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Chart Displacement

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"I've had #1's that people have forgotten and songs that didn't crack the top 10 that have touched people's lives deeply. That was when I started letting go of chart numbers."
Kathy Mattea, on her 1990 hit "Where've You Been", which only reached #10 on Hot Country Songs (Mattea had four #1 hits on that chart)

Every musician has a Signature Song; usually, this is related to how popular the song was during its prime, as measured by charts such as the Billboard Hot 100. However, this is not always the case. This can happen in multiple ways.

  • Their best-known song wasn't their biggest hit, placing below songs that aren't as well-known or are even almost, if not completely, forgotten. That can happen in a variety of ways.
    • The song wasn't well-known when it was released and became better-known later on through use in commercial media and/or retroactive acclaim. This is especially prevalent if the bigger hit was never that big a hit anyway and likely to fade into complete obscurity.
    • The more famous song was controversial in some way, thus causing some stations not to play it or some vendors not to sell it to the point that this impacted its chart ranking. Often, the notoriety of the song is what keeps it in the public memory after its peak.
    • The more famous song's peak position was impacted by low sales due to it having a limited or no single release, often to boost sales of its parent album. Many radio hits from the '90s were ineligible to chart on the Hot 100 without a physical single release. This practice by the record labels, which inadvertently robbed several artists of #1 singles just to boost album sales, ultimately resulted in Billboard being forced to change its own rules on "album cuts" charting on the Hot 100 in December 1998. This episode of Slate's Hit Parade podcast gives a detailed explanation of how and why this happened.
    • Radio listeners who were fans of Casey Kasem's chart shows American Top 40 and Casey's Top 40 will notice a lot of discrepancy when comparing the chart counted down on any of his '90s shows to that same week's Hot 100. When he made the jump to a new syndication group in 1988 and started Casey's Top 40, he began using the charts from Radio & Records magazine instead of the Billboard Hot 100, and continued to use it when he returned to AT40 ten years later. That meant his show was immune to the above "airplay-only" business that made undeniable hits ineligible for the Hot 100. Likewise, that also meant that the chart on Kasem's show also included songs that were radio hits first and foremost, and didn't have enough momentum to get very high on the Hot 100. Rick Dees' competing radio countdown show and the 1980s music television series Solid Gold (which Dees briefly hosted) also relied on Radio & Records to determine which songs they played. Similarly, Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 and American Country Countdown spent much of the 21st century relying on the country airplay charts of Mediabase 24/7 (Radio & Records' successor) instead of Billboard.
    • The more famous song was never given a radio push, despite its popularity with audiences.
    • The higher-peaking song had a high launch on the charts due to a strong debut sales week, but failed to have longevity and fell off the chart quickly. Alternatively, the lower-peaking song had a prolonged chart run and more people were exposed to it as a result.
    • After the song peaked in airplay, it got less recurrent airplay compared to the lower-charting song. Thus, younger audiences are exposed to the lower-charting song rather than the higher-charting.
    • The bigger song was a Black Sheep Hit, and thus feels out of place compared to their other work, which can cause limited recurrent airplay. This can also mean that fans of the band or singer actively avoid purchasing the song. Especially after the advent of iTunes this can have a big impact on a song's sales, even if it was popular in the year it came out.
    • The bigger song came after their overall peak in popularity and thus is not as well-known compared to their material that was made in their prime. This is most common on format-specific charts (see below), where the high-peaking song came long after their success on the mainstream charts ended.
    • The higher-charting song had its position augmented due to chart manipulation, while the better-known song achieved its peak naturally.
    • The higher-charting song came during a period when the charts were unnaturally sparse and/or the lower-charting song came during a period when the charts were severely backed up with huge hits.
    • The better-known song was not actually a single, but had some element to it that made it popular after the fact.
    • During the album's promotion cycle, the first single ends up as the higher-charting for the novelty factor, but the follow-up (if not one of the follow-ups) ends up being the one that gets more recognized.
    • The higher charting song was a comeback single for an already popular artist after a years-long hiatus, or was the first single from a highly anticipated new album. As a result it had a high chart peak due to fans who were excited to hear new music from their favorite act, but the song did not stick around in the general conciousness the way earlier and later hits by the same artist have.
  • One of their most well-known songs is their highest-charting, but they had other less-remembered songs that charted higher than their other more iconic material. Often, this can be seen in a different era or album.
    • This at times manifests with follow-up singles that chart high riding off a big hit, but end up not having lasting appeal.
  • Format-specific. Their highest-charting song on one format, such as rock, country, or alternative, isn't as well-known as their other material, but it's averted on the mainstream chart. Songs that were a hit on such a format and don't cross over are likely to be forgotten quickly. Still, it's a surprise because usually it's the biggest home-format songs that become pop crossovers.
  • The artist's main chart didn't exist when the song was released.
  • The song crossed over and became a hit in the United States, but it was not their biggest hit back home. Like the format-specific example above, this is a surprise because usually the biggest international crossovers are their biggest hits in their native country. It's not uncommon for an international artist's biggest American hit to also become their best-known song back home, even if it wasn't their highest-charting song there, although sometimes their highest-charting homeland hit is their best known over there.
  • First and Foremost. The song was later covered and outpeaked by a later artist, but despite this the original remains the most enduring.
  • Covered Up. The original placed higher than the cover, but people still remember the cover better anyways. The reverse is very common, as listed above, but this is much rarer.
  • A song is more associated with the featured artist than with the lead. Even if that song is their best-known song, it's not as associated with them as their other material (although that song can be still seen as the signature for the featured artist). Alternately, the song is associated with the lead, but the featured artist rapidly falls from popularity, taking memory of the song with them.
  • An artist's solo career or side project scores a bigger hit than they ever did with their main career, but because the solo career/side project remains far less known than their main act, their biggest hit is lesser known.
  • The more famous song may have been a Breakthrough Hit, but through more steady momentum, may have petered out a bit lower, while the subsequent higher charting song benefited from the momentum of the former, and the artist's recognition, to surge to higher chart success.
  • The artist's music was primarily consumed using a medium that wasn't included in Billboard's chart algorithm until after their most well-known song peaked in popularity.
  • The better-known song has a holiday theme, or has become associated with a holiday for some reason. These types of songs rarely make it on charts, but will become extremely well known through incessant replays by shops and radio shows.

Contrast with One-Hit Wonder, where the artist's Signature Song was their only major hit. The two can overlap in some rare cases: either a well-known artist's only top 40 hit isn't as well-known as other songs of theirs, or an artist is actually only remembered for one song, but it wasn't their highest-charting. In extremely rare circumstances, an artist who only had one top 40 hit is remembered as a one-hit wonder for a different song. Usually this is because that song was used by a politician or a non-profit organization thus artificially increasing the song's popularity long after it fell off the charts.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Christian / Gospel 
  • MercyMe have had multiple no. 1 hits on Billboard's Christian charts, but it took until 2018 for "I Can Only Imagine", their most enduring song among both Christians and in the mainstream, to top the Hot Christian Songs chart (mainly because it was released before Billboard started publishing Christian charts). In comparison, when it crossed over to mainstream radio in 2003, it topped the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart, went Top 5 on secular AC, peaked at #33 on Mainstream Top 40 and reached #71 on the Hot 100 proper. As for their other no. 1 hits on the Christian charts, you'd expect "Finally Home" and "Hold Fast" to be among them, but the former only peaked at #3 on three of the Billboard Christian charts (Hot Christian Songs, Christian Airplay and Christian AC), and the latter only peaked at #3 on Hot Christian Songs and Christian Airplay and #2 on Christian AC.
  • Stacie Orrico's biggest Top 40 hit in the US was "Stuck", right? Nope, that was the more-forgotten "(There's Gotta Be) More to Life", which made it to #30 (the former stalled at #52).
  • The American Christian teen pop group Jump5 were popular with young Christians in the 2000s and were a staple of early-to-mid-2000s Disney projects, yet only managed one hit on the Billboard charts. Was it "Aloha, E Komo Mai"? Nope, it was the near-completely-forgotten "Wonderful", which reached #19 on the Christian CHR charts and #22 on the Christian AC charts.

  • Country Music parodist Cledus T. Judd never had much chart success, with most of his popularity coming from comedic music videos released throughout the mid-90s. His 1996 breakthrough album I Stoled This Record even managed to go gold despite having no chart singles at all. So what is his highest chart ranking? His spoof of Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" titled "I Love NASCAR", featuring Keith himself on guest vocals, at #48 — which charted in late 2004, well after Judd's career had peaked.
  • The Lonely Island's only top 40 hit on the Hot 100 was not their signature "I'm on a Boat" (#56), but the less memorable "I Just Had Sex". It's not even as well-known as "Jizz in My Pants" (#72), "Dick in a Box" (didn't chart), "Jack Sparrow" (#69) and "Everything Is Awesome" (#57). Averted on the Comedy chart, where the former two were among their nine #1s.
  • Ray Stevens averts this overall, as "The Streak" and the Black Sheep Hit "Everything Is Beautiful" both hit #1 on the Hot 100, with the former, along with his cover of "Misty" and "Shriner's Convention" comprising his three Top 10 hits at country. But some of his classics, such as "Mississippi Squirrel Revival", "It's Me Again, Margaret", and "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex" didn't chart as highly — the former only got to #20 on the country charts, and the latter two failed to crack the top 40. Also, "Everything Is Beautiful" only got to #39 on the country charts despite being more successful in other formats.
  • Tim Wilson's most famous song "Booty Man" didn't chart, and "Dale Darrell Waltrip Richard Petty Rusty Awesome Bill Irvin Gordon Earnhardt Smith… Johnson, Jr." wasn't even a single. Both of these are considerably more famous than his highest chart entry on Hot Country Songs, the #66 "The Ballad of John Rocker".
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's more famous songs tend to fall under this. "Dare to Be Stupid" didn't chart at all (at least not by itself; it was a double A-side with Stan Bush's "The Touch"), while "I Lost on Jeopardy" and "Fat" only scraped the very bottom of the Hot 100. Conversely, "King of Suede" got to #62, but is far more obscure than some of his songs which didn't chart (it's his only Hot 100 entry that doesn't have a page on The Other Wiki). That said, "White & Nerdy", one of his most famous songs, is also his highest charting, at #9.

    Dance / Electronic 
  • 3OH!3 had two songs that went Top 10. "Don't Trust Me" was, of course, one of them, but "Starstrukk" peaked at a measly #66. Their other hit was "My First Kiss" (featuring Kesha), which debuted high thanks to being released during the height of her fame, but has generally been forgotten.
  • AlunaGeorge is a weird variation of this trope. Worldwide, their best-known song by far is DJ Snake's remix of "You Know You Like It", which was their only visit to most worldwide charts. Back home in the UK? This isn't even close to being the truth. The remix is their lowest-charting entry, reaching a mere #67, or rather twenty-eight space lower than the original version of the song. Their highest charter locally is the #17 "Attracting Flies". Additionally, their biggest success back home wasn't even their own song, but rather "White Noise", their collaboration with Disclosure. Speaking of Disclosure, see their entry below.
  • Dutch Europop singer Amber's second highest charter on the Hot 100 after her 1997 #24 hit "This Is Your Night" wasn't "Colour of Love" (#74), "One More Night" (#58), or "If You Could Read My Mind" (#52, as part of the one-off supergroup Stars On 54). Instead it was "Sexual (Li Da Di)", which reached #42 in 2000, after her overall popularity had waned stateside. Likewise, she had 5 #1's on the Billboard Dance chart, including "Sexual", but the former three songs only peaked at #10, #5, and #9, respectively. Ditto the UK, where "This Is Your Night", "Colour" and "One More Night" completely failed to chart, whilst "Read My Mind" and "Sexual" hit #34 and #23, respectively.
  • Aphex Twin has three Top 40 hits on the UK Singles Chart. Two are, of course, "Come to Daddy" and "Windowlicker", which are still well known to this day, if notably out of range for his usual material. The other, however, is the long forgotten "On", which managed to even outdo "Daddy" in placement (although, considering the nature of "Daddy", it's nothing short of lightning in a bottle it managed to chart at all). Averted in America, where "Daddy" and "Window" are his only charting songs on any Billboard chart (if both on separate charts - "Daddy" on the Heatseekers chart (#137), "Window" on the Dance Singles chart (#15)). "Avril 14th", a song of equal or maybe even greater popularity than the previously mentioned two, was never even released as a single.
  • Aqua had three #1 hits in the UK - their signature "Barbie Girl", "Turn Back Time", and... the third one must have been "Lollipop (Candyman)", right? Nope, that song didn't chart; the third of their three #1 hits was "Doctor Jones", which is one of their lesser-known songs elsewhere. Averted on the other side of the pond in the US, where "Barbie Girl" and "Lollipop (Candyman)" were their only Top 40 hits.
    • They also had multiple #1 hits in their native Denmark, but "Turn Back Time" stalled at #16, and "Lollipop" didn't even chart.
  • Armand van Helden's biggest Billboard Dance Club Songs hit wasn't "Witch Doktor" (#3), "The Funk Phenomena", or "The Ultrafunkula", the last two of which didn't even make it onto the chart. Instead, it was the Black Sheep Hit "You Don't Know Me", featuring Duane Harden, which held #2 for three months in 1999. His second greatest Billboard Dance hit after that was the now obscure "My My My", also peaking at #2 in December 2004. Averted on the Hot 100, where "Phenomena" was his only entry, though it only bubbled under at #102.
  • Avicii had two top 40 hits in America. One, of course, was his signature smash "Wake Me Up!" The other was "Levels", right? Wrong, #60; it was "Hey Brother," which was forgotten immediately after it fell off the charts and gets far less airplay as a recurrent than "Levels" despite the latter getting relatively little airplay upon its release. Averted in his native Sweden, where all three reached #1.
    • In the UK, his two #1 hits were "Wake Me Up!" and... not "Levels" or even "Hey Brother", instead it was "I Could Be the One".
  • The Bad Yard Club's two #1s on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart didn't consist of "In De Ghetto", which only reached #20, but "The Program" and "Gimme Luv (Eenie Meenie Miny Moe)".
  • Boney M's only US top 40 hit wasn't "Rasputin", which never charted stateside despite hitting the Top 10 nearly everywhere else. Instead, it was a cover of The Melodians' "Rivers of Babylon", which is well known around the world like many of Boney M's big hits, but did not go viral in the early 2020s in the US the way "Rasputin" did.
  • Calvin Harris's biggest hit as a lead artist in the U.S. is the #3 "This Is What You Came For", featuring Rihanna. While it remains to be seen if it becomes his best known song in America overall, it's likely to be more associated with Rihanna than Harris as she is a far bigger name than him; thus, it's unlikely to dethrone "Summer", his next biggest hit at #7 and one of his rare vocal turns, as his signature. Other than "Came", the hits least associated with him are probably his Ellie Goulding collaborations ("I Need Your Love" and "Outside"). Chances are, the only way he can possibly challenge "Summer"'s spot as his signature will be to sing again or hire a vocalist not well-known enough to take the spotlight away from him.
    • In his native UK, his highest charter from his debut album I Created Disco wasn't "Acceptable in the 80s" (#10), but instead the far more obscure "The Girls" (#3).
  • The Chemical Brothers only had one Hot 100 entry in America, the long forgotten "Setting Sun", which isn't nearly as well known as "Hey Girl Hey Boy", "Block Rockin' Beats" or "Galvanize". In the UK, they had two #1 hits, including "Block Rockin' Beats". The second wasn't "Hey Girl Hey Boy" or "Galvanize", both of which peaked at #3, but rather "Setting Sun".
  • David Guetta had three #4 hits in the USA, but none of them were "Titanium", which peaked at #7. Those #4 hits were actually "Without You" (featuring Usher), "Turn Me On" (featuring Nicki Minaj), and "I'm Good (Blue)" (featuring Bebe Rexha); while "Without" and "Good" is definitely better-known than "Turn", they're mostly associated with their featured artists rather than Guetta himself. Guetta's 2015 collaboration with Minaj, "Hey Mama", is also much better-known than "Turn Me On" despite peaking four spaces lower.
    • In the UK, he had six #1 hits, with four of them ("When Love Takes Over", "Sexy Bitch", "Titanium" and "I'm Good (Blue)") being some of his most popular songs. However, the other two ("Gettin' Over You" and "Lovers on the Sun") have been largely forgotten, especially compared to songs such as "Without You" (#6) and "Hey Mama" (#9).
    • In his native France, he achieved five #1s, one of them being the well-known "Sexy Bitch". As for the other four, they weren't "When Love Takes Over" (#2), "Without You" (#6), "Titanium" (#3), "Hey Mama" (#6), or "I'm Good (Blue)" (#4). Rather, they were the relatively forgotten "Gettin' Over You", "Sweat", "Dangerous", and "This One's for You".
  • deadmau5 has entered the Hot 100 only once: "Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff"? "Move for Me"? "Seeya"? It was actually the far more obscure "Raise Your Weapon", which peaked exactly at #100. Averted in his native Canada, where "Seeya" was his highest entry at #20.
  • Depeche Mode avert this in the U.S., where "Enjoy the Silence" was their only Top 10 hit on the Hot 100. However, in the UK, it peaked at #6, their highest-charting singles being three #4s. However, none of them were "Just Can't Get Enough" (#8), "Everything Counts" (#6), "Strangelove" (#16) or "Personal Jesus" (#13), among other songs they're well-known for - they were "People Are People" (still a relatively well-remembered song, if not quite as iconic as the aforementioned hits) and the lesser-known "Barrel of a Gun" and "Precious".
  • Disclosure is known in the U.S. mostly for 2012's "Latch", which became a hit in 2014 stateside after it was re-issued following the explosive rise of Sam Smith. It was their only hit in America, going up to #7. It's easy for Americans to imagine that as being their only success, given that its success there was mostly due to Smith's popularity than anything else. Back home, however, it actually wasn't their biggest hit, where it only reached #11 back when it actually was new. That honor goes to the #2 "White Noise" featuring AlunaGeorge. Additionally, "Latch" was also outpeaked by a single spot by "You & Me". Also, their second collaboration with Smith was 2015's "Omen", which failed to recapture the success of "Latch" only peaking at #64 stateside. However, they do have another song that's fairly well-known in the U.S. — "Magnets", their collaboration with Lorde. Despite not charting on the Hot 100, falling short at #102, it's probably better known than "Omen" due to it being their only success on alternative radio and for being another song featuring an artist much better known than them in the States.
  • DJ Rap's Signature Song, "Good to Be Alive", was outpeaked by "Bad Girl" in her native UK, but averts displacement in the US, where it reached #5 on the Hot Dance Club Play and was her only entry on any of the charts.
  • Fatboy Slim's only Top 40 entry in the US wasn't "The Rockafeller Skank" (#76) or "Gangster Trippin" (didn't chart), but rather "Praise You". It was also his only #1 in his native UK.
  • Groove Armada had two UK Top 10 hits, but neither of them were "At the River", "I See You Baby" or "Superstylin'", instead they were the far less remembered "Get Down" and "Song 4 Mutya".
  • Flight Facilities has had five charting singles in their native Australia, but none of them are "Crave You".
  • Of The Human League's two US #1's, the first was their signature "Don't You Want Me". The second wasn't "(Keep Feeling) Fascination", which only made #8, but rather the R&B ballad "Human".
  • Icona Pop had two #1 hits on the dance charts. One of them must have been "I Love It"… right? Nope, it never made it past #25 there. The two #1s are "All Night" and "Emergency". Averted overall, since "I Love It" was their only Top 10 hit in the US, and by extension, their only entry on the Hot 100.
  • Information Society have had three Billboard Top 40 hits. The first two are "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)" and "Walking Away". The third is not "Running", which, though a dance hit, never reached the Hot 100, but the now-forgotten "Think".
  • Jamiroquai:
    • Their only Hot 100 entry wasn't "Virtual Insanity" (which wasn't commercially released as a single in the US), "Space Cowboy" or "Canned Heat", but rather the completely forgotten "Alright" (which only reached #78).
    • While "Cowboy" and "Heat" were among their five #1s on the dance charts, "Insanity" was actually their smallest hit on that chart (only reaching #34) and was outpeaked fourteen times.
    • In the UK, their only #1 was the track they did for Godzilla (1998), "Deeper Underground", which is frequently on setlists but not as well-remembered by casuals.
  • Justice's signature "D.A.N.C.E." was their highest charter in the UKnote  and the closest they ever got the Hot 100 in the United States. In their native France however, it only hit #11 and was beaten by the #5 "Civilization", which is virtually unknown elsewhere. In fact, it probably doesn't even hold the distinction of being their second best-known song (that honor likely goes to the #88 "Waters of Nazareth").
  • Kygo scored his first Top 40 hit in 2017 with the #10 "It Ain't Me", but it's unlikely to displace the #92 "Firestone" or the #105 "Stole The Show" as his signatures, particularly because it's more associated with Selena Gomez than him as she is much more famous than he is - "Firestone" and "Stole The Show", conversely, use little-known vocalists and are still known primarily as Kygo's songs. Averted in his native Norway, where all the aforementioned songs are among his five chart-toppers.
  • Violinist Lindsey Stirling's only Hot 100 entry is a cover of "Hallelujah" with Joy Enriquez that peaked at #81 but is otherwise forgotten. As such, it's not as well-known as "Crystallize", "Beyond the Veil", "Shatter Me", "Something Wild" or "Brave Enough".
  • LMFAO had three top 40 hits: "Party Rock Anthem", "Sexy and I Know It" and… "Shots"? (Nope, #69) It was actually their spot on David Guetta’s "Gettin' Over You", which is far more obscure.
  • Madleen Kane's sole #1 on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart wasn't "Playing For Time", which only reached #10, but the preceding double A-side "You Can/Fire In My Heart". "You Can" was also her only song to chart on the Hot 100, at #77.
  • Major Lazer's biggest hit in America is 2016's #2 "Cold Water". However, it only became a hit because it featured Justin Bieber, and thus, because it is primarily associated with Bieber instead of Major Lazer, it does not displace the #4 "Lean On" as their signature. Even then, it's not quite as well-known as "Lean On" overall, regardless of Bieber's presence, given that it was the bigger hit in most other countries and one of the most played songs of all time on Spotify.
  • Massive Attack never charted on the Hot 100 in the US, but "Teardrop" did cross over on the Bubbling Under chart, at #10. However, "Teardrop" was not their only charting single on either the dance or alternative charts, which was instead "Safe From Harm" at #35 and #32, respectively. In this case, "Harm" probably isn't so much "forgotten" as much as it's overshadowed by another track from parent album Blue Lines, "Unfinished Sympathy", which is just behind "Teardrop" in the run-in for their signature. "Teardrop" eventually entered the Dance/Electronic Digital Songs chart, but even over there, it was beaten by "Paradise Circus" (#35 vs. #27), which is even less known than "Harm".
  • Moby's only Top 40 hit, "South Side" (which featured Gwen Stefani), is not nearly as well-remembered as "Bodyrock", "Natural Blues" or "Porcelain", none of which charted. The latter three were also not among his four #1s on the Dance Club Songs chart, peaking at #6, #11, and #14 respectively.
  • New Order's highest charter in America had to be "Blue Monday", right? Actually, it only charted at #68 as a remix released five years after the original (and below Orgy's 1999 cover which hit #56). Their two top 40 hits were "True Faith" and "Regret", which are among their best known singles, but aren't as iconic as "Blue Monday". Neither of these could even take the position of their second best known song, an honor that likely goes to "Bizarre Love Triangle" (which only peaked at #98, and beaten by Frente!'s 1994 cover at #49 — but that's even less known than Orgy's "Blue Monday").
  • ODESZA managed a charting entry on alternative radio, but it wasn't their signatures "Say My Name" or "Sun Models" but rather the much lesser-known "Line of Sight". Averted on the dance charts on one hand, where "Say My Name" was their biggest hit, though surprisingly "Sun Models" only reached a mere #40.
  • Orbital's two singles that reached the top 10 of the UK and Ireland charts, both at #3 and #7 respectively, were "The Saint", a remake of the theme to the classic TV series for use in its 1997 movie adaptation, and "Satan Live", a live version of an earlier Butthole Surfers' sampling track. The former was essentially forgotten by the group soon after touring for In Sides ended, and the latter was quickly forgotten about in favor of the original. What's more, what many would consider their signature, "Halcyon", only reached #37 in the UK, making it their lowest charting single that cracked the UK top 40, and their only other charting single in Ireland, "The Box", while definitely more well-known than "Saint" or "Satan", is not quite on the same level as "Halcyon", or, for that matter, their breakout "Chime". On the U.S. Dance Charts, three singles, including "Chime" (#23) and "Halcyon" (#33) both charted. The third single? "Are We Here?" (#38), which hasn't reached the heights of either the other singles that charted or "The Box".
  • Passion Pit had two entries on the dance charts, one of them predictably being "Sleepyhead" which peaked at #11. If you guessed that the second entry was "Take A Walk", you'd be wrong: it was actually "Carried Away" which isn't as well-known. Even more surprising is that "Away" peaked at #5, higher than "Sleepyhead". Averted on the Hot 100 where "Walk" was their only entry.
    • On Alternative Airplay, while "Walk" was the highest charter, "Sleepyhead" still didn't make the cut, with "The Reeling", "Lifted Up (1985)", and "Little Secrets", charting instead, despite all of them being completely obscure today.
  • The Prodigy's three best-known songs all came from their hit album The Fat of the Land, which is an example on both sides of the Atlantic:
    • They had two #1 hits in their native UK, "Breathe" and "Firestarter", which are both electronic classics. What was their only #2 hit? No, it wasn't "Smack My Bitch Up" (#8), but rather "Everybody in the Place" (which isn't even the best-known single on their album Experience; that honor goes to the #5 "Out of Space").
    • In the United States, they had two Hot 100 entries, with the #30 "Firestarter" and "Smack". Because of the controversy surrounding its lyrics and music video, "Smack" got little airplay at the time and stalled at #89, but is now the better-known song for that very reason. Still, "Breathe" was their biggest hit on Alternative radio.
  • Robert Miles' "One and One" is more familiar to pop listeners than the trance instrumental "Children", despite the latter outpeaking the former on the Hot 100 (#54 vs. #21). Averted in the US for the former's vocalist, Maria Nayler, since it was her only chart entry there.
  • Skrillex scored his only pop hit with the #8 "Where Are Ü Now" as a member of Jack Ü (also known as "Skrillex and Diplo"). However, since it's universally seen as Justin Bieber's song and sounds nothing like his signature dubstep style, it probably won't displace "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" (#69) and "Bangarang" (#72) as his signature.
    • As a pure lead artist, he also had one Top 40 hit: 2016's "Purple Lamborghini" featuring Rick Ross for the Suicide Squad soundtrack. Because it is more associated with its parent movie than him, and quickly fell down the charts, it could not displace either two of his classic singles.
  • Stevie B.'s highest charter and sole #1 on the Hot 100 wasn't "Spring Love" (just missed the Top 40 at #43), "I Wanna Be the One" (#32), or "In My Eyes" (#37), but instead the Black Sheep Hit ballad "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)". Two of his three other hits that outpeaked the former three songs were ballads as well. Averted on the Dance Club Songs chart, where the formermost was his highest entry at #5.
  • Thomas Dolby has had four Top 40 hits in his native UK … but his signature, "She Blinded Me With Science", only reached #49. Averted, however, in the U.S, where it was his only Top 40 hit.
  • Tiësto's highest charter on the Billboard Hot 100 was "The Motto", a collaboration with Ava Max, which peaked at #42 in 2022. While it's still new, it remains to be seen if it will displace "Red Lights" (#56), "The Business" (#69), or "Adagio for Strings" (which never charted on the Hot 100, but is considered this for his Trance era) as his signature.
  • Underworld's "Born Slippy .NUXX" only reached #27 on the dance charts, a position that they outpeaked six times. They had two songs that entered the Hot 100, but neither of them were "Born Slippy .NUXX", or anything else from their "Underworld Mk. 2" incarnation - they were "Underneath the Radar" and "Stand Up", both from their days as an 80's synthpop act. Averted in their native UK, where the formermost song was their highest-peaking at #2.
  • Will to Power's only #1 (and first of two Top 10 hits) on the Billboard Hot 100, wasn't Signature Song "Dreamin'" (#50), or the follow-up "Say It's Gonna Rain" (#49, though it reached #1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart), but their now-obscure cover medley of Peter Frampton's "Baby, I Love Your Way" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird", which was also a Black Sheep Hit for them, being a slow ballad in contrast to their usual freestyle/dancepop material. Their second and last US Top 10 hit was an even less remembered cover of 10cc's "I'm Not in Love", which has likewise fallen back into the shadow of the original.
  • Zedd's two biggest hits in the U.S. were the #7 "Stay", a song equally-credited to Alessia Cara, and the #5 "The Middle", a collaboration with Maren Morris and Grey. Whether or not either will become more well-known overall than his 2013 Breakthrough Hit "Clarity", a #8 hit, remains to be seen, but it's unlikely to be displaced as his signature, given that unlike on "Stay" or "The Middle", Zedd is the sole lead artist on "Clarity", and "Clarity"'s vocalist Foxes is much less famous than either Cara or Morris, with the former being a pop radio mainstay and the latter a big up-and-comer in country music. It also remains to be seen whether "Stay" and "The Middle" are recalled as Zedd's hits or those of their vocalists.

  • Andy Williams' recording of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" didn't even chart until 2017, as it was written for Williams' 1963 Christmas special and was not issued as a single. In his later years, Williams was surprised that the song had become one of his best known despite its low profile at initial release. "Wonderful Time" now has a perfectly respectful #5 Hot 100 peak, but for years it was outpeaked by several less remembered songs. This is still the case for another of Williams' classics; His cover of "Moon River" was also never issued as a single and has never charted (Henry Mancini's version was the hit).
  • Aventura had three charting hits on the Hot 100, but "Obsesión", which was a massive hit globally, topping many European charts such as France, Italy and Germany, was not among them. Even on the Latin charts, where they had fourteen top 40 hits (and three #1s), none were "Obsesión".
  • Bob Marley's highest-charting song was "Roots, Rock, Reggae", which peaked at #51. To say the least, it isn't as memorable as, say, "No Woman No Cry", "Jammin'", "I Shot the Sheriff", or "Three Little Birds", none of which charted.
    • Although he fared better in the UK charts, he still suffered from this as his biggest hit was a house remix of "Sun is Shining" by Funkstar De Luxe, which made it to #3, although several of his more famous songs came close, such as "Buffalo Soldier" (#4) and "Is This Love" (#9).
  • Reggae duo Chaka Demus and Pliers had a run of UK hits in the 1990s, but are mainly remembered for the first, "Tease Me", a #3 hit — while their cover of "Twist and Shout" has fallen into obscurity despite going all the way to #1.
  • Dick Dale had two Hot 100 hits, neither of which was "Misirlou". Its only visit to the charts came in the form of a sample from the Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It", which made it to #18. While people who haven't seen Pulp Fiction will almost certainly recognize "Pump It" much better, the original is still held in the greatest esteem.
  • Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad", first released in 1970, didn't chart in Billboard until decades later (1998 was its first chart entry). What makes it even crazier is that Billboard had a special Christmas-only chart from 1963-72, but "Feliz Navidad" didn't appear on it at all in 1970, even though it charted in the regular Top 100 in Billboard's rival Cashbox (peaking at #71). Eventually, this was fixed decades later after older songs were allowed to chart again, and as of 2020, "Feliz Navidad" has more understandable #6 Hot 100 chart peak... and it's still not his highest-charting song. That would be his cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire", which peaked at #3.
  • Louis Armstrong's only #1 on the Hot 100 wasn't "What a Wonderful World", but rather "Hello, Dolly!", which while still remembered as the title song to the popular musical, isn't particularly associated with Armstrong. On "What a Wonderful World"'s original release in 1967, it was a top 10 hit all around the world (including #1 in the UK and Austria), but didn't even make the Hot 100 in America. It would take a Revival by Commercialization from being featured in Good Morning, Vietnam for the song to make it to #32 in the US in February 1988, 17 years after Armstrong's death.
  • Norah Jones has had four #1s on the Billboard adult alternative chart, but none of them are her signature "Don't Know Why", which only reached #5 there. Averted on the Hot 100 where "Don't Know Why" was her only Top 40 hit.
  • Funk group The Time are today best remembered for the #20 hit "Jungle Love." Many forget they actually had a Top 10 hit a while afterwards with "Jerk-Out."
  • Tony Bennett had many bigger hits on the charts than his Signature Song "I Left My Heart In San Francisco", which only climbed to a modest #19.
  • The Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Linus and Lucy" is one of the most recognizable pieces of music in American pop culture, but never came anywhere near a chart when it was originally released in 1965. Guaraldi did have one Top 40 hit, but it was the completely Peanuts-unrelated "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" in 1963 (which got Covered Up two years later when Sounds Orchestral took the song into the Top 10). But "Linus and Lucy" became another beneficiary of Billboard's new methodology that allows decades-old songs to chart, and finally gave Guaraldi his second Top 40 appearance when it peaked at #37 during the 2021 holiday season (and almost a third one as well, with "Christmas Time is Here" topping out at #41).
  • Well-known songs across different genres that just barely missed the Top 40 by peaking at #41 in Billboard include "From Me to You" (The Beatles), "Promised Land" (Chuck Berry), "Mr. Pitiful" (Otis Redding), "Mission: Impossible" (Lalo Schifrin), "Okie from Muskogee" (Merle Haggard), "Tiny Dancer" (Elton John), "Changes" (David Bowie), "La Grange" (ZZ Top), "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" (Bob Seger), "Good Times Roll" (The Cars), "Workin' for a Livin'" (Huey Lewis and the News), "Pretty in Pink" (The Psychedelic Furs), "Super Bowl Shuffle" (The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew), "Closer" (Nine Inch Nails) and "Alive" (P.O.D.).

    Billboard Year-End Charts 
  • Every year, Billboard publishes a year-end chart of the top songs on the Hot 100 and other genres. In the past, it has presented quite a few oddities. Some of these are due to timing: if a big hit gets released late in a year, its chart points will end up being divided between that year and the next one, while big hits released at the beginning of the year are more likely to top a year-end chart. Others are due to chart longevity: if a song that only peaked at, for example, #2 had significant chart longevity, it may have a chance of topping a year-end chart.
  • This is also true of the Year-End charts for the Country Music format, which have presented a few oddities:
    • In 1973, Don Williams' single "Amanda" peaked at No. 33 during its original chart run, yet ranked as the fifth-biggest single of the entire year. This may be in part due to a much-longer chart run when paired with its double A-sided flip side "Come Early Morning," which peaked at No. 12. The two-sided hit had a 19-week chart run that spanned from late April to early September, and it was likely that the song, while hugely popular, never peaked in popularity at the same time everywhere, but the big picture showed a one of the year's most popular songs, and by a then-newcomer.
    • In 1975, two songs that peaked in the top 3 during their original chart runs ranked among the top 5 country hits of the entire year, both coming in August: "Love in the Hot Afternoon" by Gene Watson, which ranked at No. 4 for the year despite a No. 3 chart peak; and "Reconsider Me" by Narvel Felts, which matched its original No. 2 chart peak with being the runner-up song of the year.
    • During the 1978-1989 Bob Kingsley era of American Country Countdown, only once as a song failing to reach No. 1 ever been one of the top 10 songs of the year. That came in 1982, when Hank Williams Jr.'s iconic "A Country Boy Can Survive" was that year's No. 8 song, thanks largely to its three-week run at No. 2. note  The 1978 year-end countdown, in contrast, did have two songs that peaked in the top 5 make the year-end top 20, which was increasingly rare by that time: "Middle-Aged Crazy" by Jerry Lee Lewis (a No. 4 hit that was the 20th-ranked song of the year) and "Hearts on Fire" by Eddie Rabbitt (which spent three weeks at No. 2 and was the 18th-ranked song of the year).
      • In contrast, the official Billboard year-end publication was kinder to several songs during the 1980s than the ACC-compiled year-end countdown. The most notable non-No. 1 songs featured in a year-end's top 10 during the decade included two from 1982: Williams' "A Country Boy Can Survive" (at No. 9 for the year per the official survey) and then-newcomer George Strait's "If You're Thinking You Want a Stranger (There's One Coming Home)", at No. 8 for the year after peaking at No. 3 in mid-spring. note  From 1985, a pair of summertime hits: Janie Fricke's "She's Single Again" (No. 2 during its run, No. 6 for the year) and "Falling In Love" by Sylvia (No. 3 originally, No. 9 for the year). In 1987, T.G. Sheppard's "Half Past Forever ('Till I'm Blue In the Heart)" peaked at No. 2 and was listed as the runner-up song of the year. In 1989, Conway Twitty had the third-ranked song of the year, "She's Got a Single Thing in Mind", which during its original chart run peaked at No. 2 that July.
    • The biggest hit of 1984 according to Billboard was Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias' "To All the Girls I've Loved Before". Despite the star power and pop crossover, it didn't have the endurance of "Mama He's Crazy" by The Judds (#3), "I Got Mexico" by Eddy Raven (#7), "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)" by Alabama (#15), or "You Look So Good in Love" by George Strait (#40).
    • 1987's biggest hit per Billboard Year-End was "Give Me Wings" by Michael Johnson, a quickly-forgotten Two-Hit Wonder (his other hit, "The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder", placed fifth that year) who would have considerably less of an impact than Randy Travis' Signature Song "Forever and Ever, Amen". Despite being the only song to spend three weeks at #1 that year, "Forever and Ever, Amen" only ranked #14 on the year-end charts. Other major hits from 1987 that ranked lower include "Fishin' in the Dark" by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (#4) and "I'll Still Be Loving You" by Restless Heart (#36). Most surprisingly, George Strait's "All My Ex's Live in Texas" and "Ocean Front Property" (two of his three #1 hits that year) didn't even make the year-end ranking at all despite being well-known after the fact.
    • The biggest hit of 1990 according to Billboard was the largely-forgotten "Nobody's Home" by Clint Black. "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks, one of the most iconic country songs of the '90s, only ranked #28 for the year, with even Garth's own "The Dance" outpacing it at #13. Also ranking lower was George Strait's "Love Without End, Amen" at #4.
    • Surely the biggest country hit of 1992 was Billy Ray Cyrus's inescapable "Achy Breaky Heart", right? Nope, according to Billboard it was "I Saw the Light" by Wynonna Judd; Billy Ray ranked #2 for the year. Of course, he had the biggest country hit on the Hot 100 that year.
    • 2003 presents a real oddity. The top-ranking single of the year was "My Front Porch Looking In" by Lonestar, which barely eked out a single week at #1 late in the year — despite 2003 having had a myriad of singles that spent six to eight weeks at the top position each, such as "19 Somethin'" by Mark Wills (#3), "Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley (#12), "Beer for My Horses" by Toby Keith and Willie Nelson (#2), and "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett (#4). While "Have You Forgotten?" was an Unintentional Period Piece that gets virtually no airplay anymore, the others would certainly outpace "My Front Porch Looking In". "My Front Porch Looking In" also out-ranked far more better-remembered tracks such as Emerson Drive's "Fall into Me" (#36) and the Dixie Chicks' "Travelin' Soldier" (#48).
    • 2005's biggest hit was "That's What I Love About Sunday" by Craig Morgan, who would have only a few more modest hits and nowhere near the career endurance of those he outranked. The second- and third-ranked songs of the year were "As Good as I Once Was" by Toby Keith and "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts, both far more enduring hits by much bigger names. Also faring better in terms of longevity were Sugarland's "Something More" (#4) and "Baby Girl" (#7), Keith Urban's "Making Memories of Us" (#8), Montgomery Gentry's "Gone" (#10) and "Something to Be Proud Of" (#17), and Kenny Chesney's "Anything but Mine" (#13).
    • The biggest country hit of 2008 was "Just Got Started Lovin' You" by James Otto, one of the more egregious cases of a One-Hit Wonder in the genre. This ranked higher than other, more enduring songs of the year such as "I Saw God Today" by George Strait (#2), "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" by Darius Rucker (#4), "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins (#7), "Our Song" by Taylor Swift (#39), "All Summer Long" by Kid Rock (#42), "Stay" by Sugarland (#44), and "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band (#49).
    • For 2009, the biggest country hit was by Lady Antebellum... but it was not their crossover smash "Need You Now", but rather the predecessor "I Run to You". "Need You Now" only ranked #48. This is partially because "I Run to You" was a Sleeper Hit with a slow chart run, while "Need You Now" ascended much faster late in the year and didn't truly become a crossover until 2010. Other more famous songs falling short of "I Run to You" were Billy Currington's "People Are Crazy" (#7), Jason Aldean's "Big Green Tractor" (#10), Chris Young's "Gettin' You Home (The Black Dress Song)" (#12), and Taylor Swift's "You Belong with Me" (#13).
    • 2010 was the first year in which the top country song according to Billboard Year-End did not peak at #1 on the weekly charts; namely, "Love Like Crazy" by Lee Brice. This song only peaked at #3, but benefited from an abnormally long chart run. Fortunately for Brice, it proved to be his Breakthrough Hit and one of his most popular in the long run.
    • 2011 honors went to "Crazy Girl" by Eli Young Band. While it is their most famous song, Eli Young Band would not have the career longevity of artists they outranked, such as "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" by Jake Owen (#2), "You and Tequila" by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter (#7), "Honey Bee" by Blake Shelton (#8), "Knee Deep" by Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffett (#12), "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)" by Luke Bryan (#16), "Don't You Wanna Stay" by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson (#19), or "Dirt Road Anthem" also by Jason Aldean (#25).
    • 2012's biggest hit on Country Airplaynote  was "Time Is Love" by Josh Turner, which only got to #2 on the weekly charts, but also benefited from an abnormally long chart run. Unlike "Love Like Crazy", however, it didn't prove to be one of Turner's bigger hits, and he had almost no career momentum afterward. Rating lower were "Springsteen" (#9), "Wanted" (#20), "Blown Away" (#32), and "Red Solo Cup" (#53).
    • Brice did it again in 2015 on Country Airplay when "Drinking Class" was the top hit of the year; despite only peaking at #2, it also benefited from an abnormally long chart run.