Going the Distance: The Hot 100's 10 Longest-Charting Songs
Let us hop in our time machine and head back to a magical place in the past known as December 23, 2010. Here is a snapshot of things going on at the time: Rocks Off was making wishes for the year 2011; Kanye West was knee-deep in Album of the Year wins for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; Eddie Vedder turned 46; and a little song by the name of "Rolling in the Deep" entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Usually when someone uses the phrase "that song is everywhere," they don't mean everywhere, and yet Adele's tune was everywhere. It's sold over 7 million digital copies; it appeared on the Rock Songs, Dance Airplay, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and Hot Latin charts; it spent 65 weeks on the Hot 100.
That's a year and three months, a.k.a. a long time. It made Rocks Off curious about the songs' place in chart history. If you had to guess the ten songs with the longest sustained popularity, what would you pick? The songs on the list might surprise you.
Tie-9. Santana feat. Rob Thomas, "Smooth" Weeks on Chart: 58 Jars of Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter Sold in 58 weeks: 60 million
When history looks back at the year 2000 in music, this is what they will see. Not only was this song on the chart for over a year, but it also won Grammys for Song and Record of the Year. How will we explain to the kids of the future that Santana was more than just Matchbox 20 with better guitars and drumwork? Here's hoping those kids (black) magically discover the joys of Abraxas.
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Tie-9. Song: The Fray, "How to Save a Life" Weeks on Chart: 58 Emergency Room Visits in 58 Weeks: 138 million
Have a band and a television show ever been so tied together as The Fray and Grey's Anatomy? The song didn't really take off until it appeared on the show, which was right around the same time that the show became a big deal. 2006-07 was a peak year for both, although they continue to carry on to this day.
This frequently leads to someone asking, "They haven't broken up/been canceled yet?"
8. Los del Río, "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)" Weeks on Chart: 60 Times You Can Play Macarena Nonstop in 60 weeks: 14,400
The Bayside Boys do not have a Wikipedia entry, which leads me to believe they might not actually exist. What is the Macarena exactly -- a silly dance or just part of a shadowy government conspiracy to brainwash us?
It appears the next stage in our re-education was to come in the form of a single featuring Los del Río, Baha Men and MC Hammer; and yet, much like the Bayside Boys, there is no record of this song on the Internet other than a mention in the Los del Río's biography.
7. Lady Antebellum, "Need You Now" Weeks on Chart: 60 Quarter After 1 a.m.'s in 60 weeks: 420
The drunk-dialing song which all other drunk-dialing songs will be measured against comes not from pop or hip-hop but from the world of country music. The song won both Song and Record of the Year over "Fuck You," which can only mean that on the scale of socially unacceptable things, the Grammys support drunk dialing over profanity. One has to wonder who will be the first to win a statue for a song about Facebook-stalking.
6. Lifehouse, "You and Me" Weeks on Chart: 62 Deaths by House Fire in 62 Weeks: 3,148
The most interesting thing about this song is that it's written in 6/8 time. Since this blog isn't about time signatures, beat counting and advanced songwriting, just know that writing songs in 6/8 time is one of those things usually associated with bands like Rush.
Lifehouse and Rush have both had seven songs in the Hot 100, but never at the same time. That's about the only connection the two bands have, other than that either of them getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a long shot.
5. Carrie Underwood, "Before He Cheats" Weeks on Chart: 64 Property Crimes Committed in 64 weeks: 11 million
Does it weird anyone else out that Underwood starts off all her accusations with "probably"? She has no proof that he's doing any of the terrible things she mentions in the verses. She probably should have given her man a phone call before she went crazy on his ride.
Maybe when she's sitting in the back of a police car for destruction of property, she'll learn to think before she jumps to conclusions.
Tie-3. Jewel, "Foolish Games"/"You Were Meant for Me" Weeks on Chart: 65 Money Spent on Board Games in 65 weeks: $1.01 billion
All those weeks on the chart, none of them in the No. 1 position. The singles peaked at number 2, never quite gaining the momentum to overtake "Candle in the Wind 1997." What it lacked in explosive power it made up for in endurance, and for a period of time it held the record for the longest-charted song(s).
So which of the songs is better? That's hard to say, but it's worth noting that Atlantic Records never bothered to upload the "You Were Meant for Me" video to their YouTube account.
Tie-3. Adele, "Rolling in the Deep" Weeks on Chart: 65 Miles Traveled by Submarine Going at 31 knots in 65 weeks: 393,000
It's hard to get past the 65-week point. It's made more difficult when you have three other songs in the Hot 100. Adele may be super popular and the song may have been a legitimate crossover hit, but the charts can only take so much of one artist. Her other tracks have dropped in recent weeks, so she'll have to settle for "Set Fire to the Rain" and its measly 34-week chart run.
2. LeAnn Rimes, "How Do I Live" Weeks on Chart: 69 Weeks Where Two Songs Called "How Do I Live" Were on the Chart During Those 69 Weeks: 12
On May 27, 1997, two songs that went by the name "How Do I Live" were released. One would spend 69 weeks on the chart and hold the record for longest charting song for 11 years. The other was the exact same song, just recorded by Trisha Yearwood.
Maybe more interesting than the fact that two versions of the same song were released on the same day is that the song was nominated for an Academy Award, only to lose to "My Heart Will Go On." Why is that interesting? It means Con Air was nominated for an Oscar.
1. Jason Mraz, "I'm Yours" Weeks on Chart: 76 Couples Who Got Married in 76 weeks: 3.3 million
That Mraz is at the top of this list is both surprising and not. Look at the other artists so far and notice who you don't see: No Michael Jackson or Madonna; no U2, Coldplay or Green Day; no Gaga, Perry or Rihanna; no Nickelback, Limp Bizkit or Korn; no Kayne, Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. The most famous names on this list are Lady Antebellum, Adele and Santana, and if we had had Twitter 12 years ago, you can imagine the number of "Who iz Satana?" tweets we'd have.
And what do these songs and their staying power say about us? Maybe nothing, maybe everything, but mostly that we love love. Roughly 80 percent of these songs are about love -- love lost, love found, love destroying the prized possession of a loved one.
So Mraz at the top makes perfect sense: The song is catchy, it's easily digested, and it's about love. Whether it's 11 weeks better than Adele is up to the individual listener.
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