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Ask Billboard: Katy Perry Regains No. 1 Momentum

A monster mailbag on Perry topping the Hot 100 again after missing the top 10; Mariah Carey's best-selling songs; Hall & Oates' 20 biggest hits and more.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary,
Katy Perry’s “PRISM” album now has three hit singles: the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “Roar,” followed by the No. 14-peaking “Unconditionally” and third single “Dark Horse,” which has now reigned for three weeks so far.

This is an interesting pattern that surprisingly has surfaced quite a few times in Hot 100 history: a non-top 10 radio-promoted single sandwiched between two No. 1s, all from the same album. I guess it goes to show that it an artist or label can’t always predict the best song to release as a follow-up to a No. 1 smash.

Here are the examples that I’ve found in the Hot 100’s 55 years of existence. Are there other such instances that I’ve overlooked?

Roxette “Look Sharp!” (1989)
“The Look” (No. 1, one week)
“Dressed For Success” (No. 14)
“Listen to Your Heart” (No. 1, one week)

Enrique Iglesias, “Enrique” (1999-2000)
“Bailamos” (No. 1, two weeks)
“Rhythm Divine” (No. 32)*
“Be With You” (No. 1, three weeks)

Destiny’s Child, “The Writing’s on the Wall” (1999-2000)
“Bills, Bills, Bills” (No. 1, one week)
“Bug a Boo” (No. 33)*
“Say My Name” (No. 1, three weeks)

*”Bug a Boo” was not released as a commercial CD or cassette single, and “Rhythm Divine” was released only as a 12″ maxi single. So, these two songs surely would’ve fared better on the Hot 100 had they been given proper commercial releases.

Nelly Furtado, “Loose” (2006-07)
“Promiscuous” (featuring Timbaland) (No. 1, six weeks)
“Maneater” (No. 16)
“Say It Right” (No. 1, one week)

Rihanna, “Good Girl Gone Bad/Reloaded” (2008)
“Take a Bow” (No. 1, one week)
“If I Never See Your Face Again” (Maroon 5 featuring Rihanna) (No. 51)**
“Disturbia” (No. 1, two weeks)

**One could argue that this was a Maroon 5 single, as Rihanna was a featured artist on it, but since it was also on Rihanna’s album, I think this could count.

Katy Perry, “PRISM” (2013-14)
“Roar” (No. 1, two weeks)
“Unconditionally” (No. 14)
“Dark Horse” (featuring Juicy J) (No. 1, three weeks to date)

And, how about some honorable mentions?
Prior to airplay-only songs being able to chart on the Hot 100 as of Dec. 5, 1998, some artists scored airplay-only hits that were ineligible to chart on the Hot 100, in between No. 1s. Had they been commercially released, they could have likely vied for the chart’s highest ranks.

Two examples:

Mariah Carey, “Butterfly” (1997-98)
“Honey” (No. 1 Hot 100, three weeks)
“Butterfly” (No. 16 Hot 100 Airplay; chart now called Radio Songs)
“Breakdown” (featuring Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone) (No. 53 Hot 100 Airplay)
“My All” (No. 1 Hot 100, one week)

Brandy, “Never Say Never” (1998-99)
“The Boy Is Mine” (Brandy & Monica) (No. 1. Hot 100, 13 weeks)
“Top of the World” (featuring Ma$e) (No. 44 Hot 100 Airplay)
“Have You Ever” (No. 1 Hot 100, two weeks)

And, two more examples regarding songs promoted to only specific radio formats, a strategy that has historically affected how they performed on the Hot 100 … or didn’t at all:

Whitney Houston, “Whitney Houston” (1985-86)
“Saving All My Love for You” (No. 1)
“Thinking About You” (did not chart on Hot 100; promoted to R&B radio only)
“How Will I Know” (No. 1)

Rihanna, “Loud” (2010-11)
“What’s My Name?” (featuring Drake) (No. 1 Hot 100, one week)
“Raining Men” (featuring Nicki Minaj) (promoted to R&B/hip-hop radio)
“S&M” (No. 1 Hot 100, one week)

Kindest regards,

Tyler Andrade
Toronto, Ontario

Mmm … No. 1 sandwiches …

Tyler, the creator of one of the most insightful “Ask Billboard” emails in recent memory! And, a fun, chart-rank intensive angle upon which the Chart Beat column was founded (by Paul Grein) in 1981.

With Iglesias, Destiny’s Child and Carey, you covered the part about how, between the Hot 100’s December 1998 inclusion of non-commercial singles to before the advent of downloads contributing to the chart the week of Feb. 12, 2005, it was not uncommon for acts to sandwich No. 1s around lower-peaking hits that received limited commercial releases, or Radio Songs-only hits that were promoted to radio but not released commercially at all.

In other cases, and more at the heart of the topic, some in-between non-top 10s simply didn’t perform as well on the Hot 100 as their predecessors or follow-ups. In Roxette’s case, I can see the logic of “Dressed for Success” succeeding “The Look,” as it took the duo from its edgier debut hit to a more pure-pop follow-up (closer to the pair’s core sound). “Success,” thus, led the way for the act’s segue to AC radio with ballad “Listen to Your Heart.” Had Roxette’s label, EMI, gone to directly from “Look” to “Listen,” it might’ve been a more jarring transition, even if “Listen” seems like the more obvious hit single.

As for Iglesias and Furtado, you could make the case that “Be With You” and “Say It Right” are just better/more commercial songs than “Rhythm Divine” and “Maneater” (with no major shifts in the acts’ core sounds, a la Roxette’s flow to a softer style on “Heart”) and probably should’ve been respective second singles, given their strength and, obviously, eventual No. 1 ranks.

With Perry, Capitol has noted that “Unconditionally” is a Perry “PRISM” favorite and that the label allows artists to choose singles (with significant label input). Perhaps she let her heart overrule any more logical thinking that “Horse” might’ve been a better follow-up to “Roar”?

It’s also worth noting that the concept of what a single is has changed in the digital era. Traditionally, a single is a track released commercially and promoted to radio – often with, since the dawn of the MTV era, an official video; the last component is now even more important than ever chart-wise, since last year’s addition of YouTube data to the Hot 100’s weekly formula. But, now that songs are often released as preview tracks leading up to album releases, they can become known without radio promotion or proper video clips. Among those recently? “Horse.” That’s partly why the song achieved the rare feat of debuting on Billboard’s Nielsen BDS-based Pop Songs airplay chart before it was an official single. “From Shazam rankings to retail to research, ‘Dark Horse’ has actually outperformed ‘Unconditionally’,” WJFX Fort Wayne, Ind., program director Brooke Taylor told Chart Beat in December when the station was playing ‘Horse’ before Capitol had serviced it to radio. “It also might be forgotten that ‘Dark Horse’ was a fan-selected favorite in a recent Pepsi/MTV Video Music Awards promotion,” Taylor added.

If there’s a lesson to be learned for labels and artists regarding how best to follow a No. 1, it could be that we have more research than ever before to help make an informed decision. In 1989, EMI largely had to rely on its gut in selecting a second “Look Sharp!” single. (Interestingly, there was another choice that might’ve worked well: “Dangerous.” Similar to “Success” in its sound, it reached No. 2 as the album’s fourth single.) Now, from digital sales of album tracks to plays on streaming services to social media commentary, it’s likely more evident what album tracks are buzz-worthy and, thus, more apt to make for smart single picks.

Tyler, you asked about other instances you might’ve missed. This one just falls shy of qualifying, but the Bangles reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 in 1986 with “Manic Monday,” the first single from their commercial breakthrough album “Different Light.” Follow-up “If She Knew What She Wants” peaked at No. 29 before third single “Walk Like an Egyptian” not only spent four weeks at No. 1 but also became Billboard’s top single of 1987. Hard to fault Columbia Records for not going with “Egyptian” second, given the song’s offbeat nature. Plus, “Wants” is a more classically-structured pop song (written by Jules Shear, who also wrote Cyndi Lauper’s No. 5 Hot 100 hit “All Through the Night”).

I’ll also point to two notable examples on Hot Country Songs, which I followed especially loyally in the ’90s (my favorite era for the format). Garth Brooks followed the No. 1 Hot Country Songs ballad “She’s Every Woman,” the lead single from his 1995 album “Fresh Horses” – how’s that for a nice coincidental tie-in to “Dark Horse”! – with “The Fever,” which peaked at No. 23. Then, he returned to the summit with next single “The Beaches of Cheyenne.” The album’s yo-yo chart pattern continued with its third, fourth and fifth singles: “The Change” (No. 19), “It’s Midnight Cinderella” (No. 5) and “That Ol’ Wind” (No. 4).

By the way, I asked Billboard’s Nashville-based senior chart manager Wade Jessen what he recalls about “The Fever.” Here’s his front-line take: “At the time of its release in 1995, ‘Fresh Horses’ was Brooks’ first set of new material in more than two years. Expectations for hit singles ran high, and the lead single, ‘She’s Every Woman,’ quickly rose to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs. The second track was a partially re-written cover of Aerosmith’s ‘The Fever,’ with the rock-star narrative altered to that of a rodeo cowboy, and aimed at Brooks’ blue-collar fan base. Although ‘Fever’ was a huge success as a show opener at Brooks’ concerts, the frenetic energy that the song provoked in concert arenas didn’t ultimately translate to the airwaves. The chart was solely driven by radio airplay in those days, and the song peaked at No. 23.”

And, one more example from around the same time: Patty Loveless bookended the No. 13-peaking “A Thousand Times a Day” with the great No. 1s “You Can Feel Bad” and “Lonely Too Long” from her 1996 album “The Trouble With the Truth.”

In all, this intriguing topic reinforces that predicting hits, despite all the research now available, will surely remain an inexact science, because music is, after all, art, not science. The beauty is in finding out how songs connect with fans once they’re released, an emotional equation that’s central to the joyous experience of listening to music.

NEXT: Mariah Carey’s best-selling songs

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary,

With Mariah Carey releasing a new single last week, can you tell us what her top 10-selling digital songs are?

Thank you,

Matt Kay
Boston, Massachusetts

Hi Matt,

With the ballad “You’re Mine (Eternal),” and its video, having arrived on Wednesday (Feb. 12), we’ll see its impact on this coming week’s Hot 100 and other charts. Island Def Jam has also set Feb. 24 as its target date for airplay at mainstream top 40, rhythmic, mainstream R&B/hip-hop, adult R&B and adult top 40 radio. Still, more than 175 stations played it (for a total of more than 550 plays), since its release, according to Nielsen BDS, and it’s already “New & Active” as one of the 10 closest titles making their way toward the Pop Songs airplay chart.

I like the song, which reminds me a lot of her 2005 14-week Hot 100 No. 1 “We Belong Together” – Billboard’s No. 1 song of the 2000s. “Mine” previews Carey’s new studio album, due May 6. (For more about Carey’s new music, and the lengthy wait for it, check out Gail Mitchell’s in-depth story in the new issue of Billboard magazine).

Upon the new song’s launch, let’s actually look back not only at Carey’s 10 best-selling downloads, but also her 10 top-selling physical (CD/cassette) singles, according to Nielsen SoundScan, since her career began with 1990’s “Vision of Love,” long before the advent of digital tracks.

2,810,000, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”
1,764,000, “Obsessed”
1,679,000, “We Belong Together”
1,622,000, “Touch My Body”
1,185,000, “#Beautiful” (featuring Miguel)
890,000, “Always Be My Baby”
829,000, “Shake It Off”
668,000, “Hero”
640,000, “Fantasy”
598,000, “Bye Bye”

Physical Singles:
2,335,000, “One Sweet Day” (with Boyz II Men)
1,605,000, “Fantasy”
1,484,000, “My All”
1,276,000, “Honey”
1,254,000, “Always Be My Baby”
1,145,000, “Hero”

935,000, “Dreamlover”
860,000, “I Still Believe”
855,000, “Heartbreaker” (featuring Jay Z)
687,000, “Thank God I Found You” (featuring Joe & 98 Degrees)

As for album sales, dating to the start of SoundScan tracking 1991, Carey is the third-best-selling album artist, with 54.2 million albums sold in the U.S. Garth Brooks leads with 69.5 million, ahead of runner-up the Beatles with 65.3 million. Metallica (54.2 million; slightly less than Carey’s total before rounding off) and Celine Dion (52.2 million) close out the top five.

NEXT: Happy 40th, Hall & Oates

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Dear Gary,

The Beatles aren’t the only ones celebrating a special anniversary this month. It was 40 years ago – Feb. 9, 1974 – that Daryl Hall & John Oates entered the Hot 100 for the first time with “She’s Gone.” It would end up peaking at No. 60, while, as a re-issue, it would reach No. 7 in 1976, after “Sara Smile” had risen to No. 4 earlier in 1976.

Hall & Oates eventually passed the Everly Brothers as the No. 1 charting duo of the rock era, and, on April 10, 2014, they will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I just wanted to pass this along to you and your readers.

Lisa Curry
Beachwood, New Jersey

Hi Lisa,

Great observation of another key chart anniversary. When Billboard ranked the top 55 artists of the Hot 100’s first 55 years last summer, Hall & Oates impressively ranked as the 17th-biggest act in the chart’s history; that spot makes their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction seem even more overdue than many fans – and even Hall himself – already believed.

In honor of 40 years since Hall & Oates’ maiden chart appearance, let’s celebrate by ranking the pair’s 20 biggest Hot 100 hits. Having reached the Hot 100 with 34 titles, the duo has tallied 16 top 10s, six of which reached No. 1.

(And, of course, “Kiss on My List” is on the list.)

Rank, Title, (Hot 100 Peak Pos., Year)
20, “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” (No. 18, 1985)

19, “Wait for Me” (No. 18, 1980)
18, “So Close” (No. 11, 1990)
17, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (No. 12, 1980)
16, “Family Man” (No. 6, 1983)
15, “Did It in a Minute” (No. 9, 1982)
14, “Adult Education” (No. 8, 1984)
13, “Method of Modern Love” (No. 5, 1985)
12, “One on One” (No. 7, 1983)
11, “You Make My Dreams” (No. 5, 1981)
10, “Everything Your Heart Desires” (No. 3, 1988)
9, “She’s Gone” (No. 7, 1976)
8, “Rich Girl” (No. 1, two weeks, 1977)
7, “Sara Smile” (No. 4, 1976)
6, “Say It Isn’t So” (No. 2, 1983)
5, “Kiss on My List” (No. 1, three weeks, 1981)
4, “Private Eyes” (No. 1, two weeks, 1981)
3, “Out of Touch” (No. 1, two weeks, 1984)
2, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” (No. 1, one week, 1982)

1, “Maneater” (No. 1, four weeks, 1982)

Daryl Hall & John Oates’ 20 biggest Billboard hits are based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from each era, certain time frames were weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those years.

NEXT: More Olympics Music

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


@gthot20 Hi Gary! Loved the Olympics-themed Chart Beat. I’d give an honorable mention to Nadia’s Theme, which hit No. 8 in ’76. It came from a movie, then Young & the Restless, but by playing it over Nadia Comaneci clips, Wide World of Sports made it a hit.

Mark Blankenship ?@IAmBlankenship

Thanks Mark,

Definitely an essential Olympics-related song. In fact, another emailer, Michael Pisauro, wrote about the track during the 2012 London Olympics and I included his email in “Ask Billboard” that year. From that email, here’s a little more background on the song:

“Cotton’s Dream,” a song originally written by Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr., for the 1971 film “Bless the Beasts and Children,” was re-worked two years later as the theme song for the TV soap opera “The Young and the Restless.” At the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci became the first woman ever to score a perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics. In a broadcast of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” the song accompanied a montage of Comaneci’s routines. After viewer inquiries about the music, the instrumental was released under a new title, “Nadia’s Theme (The Young and the Restless),” which reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1976.

As we watch the Sochi Olympics (Oshie Olympics?), we have a new Olympics-related track, as Gavin DeGraw has recorded “Everything Will Change,” the official song of Team USA 2014. Its video premiered on Jan. 21 on and the Team USA YouTube channel.

“I grew up watching the Olympics, and it’s a dream come true to have had this opportunity with Team USA,” DeGraw says. “I think the song fits because so many of us can relate to that desire to do what you love, put it down for a minute, then make that decision to get back on that horse, because life is really all about following your passions – sport, music or otherwise – and, in essence, that’s the pursuit of happiness for me.”

NEXT: More Fab Favorites

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20



Per the last two “Ask Billboard” columns about readers’ favorite Beatles songs, here are mine!

Favorite Beatles songs:
1, “And Your Bird Can Sing”
2, “Tomorrow Never Knows”
3, “Mother Nature’s Son”

Favorite Beatles cover songs:
1, Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”
2, Tina Turner’s “Get Back”

3, Judy Collins’ “In My Life”

And, favorite solo Beatles songs:
1, “With a Little Luck,” Wings
2, “Watching the Wheels,” John Lennon
3, “Live and Let Die,” Wings


Miles Wilks

Hi Gary,

What are my favourite Beatles songs? That’s a tough one to answer, since the list can change from one day to the next.

Right now, these would be my Fab Four faves:
“Eleanor Rigby” 
“I Saw Her Standing There” 
“When I’m Sixty-Four” 
“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” 
“Lady Madonna” 
“All My Lovin'” 
“Back in the U.S.S.R.” 
“Norwegian Wood”  

My favourite cover versions?
“You Won’t See Me,” Anne Murray 
“Ticket to Ride,” the Carpenters 
“Michelle,” David and Jonathan 
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the Jeff Healey Band 
“With a Little Help From My Friends,” Joe Cocker 

Favourite solo recordings:
Paul McCartney: “Mull of Kintyre”
John Lennon: “Beautiful Boy”

George Harrison: “What is Life”
Ringo Starr: “It Don’t Come Easy”

Favourite song about a Beatle: “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny),” Elton John, dedicated to his good friend John Lennon after Lennon’s death

And, favourite Beatles album: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” This album was a true original. It’s famous not only for its music, but also its cover, which included many historical figures and celebrities.  It is also the only Beatles album to win a Grammy Award for album of the year (1967).

Blair Buchta
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


I have always been a big fan of the Beatles, individually and collectively. Here are my favorites:

By the Beatles:
“Hello Goodbye”
“Penny Lane”
“I Want To Hold Your Hand”
“Can’t Buy Me Love”
“A Day in the Life”
“The Long and Winding Road”
“Helter Skelter”

Robin Gibb’s “Oh Darling”
Aerosmith’s “Come Together”
Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”
Rosanne Cash’s “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”
Anne Murray’s “You Won’t See Me”
The Carpenters’ “Help”
The Carpenters’ “Ticket to Ride”
“The Trial of Billy Jack” cast’s “Give Peace a Chance” (I know it’s a Lennon song, but I had to include it as a favorite.)

And, solo hits:
Paul McCartney/Wings: “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” “Let Me Roll It,” “Say Say Say,” “Give Ireland Back to the Irish,” “Wonderful Christmastime,” “Band on the Run”

John Lennon:
“#9 Dream,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” “Imagine,” “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”

George Harrison:
“What Is Life,” “My Sweet Lord,” “All Those Years Ago,” “Give Me Love,” “When We Was Fab”

Ringo Starr:
“Photograph,” “Back Off Boogaloo,” “No No Song,” “You’re Sixteen”

And … “It Don’t Come Easy,” my all-time favorite song by a member of the Beatles.

Thanks for allowing me to take that trip down memory lane.

Michael Marquardt, Sr.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

And, this email …


Here’s a connection: Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” is the No. 1 Hot 100 single as we’ve celebrated the 50th anniversary of the U.S. arrival of the Beatles. The Beatles’ George Harrison, of course, named his imprint Dark Horse and hit No. 15 with his song of the same name in 1975.

From Beatles to horses to KatyCats …

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California