Obviously, people mock Adult Contemporary radio. It’s called “vanilla” and bland. Tedious. Monotonic. Strictly for the elevator. We beg to differ: AC is absolutely captivating. And, to celebrate the chart’s 50th anniversary, we’ve ranked its 50 biggest stars.
Aside from being one of the most successful formats in the histories of recorded music and commercial radio, our AC chart is home to hall of famers, big-betters and hard rockers. Home to soulful sweethearts and songwriting superstars. AC isn’t a place songs go to die. As radio folks, songwriters and fans well know – AC is the place where stars go to live forever. (For all of the details on how this chart was compiled, scroll to the bottom of this page.)
Usually, if it’s a Perry we’re talking about on Billboard.com, it’s Katy. This time it’s Como, who charted 26 songs on the AC chart between 1962 and 1983 (a year before Katy was born). He notched three No. 1s.
In its “Rumours” heyday, the band was considered a bit too rock-y for AC radio, peaking as high as No. 11 in the ’70s with 1977’s “Dreams.” By the ’80s, however, the format had warmed to the group to the tune of three No. 1s. Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act’s count stands at 26 total AC appearances.
A handful of Christian music stars have crossed to repeated AC radio success, including Grant’s good friend Michael W. Smith, but none like Grant herself, who’s made 22 AC visits. She arrived with the No. 7-peaking “Find a Way” (written with Smith) in 1985.
Mathis tallied 49 AC hits between 1962 and 2003, having returned eight years ago with a festive version of “Frosty the Snowman.” He has the fifth-most appearances in the AC chart’s history.
The pop singer charted 25 AC hits, beginning in 1969. His second, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” spent seven weeks at No. 1 that year. Although it was credited as by Steve Dorff (the song’s co-writer) & Friends, Thomas and Dusty Springfield sang the 1988 No. 7-peaking “As Long as We Got Each Other,” aka, the theme song to the ABC sitcom “Growing Pains.”
The group’s harmonic vocals symbolized AC’s early “easy listening” era. The act placed 29 hits on the chart between 1961 and 1975, including 16 top 10s.
Of his 32 AC appearances, three of which resulted in No. 1 peaks, between 1962 and 1980, you probably know his last AC entry the best, even though it stopped at No. 37: the theme to another long-running ABC series, the campy classic “The Love Boat.”
The 5th Dimension
The R&B quintet had 22 AC hits, including 15 top 10s, five of which reached No. 1, between 1967 and 1975. The act’s Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. teamed up as husband and wife in 1969 and as a recording duo in 1976.
Perhaps surprisingly, her 1965 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “I Got You Babe” with then-husband Sonny Bono never reached the AC chart; the duo totaled three chart hits in 1971-72. As a soloist, Cher blossomed with 26 AC titles between 1971 and 2004, including 15 top 10s and two No. 1s, 1989’s “After All” with Peter Cetera and “If I Could Turn Back Time.”
As with Fleetwood Mac and Sonny & Cher, the Supremes were more of a top 40 than AC staple at the peak of their hit-making days, not charting until their last hit with Ross, “Someday We’ll Be Together” (No. 12) in 1969. Ross’ solo AC count? 30 hits, four of which reigned at No. 1.