Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adult Education

I got to wondering the other day about the Adult Contemporary charts, and how often it was that big hits there don’t make any sort of splash on the regular pop charts. AC hits have pretty much dominated the pop charts for long stretches of time, unlike, say, C&W hits. It's hard to think of an adult-contemporary single that would get no traction at all on Top Forty radio, at least until recent years. 

I figured there were some Number One AC hits that didn’t reach the Top Forty, but they would at least make the Hot 100, right? So I went through my copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top Adult Contemporary 1961-2001, looking for any AC Number Ones that didn’t make it to the pop Top Forty. And just maybe, there would be a song somewhere that went all the way to Number One without even Bubbling Under. Because if I don’t do this kind of thing, who will?

OK, here’s my list of all the AC Number Ones (from 1961 to 2001) that failed to crest the Top Forty:

“In the Arms of Love,” Andy Williams, 1966, peaked at No. 49 on the pop chart

“Time, Time,” Ed Ames, 1967, No. 61

Here I thought the only thing Ed Ames ever did was throw a tomahawk on the annual Johnny Carson anniversary special, but it turns out he had three No. 1 AC hits in 1967 alone.

“Stop! And Think It Over,” Perry Como, 1967, No. 92
“It’s Such a Pretty World Today,” Andy Russell, 1967, No. 119

Not bad for a Steelers linebacker. This one, you can see, never made it past Bubbling Under on the Hot 100, but we’ll encounter other songs that didn’t even make it that far.

“More Than the Eye Can See,” Al Martino, 1967, No. 54

He had another No. 1 AC hit that year with “Mary in the Morning,” later covered by Elvis.

“When the Snow Is on the Roses,” Ed Ames, 1967, did not make the pop chart.

Our first non-charting No. 1.

“Cold,” John Gary, 1967, did not make the pop chart.

Our second one, which directly followed Ed Ames in the AC No. 1 slot.

“Chattanooga Choo Choo,” Harpers Bizarre, 1968, No. 45

The same twee vocal group that had a big pop hit with a cover of Paul Simon’s “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” Their lead member was future Van Halen and Doobie Brothers producer Ted Templeman, which amuses me to no end.

“In the Misty Moonlight,” Dean Martin, 1968, No. 60

These last two are the first two No. 1 AC hits, chronologically, from 1968, which gives us a sequence of 14 consecutive AC No. 1s in which eight of them never reached the pop Top Forty. I almost wonder if they weren’t tracking the AC charts differently in those days. Or maybe with the Beatles and Stones at their peak, the charts just diverged wildly. As you’ll see, this is highly unusual – and it stopped, dead cold, without warning.

“When There’s No You,” Engelbert Humperdinck, 1971, No. 45
“I’m Coming Home,” Johnny Mathis, 1973, No. 75
"99 Miles From L.A.," Albert Hammond,  1975, No. 91

Co-written with Hal David, this song also appeared later that year on Art Garfunkel’s 'Breakaway,' which is where I know it from. Plus, you all know Albert Hammond Jr. And "It Never Rains in Southern California."

“Wonderful Baby,” Don McLean, 1975, No. 93
“Venus (disco version),” Frankie Avalon, 1976, No. 46

The original went to No. 1 on the pop charts in 1959.

“This Moment in Time,” Engelbert Humperdinck, 1978, No. 58
“I Never Said I Love You,” Orsa Lia, 1979, No. 84
“Believe in Me,” Dan Fogelberg, 1984, No. 48
“As Long as You Follow,” Fleetwood Mac, 1988, No. 43
“Cuts Both Ways,” Gloria Estefan, 1990, No. 44

It’s hard to believe this never made the Top Forty, since I still got sick of it anyway.

“You Gotta Love Someone,” Elton John, 1990, No. 43
“Tell Me What You Dream,” Restless Heart featuring Warren Hill, 1993, No. 43
“Here in My Heart,” Chicago, 1997, No. 59

I'm sure Kurt Blumenau knows this one. I don't, but I have no doubt that it sucks.

“For the First Time,” Kenny Loggins, 1997, No. 60
“Taking You Home,” Don Henley, 2000, No. 58
“The Christmas Shoes,” Newsong, 2000, No. 42


“Cruisin’,” Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow, 2000, No. 109

I bet you didn’t expect to see Gwyneth Paltrow on this list.

“Simple Things,” Jim Brickman, 2001, did not make the pop chart

Our third and final Did Not Chart. If I were more conscientious about this stuff, I’d check to see of this trend from 2000-2001 continued; I suspect it did, with the Top Forty becoming more dance/urban/R&B-oriented over the past decade.


  1. This is some interesting analysis on a topic I've been looking into myself lately. (I wrote about "Cold" a few weeks back at my place as the only AC #1 to miss the Hot 100 entirely.)

    I think maybe you're onto something about a change in methodology for compiling the AC charts. Seems like there are a lot fewer AC-only hits beginning in the early 70s, although the number seems to spike again in the late 80s.

  2. Yeah, I first started thinking about this topic after reading something on your blog (and I would have credited you for it, except I went back and couldn't find the original post). I know nothing about how the charts are compiled, much less how that methodology has changed. Maybe someone from Billboard will chime in...

  3. Just to defend my name in public places, I wash my hands of everything Chicago post-Terry Kath.

    OK, with the exception of the extended dance mix of "Street Player."

  4. I worked in radio when that Orsa Lia song was a hit. It didn't ring a bell but as soon as I re-listened to it recently every note came back to me.

    That Fleetwood Mac song is a favorite mainly due to the gorgeous guitar solo by, I think, Billy Burnette. Buckingham was gone by then.