Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to email@example.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
1 VS. 100, AND 200
I was pleasantly surprised to see Sara Bareilles enter the Billboard 200 this week with her latest project, “Kaleidoscope Heart,” but even more surprised to see her 2008 release, “Little Voice,” re-enter the chart at, of all positions, No. 200!
Has any other artist ever achieved this incredibly coincidental feat? For that matter, has an artist ever topped and “bottomed” the Billboard Hot 100 chart?
As Bareilles celebrates her first No. 1 on the Billboard 200, she adds the quirky chart achievement that you note, as well!
In researching the Billboard 200’s archives back to the chart’s conversion to Nielsen SoundScan data in May 1991, only once before has an artist bookended the chart. On the survey dated Oct. 18, 2008, T.I. debuted at No. 1 with “Paper Trail,” while “T.I. Vs T.I.P.” re-entered at No. 200. The latter set had reigned for two weeks in 2007.
Because our computerized archives are more all-encompassing for the Hot 100, I was able to fairly easily scour the chart’s weekly top and bottom spots every week dating to the chart’s Aug. 4, 1958, inception. It turns out that the same artist has held down the apex and anchor positions just seven times (or, a miniscule .003% of the 2,721 weekly Hot 100 charts to-date).
Here is a recap of the seven artists to score such a random chart coincidence on the Hot 100. The last time the oddity occurred was when Flo Rida ranked at No. 1 with “Low” and No. 100 with “Elevator.” (Based on their meanings, shouldn’t the titles have been reversed?)
Chart Date: Feb. 11, 1984
Artist: Culture Club
No. 1: “Karma Chameleon”
No. 100: “Church of the Poison Mind”
Chart Date: Feb. 6, 1988
No. 1: “Could’ve Been”
No. 100: “I Think We’re Alone Now”
Chart Date: Jan. 14, 1989
Artist: Bobby Brown
No. 1: “My Prerogative”
No. 100: “Don’t Be Cruel”
Chart Date: July 1, 1989
Artist: Milli Vanilli
No. 1: “Baby, Don’t Forget My Number”
No. 100: “Girl You Know It’s True”
Chart Date: Sept. 14, 1991
Artist: Paula Abdul
No. 1: “The Promise of a New Day”
No. 100: “Rush Rush”
Chart Date: Oct. 29, 2005
Artist: Kanye West
No. 1: “Gold Digger” (featuring Jamie Foxx)
No. 100: “Heard ‘Em Say” (featuring Adam Levine)
Chart Date: March 1, 2008
Artist: Flo Rida
No. 1: “Low” (featuring T-Pain)
No. 100: “Elevator” (featuring Timbaland)
Of the seven artists above, Tiffany and Abdul both ranked at Nos. 1 and 100 simultaneously with then-current and former Hot 100 chart-toppers.
Ultimately, the feat of bookending the Billboard 200 or Hot 100 is incredibly random. The smallest of point differences on either chart could just as easily move a title to No. 99, 199, or off either survey.
Despite the past rarities, we could see more occurrences of this coincidence going forward. Since the Billboard 200 has included catalog titles since last December, it is easier for multiple albums by an artist to chart concurrently. Likewise, on the Hot 100, the era of digital tracks makes it less arduous for album tracks to appear.
Still, the feat is very much a luck of the draw, and, in this case, adds an extra highlight to Bareilles’ impressive week.
TWICE AS NICE
I have noticed that lately there have been quite a few top 10 hits on the Hot 100 that share the same title as previous top 10s, i.e, “California Gurls,” despite the spelling difference, by Katy Perry and the Beach Boys; “I Like It” by Enrique Iglesias and Dino; and, “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars and Billy Joel.
My question is, has there ever been a time in chart history when two different songs with the same title have charted in the top 10 simultaneously? The closest I can think of is 1990, when En Vogue and Wilson Phillips charted that year with songs called “Hold On.” I’m just not sure if they placed in the top 10 at the same time.
High Point, North Carolina
Like the question above, your observation points to another angle that we proud chart geeks find so interesting.
The two songs entitled “Hold On” that you note did, in fact, appear in the Hot 100’s top 10 together, on the charts dated June 23, June 30 and July 7, 1990. On the June 30 list, they even ranked back-to-back, with Wilson Phillips at No. 4 and En Vogue at No. 5. Even more coincidentally, Madonna‘s “Vogue” shared top 10 space with En Vogue for the first of those three weeks.
That wasn’t the first time that titles doubled up in the top 10. Cheap Trick and, in another uncommon chart feat, Bobby Brown each charted in the top tier with songs entitled “Don’t Be Cruel” the weeks of Oct. 15 and 22, 1988. On the latter list, Brown placed at No. 8 and Cheap Trick showed directly below at No. 9.
A look back at Paul Grein’s “Chart Beat” column from Oct. 15, 1988, confirms that never before had two identical titles inked top 10 rankings in the same week. (Grein credited reader Matt Wilson for noting the match. Chart-watcher Tony Cardone noticed the “Hold On” happenstance two years later).
The same titles have appeared in the top 10 together only once since. Unlike with the previous examples, however, Bo Bice and Carrie Underwood charted simultaneously in the top bracket with the same composition. The 2005 “American Idol” runner-up and winner, respectively, placed at Nos. 2 and 3 with “Inside Your Heaven” the week of July 9, 2005. That week, Bice’s version of the ballad debuted at No. 2, while Underwood’s dipped 1-2. The songs also ranked in the top 10 the following frame.
HEART AND SOLD
Last week, veteran rock band Heart (an absolute favorite of mine), debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 with “Red Velvet Car,” logging its first top 10 entry in more than 20 years. Until last week, the group had managed to chart on the Billboard 200 with the following sets during the SoundScan era:
“Rock the House! Live,” No. 107 (1991)
“Desire Walks On,” No. 48 (1993)
“The Road Home,” No. 87 (1995)
“These Dreams: Heart’s Greatest Hits,” No. 131 (1997)
“Jupiter’s Darling,” No. 94 (2004)
Getting to my question, “Red Velvet Car” sold 27,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, in its debut week. I’m interested in knowing the sales figures for the band’s other chart entries in their peak weeks, in order to compare how sales then contrast to sales now.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
Alex D. Falcone
It’s true that albums can chart in the top 10 now with sales totals that years earlier would’ve ranked them much lower.
Here is an analysis of the sales of Heart’s charted albums since 1991 in the weeks in which they peaked on the Billboard 200:
9,000, “Rock the House! Live”
27,000, “Desire Walks On”
11,000, “The Road Home”
9,000, “These Dreams – Heart’s Greatest Hits”
12,000, “Jupiter’s Darling”
Thus, Heart’s latest album debuted at No. 10 with sales of 27,000; the same rounded-off sum resulted in a No. 48 peak 17 years earlier (although the new set’s actual total was slightly higher).
As Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield pointed out, overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 12) totaled 4.83 million units – the lowest weekly sales figure since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.