In the music industry, as in any other domain where performance is required, 2nd place is a very very frustrating achievement. Because it is an achievement even to be in the top 5, 10 or whatever, yet being sooooo close to the absolute best that there can be in your line of work and stopping just short of that is like having the creamy part of your cookie that you saved for last get taken away from you at the last bite.
Sure, you’ve had cookie. You even got to taste some cream maybe, but not the best part!
So, here’s 11 popular songs that stopped at second best, without ever reaching that prized no. 1 position in tops, despite having had a big impact and been enjoyed by multitudes. Here’s to the almost champions.
1. Carly Simon, “Nobody Does It Better” (1977)
Starting off with a soundtrack, this one was a hit in 1977 when it was released, due to the hype around and popularity that the Bond movies had accumulated. So, the soundtrack to one of the greatest in the series (“The Spy Who Loved Me”), it’s natural that it ended up on everyone’s mind. Still, it peaked at no.2 in the tops.
2. Janet Jackson, “Rhythm Nation” (1989)
At the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, the Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson were on a roll and they could do no wrong. Which applies for this hit by Janet as well, except it never made it to the first position.
3. Shania Twain, “You’re Still The One” (1998)
Yes, this oft-sang-along hit from the until-then country sensation, that also represented her first attempt to merge the worlds of country and pop, only got to the second place.
4. The Ronettes, “Be My Baby” (1963)
This oldie but goldie had everything: iconic vocal lines right from the start, along with equally ear-catching drums, and especially a very stirring chorus, which also was catchy as hell, with a tendency to stick in the head of countless fans. Which it did. But still not enough to get to first place.
5. Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg, “Nothin’ But A G Thang” (1993)
When Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg where just fresh talent trying to prove what they got so they can make it big, they released what would become a hit among rap-listeners everywhere. But, though they did make it to super-stardom, this particular song never did past no. 2 in the tops.
6. Elvis Presley, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (1962)
A king among love songs like the King was for Rock n Roll, this song was on the lips of everyone that dreamt of finding a better half to declare its lyrics to. But, alas, for this song, it never got to meet its position at the very top.
7. Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy” (2006)
A more modern hit to rival the greats in its catchiness and cool, it’s not only intriguing because it never got past second place, but also because it stayed there for 7 straight weeks in a row. I can only imagine the level of frustration the artist must have felt towards the end and the complementary anxiety and hope: “come on! it’ll probably reach no. 1 next week!”
8. Prince, “Purple Rain” (1984)
When you say Prince, people tend to react with “Purple Rain!”. Probably because it is the only Prince song that is known as well by others except his many fans, for the raw emotion that he put into it. Which makes it pretty sad to know that he not only lost the Grammy for it (despite being nominated) and that it never reached no. 1 in tops.
9. Madonna, “Material Girl” (1985)
Just like the story of prince above, it’s most probable that if you say Madonna, the associated words that first come to mind are “Material Girl”, possibly with the trebly matter-of fact vocal line of the chorus alongside. But despite Madonna being quite the thing in her time both musically and from a public persona point of view, it wasn’t enough to get this song the top place.
10. Foreigner, “Waiting For A Girl Like You” (1981) AND Missy Elliot, “Work It” (2002)
These entries are tied for the most dubious honor. You see, Missy Elliot’s smash hit, the single “Work it” stayed on the 2nd place for 10 weeks, the longest time recorded for a song occupying this position. But not the only time. Because “Waiting For A Girl Like You” succeeded in securing the same achievement(?) at its time.
Now, if you thought Gnars Barkley’s 7 week streak mentioned above was long, this must’ve felt like ages. And it is still the record for a song holding second place to this day.