Gone But Not Forgotten: 2010
Teddy Pendergrass Getty

TWO IS (MAYBE NOT) BETTER THAN ONE

Howdy Gary!

I have a question about songs that peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100, specifically those that have been passed by the most No. 1s while they remained at No. 2.

I hope my question is not too confusing. I can elaborate:

For example, as of the current chart week (Jan. 30), "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga has peaked at No. 2. Both "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys and "TiK ToK" by Ke$ha have held the No. 1 position during the six weeks that "Bad Romance" has ranked at No. 2.

If "Bad Romance" never makes it to No. 1, and no other songs pass it while it's at No. 2, then two No. 1 songs will have blocked its path to the top.

I'm guessing that in the history of the Hot 100, some songs have peaked at No. 2 for at least three weeks while three No. 1s passed them. Has a song ever held at No. 2 while four or more songs reached No. 1?

Take care,

Simon Lau
Toronto, Ontario

Hi Simon,

An interesting question, as Lady Gaga fans wait patiently to see if "Bad Romance" can still ascend to the Hot 100's summit.

While it might seem logical, as it did to me when I began researching the answer, that any song that spends a lengthy amount of time peaking at No. 2 would invite the opportunity for several other titles to leapfrog it, the opposite is true. Let's take the four entries to spend the most time peaking in the runner-up spot.

Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You" peaked at No. 2 for 10 weeks in 1981-82. A 10-week reign for Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" (which began a week before Foreigner's ballad climbed to No. 2) and a one-week rule for Hall & Oates' "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" kept Foreigner from the pinnacle.

In 2002-03, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott also peaked at No. 2 for 10 weeks, and that track was blocked by only one song: Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

Next in line, two songs have peaked at No. 2 for nine weeks each. In 1996, Donna Lewis' "I Love You Always Forever" couldn't overcome the juggernaut that was Los Del Rio's "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)." In May 1998, Shania Twain spent one week at No. 2 with "You're Still the One," behind Next's "Too Close." Twain's song returned for eight additional weeks as a bridesmaid amidst Brandy and Monica's 13-week command with "The Boy Is Mine."

If it's any consolation to fans and the artists who remained stuck at No. 2 for so long, these chart patterns suggest that long-running runners-up were certainly huge hits - two months as one of the two most popular songs in the U.S. is no small feat - but that timing simply wasn't on their side. (Fans of the 1990-93 Buffalo Bills, who lost four consecutive Super Bowls, might empathize).

In the Hot 100's history, dating to Aug. 4, 1958, 24 songs, including "Bad Romance," have spent six or more weeks peaking at No. 2. Each of those titles has been passed by only one or two No. 1s. Destiny's Child's "Survivor," for instance, moved into the No. 2 spot the same week that Janet Jackson's "All for You" reached No. 1. The two titles remained in that order for seven weeks.

Another 14 songs have peaked at No. 2 for exactly five weeks each, and only one of those was passed by as many as three No. 1s. In 2006, "Smack That" by Akon, featuring Eminem, settled for second place, but one of the No. 1s that rose past it was at least by Akon himself: "I Wanna Love You," featuring Snoop Dogg, which followed Ludacris' "Money Maker" and Justin Timberlake's "My Love" to the top.

An additional 31 songs have peaked at No. 2 for exactly four weeks, and none of those have been passed by more than two No. 1s each.

Thus, to fully answer your question, no No. 2 hits have been passed by four, or more, No. 1s. "Smack That" is the only title among 69 songs that have peaked at No. 2 for at least four weeks that has been passed by as many as three No. 1s while it remained in the chart's penultimate spot on the countdown.

TEDDY TRIBUTE

Hi Gary,

Regarding Teddy Pendergrass' passing, it seems as though we have lost too many great R&B/soul musicians in recent years.

In no particular order, here are some who come to mind (and soul): Michael Jackson, Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, LeRoi Moore from Dave Matthews Band, Wilson Pickett, Lou Rawls, Luther Vandross, Barry White, Rick James, Billy Preston, James Brown, and Ray Charles.

(And, by "great," I mean high-quality and famous, for there are, of course, many, many unknown greats).

I was standing in a long line at the post office the other morning, two days before Pendergrass' death, and the folks in charge of the music there happened to be playing a greatest hits compilation by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.

The extended version of "Wake Up Everybody (Part 1)" was playing when I arrived at the counter. I commented to the postal worker that I thought that that was their best song, and he agreed. Of course, it's hard to choose their best song, especially when "If You Don't Know Me By Now" is in the ranks. Although I already possess the group's greatest hits, I definitely need to add some more of the powerful solo work by Pendergrass to my collection.

I know that the Grammy Awards organizers will be staging a tribute to Michael Jackson Jan. 31 as they honor those in the recording industry who have recently passed. I can only hope that they allow for an extra segment on Pendergrass, perhaps featuring one of the finest newer R&B male artists, Jaheim (who reached No. 4 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 2004 with "My Place," with Nelly. The song samples, in part, Pendergrass' "Come Go With Me"). Sadly, the soulful Pendergrass never received a Grammy Award.

Simply, there's simply no taking Teddy's place.

Peace,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, California

Hi Pablo,

Well said about a true music legend.

At the time of this posting, no official word has circulated from the Recording Academy as to how Pendergrass may be featured in this year's presentation. I can't imagine, however, that the organizers won't find a way to give him his due in some fashion.

After Pendergrass' passing at age 59 from complications of colon cancer, several R&B artists provided instant tributes via Twitter. "Celebrate our legends while they're still with us," wrote Tyrese. "I spent many weeks with him. Teddy I HONOR you and Thank You for making R&B Raspy Sexy!!"