Patience pays off for Enrique Iglesias, who completes the longest climb to the top of Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart from an artist's first entry on the survey, as "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)," featuring Ludacris and DJ Frank E, rises 2-1.
Having first appeared on the Nielsen BDS-based Mainstream Top 40 radio airplay chart the week of July 17, 1999, with the eventual No. 4-peaking "Bailamos," Iglesias celebrates his first leader on the list after 11 years, seven months and three weeks.
The odyssey tops the 10-year, five-month and two-week wait between Green Day's first charted title on Mainstream Top 40, "Basket Case," in 1994 and the No. 1 "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" in 2005.
Here is a look at the longest delays between an act's first Mainstream Top 40 appearance and first No. 1:
11 years, seven months, three weeks
First No. 1: "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)," 2011
10 years, five months, two weeks
First No. 1: "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," 2005
Nine years, one month
Mary J. Blige
First No. 1: "Family Affair," 2001
Nine years, two weeks
First No. 1: "Ignition," 2003
Six years, seven months, three weeks
First No. 1: "No Scrubs," 1999
(Since the Mainstream Top 40 survey launched the week of Oct. 3, 1992, the statistic does not factor such artists as Santana, who first appeared on the chart with the No. 1 "Smooth" in 1999 despite having tallied pop hits for more than three decades by then).
"Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)," Iglesias' sixth Mainstream Top 40 top 10 among 13 chart visits, marks the third No. 1 for Ludacris. The rapper previously led for three weeks each as a guest on Usher's "Yeah!" in 2004 and Taio Cruz's "Break Your Heart" beginning last May.
DJ Frank E commands Mainstream Top 40 with his first charted title.
The honor is Iglesias' latest in a succession of Billboard chart achievements.
When "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" became his eighth No. 1 on Dance Club Songs the week of Feb. 5, Iglesias passed Michael Jackson and Prince for most leaders among solo male artists in the chart's 34-and-a-half year history.
("I've been reading Billboard since I was a child and I'm very proud to be part of music history," Iglesias told Billboard upon rewriting the record).
Iglesias also holds the marks for most No. 1s in the histories of Billboard's Hot Latin Songs (21) and Latin Pop Airplay (17) surveys.
While "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" represents Iglesias' first Mainstream Top 40 chart champion, the singer has twice topped the Billboard Hot 100, with "Bailamos" (two weeks, 1999) and "Be With You" (three weeks, 2000).
"Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 last month, marking Iglesias' sixth top 10. "Hero" ascended to No. 3 in 2001 and "I Like It," featuring Pitbull, also reached No. 4 last August.
All charts will be refreshed Thursday (March 3) on Billboard.biz.