The Biggest Hot 100 Hits to Peak at Nos. 75-51
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 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 two. Part one ran last week, covering classics that hit Nos. 100-76. Come back a week from today, on Jan. 20, for part three, highlighting venerable hits that peaked between Nos. 50 and 26.
"Talkin' Bout a Revolution," Tracy Chapman (1988)
Variety was the spice of the Hot 100 in 1988, when pop/dance (George Michael, Michael Jackson), rock (Def Leppard, Bon Jovi) and whimsical R&B (Bobby McFerrin, Terence Trent D'Arby) reigned. There was even room for folk, thanks to the singer-songwriter who would go on to win the Best New Artist Grammy Award, Tracy Chapman. After her surprise breakthrough with "Fast Car," Chapman stalled on the Hot 100 with this follow-up, although it has since become an adult alternative radio favorite. She's since upped her career Grammy win count to four.
"Baby Grand," Billy Joel featuring Ray Charles (1987)
"You Win Again," Bee Gees (1987)
"Crush," Dave Matthews Band (1999)
"By Your Side," Sade (2001)
"Donald Trump," Mac Miller (2012)
"My Generation," the Who (1965)
Fifty years ago this week, this song debuted at No. 98, marking the Who's second Hot 100 visit. Perhaps surprisingly, only one of the band's 27 charted titles reached the top 10: "I Can See for Miles" (No. 9, 1967). This song, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, continues to epitomize the spirit of rock with its timeless proclamation, "I hope I die before I get old."
"You Ain't Going Nowhere," the Byrds (1968)
"Message in a Bottle," the Police (1979)
"Private Idaho," the B-52's (1980)
"Why Don't You Get a Job?," the Offspring (1999)
"Papa Don't Preach," Kelly Osbourne (2002)
"You Raise Me Up," Josh Groban (2004)
Just before Fox's Ally McBeal wrapped its run in 2002, it introduced a classically-trained singer playing the role of Malcolm Wyatt. Due to viewer demand, Josh Groban returned singing the soaring "To Where You Are," and a star was born (along with a legion of loyal Grobanites). Groban has earned five Adult Contemporary No. 1s, career album sales of 22.5 million, according to Nielsen Music, and the title of Billboard's Classical Crossover artist of the decade for the 2000s.
"I Don't Like Mondays," Boomtown Rats (1980)
"Who Said I Would," Phil Collins (1991)
"Give It Away," Red Hot Chili Peppers (1992)
"Possession," Sarah McLachlan (1994)
"Flake," Jack Johnson (2002)
"Home," Michael Buble (2005)
Josh Groban wasn't the only balladeer to launch at adult contemporary in the early 2000s. Buble has similarly become a format favorite, racking 17 top 10s, including five No. 1s. Meanwhile, his 2011 juggernaut Christmas has returned to the Billboard 200's top 10 each holiday season since its release.
"Delta Dawn," Tanya Tucker (1972)
"Don't Give Up," Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush (1987)
"The Mayor of Simpleton," XTC (1989)
"Where the Streets Have No Name/Can't Take My Eyes Off You," Pet Shop Boys (1991)
"Shake It Out," Florence + the Machine (2012)
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends," the Beatles (1978)
The title cut to the Beatles' 1967 masterpiece, which led the Billboard 200 for 15 weeks, didn't reach the Hot 100 until the campy 1978 movie of the same name hit theatres. Capitol, well, capitalized on the franchise's resurgence and issued the song as a commercial single, which ranks as the title's lowest-charting version. The late, great Joe Cocker's bluesy take on "Friends" (later adapted as the opening theme to ABC's The Wonder Years) reached No. 68 in 1968, and Paul McCartney and U2's "Live 8" concert recording peaked at No. 48 in 2005.
"Questions 67 and 68," Chicago (1969)
"The Elvis Medley," Elvis Presley (1982)
"Rockit," Herbie Hancock (1983)
"Pictures of You," the Cure (1990)
"Tennis Court," Lorde (2013)
"Stubborn Love," the Lumineers (2013)
The folk-rock strummers rocketed to No. 3 with their debut hit, "Ho Hey." While this follow-up stopped at No. 70 on the Hot 100, it crowned Adult Alternative Songs for eight weeks and rose to No. 2 on Alternative Songs. The track is a concert favorite among fans, has sold 914,000 downloads and, perhaps most memorably, gained exposure in one of those touching commercials for Zillow.
"Suburbia," Pet Shop Boys (1987)
"Father of Mine," Everclear (1999)
"The Prayer (Live)," Celine Dion & Josh Groban (2008)
"I Will Possess Your Heart," Death Cab for Cutie (2008)
"I Look to You," Whitney Houston (2009)
"Deep, Deep Trouble," the Simpsons featuring Bart & Homer (1991)
The honorable mentions below may have made greater impacts in music, but it's hard to argue the imprint that Springfield has made on pop culture over the past 25 years. This track marks the Simpsons' sole Hot 100 entry, as the better-known "Do the Bartman" was not released as a commercial single. The Simpsons' album Sing the Blues shot to No. 3 on the Billboard 200, making them overachievers and proud of it; the set became the highest-charting TV soundtrack since Miami Vice cruised to an 11-week reign in 1985-86.
"Run Rudolph Run," Chuck Berry (1959)
"Can You Feel the Beat," Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam (1985)
"It's End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," R.E.M. (1988)
"Californication," Red Hot Chili Peppers (2000)
"Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites," Skrillex (2012)
"Lights," Journey (1978)
Steve Perry recalls of the rock radio staple, "I had the song written in, and about, Los Angeles. It was, 'When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on LA.' I didn't like the way it sounded at the time, so I just had it sitting back in the corner. I love San Francisco, the bay and the whole thing. 'The bay' fit so nice, 'When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay.' It was one of those early morning-going across the bridge-things when the sun was coming up and the lights were going down. It was perfect."
"Roll Over Beethoven," the Beatles (1964)
"Solsbury Hill," Peter Gabriel (1977)
"Blue Monday 1988," New Order (1988)
"Runaway," the Corrs (1995)
"Brian Wilson," Barenaked Ladies (1998)
"Carolina in My Mind," James Taylor (1970)
After Taylor's Hot 100 debut, "Fire and Rain" (No. 3, 1970), established the North Carolina-raised beloved singer-songwriter, this follow-up stopped at No. 67. Still, it remains an adult contemporary gem and one of countless compositions that led to the legend's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2000.
"Who Shot J.R.?," Gary Burbank with Band McNally (1980)
"Only You," Yaz (1983)
"Pets," Porno for Pyros (1993)
"I Kissed a Girl," Jill Sobule (1995)
"The Walker," Fitz and the Tantrums (2014)
"Super-Cali-Fragil-istic-Expi-Ali-Docious," Julie Andrews-Dick Van Dyke (1965)
From the iconic Mary Poppins songbook, "Chim-Chim-Cher-ee" won the 1965 best song Oscar, while this famous tongue-twisting tune was the film's Hot 100 representative. Thanks to other classics like "A Spoonful of Sugar," Mary Poppins stands as the most-Oscar nominated Disney film history, with 13. It won five Academy Awards, including best original music score. (Full disclosure: as a third-grader, this author may or may not have portrayed Michael Banks in Liberty School's production of Mary Poppins. Home movies of it may or may not exist.)
"Love Theme From 'The Godfather'," Carlo Savina (1972)
"Volcano," Jimmy Buffett (1980)
"Big in Japan," Alphaville (1985)
"These Are Days," 10,000 Maniacs (1992)
"Secrets," Mary Lambert (2014)
"WKRP in Cincinnati," Steve Carlisle (1981)
If fictional WKRP had stayed easy listening instead of flipping to rock, it might've played this theme, since it rose to No. 29 on Adult Contemporary. (But, then, if the station didn't change formats, the show would never have been created and the theme wouldn't have existed …) The real-life WKRP? Atlanta's WQXI, where series creator Hugh Wilson had worked in the sales department.
"Purple Haze," The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)
"Forever Young," Alphaville (1988)
"Silent All These Years," Tori Amos (1997)
"Times Like These," Foo Fighters (2003)
"Video Phone," Beyonce feat. Lady Gaga (2009)
"Put Your Records On," Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)
The song that introduced Rae and spurred three Grammy Award nominations in 2007. She told Billboard in 2010 of its success, "It was a shock to me. I thought it was going to be much more of an underground record because it was under-produced. I wasn't expecting that reaction at all." The breezy ballad reached the top 10 on Adult Contemporary and Adult Alternative Songs.
"Tequila Sunrise," Eagles (1973)
"It Doesn't Have to Be That Way," Jim Croce (1974)
"Rebel Rebel," Bowie (1974)
"Lithium," Nirvana (1992)
"V. 3005," Childish Gambino (2014)
"Turning Tables," Adele (2011)
In addition to three career-exploding No. 1s – "Rolling in the Deep," "Someone Like You" and "Set Fire to the Rain" – Adele's 21 yielded the No. 16-peaking "Rumour Has It." Beyond its four singles, "Turning Tables" hit No. 63, while Gwyneth Paltrow took her cover, from Fox's Glee, to No. 66, also in 2011. Adele's version has sold 868,000 downloads … in addition to the 11.1 million copies it's sold in the U.S. via 21. Pop Songs reporter WBLI Long Island, New York was one of the stations to sample "Tables" in 2011, even without an official label push. "If Columbia worked [it], it would be a top five record," program director Jeremy Rice said. "Last time I checked, Adele has a pretty good track record."
"The Weight," the Band (1968)
"Bang the Drum All Day," Todd Rundgren (1983)
"End of the Line," Traveling Wilburys (1989)
"Sweetest Thing," U2 (1998)
"Merry Go 'Round," Kacey Musgraves (2013)
"Surrender," Cheap Trick (1978)
Cheap Trick has banked three Hot 100 top 10s: the live classic "I Want You to Want Me" (No. 7, 1979), power ballad "The Flame" (No. 1, 1988) and Elvis cover "Don't Be Cruel" (No. 4, 1988). This youth-in-revolt anthem introduced the Illinois rockers, however, debuting at No. 84 on July 22, 1978.
"Red Red Wine," Neil Diamond (1968)
"Breakfast in America," Supertramp (1980)
"I Know What Boys Like," the Waitresses (1982)
"I Want Candy," Bow Wow Wow (1982)
"It's Your Song," Garth Brooks (1998)
"Falling Slowly," the Swell Season (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova) (2008)
The tender ballad from the 2007 film Once won the Oscar for best original song in 2008, after which it debuted at its peak. Selling 944,000 downloads to date, it's also become a go-to choice for contestants on Fox's American Idol; Kris Allen's version reached No. 94 in 2009 and Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox's cover hit No. 66 in 2010.
"Bringin' on the Heartbreak," Def Leppard (1984)
"Laid," James (1994)
"One More Time," Daft Punk (2001)
"American Idiot," Green Day (2004)
"Listen," Beyonce (2007)
"Through the Fire," Chaka Khan (1985)
This selection courtesy of Chart Beat reader Christopher Brisson: "Despite the extraordinary success of 'I Feel for You' (No. 3) on the Hot 100 in 1984, this single was unable to break into the top 40. It did, however, reach the top 20 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (No. 15) and Adult Contemporary (No. 16) and has since become a classic love song at both formats."
"Jolene," Dolly Parton (1974)
"The Emperor's New Clothes," Sinead O'Connor (1990)
"Leaving Las Vegas," Sheryl Crow (1994)
"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," Jennifer Hudson (2007)
"Levels," Avicii (2012)
"The Ghost in You," Psychedelic Furs (1984)
At the forefront of alternative's '70s/'80s British invasion, this venerable band placed four songs on the Hot 100. "Love My Way" (No. 44, 1983) preceded "The Ghost in You," and the group followed with "Pretty in Pink" (No. 41, 1986) and "Heartbreak Beat" (No. 26, 1987). The band ended a 10-year hiatus in 2001 and continues to tour; it plays Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg on Jan. 18.
"What Do All the People Know," the Monroes (1982)
"Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," Urge Overkill (1994)
"How Do I Deal," Jennifer Love Hewitt (1999)
"Fix You," Coldplay (2005)
"Come On Get Higher," Matt Nathanson (2009)
"Friday," Rebecca Black (2011)
Before streaming joined the Hot 100's data pool, sales and (minimal) airplay weren't enough to send the impossibly perky song higher than No. 58. Sure, its vocals made it the subject of countless parodies, but the original has garnered a whopping 75 million worldwide YouTube clicks. Meanwhile, Black actually charted higher with her follow-up: "Saturday" (what else follows Friday?) reached No. 55 in 2013 (after streaming had begun contributing to the Hot 100).
"Mexican Radio," Wall of Voodoo (1983)
"The Metro," Berlin (1983)
"Always and Forever," Luther Vandross (1995)
"What's My Age Again?," Blink-182 (1999)
"Taking You Home," Don Henley (2000)
"Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble," D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (1988)
In 1986, the pair's debut single stopped at No. 81 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and failed to dent the Hot 100. After the success of "Parents Just Don't Understand" (No. 12 on the Hot 100) and "A Nightmare on My Street" (No. 15), a re-release of this track produced a No. 57 peak in December 1988. By then, Yo! MTV Raps had debuted, furthering the genre's launch into the mainstream, and Will Smith, who in 1990 would begin starring in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was on his way to becoming the multi-media renaissance man we know today.
"Wheel in the Sky," Journey (1978)
"The Downeaster 'Alexa'," Billy Joel (1990)
"Passionate Kisses," Mary Chapin Carpenter (1993)
"Babylon," David Gray (2001)
"Everything Is Awesome!!!," Tegan and Sara feat. the Lonely Island (2014)
"I Am the Walrus," the Beatles (1967)
John Lennon received a letter from a student who had been assigned to analyze the Fab Four's lyrics. Finding humor that an educator was so deeply combing the band's songs for meaning, Lennon intentionally wrote this admittedly nonsensical song. "Walrus" was released as the B-side to the three-week Hot 100 No. 1 "Hello Goodbye."
"Rock Lobster," the B-52's (1980)
"Goodnight Saigon," Billy Joel (1983)
"Hot for Teacher," Van Halen (1984)
"Ready to Go," Republica (1996)
"Butterfly Fly Away," Miley Cyrus & Billy Ray Cyrus (2009)
"Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down," Alicia Keys (2009)
After the original "Empire," with Jay Z, topped the Hot 100 for five weeks, Keys offered a very different solo version, turning the smash into a ballad. The change also made its catchy chorus, now free of rap, playable on AC radio, and the new incarnation reached No. 18 on Adult Contemporary. "A great song is a great song," Keys told Billboard in 2012. "It really doesn't matter the bedding behind it. What matters is something that people can relate to, in a beautiful melody."
"Limelight," Rush (1981)
"Just Be Good to Me," the S.O.S. Band (1983)
"Right Now," Van Halen (1992)
"Only Happy When It Rains," Garbage (1996)
"Criminal," Britney Spears (2011)
"And She Was," Talking Heads (1985)
Ground-breaking in the evolution of new wave, the David Byrne-led group reached the Hot 100's top 10 only with "Burning Down the House" (No. 9) in 1983. The band's last chart entry, "Wild Wild Life," yielded its second-best peak (No. 25). Talking Heads were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
"Ribbon in the Sky," Stevie Wonder (1982)
"Give Peace a Chance," the Peace Choir (1991)
"But It's Alright," Huey Lewis & the News (1994)
"Steady, As She Goes," the Raconteurs (2006)
"Work," Iggy Azalea (2014)
"New Year's Day," U2 (1983)
U2 made its Hot 100 introduction with this song, which entered at No. 90 on April 2, 1983. The rest is chart history: 33 Hot 100 hits, seven Billboard 200 No. 1s, U.S. album sales of 51.5 million, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America, and 22 Grammy Awards, the most of any rock band. "We don't want to ever be a heritage act," the Edge said last year. "Frank Lloyd Wright, to the day he died, was designing the most incredible things. We want to be that, rather than grow old gracefully."
"I Should Have Known Better," the Beatles (1964)
"If I Fell," the Beatles (1964)
"I Will Always Love You," Dolly Parton (1982)
"Amish Paradise," Weird Al Yankovic (1996)
"Angels," Robbie Williams (2000)
"The Rising," Bruce Springsteen (2002)
Springsteen's like-titled album became his first collection of all-new material to crown the Billboard 200 since 1987, and this first single topped Adult Alternative Songs for three weeks. Still, the track's 9/11 imagery transcends any chart achievements. By decade's end, the song kicked off "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial." When the Boss was feted at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009, the President described him as "the quiet kid from Jersey ... who grew up to become the rock 'n' roll laureate of a generation."
"Theme From Dynasty," Bill Conti (1982)
"Closer to Fine," Indigo Girls (1989)
"If You Could Read My Mind," Stars on 54: Ultra Nate, Amber, Jocelyn Enriquez (1998)
"Could I Have This Kiss Forever," Whitney Houston & Enrique Iglesias (2000)
"Girls Chase Boys," Ingrid Michaelson (2014)
"Stan," Eminem featuring Dido (2000)
The story of an obsessed fan not only became an Eminem classic, but it also jumpstarted Dido's career. The song it samples, Dido's "Thank You," subsequently soared to No. 3. In 2011, Dido's first son was born. His name? Stanley. She says, however, that it's not a tribute to the song. Still, "I don't mind people thinking that, because it was such a great period in my life."
"Electric Boogie," Marcia Griffiths (1990)
"Landslide," Fleetwood Mac (1998)
"My Own Worst Enemy," Lit (1999)
"Somebody Told Me," the Killers (2005)
"Do You Want to Build a Snowman?," Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee & Katie Lopez (2014)
Up next, on Jan. 20, part 3: Nos. 50-26