Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
TALKING PEAKS, 100 TO 1
Bravo! Well done! Every week this month I have been looking forward to each installment of your "Taking Peaks" column highlighting hits that peaked at every Billboard Hot 100 chart position. Seeing "Sister Mary Elephant" (No. 24) made me laugh! Great stuff, indeed.
One more time, I'd like to contribute my honorable mentions to your wonderful list:
- Rick Springfield's "What Kind Of Fool Am I" (No. 21, 1982), which spent a whopping six weeks peaking at No. 21.
- The KLF's "Justified and Ancient," featuring Tammy Wynette (No. 11, 1991), an international hit and, in my opinion, truly one of the best collaborations in music history.
- Gary Numan's "Cars" (No. 9, 1980), a brilliant song that, sonically, came out way before its time.
- Madonna's "Hung Up" (No. 7, 2005), noted in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for reaching No. 1 in 45 countries.
- Cyndi Lauper's "I Drove All Night" (No. 6, 1989), which was also recorded by Roy Orbison and, sadly, remains Lauper's last top 40 hit.
And, keeping in your tradition of memorable No. 1 songs that spent a lone week at the top:
"Superstition," Stevie Wonder (1973)
"Heart of Glass," Blondie (1979)
"Pop Muzik," M (1979)
"West End Girls," Pet Shop Boys (1986)
"You Are Not Alone," Michael Jackson (1995), the first song to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
Pat yourself on the back, Gary, and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on such a great subject.
Ron Raymond, Jr.
Music Director, WMPG-FM
Thank you for your four-part "Taking Peaks" article. It was quite interesting to see someone track down so many songs. I have a few more "honorable mentions":
No. 20, "Pressure," Billy Joel
No. 18, "Friday I'm in Love," the Cure
No. 17, "The War Song," Culture Club
No. 16, "Save a Prayer," Duran Duran
No. 15, "The Curly Shuffle," Jump 'N the Saddle
No. 14, "Whip It," Devo
No. 13, "Pump Up the Volume," M/A/R/R/S
No. 12, "(Oh) Pretty Woman," Van Halen
No. 11, "Perfect Way," Scritti Politti, "It's Raining Again," Supertramp
No. 10, "Twilight Zone," Golden Earring
No. 9, "Only the Lonely" and "Suddenly Last Summer," the Motels
No. 8, "Tainted Love," Soft Cell, which established a then-chart record of 43 total weeks.
No. 6, "I Want a New Drug," "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "If This Is It," Huey Lewis & the News. In a chart quirk, these three songs peaked at No. 6 consecutively in 1984. The band would score one more No. 6 song, "Doing It All for My Baby," in 1987.
No. 5, "Here I Am," "Sweet Dreams" and "Even the Nights Are Better," Air Supply. Doing one better than Huey Lewis & the News, Air Supply notched three straight No. 5 hits from November 1981 to September 1982. The duo had already taken "Every Woman in the World" to No. 5 in January 1981.
No. 4, "Puttin' on the Ritz," Taco, that one hit wonder from 1983 that paid homage to Irving Berlin.
No. 3, Any of Chicago's five hits that peaked at this number: "Saturday in the Park" (1972), "Hard Habit to Break" (1984), "You're the Inspiration" (1985), "Will You Still Love Me?" (1987) and "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" (1988).
No. 2, Any of Creedence Clearwater Revival's five No. 2 hits (at least they scored two No. 1s on the Billboard 200): "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising" and "Green River" (1969), "Travelin' Band"/"Who'll Stop the Rain" and "Lookin' Out My Back Door"/"Long As I Can See the Light" (1970).
Hope you enjoy this list.
Southampton, New York
I, like so many readers, greatly enjoyed your very informative and entertaining "Taking Peaks" columns each Tuesday this month. It was a lot of fun reading about the spotlighted songs and artists, as well as the history of the Hot 100 and music in general, and I found the inclusion and choices of the honorable mentions quite interesting, as well.
Of course there are so many songs that peaked at No. 2 that deserve honorable mentions, but a few immediately came to my mind:
"Woman," John Lennon (1981)
The second single from John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Double Fantasy" album, following the No. 1 "Just Like (Starting Over)", stalled at No. 2. This, to me, is a great song, and I've always found it quite surprising that it didn't reach No. 1 after being released so soon after Lennon's death.
"Purple Rain," Prince (1984)
Although "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" both reached No. 1, the title song from the movie and album that turned Prince into a superstar, and the song with which he's often most associated, had to settle for a peak of No. 2.
"How Do I Live," LeAnn Rimes (1997)
The 69-week Hot 100 run of this previous record holder was mentioned in the article at No. 6 (Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours," which set the longevity mark last year with a 76-week chart life), but this Diane Warren-penned ballad seems to warrant a mention, as well.
You mentioned the two songs that spent the longest time at No. 2 without reaching the summit in your "Ask Billboard" column last week, but not in "Taking Peaks" itself: Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You" and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot's "Work It/" each of which spent 10 weeks in the runner-up spot in 1981-82 and 2002-03, respectively.
Once again, this was a great celebration of the Hot 100, and music, and an acknowledgement of many of the songs that didn't peak as high as they deserved or as high as many people probably think they did.
Would you ever consider doing a similar feature for any other Billboard charts?
Thank you, and keep up the great work!
Brooklyn, New York
Hi Ron, Walter and Jeff (and everyone who enjoyed the "Taking Peaks" series),
The feature was so much fun to write. I was surprised myself to discover that certain lasting hits had peaked so low on the Hot 100.
Despite the series noting 560 songs, we could, of course, discuss hundreds more, a testament to the great music with which we've been blessed in the last half-century.
As for the last question, it certainly might be fun to expand the spirit of the feature to different genres. It might be tough to top the scope of well-known hits on the Hot 100, considering that chart's broad-based appeal, but it seems likely that most music fans would recognize low-peaking but evergreen titles at specific formats (or on the Billboard 200 album chart).
Let's see ... Pearl Jam's "Yellow Ledbetter," No. 26 on Alternative Songs ... Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," No. 41 on Adult Contemporary ... Bruce Springsteen's "Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.," No. 60 on the Billboard 200 ...
If the Hot 100 version of "Taking Peaks" were a first single, we just might have some follow-ups going forward.