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 56 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 weren't huge hits originally, but gained steam over time. Or, they were popular at particular formats, such as country, R&B/hip-hop or rock, but did not cross over to complete mainstream success.
Updating a favorite feature first posted five years ago, each Tuesday throughout January, Chart Beat is combing through the Hot 100 peak position-by-peak position, subjectively highlighting songs that live on in iTunes libraries, movies, TV and/or radio, no matter how high (or not) they ultimately climbed on the Hot 100.
Certainly, it's great to be No. 1. But, the Hot 100's rich archives reveal winners at every number.
Here's part two. Part one ran last week, covering classics that hit Nos. 100-76. Come back a week from today, on Jan. 20, for part three, highlighting venerable hits that peaked between Nos. 50 and 26.
"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 an adult alternative radio favorite. She's since upped her career Grammy win count to four.
"Baby Grand," Billy Joel featuring Ray Charles (1987)
"You Win Again," Bee Gees (1987)
"Crush," Dave Matthews Band (1999)
"By Your Side," Sade (2001)
"Donald Trump," Mac Miller (2012)
"My Generation," the Who (1965)
Fifty years ago this week, this song debuted at No. 98, marking the Who's second Hot 100 visit. Perhaps surprisingly, only one of the band's 27 charted titles reached the top 10: "I Can See for Miles" (No. 9, 1967). This song, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, 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)
"Papa Don't Preach," Kelly Osbourne (2002)
"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 22.5 million, according to Nielsen Music, 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 17 top 10s, including five No. 1s. Meanwhile, his 2011 juggernaut Christmas has returned to the Billboard 200's top 10 each holiday season since its release.
"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)
"Shake It Out," Florence + the Machine (2012)
"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. The late, great Joe Cocker's bluesy take on "Friends" (later adapted as the opening theme to ABC's 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)
"Tennis Court," Lorde (2013)