Happy birthday, Billboard‘s Pop Songs chart! In the Oct. 3, 1992 issue of Billboard magazine, the survey started (thanks to the then-new advent of Nielsen Music electronic monitoring), ranking, as it still does, the week’s most-played songs on a national panel of top 40 radio stations.
In the chart’s history, Katy Perry and Rihanna boast the most No. 1s: 11 each. When the chart began, Perry was seven years old and Rihanna, four. (Oh, and Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez were each born in 1992.)
On the anniversary of the Pop Song’s chart’s origin, here’s a look back to when saxophone-playing President Bill Clinton was about take office, Mark Wahlberg’s day job was as a rapper … and these were the songs that made up the first list, from No. 40 to No. 1.
Billboard‘s First Pop Songs chart, Oct. 3, 1992
No. 40, “Kickin’ It,” After 7
No. 39, “Love Is on the Way,” Saigon Kick
No. 38, “Bang Bang,” David Sanborn
No. 37, “How About That,” Bad Company
No. 36, “Restless Heart,” Peter Cetera
The early ’90s brought a halt to the domination of pure pop, splintering to rock, thanks in part to the birth of grunge, and R&B, when new jack swing was king. Meanwhile, established rock bands, like Bad Company, were still viable providers of crossover hits, and a cluster of vets, like Cetera, helped give pop a continued presence in a time of transition for the format.
No. 35, “I Will Be There for You,” Michael W. Smith
No. 34, “Am I the Same Girl,” Swing Out Sister
No. 33, “Do You Believe in Us,” Jon Secada
No. 32, “I’d Die Without You,” P.M. Dawn
A year earlier, the duo had topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss.” With the advent of Pop Songs, the pair scored two No. 2 hits on the airplay list: this likewise sultry single and follow-up “Looking Through Patient Eyes” (which samples George Michael’s “Father Figure.”)
No. 31, “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” En Vogue
No. 30, “How Do You Talk to an Angel,” the Heights
No. 29, “Move This,” Technotronic feat. Ya Kid K
No. 28, “You Lied to Me,” Cathy Dennis
No. 27, “I Wanna Love You,” Jade
No. 26, “Nothing Broken But My Heart,” Celine Dion
No. 25, “Free Your Mind,” En Vogue
At Nos. 31 and 25, the girl group was one of two acts with two titles each on the first Pop Songs chart (along with Jon Secada). With its funky vibe offset by an especially melodic segue to its chorus, this song sounds like a predecessor to a hit by a modern-day all-female act: Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” (featuring Kid Ink).
No. 24, “Divine Thing,” the Soup Dragons
No. 23, “Take This Heart,” Richard Marx
No. 22, “Constant Craving,” K.D. Lang
No. 21, “Forever Love,” Color Me Badd
No. 20, “Walking on Broken Glass,” Annie Lennox
No. 19, “November Rain,” Guns N’ Roses
On its way down after becoming a summer 1992 smash, Guns N’ Roses’ signature haunting ballad revealed the hard rockers’ impressive range. It became the band’s fifth and final Hot 100 top 10 (to date), reaching No. 3.
No. 18, “Stay,” Shakespear’s Sister
No. 17, “Not Enough Time,” INXS
No. 16, “Life Is a Highway,” Tom Cochrane
No. 15, “Would I Lie to You?,” Charles & Eddie
No. 14, “Always the Last to Know, Del Amitri
No. 13, “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad,” Def Leppard
Not to be outdone among rock bands showing off their tender sides, Def Leppard charted on the first Pop Songs tally with this eventual No. 7 hit. While the late ’80s were more welcoming to hair bands than the early ’90s, 1992’s Adrenalized, the follow-up to 1987’s Hysteria, still yielded a haul of five hit tracks (at pop and rock radio).
No. 12, “Jesus He Knows Me,” Genesis
No. 11, “She’s Playing Hard to Get,” Hi-Five
No. 10, “Just Another Day,” Jon Secada
No. 9, “Baby Baby Baby,” TLC
No. 8, “Please Don’t Go,” K.W.S.
No. 7, “Humpin’ Around,” Bobby Brown
“The first single from Brown’s hotly anticipated third solo album, Bobby, doesn’t exactly hold any musical surprises, though it pushes a lot of the right sensory buttons,” Billboard wrote in a single review of the song. “His voice has developed a mature, seductive tone that is far more inviting, and stands tall amid the thick and muscular funk grooves laid down by producers [including L.A.] Reid [and] Babyface. All of this steamy execution sort of belies the semiserious nature of the song’s lyrics. Listen for intensive play at several formats.”
No. 6, “The One,” Elton John
No. 5, “When I Look Into Your Eyes,” Firehouse
No. 4, “All I Want,” Toad the Wet Sprocket
No. 3, “Do I Have to Say the Words?,” Bryan Adams
No. 2, “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” Patty Smyth
No. 1, “End of the Road,” Boyz II Men
The ballad stands as the first of 302 Pop Songs No. 1s, through the current leader, R. City’s “Locked Away,” featuring Adam Levine. In a chart coincidence, “End of the Road” mirrors the ironically-titled first song that Casey Kasem played on American Top 40, on July 4, 1970 (with Pop Songs eventually serving as the show’s playlist): Marvin Gaye’s “The End of Our Road.”