Ask Billboard: A ‘Closer’ Look at Elton John’s – And Bernie Taupin’s – Span of Top 10 Hot 100 Hits

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Elton, Britney … & Bernie Taupin, Ed Sheeran & Rihanna

Hi Gary,

Quite a week for Elton John and Britney Spears, and Bernie Taupin, as “Hold Me Closer” debuts at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Upon its start, it ties the Hot 100 peak of Ed Sheeran’s 2017 hit “Castle on the Hill,” which makes “Tiny Dancer,” interpolated in “Hold Me Closer,” central to its lyrics. “I’m on my way,” Sheeran sings in “Castle,” “Driving at 90 down those country lanes, singing to ‘Tiny Dancer’ …”

(More recently, Ed and Elton worked even more closely, topping both the Official UK Singles chart and Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart with “Merry Christmas,” and leading the former as featured on LadBaby’s holiday treat “Sausage Rolls.”)

Plus, Rihanna’s first Hot 100 chart-topper, 2006’s “SOS,” can be traced to “Tiny Dancer,” as she sings, “Just hold me close, boy, ’cause I’m your tiny dancer …”

As for John’s 51-year, seven-month and three-week span of Hot 100 top 10s, Taupin, John’s legendary longtime writing partner, shares that achievement as a writer, from “Your Song” in 1971 through “Hold Me Closer.”

How prophetic Bernie was when he penned, “I think it’s gonna be a long, long time …”

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, Calif.

Hi Pablo,

Even John himself is enjoying his latest Hot 100 hit.

Also a fan of “Hold Me Closer,” it seems? Tony Danza retweeted John’s announcement of its release, with it being a safe bet as to which part of the mash-up the venerable actor/entertainer prefers best.

As for the other song key to “Hold Me Closer,” John’s “The One” topped the AC chart for six weeks in 1992 – to that point his longest-reigning No. 1 at the format. Impressively, he’s since led even longer with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” for eight weeks in 1994; “Something About the Way You Look Tonight,” for 10 weeks in 1997-98; and “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix),” with Dua Lipa, for 14 weeks through the Sept. 3-dated survey.

While John expands his Hot 100 top 10 streak, so does Spears, to 23 years and nine months (dating to her first week in the region, Dec. 12, 1998), as she becomes just the 12th artist to have ranked in the top 10 in four or more decades.

As for John, in his first week in the Hot 100’s top 10, on the Jan. 23, 1971, chart, fellow artists in the tier included the Bee Gees, Perry Como, George Harrison, Santana and Barbra Streisand.

That John and Spears – and Taupin – this week rank in the Hot 100’s top 10 alongside such fellow cornerstone acts as Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Harry Styles, as well as newcomers to the bracket in Steve Lacy, Nicky Youre and dazy, further reflects their exceptional longevity and uncommonly faithful followings.

‘Hey,’ It’s Been 30 Years

Hi Garrett,

One of the many great songs, and hits, on Gin Blossoms’ major-label debut, New Miserable Experience.

Meanwhile, Aug. 29 marked the 30th anniversary of Gin Blossoms’ Billboard chart debut, as the set by the band from Tempe, Ariz., roared in at No. 1 on the “Heatseekers – Mountain” chart on that date in 1992. The LP has spent 102 weeks on the Billboard 200 and has earned 2.9 million equivalent album units to date, according to Luminate.

The album’s “Hey Jealousy” became the band’s first Hot 100 hit, followed by “Found Out About You.” Both tracks rose to No. 25 on the chart, while the latter topped Alternative Airplay. On Pop Airplay, the songs hit Nos. 20 and 6, respectively, and subsequent singles “Until I Fall Away” and “Allison Road” reached the tally’s top 15.

“It just has a real sweet quality,” Gin Blossoms singer/guitarist Jesse Valenzuela told Billboard of lead singer Robin Wilson’s voice for an in-depth celebration of the group earlier this year. “At that time [of the band’s breakthrough], I think a lot of voices were more yellers, shouters and stuff like that. And it wasn’t that sort of voice. I think that was a real distinction.”

The consistently touring band has, since 1992, comprised a core of Wilson, Valenzuela, guitarist Scotty Johnson and bassist Bill Leen. “A lot of our buddies, they’ve all quit, or [are] just not doing much anymore,” Johnson mused. “The fact that we’ve been doing it for 30 years, it means something.”

Said Wilson, “All you could really hope for is, like, a legacy. To retain your credibility, and your ability to sell tickets. It’s just cool to be a part of the big rock story.”

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