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Ask Billboard: What Hits Have Out-Charted The Songs They Sample?

As Aloe Blacc's "The Man" equals the Hot 100 peak of the song it interpolates, Elton John's "Your Song," what other songs with samples or borrowed lyrics have fared as well as - better - than the…

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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,

Fun that “The Man” has now reached the same peak on the Billboard Hot 100 – No. 8 – as the Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition, “Your Song,” that Aloe Blacc used as the source for its interpolation. The original reached No. 8 in 1971.


So, how about a discussion of other songs with samples, or shared lyrics, that have done as well or better than the originals on the Hot 100?

Also: the artist who holds the Hot 100’s No. 1 spot, Pharrell, will be experiencing a real “Happy” birthday celebration tomorrow (April 5), as he’ll lead the chart on his special day. He’ll cap things off by performing on “Saturday Night Live” for his 41st birthday. 41 … as in top 40, where he’s No. 1 …

And, speaking of birthdays, the artist who led the Hot 100 prior to Pharrell, Katy Perry (with “Dark Horse”), is having her own “Birthday” of sorts – that’s the name of her new single.


Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Hi Pablo,

Interesting that if Pharrell’s hit hangs on for a while and is replaced at No. 1 by Perry’s new song, the list of leaders in the Hot 100’s history would read, consecutively: “Happy,” “Birthday.” Entrepreneurial songwriters should stop reading now and immediately go write songs called “To You” and “How Old Are You Now?”

(Or, maybe Cake will return with a huge comeback hit.)

I’m glad that Capitol has decided to release “Birthday,” perhaps the most radio-ready song on Perry’s “PRISM” album. When the set was released in October, “Ask Billboard” readers chose the song as the most obvious potential single (along with “This Is How We Do”). I even gave the label some free advice by mapping out possible future singles. If “Walking on Air” is the fifth single, I’ll be 5-for-5, although not in order. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

As it’s fun to play record executive, I think I’d choose the “PRISM” singles like this, following “Roar” and “Unconditionally”:

3, “Walking on Air.” After ballad “Unconditionally,” a segue to the dancefloor. An easy, fun hook and a single that would be among Perry’s most dance-leaning to date. And, it’s already familiar since it was a “Prism” digital preview cut.

4, “Birthday.” Perry’s trademark uptempo pop. When I first heard the album, this song stood out to me as having the most obvious catchy chorus. As the fourth single, it would also likely line up as a top 2014 song of the summer candidate.

5, “Dark Horse” (featuring Juicy J). A swing back to more midtempo waters. It also reminds me of “E.T.” a bit (which topped the Hot 100 for five weeks). A Juicy J-less edit would possibly be needed for AC crossover play, as any Perry single choice at this point has to take into account the fact that she’s become a core artist at pop and adult radio, a rare status that Capitol wants to maintain. [Update from April 2014 me: the song ruled the Hot 100 for four weeks, pushes 4-3 on Adult Pop Songs and bullets at No. 25 on AC. Adult stations are playing both the original and an edit without Juicy J.]

6, “Ghost.” Seems like an obvious multi-format hit with a great hook. Perhaps the low-key “The One That Got Away” of the album.

7, “International Smile.” Possibly the second-most radio-made chorus on “PRISM” after “Birthday” (but similar enough to the latter song that you’d want to space them out as singles).

(You’re welcome, Capitol!) In the meantime, “Birthday” already looks headed for fast start on the Pop Songs airplay chart, where it could debut as soon as Monday, when the new list is released. At the latest, the song should bow by the following week, and that’s all before Capitol has begun any formal promotion of the song to radio.

Oh right, you also mentioned Aloe Blacc. Very cool that “The Man” has equaled the Hot 100 peak of its parent composition, “Your Song.” Also worth mentioning is that Elton John is enjoying his own current hit: “Can’t Stay Alone Tonight” rises 27-24 on AC (jumping over “Dark Horse”). His new song is his record-extending 70th AC hit. His first? “Your Song.”

The list of songs with samples (or borrowed lyrics leading to shared writing credits) that have equaled the Hot 100 peak or out-charted the original songs from which they draw could be extensive. I’ll get things started, and Chart Beat readers can please feel free to add more by Tweeting @gthot20 or emailing askbb@billboard.com.

Here are 10 random examples (including contributions from the charts department’s Alex Vitoulis and Rauly Ramirez), starting with the act we’re celebrating today with its 10 biggest hits:

Original: Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” No. 6 Hot 100, 1991
As sampled/Lyrics: Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake, “Holy Grail,” No. 4, 2013

Original: Billy Squier, “The Stroke,” No. 17, 1981, and Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!),” No. 7, 1987
As sampled/Lyrics: Eminem, “Berzerk,” No. 3, 2013

Original: Rick James, “Superfreak (Part 1),” No. 16, 1981
Sample: M.C. Hammer, “U Can’t Touch This,” No. 8, 1990

Original: Queen & David Bowie, “Under Pressure,” No. 29, 1982
As sampled: Vanilla Ice, “Ice Ice Baby,” No. 1 (one week), 1990

Original: Tom Tom Club, “Genius of Love,” No. 31, 1982
As sampled/Lyrics: Mariah Carey, “Fantasy,” No. 1 (eight weeks), 1995

Original: Matthew Wilder, “Break My Stride,” No. 5, 1984
As sampled/Lyrics: Puff Daddy featuring Mase, “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down,” No. 1 (six weeks), 1997

Original: The Police, “Every Breath You Take,” No. 1 (eight weeks), 1983
As sampled/Lyrics: Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112, “I’ll Be Missing You,” No. 1 (11 weeks), 1997

Original: Tainted Love,” No. 8, 1982
As sampled: Rihanna, “SOS,” No. 1 (three weeks), 2006

Original: New Order, “Blue Monday,” from 1983; charted as “Blue Monday 1988,” No. 68, 1988
As sampled: Rihanna, “Shut Up and Drive,” No. 15, 2007

Original: Etta James,” Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” No. 37, 1962, and Avicii, “Levels,” No. 60, 2012
As sampled: Flo Rida, “Good Feeling,” No. 3, 2012

Again, there must be countless other examples of songs with samples or revived lyrics that have outperformed the originals on the Hot 100. Please consult your iPods, Joel Whitburn books and favorite websites about samples, and get back via Twitter (@gthot20) or email (askbb@billboard.com) and we’ll add to the list in the next “Ask Billboard”!

NEXT: The short chart life of Soko’s ‘Dead’

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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,

I was intrigued by William Gruger’s analysis about Soko’s one-week appearance on the Hot 100, at No. 9, with “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow.” While I absolutely agree that the chart should reflect the popularity of a song, no matter how briefly, there’s another aspect of Soko’s chart placement that has me confused.

A few weeks ago, when millions of people went online to watch the Budweiser/Super Bowl commercial featuring Passenger’s “Let Her Go,” those streams were deemed ineligible for the chart. However, the “First Kiss” video that features Soko’s song is also an ad, for the Wren clothing label, but its streams did aid its Hot 100 fortunes.

So, why did streams for the Budweiser ad not help “Let Her Go,” while streams for the Wren ad did help “… Tomorrow”? From the outside looking in, this seems pretty arbitrary. What prompted the decision?

Thanks for any insight you can provide!

Mark Blankenship
New York, New York

Hi Mark,

Soko set a Hot 100 record by falling off the chart from the highest rank (No. 9) ever, besting three songs that had departed from No. 11. In Sunday’s “Ask Billboard,” we recounted how it disappeared: essentially, since almost all its chart points were from streaming, “Tomorrow” didn’t have enough points to score a second week on the Hot 100 once its U.S. streaming total plummeted by 86 percent to 1.6 million streams, according to Nielsen BDS. That sum followed its breakout week of 11.5 million. On Streaming Songs, the song sunk 1-42.

Your question, of course, centers more on how popular viral ads featuring songs affect our charts. I forwarded your email to William to further expound on Soko’s chart action.

While I try to watch the Budweiser “Puppy Love” ad, below, without getting emotional (still), here’s his response. It’s a little tech-driven, but I think helpful:

“Hi Mark. Thanks for your question.

Billboard is only able to include YouTube views in chart calculations for songs that are properly registered by the video clip content owner, claimed by a licensed representative of the song being used in the clip, or identified by YouTube’s content ID system. This also includes user-generated videos utilizing official song audio.

Due to superseding licensing agreements between the video clip content owner and song owner, or the song owner and YouTube, views of certain clips that feature song audio might not be counted.

In regards to the two songs you mention, the licensing agreements most likely differed, leading to data from only one of the titles making its way from YouTube to Billboard.

For more about YouTube’s content ID system, please feel free to check here.”

NEXT: Blake Shelton’s good four-tune

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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!

I’d like to say that congratulations are in order for “Voice” coach Blake Shelton. By hitting No. 1 on Country Airplay with “Doin’ What She Likes,” he has done what no other country artist has done in nearly 30 years: scored 11 consecutive country chart-topping singles. (No other act has run up such a streak on a country chart since Alabama linked an astounding 21 in a row on Hot Country Songs between 1980 and 1987.)

Shelton’s streak began four years ago with “Hillbilly Bone,” featuring Trace Adkins. He followed with “All About Tonight,” “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,” “Honey Bee,” “God Gave Me You,” “Drink On It,” “Over,” “Sure Be Cool If You Did,” “Boys ‘Round Here,” featuring Pistol Annies & Friends, “Mine Would Be You” and, now, “Likes.”

And, how about this: “Likes” gives Shelton four Country Airplay No. 1s from his current album, “Based on a True Story …” Both “Story” and his previous album, “Red River Blue,” have produced four No. 1s each. That has me curious: is Shelton is the first artist to achieve four No. 1s from multiple albums on Country Airplay?


John Maverick
Burt County, Nebraska

Hi John,

Great insights, as always, from our expert country chart correspondent!

With two albums each producing four No. 1s, Shelton isn’t the first artist to manage the impressive achievement, but he does join a select group of acts who have earned the honor.

Here’s an updated recap of the artists with four Country Airplay No. 1s from more than one album (dating to the Nielsen BDS-based chart’s Jan. 20, 1990, launch):

Blake Shelton
“Red River Blue” (2011-12)
“Honey Bee,” “God Gave Me You,” “Drink On It,” “Over”

“Based on a True Story …” (2013-14)
“Sure Be Cool If You Did,” “Boys ‘Round Here” (featuring Pistol Annies & Friends), “Mine Would Be You,” “Doin’ What She Likes”

Zac Brown Band
“The Foundation” (2008-10)
“Chicken Fried,” “Toes,” “Highway 20 Ride,” “Free”

“You Get What You Give” (2010-11)
“As She’s Walking Away” (featuring Alan Jackson; keep reading for more on Jackson …), “Colder Weather,” “Knee Deep” (featuring Jimmy Buffett), “Keep Me in Mind”

Alan Jackson
“Don’t Rock the Jukebox” (1991-92)
“Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Someday,” “Dallas,” “Love’s Got a Hold on You”

“Who I Am” (1994-95)
“Summertime Blues,” “Gone Country,” “Livin’ on Love,” “I Don’t Even Know Your Name”

… and, the only artist with three albums each containing four Country Airplay No. 1s:

Tim McGraw
“Everywhere” (1997-98)
“It’s Your Love” (with Faith Hill), “Everywhere,” “Just to See You Smile,” “Where the Green Grass Grows”

“A Place in the Sun” (1999-2000)
“Please Remember Me,” “Something Like That,” “My Best Friend,” “My Next Thirty Years”

“Set This Circus Down” (2001-02)
“Grown Men Don’t Cry,” “Angry All the Time,” “The Cowboy in Me,” “Unbroken”

Honorable mention to Brad Paisley, who’s notched the most Country Airplay No. 1s from an album. Fittingly, his “5th Gear” produced five leaders in 2007-08: “Ticks,” “Online,” “Letter to Me,” “I’m Still a Guy” and “Waitin’ on a Woman.”

As for Shelton’s next single, it was just announced this afternoon that “My Eyes” is the next release from “Based on a True Story …” He’ll perform the song Sunday night (April 6) on the ACM Awards, to be broadcast on CBS beginning at 8. Further reflecting his superstar status, Shelton will host the festivities with Luke Bryan.

Should “My Eyes” see its way to the top of Country Airplay, it would tie Paisley’s mark for the most No. 1 singles, five, from an album.