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Ask Billboard: Latest Greatest Hits, Part 2

Readers continue to discuss Britney Spears' "3" and other songs, including those by Donna Summer, that became hits as new cuts on best-of albums.

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


After Britney Spears topped the Billboard Hot 100 last week with “3,” a new song from her forthcoming “The Singles Collection,” readers stirred the discussion of other greatest hits albums whose new material attained similar smash status.


As always, Chart Beat readers stepped up and added to the list. Thanks to you, here are more e-mails noting new songs from best-of collections that became hits on the Hot 100.

Hi Gary,

In response to Patrick Kelly’s e-mail last week regarding greatest hits packages containing new Hot 100 hits, I am reminded of:

No. 1, “Lady,” Kenny Rogers, 1980
No. 2, “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” Air Supply, 1983
No. 3, “Make Me Lose Control,” Eric Carmen, 1988

As a child growing up in the ’80s, I was always skeptical of artists releasing new material on greatest hits projects, but it seems that these folks knew what they were doing.


Chris Sammond
Hamilton, Ohio


Hot 100 top 10s from hits collections that immediately come to mind are “Say It Isn’t So” (No. 2) and “Adult Education” (No. 8) by Hall & Oates, from 1983’s “Rock N Soul, Part I.” In fact, I wonder how many hits packages have yielded two top 10 original hits other than Hall & Oates’ set and Madonna‘s “The Immaculate Collection” (“Justify My Love,” No. 1, “Rescue Me,” No. 9).

Bob Ridge
Fishers, Indiana

Hi Gary,

Here are more cases of greatest hits albums that produced new top fives on the Hot 100:

“Heart Attack” (No. 3, 1982), from Olivia Newton-John‘s “Greatest Hits Vol. 2”

“No More Tears (Enough Is Enough),” with Barbra Streisand (No. 1, 1979) and “On the Radio” (No. 5, 1980) from Donna Summer‘s “On the Radio – Greatest Hits Volumes I & II.” (The former song was also released on Streisand’s album “Wet” at the same time as Summer’s hits set; both debuted on the Billboard 200 the week of Nov. 3, 1979).

Olivia, Barbra, Donna … now we’re talking divas!

Thomas Bart
New York, New York


Donna Summer hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in fall 1978 with “MacArthur Park.” The song was from her double album, “Live and More,” which contained three sides of previously-released material, as performed in concert. The fourth side featured all-new material, recorded in a studio, and contained “MacArthur Park.” So, while not a traditional greatest hits set, per se, it is an example of a collection containing mostly hit songs plus new music that also became popular.


Andy Ray
Indianapolis, Indiana

Hi Gary,

Regarding your listing of Chicago‘s “What Kind of Man Would I Be?” in last week’s “Ask Billboard,” the song was released as a single from the band’s “Greatest Hits 1982-1989” album and reached No. 5 on the Hot 100 the week of Feb. 24, 1990. It was, however, initially available on the album “19,” so it’s debatable as to whether or not that would count as a new song from a hits compilation.

John Maverick
Burt County, Nebraska

Hi John,

You’re correct, the track was first offered on “19” in 1988, but it was not released as a single. Since the song was remixed, however, for its inclusion on the subsequent hits package, I remembered it as a new song, so thanks for the clarification. Not sure how I missed the key details on that, since “19” contains three of my favorite Chicago songs: “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love,” “Look Away” and “You’re Not Alone.”


Dear Gary,

Miley Cyrus‘ “Party in the U.S.A.” references Jay-Z and Britney Spears in its lyrics. On this week’s Billboard Hot 100, the three artists line up back-to-back-to-back: Cyrus’ song ranks at No. 3, followed by “Run This Town” by Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West at No. 4 and Spears’ “3” at No. 5.

I was curious about other times that artists on simultaneous top 10 hits were similarly mentioned. The instances I have found:

“Let’s Think About Living” by Bob Luman ranked at No. 7 on Oct. 24, 1960, when “So Sad” by the Everly Brothers was at No. 8. The former song features the lyric, “And Cath’s Clown has Don and Phil.”

“Life Is a Rock” by Reunion placed at Nos. 9 and 8 on Nov. 9 and 16, 1974, while “Back Home Again” by John Denver was at No. 5 both weeks. In its hit, Reunion sang of “Denver, John.”

And, if I’m feeling really generous, “Ringo” by Lorne Greene was at No. 3 on Dec. 12, 1964, while “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles was at No. 5, and both songs remained in the top 10 the next two weeks.

Perhaps your readers can find other lyrical chart coincidences?

JonMichael Rasmus
Madison, Wisconsin

Hi JonMichael,

After contributing the information above about new hits from best-of albums, it looks like Chart Beat readers are going right back to work!

Another fun topic. Thanks for the research.

I can think of a couple of examples that just missed: Smokey Robinson spent four weeks in the top 10 in June/July 1987 with “Just to See Her.” In September/October that year, ABC also spent four weeks in the top tier with its tribute, “When Smokey Sings.”

On Oct. 3 and 10, 1998, Barenaked Ladies‘ “One Week” rose 3-2. The same two weeks, LeAnn Rimes spent her last two frames on the Hot 100 with her former top 10, “How Do I Live.” BNL’s song, among its many quirky shoutouts, referenced Rimes.

And, a potential connection: When Lou Bega sang, in “Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of …),” “A little bit of Tina is what I see / A little bit of Jessica here I am,” could he have been alluding to Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson, both of whom notched top 10s concurrently with Bega? (This is perhaps the first time the lyrics of “Mambo No. 5” have provoked such in-depth philosophizing).

Readers, please feel free, once again, to offer your expertise and cite further such examples.


Hi Gary,

My question comes amid the success Maxwell is enjoying with “Pretty Wings” on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

After an eight-year absence, his first outing at radio has rocketed to the pinnacle of the chart, denying a slew of upbeat club-bangers a chance at the top spot.

When was the last time there was such a male dominance atop R&B/Hip-Hop Songs? This year, we’ve seen a double-digit No. 1 run for Jamie Foxx‘s “Blame It” (14 weeks), as well as reigns by Jeremih with “Birthday Sex” (two weeks) and Drake with “Best I Ever Had” (six weeks).

Shattering the performance of his first No. 1, 1998’s “Fortunate” (eight weeks), “Pretty Wings” is now by far Maxwell’s most successful single.

Even in 2009, a lyrically-engaging song with a memorable melody and real instruments can still connect with today’s audience.


Troy Lilly
Washington, D.C.

Hi Troy,

Solo males have occupied the top position on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for 35 of the 44 chart weeks in 2009. That’s the highest sum of weeks at No. 1 on the chart for men since 1997, when solo male artists also led for 35 weeks.

How big a hit is “Pretty Wings” in the scope of the chart’s history? Since Billboard published its first all-encompassing R&B chart on Oct. 20, 1958 (separate sales and disc jockey charts existed before then), only seven songs have held the No. 1 spot for at least 12 weeks (all since 1994, during the era of Nielsen SoundScan sales and BDS airplay data).

Here are the select seven (and the year each title reached No. 1):

15 weeks, “Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige (2006)
14 weeks, “Blame It,” Jamie Foxx featuring T-Pain (2009)
14 weeks, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” Deborah Cox (1998)
14 weeks, “We Belong Together,” Mariah Carey (2005)
12 weeks, “Bump N’ Grind,” R. Kelly (1994)
12 weeks, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” Beyonce (2008)
12 weeks, “Pretty Wings,” Maxwell (2009)

Your e-mail coincides with the 67th anniversary of the R&B chart’s first appearance in Billboard, in the issue dated Oct. 24, 1942.

Here is the top 10 on the maiden chart, which was entitled “The Billboard’s Harlem Hit Parade,” and defined as the “most popular records in Harlem, based on sales reports from Rainbow Music Shop, Harvard Radio Shop, Lehman Music Company, Harlem De Luxe Music Store, Ray’s Music Shop and Frank’s Melody Music Shop, New York”:

No. 1, “Take It and Git,” Andy Kirk
No. 2, “Trav’lin Light,” Paul Whiteman-Billie Holiday
No. 3, “Mr. Five by Five,” Freddie Slack
No. 4, “Stormy Monday Blues,” Earl Hines
No. 5, “I’m Gonna Love You at the Outskirts of Town,” Louis Jordan
No. 6, “When the Lights Go on Again,” Lucky Millinder
No. 7, “Don’t Get Around Much,” Four Ink Spots
No. 8, “Let’s Be Friends,” Lil Green
No. 9, “Every Night About This Time,” Four Ink Spots
No. 10, “Just as Though You Were Here,” Four Ink Spots