Ask Billboard: Can't Spell 'Aretha' Without 'A Heart,' Celebrating the Queen of Soul's Chart Achievements

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Aretha Franklin sings in the Atlantic Records studio during 'The Weight' recording session on Jan. 9, 1969 in New York City.

Plus, has 2018 brought an uncommonly large number of No. 11 Hot 100 hits?

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Hi Gary,

Thanks to Billboard for all the great coverage regarding the iconic Aretha Franklin.

An interesting angle regarding her on the Billboard Hot 100 over the years is her name and/or songs related to her appearing on the chart.

Franklin has been mentioned in the lyrics of songs, such as "Don't" by Ed Sheeran and "Hey Nineteen," by Steely Dan, both top 10 hits. Notably in the former, a No. 9 hit in 2014, Sheeran sings, "Now she's staying at my place and loves the way I treat her / Singing out Aretha, all over the track like a feature."

By the way, I once sent Franklin a poem, for her 70th birthday, titled "A Heart with Soul." I wrote that if one rearranged the letters for "A Heart," one can spell … "Aretha."

Just small points in proportion to Aretha's legacy on the charts and in our hearts.

Best,

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Thanks Pablo. What a nice tribute you wrote, definitely fit for a queen.

A song in Franklin's iconic catalog that stands out to me is the 1998 live recording of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," for the VH1 Divas Live special and album. The lineup: Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Carole King, Shania Twain and Franklin. It's hard to imagine anyone other than Franklin who could've rightfully basked front and center in the spotlight among all those powerhouse voices.

THINKING ABOUT ARETHA, IN THE TOP 11

Hi Ryan,

Yet another stat that shows Franklin's presence on the Hot 100 ranking in the company of few others.

Swift, meanwhile, is the only act to peak at every rank between Nos. 1 and 13 (her favorite number).

Madonna, the leader with 38 Hot 100 top 10s, almost added another with "The Power of Goodbye," a No. 11 hit in 1998. Her next-highest-charting non-top 10: "Rain," which reached No. 14 in 1993.

Steve Wonder has missed only No. 6 in the top 13; The Beatles peaked at every spot between Nos. 1 and 12 except for No. 9 (No. 9 … No. 9 … No. 9 …); and Michael Jackson peaked throughout the top 11 except for No. 8.

Drake, who holds the record by having peaked at 84 of the Hot 100's positions, has peaked at every spot between Nos. 1 through 18 except for No. 11.

Speaking of No. 11 on the Hot 100 ...

2018 = 11

Gary,

Nine songs, including (so far, as of this week) "IDOL," by BTS featuring Nicki Minaj, have peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 in 2018. Is that a record for the most No. 11 hits in a year?

Arturo

@Arturo52311

Hi Arturo,

Here are the nine songs that have stopped just outside the Hot 100's top 10 this year:

"River," Eminem feat. Ed Sheeran (Jan. 3)
"Love.," Kendrick Lamar feat. Zacari (Jan. 6)
"Mine," Bazzi (April 7)
"Be Careful," Cardi B (April 21)
"Paranoid," Post Malone (May 12)
"Friends," Marshmello & Anne-Marie (June 2)
"In My Blood," Shawn Mendes (June 9)
"All Mine," Kanye West (June 16)
"IDOL," BTS feat. Nicki Minaj (Sept. 8)

Just over 300 hits in the Hot 100's 60-year history have come oh-so-close to the top 10, peaking at a frustrating No. 11. With nine such songs, how does 2018 stack up historically?

Here are the years with the most No. 11-peaking Hot 100 hits:

1967: 12
1964, 1966: 10 each
1959, 1965, 2018: 9 each

So, 2018 is the first year with as many as nine No. 11 Hot 100 hits in 51 years, since 1967 brought a record 12. That dozen:

"Coming Home Soldier," Bobby Vinton (Jan. 7)
"I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)," The Electric Prunes (Feb. 11)
"Green, Green Grass of Home," Tom Jones (Feb. 18)
"Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," Cannonball Adderley (Feb. 25)
"On a Carousel," The Hollies (May 27)
"Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead," The Fifth Estate (July 1)
"Silence Is Golden," The Tremeloes (Aug. 19)

"Words," The Monkees (Sept. 2)
"There Is a Mountain," Donovan (Sept. 16)
"Get On Up," The Esquires (Oct. 21)
"(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts," Bee Gees (Dec. 9)
"Honey Chile," Martha Reeves & The Vandellas (Dec. 30)

Perhaps a contributor to this year's higher total: several albums, including by Drake, Cardi B and Post Malone, have sent multiple titles, driven largely by streaming, to the Hot 100 in the weeks in which the sets have debuted atop the Billboard 200. With many of those cuts charting high on the Hot 100, even for a single week, No. 11 has been in play, as evidenced by Cardi B and Post Malone's songs above.

Plus, major multi-metric hits like Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" (27 weeks in the top 10) and Drake's "God's Plan" (26) have run up lengthy top 10 runs in recent months, helping to create a bit of a logjam and making it more difficult for other titles to reach the region.

A year that stands out to me regarding this stat: 1989, when I had quickly become an avid chart fan. That year, eight songs stopped at No. 11 (which still irks me almost three decades later): "Holding On," by Steve Winwood; "Electric Youth," by Debbie Gibson; "Crazy About Her," by Rod Stewart; "Keep On Movin'," by Soul II Soul (featuring Caron Wheeler); "Don't Look Back," by Fine Young Cannibals; "Don't Close Your Eyes," by Kix; "Get On Your Feet," by Gloria Estefan; and, my favorite of the bunch, "Leave a Light On," by Belinda Carlisle, with the song sporting a guest guitar solo by George Harrison. (In 1990, Daryl Hall and John Oates peaked at No. 11 with the aptly titled "So Close.")

As for one of this year's No. 11 Hot 100 hits, CHVRCHES (currently at No. 15 on the Alternative Songs chart with their latest single "Miracle") recently put a softer spin on Lamar's "Love.," for Australian radio station triple j, turning the track into an especially haunting ballad, led by Lauren Mayberry's vocals.