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 and Spotify 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 one. Come back a week from today, on Jan. 13, for part two, covering venerable hits that peaked between Nos. 75 and 51.
"Oh Santa!," Mariah Carey (2011)
Proof right off the bat that one chart's No. 100 song is another chart's No. 1. This track topped Adult Contemporary for four weeks, becoming Carey's seventh topper on the tally and first since 1996. It also marked Carey's second No. 100 Hot 100 peak in-a-row, following "Up Out My Face," featuring Nicki Minaj (an aptly titled preview to the pair's eventual American Idol-fueled standoff).
"Judy," Frankie Vaughan (notable as the anchor song on the inaugural Hot 100 dated Aug. 4, 1958)
"Sweet Georgia Brown," Carroll Bros. (1962)
"Killer," Seal (1992)
"Leave It All to Me (The iCarly Theme Song)," Miranda Cosgrove (2008)
"Ten Feet Tall," Afrojack feat. Wrabel (2014)
"Kernkraft 400," Zombie Nation (2000)
Even if you aren't familiar with this song by title, chances are you've heard it following a goal at a hockey game or a buzzer-beater at a basketball game. Its composer, Florian Senfter, describes the track as "a quirky electro song" and muses that if he knew it would achieve such widespread popularity, "I would have chosen a friendlier name."
"In Between Days," the Cure (1986)
"Fat," Weird Al Yankovic (1988)
"Save the Last Dance for Me," Michael Buble (2006)
"Dreaming with a Broken Heart," John Mayer (2007)
"Left Hand Free," Alt-J (2014)
"Bizarre Love Triangle," New Order (1995)
The iconic dance/alternative act took this song to No. 4 on Dance Club Songs in 1986. When re-released in 1995, it reached the Hot 100 for the first time. By then, New Order had enjoyed a pair of top 40 hits: "True Faith" (No. 32, 1987) and "Regret" (No. 28, 1993).
"The Life of Riley," Lightning Seeds (1992)
"Sad But True," Metallica (1992)
"7 Seconds," Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry (1994)
"Love Is Gone," David Guetta & Chris Willis (2008)
"Wild Horses," Susan Boyle (2009)
"Sie Liebt Dich (She Loves You)," Die Beatles (1964)
Should anyone ask the trivia question, "Of the Beatles' 71 Hot 100 charted songs, which one peaked at the lowest position?," consider this your cheat sheet. At the height of Beatlemania, this cover of their second No. 1, recorded for release in Germany (where the group had enjoyed early acclaim), spent a week on the chart dated June 27, 1964. The only other song the band reinvented in German? Its first No. 1, "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead," Bon Jovi (1993)
"Vow," Garbage (1995)
"Daughter/Yellow Ledbetter," Pearl Jam (1996)
"Freedom," Paul McCartney (2001)
"Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," U2 (2005)
"The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)," the Banana Splits (1969)
The trippy, Sid and Marty Krofft (Land of the Lost)-designed The Banana Splits Adventure Hour ran for just 31 episodes on NBC from 1968 to 1970, but that was long enough for its sing-along theme song to reach the Hot 100. Liz Phair and Material Issue offered an amped-up cover on the 1995 album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits.
"The Race Is On," George Jones (1965)
"Electrolite," R.E.M. (1997)
"Soulmate," Natasha Bedingfield (2009)
"This Is What It Feels Like," Armin Van Buuren feat. Trevor Guthrie (2013)
"Last Christmas," Ariana Grande (2013)