and Graham Central Station's "The Jam" was a No. 63 hit in 1976.

And, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention what is probably the most-sampled laugh ever, courtesy of Alison Moyet in "Situation," the No. 73 hit by Yaz from 1982. The biggest hit to use this sample is the Bayside Boys Mix of Los Del Rio's massive 1996 No. 1 hit, "Macarena" (which doesn't waste any time using the sample, just seven seconds in).

Thanks, as always, Gary! Looking forward to seeing more on this subject!

Ron Raymond, Jr.
Host/Producer, "Stuck in the 80s"
WMPG-FM and WMPG.org
Portland, Maine

Hi Gary,

Do you remember that in 1983 Michael Jackson's No. 5 song "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," from his album "Thriller," sampled "Soul Makossa," a No. 35 hit in 1973 by Cameroonian artist Manu Dibango? This song was also sampled in the 2008 Rihanna smash "Don't Stop the Music," which reached No. 3.

Best regards,

Andy Leon
Ruskin, Florida


Don't forget that Will Smith's 1998 No. 1 "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" outperformed the song it sampled, Sister Sledge's "He's the Greatest Dancer," which stopped at No. 9.

Dr. Dave Baskind
Saginaw, Michigan

Hi Gary,

By hitting No. 3 on the Hot 100, Madonna's "Erotica" in 1992 out-charted one of the songs it samples, Kool & the Gang's No. 4 hit from 1974, "Jungle Boogie."

Thanks! Fun game!

Bill Olver

@gthot20 Interesting example: Eminem's "Stan" sampled Dido's "Thank You," but I recall Dido actually charted AFTER "Stan." Which charted higher?

Damon Shaw ‏@NWAWeather

Thanks for all the great examples! To answer your question, Damon, "Stan" certainly is a quirky example. Eminem's landmark story song of fan over-obsession, featuring Dido, reached No. 51 the week of Dec. 2, 2000 (a peak which seems surprisingly low; it wasn't a commercial single, however, so its Hot 100 performance was solely airplay-based). At the time, it had outperformed Dido's original, although "Thank You" had yet to become a single. ("Thank You" was actually available as far back as 1998, on the "Sliding Doors" soundtrack.) Since Eminem publicized the song, Arista Records released it after Dido had made inroads with her singles "Don't Think of Me" and "Here With Me," which reached Nos. 35 and 21 on Adult Pop Songs (and fell shy of the Hot 100), respectively. As its own song, "Thank You" eventually disqualified "Stan" as a hit with a sample that charted better than its original, as, aided by its exposure in "Stan," it soared to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in April 2001 (and topped Adult Pop Songs for nine weeks).

Also interestingly, "Thank You" itself contains a sample: it includes the drum break from soul pioneer Dexter Wansel's 1976 instrumental "Theme From the Planets."

And, we apparently can't have this discussion without coming back to Elton John: when Eminem performed "Stan" at the 2001 Grammy Awards, John filled in for Dido singing the "Thank You" sample (and, of course, played piano).

More Eminem: the last "Ask Billboard" covered that his No. 3 hit "Berzerk" bested the peaks of two songs it samples: Billy Squier's "The Stroke" (No. 17, 1981) and Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" (No. 7, 1987). Eminem has also charted with revisions of hits that didn't chart as well as the originals. While a notable track, 2003's "Sing for the Moment" reached No. 14, eight rungs lower than Aerosmith's No. 6 1976 iconic "Dream On" (which had stopped at No. 59 in its first go-round in 1973). And, 2005's "Like Toy Soldiers" hit No. 34 on the Hot 100 after Martika's "Toy Soldiers" marched to No. 1 for two weeks in 1989.

As for your P.M. Dawn flashback, Ron, the act's third and last top 10, also samples an '80s hit: 1993's No. 6-peaking "Looking Through Patient Eyes" samples George Michael's 1988 No. 1 "Father Figure."

Per your Madonna mention, Bill, she scored another hit that samples a song that didn't make the Hot 100: Her No. 7-peaking "Hung Up" from 2005 samples ABBA's 1979 track "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)." Although not a U.S. hit, ABBA's song was big in multiple European countries, including the group's native Sweden.

Since we're in the disco era (and to add another George Michael and Will Smith reference apiece), let's also note that Patrice Rushen's 1982 single "Forget Me Nots" gained new life thanks to two '90s samples. Originally a No. 23 hit, Michael's sample of it in "Fastlove" brought it No. 8, where his last top 10 to-date peaked in 1996. The following year, Smith's "Men in Black" also reworked "Forget Me Nots" and it crowned Radio Songs for four weeks; since it was not a commercially-available single, however, Hot 100 rules at the time made it ineligible to appear on the big chart.

One more thought on songs with samples (or songs that are reinventions) that have charted at equal or higher ranks than originals: As noted among the examples in the last "Ask Billboard" of such hits, the Police's "Every Breath You Take" ruled the Hot 100 for eight weeks in 1983, while Puff Daddy and Faith Evans' reinterpretation (and tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G.), "I'll Be Missing You" (featuring 112), fared even better, reigning for 11 weeks in 1997. Thus, Sting's composition has combined to spend 19 weeks atop the Hot 100. While the record for most weeks that a song has spent at No. 1 is 16 for Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day" in 1995-96, one could make the case that "Every Breath You Take," thanks to its original and reworking, is the No. 1-est song of all-time. If not officially, certainly in the sense that its hook has racked record time, 19 weeks, in the chart's top spot.

(FYI, my girlfriend, Michelle, tells me that "No. 1-est" is not a word, even though I think it completely makes my point. I should probably agree with her; in a recent conversation we had, I used the word "teached." Even worse (badder?), it still sounds sort of correct to me …

Let's just move on to the next question, about people who are clearly more smarter …)

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