Chart Royalty: Prince's Hot 100 & Billboard 200 Highlights
You can celebrate Prince's 40 biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit songs here. Additionally, here is a look at some of his most memorable highlights on the Hot 100 songs chart and the Billboard 200 albums chart.
BILLBOARD HOT 100
Prince visited the Hot 100 for the first time with "Soft and Wet," which debuted on the Nov. 4, 1978-dated list. It peaked at No. 92 on Nov. 25, 1978, and was the first of 47 charted hits for the icon in his lifetime.
He celebrated his first top 40 hit with "I Wanna Be Your Lover," which peaked at No. 11 on Jan. 26, 1980, and his first top 10 with "Little Red Corvette" (No. 6; May 21, 1983).
In total, Prince earned 30 top 40 Hot 100 hits before his death, with 19 of those reaching the top 10, and five ascending all the way to No. 1.
Here is a look at some of Prince's classic Hot 100 hits, song-by-song.
"When Doves Cry"
Of Prince's first seven Hot 100 entries (in 1978-84), he rose as high as No. 6 with 1983's "Little Red Corvette," his first top 10. A year later, "When Doves Cry" (from the Purple Rain soundtrack), became his first No. 1, reigning for five weeks beginning July 7, 1984.
The song made history, as that week it also led the Dance/Disco Top 80 chart (now named Dance Club Songs) and Hot Black Singles (now Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs). As Paul Grein noted in Billboard's Chart Beat column that issue: "'When Doves Cry' is Warner's first single to top the pop, black and dance charts."
"Let's Go Crazy"
"When Doves Cry's" follow-up "Let's Go Crazy" also topped the Hot 100, for two weeks beginning Sept. 29, 1984. It, too, would additionally top the dance and then-titled Hot Black Singles chart, making Prince one of only two stars, at the time, to lead all three lists with two smashes; Michael Jackson was the other, thanks to "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" in 1983.
Following four more Hot 100 top 10s, including the No. 2 hits "Purple Rain" and "Raspberry Beret," Prince notched his third Hot 100 leader with "Kiss," for two weeks starting April 19, 1986. (His first three No. 1s were all billed as by Prince and the Revolution.)
"Kiss" wasn't the full extent of his Hot 100 domination that week. Here's Grein again: "'Kiss' jumps to No. 1 on this week's Hot 100, while 'Manic Monday,' which he wrote for the Bangles, climbs to No. 2. That makes Prince one of only five songwriters [or songwriting teams] in the past 30 years to hold down the top two positions simultaneously." The other four such songwriting entities: Elvis Presley; John Lennon and Paul McCartney; Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, aka, the Bee Gees; and Jim Steinman.
Like "Doves" and "Crazy," "Kiss" also led the dance and then-named Hot Black Singles chart. Noted Grein, "No other artist has achieved this triple crown as many as three times."
Prince earned his fourth Hot 100 No. 1 on Aug. 5, 1989, with the Batman film and soundtrack souvenir "Batdance." It was a mash-up style song punctuated with sounds and snippets of dialogue from the movie.
Grein put the song's success in greater context: "Prince's showing represents a tremendous improvement over his last at-bat, when he registered a No. 11 [Billboard 200] album (Lovesexy) and a No. 8 [Hot 100] single ("Alphabet St.") His resurgence is a reminder that superstars should never be counted out. We'll call it the Prince Rule."
Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U"
O'Connor's cover of the Prince-penned "Nothing" crowned the Hot 100. In a sad coincidence, it began its reign on April 21, 1990, exactly 26 years to the day before Prince would pass.
Prince told Rolling Stone in 1990 that O'Connor's version of the song was "great!" After he'd originally written it for his side project The Family, "I look for cosmic meaning in everything," he said. "I think we took that song as far as we could, then someone else was supposed to come along and pick it up."
(Prince's own version of "Nothing" would rise to No. 62 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 1994.)
Prince last led the Hot 100 with "Cream" (by Prince and the N.P.G.) for two weeks beginning Nov. 9, 1991. Touting that "The Purple One is back in the pink on the chart," after a two-year gap, Grein evoked … the Prince Rule: "Most pop performers hit a commercial peak and then steadily, irreversibly, go into decline. Prince's proven ability to bounce back is a sign of his deep talent and enduring appeal."
Following "Cream," Prince continued to clock entries on the Hot 100, like the top 40-charting singles "Diamonds and Pearls" (No. 3 in 1992), "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" (No. 23, 1992), "My Name Is Prince" (No. 36, 1992), "7" (peaking, appropriately, at No. 7 in 1993), "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (No. 3 in 1994), "LetItGo" (No. 31, 1994) and "I Hate You" (No. 12, 1995).
Prince's last Hot 100 entry before his death was "Black Sweat," which peaked at No. 60 on March 11, 2006.
THE BILLBOARD 200
Prince's debut album, For You, was also his first album to chart on the Billboard 200. The Warner Bros. Records release arrived on the Billboard 200 chart dated Oct. 28, 1978, at No. 190, slightly more than three months after it gave Prince his first chart entry, when it bowed on the Soul LPs chart (now named Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums) on July 22, 1978 at No. 55. For You would ultimately peak at No. 163 on the Billboard 200 (Nov. 25, 1978). The album also gave Prince his first hit single: "Soft and Wet" (see above).
Nearly all of Prince's albums during the first 20 years of his career were released on the Warner Bros. label. He departed the company in 1996 and released new music through a variety of labels (including EMI, Columbia, Republic, Arista, and his own label, NPG), until returning to Warner Bros. in 2014.
"Today, we lost one of the most revolutionary talents of our time," Cameron Strang, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Records, said in a statement after Prince's death. "Prince's untimely passing is deeply shocking, reminding us that unique artists who chart their own course and move culture are precious few and irreplaceable.
"We are honored to have had Prince as a member of the Warner Bros. Records family during two eras of his astonishing career."
Here is a recap of some of Prince's key Billboard 200 album chart highlights.
The Purple One's first top 40-charting album on the Billboard 200 was his self-titled second effort, released in 1979. It climbed to No. 22 on Jan. 19, 1980, as his first top 40 Hot 100 hit song, "I Wanna Be Your Lover" (also on the Prince album), was climbing the list. The tune peaked at No. 11 on Jan. 26, 1980.
Prince earned 25 top 40-charting albums on the Billboard 200 during his lifetime. He last visited the region with 2014's Art Official Age, which debuted and peaked at No. 5 (Oct. 18, 2014).
It may have only been 1982, but Prince was ready to "party like it's 1999" with the release of his same-named album. It was his fifth full-length and it granted Prince his first top 10 effort on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 9 on May 28, 1983. Prince collected 16 top 10 albums before his death.
Purple Rain (Soundtrack)
The mega-selling Purple Rain soundtrack spent its first of 24 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart dated Aug. 4, 1984. The set is tied with Saturday Night Fever for the third-most weeks at No. 1 by a soundtrack. Ahead of them: only South Pacific (31 weeks at No. 1) and West Side Story (54 weeks).
Purple Rain is also one of only 11 albums to spend at least 20 weeks at No. 1. (Most recently, Adele's 21 joined the 20-plus-weeks-at-No. 1 club, when it ruled for 24 nonconsecutive frames in 2011 and 2012.)
On Feb. 26, 1985, Prince earned his first Grammy Awards courtesy of Purple Rain: best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal (for the album as a whole) and best album of original score written for a motion picture or a television special. He additionally won a third Grammy in 1985, for best new rhythm & blues song (a songwriter's award) for writing "I Feel for You." The track, first released in 1979 by Prince on his self-titled album, became a hit for Chaka Khan in 1984. The R&B diva's cover rose to No. 3 on the Hot 100 (Nov. 24, 1984).
Around the World in a Day
Less than six months after Purple Rain wrapped its 24-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, its follow-up, Around the World in a Day, climbed to the top of the list (June 1, 1985). The album spent three weeks on top and launched a pair of top 10 singles on the Hot 100: "Raspberry Beret" (No. 2) and "Pop Life" (No. 7).
"When executives at Warner Bros. films and records began thinking of a pop star to contribute to the soundtrack of the film, most everyone agreed that Prince was the man for the job," Craig Rosen wrote in his 1996 book The Billboard Book of Number One Albums. He further wrote: "'He was the perfect artist for that picture,' says Gary LeMel, [then-]president of music for Warner Bros. Inc. 'It may have been kind of subliminal. [Batman character] The Joker wore purple, so that kind of leads you to the Purple One. We didn't think of any other artist. We knew he was the one.'"
The combination of Prince and Batman was irresistible to fans, as the Batman soundtrack spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (July 22-Aug. 26, 1989). The set spawned a trio of Hot 100 hits: the No. 1 "Batdance," as well as "Partyman" (No. 18) and "The Arms of Orion," with Sheena Easton (No. 36).
Following the Batman soundtrack, Prince wouldn't return to the Billboard 200's No. 1 slot until 2006 with 3121, which became his fourth, and most recent, leader and his first album to debut atop the list (April 8, 2006).
Between Batman and 3121, Prince sent 20 albums onto the chart, including such top 10 efforts as Graffiti Bridge (peaking at No. 6 in 1990), Diamonds & Pearls (No. 3, 1991), the Love Symbol album (No. 5, 1992), The Gold Experience (No. 6, 1995) and Musicology (No. 3, 2004).
Following 3121, Prince was still a frequent visitor to the Billboard 200 top 10, as four of his subsequent six charting sets released before his death all reached the region. Planet Earth hit No. 3 in 2007 and was followed by Lotus Flow3r/MPLSound/Elix3r (No. 2 in 2009, with Bria Valente) and Plectrumelectrum (No. 8, with 3rdEyeGirl) and Art Official Age (No. 5). The latter two sets were released concurrently, and debuted within the top 10 the same week: Oct. 18, 2014.
Prince's final new album to chart before his death was HITNRUN: Phase One, which debuted and peaked at No. 70 on the Oct. 3, 2015-dated list.