Ask Billboard: More Soundtrack Stopgap Hits
Ask Billboard: More Soundtrack Stopgap Hits

Long before Adele's 'Skyfall,' artists have bridged the gap between breakout albums and follow-ups with soundtrack smashes.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20 .


Hi Gary,

I enjoyed the Chart Beat article ( "Thumbs Up for Adele's Movie Move," Oct. 19) about artists who followed up breakthrough albums by releasing movie-related songs.

I can think of a few more.

The Carpenters released their breakout album, Close to You, in 1970. It was certified 2x-Platinum and contained the top five Billboard Hot 100 hits "(They Long to Be) Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun." The duo followed that success with "For All We Know" from the 1970 film "Lovers and Other Strangers." It became a No. 3 hit.

The success story of 1980 was definitely Christopher Cross. His self-titled debut album contained four top 20 hits, including the No. 1 "Sailing." He also won five Grammy Awards that year, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist. The following year, he co-wrote and recorded "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" for the film "Arthur." It reached No. 1 and won an Oscar for Best Original Song.

Although Huey Lewis and the News had a top 10 single, "Do You Believe in Love," from their 1982 album "Picture This," their real breakthrough came with the 1983 release "Sports." That multi-platinum album contained four top 10 hits. They followed with "The Power of Love" from the 1985 film "Back to the Future." It became their first No. 1 hit.

Ike and Tina Turner were a successful duo in the '60s and early '70s, but when they broke up in the mid-'70s, Tina's career sunk. Things turned around in 1984, when she released the album "Private Dancer." It was the start of a major comeback, containing three top 10 hits, including the No. 1 "What's Love Got to Do With It." Tina continued her momentum by co-starring in and recording the theme song to the 1985 film "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." That song, "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)," became a No. 2 hit.

Celine Dion
had already released several French-language albums before her English-language debut, "Unison," in 1990. It was a successful breakthrough in the English-language market, certified Platinum and containing the top five hit "Where Does My Heart Beat Now." Dion then teamed with Peabo Bryson for the title song to the 1991 film "Beauty and the Beast," which reached No. 9 on the Hot 100.

And, the soundtrack to the 2001 film "Moulin Rouge!" included a remake of Labelle's 1975 No. 1 hit "Lady Marmalade," by Christina Aguilera , Lil Kim, Mya and P!nk . The remake also hit No. 1. For Aguilera and P!nk, the song was a successful movie-related follow-up to their multi-platinum debut albums, "Christina Aguilera" and "Can't Take Me Home," respectively.

Thanks for continuing to make Chart Beat and "Ask Billboard" such enjoyable columns.

Blair Buchta
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Hey Gary,

I loved the piece concerning artists who have released successful debut albums and followed them up with a movie theme. I can think of one: Puff Daddy released the No. 4 hit "Come With Me," from "Godzilla," after 1997's "No Way Out," which featured the 11-week leader "I'll Be Missing You."


Rob Feller
Vancouver, Canada

@gthot20 Another soundtrack stopgap! After her debut album, Brandy dropped Sittin Up in My Room from Waiting to Exhale.

Mark Blankenship @IAmBlankenship

Hi Gary,

In answer to your request for artists who have had huge debut albums and then bridged the gap between their sophomore releases with movie songs, Bobby Brown definitely fits the bill as a solo artist. After his breakthrough (though not debut) solo album, "Don't Be Cruel," and prior to his sophomore release, "Bobby," in 1992, he released the top five hit "On Our Own" from the "Ghostbusters II" soundtrack.

(Some might argue that an artist such as Brown would not technically qualify as a typical soloist, since he was a founding member of New Edition. But, well ... on his own ... the song seems like a good example.)

Many artists, of course, have also had great success with movie songs between album releases, not just their debut albums ... Madonna more than many.

Between 1984's "Like a Virgin" and 1986's "True Blue," she released her No. 1 "Live to Tell" from the film "At Close Range" (also on "True Blue"). Another No. 1 movie hit for Madonna was 1992's "This Used to Be My Playground," from "A League of Their Own," between her studio albums "Like a Prayer" in 1989 and 1992's "Erotica." (Oddly, "At Close Range" never had an official soundtrack and "Playground" was not included on the "League" soundtrack.)

Thanks from another huge chart watcher/lover!

Frank Pierce
Punta Gorda, Florida

Thanks Blair, Rob, Mark and Frank,

Madonna is the Queen of Pop Soundtrack Hits, especially those from movies in which she starred. "Who's That Girl" was a No. 1 from 1987's film of the same name, while "Causing a Commotion" reached No. 2. In 1990, "Vogue" (No. 1, three weeks) and "Hanky Panky" (No. 10) accompanied "Dick Tracy." Madonna's title turn as "Evita" in 1996 produced the No. 18 "You Must Love Me" and the No. 8 "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." And, 2000's "Next Best Thing" brought her No. 29-peaking cover of Don McLean's "American Pie" (as well as the should-have-been-a-single soundtrack cut "Time Stood Still").

Madonna movie hits also include "Crazy for You," from "Vision Quest (No. 1, 1985); "I'll Remember," from "With Honors" (No. 2, 1994); "Beautiful Stranger," from "Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me" (No. 19, 1999); and, long before Adele's James Bond theme "Skyfall," Madonna offered "Die Another Day" (No. 8), the title song from the 2002 Bond film.

Boyz II Men filled the gap between their first and second studio albums by releasing two soundtrack smashes. After 1991's "Cooleyhighharmony" yielded the top five hits "Motownphilly" (No. 3) and "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" (No. 2), and went on to sell 7 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, the then-quartet ruled the Hot 100 for a whopping 13 weeks in 1992 with "End of the Road," from "Boomerang." Follow-up "In the Still of the Nite," from "The Jacksons," reached No. 3 in January 1993.

Such added exposure helped Boyz II Men usher in their second set, "II," with the 14-week No. 1 "I'll Make Love to You" in 1994. The group succeeded itself at the summit when the album's "On Bended Knee" began a six-week command, while "Water Runs Dry" climbed to No. 2 in 1995.

I'll add one more artist I just saw perform a great show at City Winery in New York: Suzanne Vega . She had begun to gain a following with her self-titled 1985 debut album, featuring the lauded single "Marlene on the Wall" (although I was always partial to the set's "Cracking" and "Undertow").

Before she scored her biggest hit, 1987's "Luka" (No. 3), from her second album, "Solitude Standing," the "Pretty in Pink" soundtrack helped hold fans over, thanks to her contribution, "Left of Center," featuring Joe Jackson. (She even looks a bit like Molly Ringwald in the video, doesn't she?) Although it didn't chart in the U.S., "Center" was a No. 32 U.K. hit. Perhaps even better, its inclusion in one of the '80s' signature teen movies put Vega in front of younger viewers and consumers, serving as a stepping stone to help set the stage for her first mainstream smash single the following year.

(At her New York concert, Vega celebrated the 25th anniversary of "Standing" by playing the set in its entirety, in order, including the touching ballad "Gypsy," which she revealed to be about a crush she had on her British summer camp counselor when she was 18. After not being in touch for years, she said, he surprised her by bringing her flowers at a U.K. show not long ago. The pair has remained in touch since.)