LOOKING FOR A HIT

Yesterday, I turned my iPod dial to Fleetwood Mac and let the music play. As I listened, I couldn’t believe my ears. I’d never realized how many great, well-known songs they’ve produced. “Say You Love Me.” “You Make Loving Fun.” “Tusk” (my personal favorite FM single). “Hold Me.” “Big Love.” And the list goes on and on and on. I went to my old trusted friend Wikipedia to check out their chart fortunes, and I was shocked into shame to discover that only nine of those incredible timeless songs made the Top 10 on Billboard‘s Hot 100.

But wait. There’s more. Compared to some of the titans of rock, that’s a truckload of hits, especially if you factor in the six Top 10 “solo” singles that FM members Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie have racked up between them (two more if you count John Stewart’s “Gold” and Kenny Loggins’s “Whenever I Call You Friend,” which both featured Stevie on harmony). Take U2, for instance. Arguably the biggest rock band of the last 25 years, Bono and the boys have only managed to score a paltry six Top 10 singles, their last being “Discothèque” a whopping 12 years ago. If this doesn’t give you the slightest bit of pause, consider this: The Police, in their short five-year recording career, managed as many Top 10s as U2 has in nearly 30 years. For a more contemporary comparison, in her short four-year recording career, Rihanna already has nine Top 10s to her name, five of them from the original and “Reloaded” versions of her Good Girl Gone Bad album.

At the end of the day, when you’ve sold as many albums and sold out as many stadiums as U2 and Fleetwood Mac have, it sort of doesn’t matter. But I’m just saying.

Here are some other legends with surprisingly skimpy hit lists.

  • David Bowie: 6 Top 10s (5 solo, 1 with Mick Jagger)
  • Queen: 4 Top 10s (although “Bohemian Rhapsody” went Top 10 twice)
  • ABBA: 4 Top 10s
  • Tom Petty: 4 Top 10s (1 solo, 1 with The Heartbreakers, 1 with The Traveling Wilburys, 1 with Stevie Nicks)
  • Joni Mitchell: 1 Top 10
  • Led Zeppelin: 1 Top 10
  • Elvis Costello: 0 Top 10s
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