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Ask Billboard: 21 More No. 21 Hits for ’21, From Britney Spears, U2, Adele & More

We're looking at 21 more No. 21-peaking Hot 100 hits, all of which reinforce that songs that peak shy of No. 1, or the top 20, can still endure long after their original runs.

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21 MORE No. 21 HITS FOR ’21

Fun flashback, Jake!

On Jan. 1, we published our annual New Year’s Day post, looking at the top 21 No. 21-peaking hits in the Billboard Hot 100‘s history. Salt-N-Pepa’s “Do You Want Me” ranks atop the tally, joined by hits from OneRepublic, Dan + Shay and more.


While not making that recap, Collins’ song remains memorable after reaching No. 21 on the Hot 100 in July 1999. The peak marked his best rank since 1990, when “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” became his 14th and most recent solo top 10. “Heart” also ruled the Adult Contemporary chart for 19 weeks and went on to win best original song honors at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

M2M’s single reached No. 21 on the Hot 100 in January 2000, marking the Norwegian duo’s highest charting hit. “This guitar-based pop number neatly walks the line between pure pop and the cusp of adult top 40,” read Billboard‘s review of the song in October 1999. “Absolutely enchanting in its youthful vocal and meaty series of hooks.” (Especially time-stamping the praise: “It doesn’t hurt that the single was heard by 5 million folks Oct. 3 on the WB’s Felicity.”)

Over 275 songs have peaked at No. 21 on the Hot 100, dating to the chart’s August 1958 inception. Let’s look at 21 more from a variety of eras and genres, all of which reinforce that songs that peak shy of No. 1, or the top 20, can endure long after their original runs.

“In the Midnight Hour,” Wilson Pickett, peak date Sept. 4, 1965
Considered risqué for its time, the song still became Pickett’s first of 16 top 40 Hot 100 hits, as well as his first of five No. 1s on Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles (now Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs). The soul legend was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

“Solitary Man,” Neil Diamond, Sept. 12, 1970
In 1966, the single marked Diamond’s first of 53 Hot 100 entries as a recording artist, reaching No. 55. Four years later, after he’d broken through as a writer of The Monkees’ seven-week No. 1 “I’m a Believer” and notched 11 top 40 hits of his own, it returned and hit No. 21. A month later, “Cracklin’ Rosie” became his first of three No. 1s as a billed artist.


“Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” Charley Pride, Feb. 5, 1972
The song by the late pioneer tops Billboard‘s ranking of his 40 biggest Hot Country Songs hits. It’s one of 29 No. 1s that he achieved on the chart, among 52 top 10s.

“The First Cut Is the Deepest,” Rod Stewart, April 16, 1977
Like Chaka Khan’s below, this song is one that became an even bigger chart hit thanks to a remake: Sheryl Crow took it to No. 14 on the Hot 100 in 2004, as well as to No. 1 on Adult Contemporary and Adult Pop Airplay.

“Werewolves of London,” Warren Zevon, May 13, 1978
The Halloween favorite and vehicle for Zevon’s sense of humor features Mick Fleetwood on drums and John McVie on bass. “I’ve already led two lives,” Zevon mused to Billboard shortly before he passed away in 2003. “I got to be a wild, crazy, Jim Morrison quasi-rock star, and I got to be a sober dad for 18 years. I can’t possibly complain.”

“I’m Every Woman,” Chaka Khan, Dec. 23, 1978
Over 14 years later, Whitney Houston’s faithful remake reached No. 4 on the Hot 100. At the time, Khan was enjoying her own hit: “Feels Like Heaven,” with Peter Cetera, reached No. 5 on Adult Contemporary in early 1993.

“Is She Really Going Out With Him?,” Joe Jackson, Aug. 18, 1979
The track started Jackson’s run of four top 40 Hot 100 hits, followed by “Steppin’ Out” (No. 6, 1982), “Breaking Us in Two” (No. 18, 1983) and “You Can’t Get What You Want” (No. 15, 1984).


“Seven Bridges Road,” Eagles, Feb. 7, 1981
The band’s 19th Hot 100 entry … and last until it reunited for its Hell Freezes Over album in 1994 (when lead single “Get Over It” reached No. 31). The harmony-infused “Seven Bridges Road” is the first track on the group’s 2020 album Live From the Forum MMXVIII.

“New World Man,” Rush, Oct. 30, 1982
For all of Rush’s 50-year Rock and Roll Hall of Fame catalog, this track is the band’s only top 40 Hot 100 hit, released as the group emphasized synthesizers more in the early ’80s. It led Mainstream Rock Airplay, becoming Rush’s first of five No. 1s, among 20 top 10s.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Twisted Sister, Sept. 22, 1984
Other rock bands found mainstream success with undeniable hooks in the ’80s. In September, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider condemned demonstrators that played the metal classic in a Florida Target store as they discarded their masks. On Twitter, Snider called the display “moronic.”

“Come On, Let’s Go,” Los Lobos, Nov. 7, 1987
Likely best remembered for their cover of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” from the late legend’s 1987 biopic, Los Lobos followed with another joyous Valens remake. A year ago this month, the band scored its first top 10 on Top Latin Albums with its bilingual holiday set Llego Navidad.

“Criminal,” Fiona Apple, Nov. 29, 1997
Apple’s signature song and lone Hot 100 hit to-date rose to No. 2 on Adult Alternative Airplay. (This version didn’t chart.) In 2020, she notched her first entry on the latter chart in 20 years, “Shameika,” as parent album Fetch the Bolt Cutters launched at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.

“Ex-Factor,” Lauryn Hill, April 10, 1999
Hill’s follow-up to her 1998 two-week Hot 100 No. 1 “Doo Wop (That Thing)” contributed to a chart leader 20 years later: as sampled in Drake’s “Nice for What,” as well as Cardi B’s No. 11-peaking “Be Careful,” also in 2018, among other songs. (Hill’s original, meanwhile, borrows from Wu-Tang Clan and Gladys Knight & The Pips.) “There’s a real purity about it,” Wyclef Jean said in 2010 of the hit by the fellow former Fugees member. “I always like the boldness of an artist to just say what they are going through.”

“Sometimes,” Britney Spears, July 24, 1999
She did it again, a bit differently: the ballad unveiled a softer side of Spears’ sound after her debut “…Baby One More Time” topped the Hot 100 for two weeks. “Sometimes” hit No. 6 on Pop Airplay, marking her second of 15 top 10s on the chart.

“Beautiful Day,” U2, Jan. 27, 2001
The song is U2’s longest-charting on the Hot 100 (25 weeks). It also crowned Adult Alternative Airplay for a record 16 weeks and went on to win three Grammy Awards, including record and song of the year. In 2010, Lee DeWyze covered it for his American Idol coronation single, which hit No. 24 on the Hot 100.


“Stacy’s Mom,” Fountains of Wayne, Nov. 15, 2003
Here’s how co-writer Adam Schlesinger remembered the origin of the song, which also hit No. 3 on Pop Airplay: “One of my best friends, when we were maybe 11 or 12, came to me and announced that he thought my grandmother was hot. And I said, ‘Hey, you’re stepping over the line.’ But, at that point in life, I wouldn’t put it past anyone.”

“Let’s Get It Started,” The Black Eyed Peas, Sept. 18, 2004
Another song that performed better on Pop Airplay than on the Hot 100, reaching No. 4. The group’s latest, “Girl Like Me,” with Shakira, climbs to No. 38 on the ranking and enters the Hot 100 this week.

“Chasing Pavements,” Adele, Feb. 28, 2009
Adele’s introductory single from 19 hit No. 21 (… before 21). One of her earliest performances of the song? In the kitchen, for many intrigued employees, at Billboard‘s New York offices.

“Dog Days Are Over,” Florence + The Machine, Oct. 2, 2010
The following year, another notable breakthrough hit reached No. 21 on the Hot 100. “Dog Days Are Over” also ruled Adult Alternative Airplay for three weeks. Meanwhile, the Glee Cast’s cover nearly matched the Hot 100 peak of the original, reaching No. 22 in December 2010.

“Die a Happy Man,” Thomas Rhett, Jan. 2, 2016
Rhett had already earned four No. 1s on Country Airplay when this love song became his longest-leading (six weeks) of 15 leaders to-date. It topped the multi-metric Hot Country Songs chart for 17 weeks and crossed over to a No. 25 high on Adult Pop Airplay.

“Forever Country,” Artists of Then, Now & Forever, Oct. 8, 2016
Thirty star artists commemorated the Country Music Association Awards’ 50th anniversary with their reworking of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” Bill Danoff co-wrote Denver’s classic, which itself turns 50 this year. He recalled in 2018 that, after he began studying at Georgetown University, “We had one year where I did a lot of road trips. I just was fascinated by the countryside … barns … stuff I had only seen in pictures. I’d suddenly become a real nature fan. That’s where all that ‘country roads’ stuff came from.”