May 2011 bring you health, happiness and prosperity.
On Billboard charts, however, the number 11 is often synonymous with frustration.
“No one wants to wind up at No. 2, 6 or 11, but of those, No. 11 is probably the worst,” says Adrian Moreira, RCA/J/Arista Records senior vice president/adult music.
“If you peak at No. 2, at least you can brag about reaching the top five. If you hit No. 6, a label can still market a track and/or artist as ‘top 10.’
“But, if you peak at the dreaded No. 11, then the best you can boast is ‘top 15,’ which obviously doesn’t sound as prestigious.”
Moreira notes that numerous variables can prevent a title from entering the coveted top 10 range, from stronger competition to spotty audience research, “with luck and timing playing pivotal roles alongside a promotion team’s strategy.
“Whatever the reasons, a No. 11 peak is always a bummer. As my dad used to say, ‘close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades’.”
Still, a song’s highest position on a Billboard chart doesn’t always determine its legacy.
Countless hits at various formats have outshined their runs as current songs, from Van Morrison‘s rock classic “Moondance,” a No. 92 Billboard Hot 100 entry in 1977, to Corinne Bailey Rae‘s Grammy Award-nominated “Put Your Records On” (No. 64, 2006).
As we ring in ’11, Chart Beat is celebrating songs that, despite stopping short at No. 11 on Billboard charts, have become ubiquitous.
Each week in January, we’ll spotlight 11 such smashes, starting with tracks that fell one spot shy of the top 10 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
“Donna,” Ritchie Valens, 1959
Though just 17 “The Day the Music Died,” Valens authored a songbook that ensured his standing as a pioneer of Latin rock. He posthumously earned enshrinement in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
“Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer,” Nat “King” Cole, 1963
Cole’s light-hearted seasonal anthem fared even better on the Hot 100, reaching No. 6, marking his second of two top 10s. “Ramblin’ Rose” had reached No. 2 a year earlier.
“Everlasting Love,” Carl Carlton, 1974
Robert Knight reached No. 14 with this dance classic in 1967 seven years before Carlton propelled it to the doorstep of the top 10. In 1995, Gloria Estefan‘s version peaked at No. 27 on the Hot 100 – six years after U2 put an unexpected alternative spin on the song.
“Shadow Dancing,” Andy Gibb, 1978
The only solo male to send his first three Hot 100 chart entries to No. 1, Gibb scored his highest rank on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs with this track, which also stands as his biggest Hot 100 hit (seven weeks at No. 1).
“Just Once,” James Ingram, 1981
Despite the song’s No. 11 finish, the silky-voiced singer reached the top 10 on his next try, “One Hundred Ways.” The singles, from Quincy Jones’ album “The Dude,” marked the first two of Ingram’s 20 R&B/Hip-Hop Songs entries, a sum that includes the 1990 No. 1 “The Secret Garden,” also helmed by Jones. The same year, Ingram topped the Hot 100 with “I Don’t Have the Heart.”
“I Would Die 4 U,” Prince and the Revolution, 1985
“I Would Die 4 U” has refused to do just that. In its favor: pop radio success (No. 8, Hot 100) and its inclusion in the film “Purple Rain.” The movie’s soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 for 24 weeks
“Cross My Broken Heart,” the Jets, 1987
The Wolfgramm family band had tallied three prior top 10s – “Curiosity” (No. 8), “Crush on You” (No. 4) and “You Got It All” (No. 2) – and added the No. 5-peaking “Rocket 2 U” a year later. “Cross My Broken Heart,” a No. 7 Hot 100 hit, received added exposure from its placement in the Eddie Murphy blockbuster “Beverly Hills Cop II.”
“I’ll Be There,” Mariah Carey, 1992
The ballad from “MTV Unplugged” seemed destined for the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs top 10: the Jackson 5‘s 1970 original had spent six weeks at No. 1 and Carey had carried her previous seven singles to the top tier. Still, it became her sixth of 18 Hot 100 No. 1s, the most among solo artists.
“Nobody Knows,” the Tony Rich Project, 1996
Rich, born Antonio Jeffries, found greater success on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary (No. 2 peak on each) with his debut ballad. Kevin Sharp’s cover led Country Songs for four weeks in 1997.
“The Real Slim Shady,” Eminem, 2000
Billboard’s top R&B/hip-hop artist of 2010 didn’t reach the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs top 10 until his 17th entry, “Lose Yourself,” rose to No. 4 in 2002. Two No. 11 hits paved the way: this self-esteem affirmation and “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” (2002).
“SexyBack,” Justin Timberlake, 2006
Like Eminem, Timberlake also notched two No. 11-peaking R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hits before inking his first top 10 (“My Love,” No. 2, 2006): “Cry Me a River” (2003) and this pop culture juggernaut, his first Hot 100 No. 1 (seven weeks) and the 2007 Grammy Award winner for best dance recording.