Clearly, the most popular songs at any given time scale the upper ranks of the Billboard Hot 100. Still, America's singles chart of record for 51 years sports a history filled with well-loved classics that peaked at every position, from No. 1 all the way down to No. 100.
For renowned titles that stopped in the chart's lower rungs, perhaps they were not huge hits originally, but gained steam over time. Or, they were popular at particular formats such as country, R&B or rock, but did not cross over to complete mainstream success.
Each Tuesday throughout January, Chart Beat is combing through the Hot 100 peak position-by-position, highlighting songs that live on in iPods, movies, TV and/or radio, no matter how high they ultimately climbed on the survey.
Certainly, it's great to be No. 1. But, the Hot 100's rich archives reveal winners at every number.
And now, on with the countdown.
"Talkin' Bout a Revolution," Tracy Chapman (1988)
Variety was the spice of the Hot 100 in 1988, when pop/dance (George Michael, Michael Jackson), rock (Def Leppard, Bon Jovi) and whimsical R&B (Bobby McFerrin, Terence Trent D'Arby) reigned. There was even room for folk, thanks to the singer-songwriter who would go on to win the Best New Artist Grammy Award, Tracy Chapman. After her surprise breakthrough with "Fast Car," Chapman stalled on the Hot 100 with this follow-up, although it has since become a Triple A favorite. Chapman is seeking her fifth victory, for Best Contemporary Folk Album, at the 52nd Grammy Awards Jan. 31.
"Baby Grand," Billy Joel featuring Ray Charles (1987)
"You Win Again," Bee Gees (1987)
"Crush," Dave Matthews Band (1999)
"By Your Side," Sade (2001)
"Scotty Doesn't Know," Lustra (2006)
"My Generation," the Who (1965)
44 years ago this week, this song debuted at No. 98, marking the Who's Hot 100 arrival. Perhaps surprisingly, only one of the band's 27 charted titles reached the top 10: "I Can See for Miles" (No. 9, 1967). This first impression continues to epitomize the spirit of rock with its timeless proclamation, "I hope I die before I get old."
"You Ain't Going Nowhere," the Byrds (1968)
"Message in a Bottle," the Police (1979)
"Private Idaho," the B-52's (1980)
"Why Don't You Get a Job?," the Offspring (1999)
"Cry for You," September (2008)
"You Raise Me Up," Josh Groban (2004)
Just before Fox's "Ally McBeal" wrapped its run in 2002, it introduced a classically-trained singer playing the role of Malcolm Wyatt. Due to viewer demand, Josh Groban returned singing the soaring "To Where You Are," and a star was born (along with a legion of loyal Grobanites). Groban has earned five Adult Contemporary No. 1s, career album sales of 19.7 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the title of Billboard's Classical Crossover Artist of the Decade for the 2000s.
"I Don't Like Mondays," Boomtown Rats (1980)
"Who Said I Would," Phil Collins (1991)
"Give It Away," Red Hot Chili Peppers (1992)
"Possession," Sarah McLachlan (1994)
"Flake," Jack Johnson (2002)
"Home," Michael Buble (2005)
Josh Groban wasn't the only balladeer to launch at adult contemporary in the early 2000s. Buble has similarly become a format favorite, racking six top 10s, including the current "Haven't Met You Yet" (No. 3). Fulfilling the new song's hopeful romanticism, Buble and the female lead in its video, Luisana Loreley Lopilato de la Torre, have since become engaged.
"Delta Dawn," Tanya Tucker (1972)
"Don't Give Up," Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush (1987)
"The Mayor of Simpleton," XTC (1989)
"Where the Streets Have No Name/Can't Take My Eyes Off You," Pet Shop Boys (1991)
"Send Me on My Way," Rusted Root (1995)
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends," the Beatles (1978)
The title cut to the Beatles' 1967 masterpiece, which led the Billboard 200 for 15 weeks, didn't reach the Hot 100 until the campy 1978 movie of the same name hit theatres. Capitol, well, capitalized on the franchise's resurgence and issued the song as a commercial single, which ranks as the title's lowest-charting version. Joe Cocker's bluesy take on "With a Little Help From My Friends" (later abbreviated as the opening theme to "The Wonder Years") reached No. 68 in 1968, and Paul McCartney and U2's "Live 8" concert recording peaked at No. 48 in 2005.
"Questions 67 and 68," Chicago (1969)
"The Elvis Medley," Elvis Presley (1982)
"Rockit," Herbie Hancock (1983)
"Pictures of You," the Cure (1990)
"Celebration," Madonna (2009)