Natalie Cole, who died at 65 on Thursday, Dec. 31, was a force on Billboard’s charts for four decades with her unique mix of sweet, soulful R&B.
Cole arrived with “This Will Be.” The hopeful, upbeat love song entered the Billboard Hot 100 dated Aug. 30, 1975, and became her first top 10 on the chart, reaching No. 6 that November. A year later, Cole added her second top 10, the No. 5-peaking “I’ve Got Love on My Mind.” The No. 10-peaking “Our Love” would follow in 1978.
Cole would stage a Hot 100 renaissance in the late ’80s, led by 1988’s Bruce Springsteen cover “Pink Cadillac,” which tied for her highest-charting hit (No. 5). She’d score her fifth and final Hot 100 top 10 in 1989, “Miss You Like Crazy” (No. 7). Still, the ’90s brought more chart honors. In 1990, Cole’s Pretty Woman soundtrack song “Wild Women Do” climbed to No. 34 and, in 1991, “Unforgettable,” her virtual duet (a technological marvel at the time) with her late father, jazz icon Nat King Cole, rose to No. 14.
The younger Cole’s history on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs is even more robust: 17 top 10s, including six No. 1s. In fact, she arrived with three straight No. 1s on the chart in 1975-76: “This Will Be,” “Inseparable” and “Sophisticated Lady (She’s a Different Lady).” In 1977, “I’ve Got Love on My Mind” would become her longest-leading No. 1 on the ranking (five weeks). She appeared on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs as recently as 2006.
Cole was likewise a regular visitor to the Billboard 200 albums chart, placing 25 titles on the survey from 1975 to 2013. Her first, Inseparable, reached No. 18. Her third, Unpredictable, became her first top 10, hitting No. 8 in 1977. In 1991, she reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 at last, for five weeks, with Unforgettable. The set has sold 6.2 million copies to date, according to Nielsen Music, and won the 1992 Grammy Award for album of the year, as well as five additional Grammys, including record of the year for its David Foster-produced title track.
In honor of Cole, here is a look at her 10 biggest Billboard Hot 100 hits:
Rank, Title, Hot Peak Pos., Peak Date
1, I’VE GOT LOVE ON MY MIND, No. 5, 4/30/1977
2, THIS WILL BE, No. 6, 11/22/1975
3, PINK CADILLAC, No. 5, 5/7/1988
4, MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY, No. 7, 7/8/1989
5, OUR LOVE, No. 10, 4/15/1978
6, I LIVE FOR YOUR LOVE, No. 13, 2/6/1988
7, UNFORGETTABLE, No. 14, 8/24/1991
8, JUMP START, No. 13, 10/3/1987
9, SOMEONE THAT I USED TO LOVE, No. 21, 9/20/1980
10, SOPHISTICATED LADY (SHE’S A DIFFERENT LADY), No. 25, 8/7/1976
Natalie Cole’s top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits chart is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100, through the Jan. 9, 2016, ranking. 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. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, certain eras are weighted to account for different chart turnover rates over various periods.