Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number: Sia & Other Artists Who Topped the Hot 100 After 40
7/28/2016 by Trevor Anderson
As Siaâ€™s â€œCheap Thrillsâ€ becomes her firstBillboard Hot 100 No. 1 as an artist, the singer-songwriter also completes the rare feat of topping the chart after her 40th birthday. Just how unusual is the achievement?Â Sia isâ€¦
— The first female act with the honorÂ since 1991, when Loleatta Holloway, then 44, was a featured artist on Marky Mark & The Funky Bunchâ€™s â€œGood Vibrations,â€ helped shake up the No. 1 spot for one week in 1991.
— And finally, the first female as a lead actÂ to do soÂ since 1989, when a then-43-year-old Bette Midler reached No. 1 with â€œWind Beneath My Wings,â€ from the Beachessoundtrack, for one week in June 1989.
Plus, with â€œThrillsâ€ featured act Sean Paul at age 43, the Hot 100â€™s new leader is the first No. 1 hit to boast two soloists each over 40 years old since â€œAll For Loveâ€ in 1994, as Stewart was 49 at the time and Sting was 42. Adams, meanwhile, was 36.
They arenâ€™t the only chart-toppers, though, whoâ€™ve reached No. 1 after their 40th birthday. Noticeably, until the 1990s, it appears that veteran acts more commonly topped the Hot 100 than today.
In the 1980s, several acts had built up long chart histories dating to the early rock era. (The Billboard Hot 100 chart was launched in August of 1958.) Take for example The Beatlesâ€™ George Harrison, who was 44 when he led with “Got My Mind Set on You” in 1988. Or, Bill Medley — who had ruled the Hot 100 in the 1960s as half of The Righteous Brothers â€“ as he led in 1987 at age 47 with the Dirty Dancing classic “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.â€
Further, as Medleyâ€™s duet partner on that hit was Jennifer Warnes, then 40, “Cheap Thrills” is the first Hot 100 No. 1 since “Life” billed to a male and female artist both at least 40 years of age.
As for the 1980s and 1990s: why did acts over 40 perhaps lead the Hot 100 less often by the early 1990s? Factors could include the splintering of mainstream pop, home to several veteran acts, into younger-leaning grunge and rap. Plus, the establishment of video, first fostered by MTV and then by social media, has also surely favored more youthful acts.
Check out this selection of artists who have seized the Hot 100 crown after turning 40:
2014 – Pharrell, â€œHappyâ€ (40 years, 11 months)
The star producer and artist first scored a No. 1 north of age 40 as a featured act onRobin Thickeâ€™s â€œBlurred Linesâ€ in 2013, and followed with another chart-topper the next year. â€œHappyâ€ led the Hot 100 for 10 weeks in 2014.
2013 – Eminem, â€œThe Monsterâ€ (41 years, 2 months)
When Eminem and RihannaÂ reunited for a follow up to their Hot 100 No. 1 smash â€œLove The Way You Lie,â€ the result sparked a repeat performance. â€œThe Monsterâ€ led the chart for four weeks in 2013 and 2014.
2009 – Dr. Dre, â€œCrack a Bottleâ€ (44 years)
The NWA member and successful producer scored his first Hot 100 leader as a lead artist at age 44, helping out protÃ©gÃ©es Eminem and 50 Cent. Heâ€™d previously visited the crown as a featured act on Blackstreetâ€™s â€œNo Diggity,â€ a four-week leader in 1996.
2000 – Madonna, â€œMusicâ€ (42 years, 1 month)
Madonna upped her Hot 100 leader count to 12 with this 2000 smash, which reigned for four weeks. â€œMusicâ€ made Madonna only the second act at the time (after Janet Jackson) to score chart-toppers in the 1980s, â€˜90s and â€˜00s.
1999 – Cher, â€œBelieveâ€ (52 years, 9 months)
At 52, Cher remains the oldest woman to command the Hot 100. â€œBelieveâ€ held the No. 1 post for five weeks and was named the top Hot 100 year-end single of 1999. â€œBelieveâ€ marked a musical comeback for the diva, as it was her first top 10 hit since January of 1990 (â€œJust Like Jesse Jamesâ€) and her first No. 1 since 1974â€™s â€œDark Lady.â€
1992, 1997 – Elton John, â€œDonâ€™t Let The Sun Go Down on Meâ€ & â€œCandle in the Wind 1997â€ (44 years, 10 months and 50 years, 6 months)
Sir Elton joined the 40-and-over club twice, notably both times with new takes on previously released hits. A live duet with George Michael of his 1974 track â€œDonâ€™t Let The Sun Go Down on Meâ€ climbed to No. 1 in 1992. A little over five years later, John returned to the summit with a reworked version of â€œCandle in the Wind,â€ crafted as a tribute to his close friend, Diana, Princess of Wales.
1993 – Meat Loaf, â€œIâ€™d Do Anything For Love (But I Wonâ€™t Do That)â€ (46 years, 1 month)
Meat Loaf swept to No. 1 for the first time with this declaration in late 1993, leading the list for five straight weeks. Meat Loaf had been absent from the Hot 100 since 1981 when he staged his triumphant return in 1993 with â€œIâ€™d Do Anything For Loveâ€ and its parent album, the Billboard 200-chart topping Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell.
1989 – Billy Joel, â€œWe Didnâ€™t Start The Fireâ€ (40 years, 7 months)
â€œWe Didnâ€™t Start the Fire,â€ the historical survey of major events of Joelâ€™s lifetime, crowned the Hot 100 just after the singer-songwriter crossed a personal milestone: Heâ€™d turned 40 just seven months before the song reached No. 1.
1989 – Bette Midler, â€œWind Beneath My Wingsâ€ (43 years, 6 months)
The Divine Miss M soared to No. 1 for the first time with this track on the Beachessoundtrack, more than 15 years after her first top 10 hit. â€œWingsâ€ would go on to snare Grammy Awards for record and song of the year. â€œWingsâ€ was Midlerâ€™s first top 40 hit on the Hot 100 since 1981 (â€œMy Motherâ€™s Eyesâ€).
1988 – George Harrison, â€œGot My Mind Set on Youâ€ (44 years, 10 months)
The last Hot 100 No. 1 by a Beatle to date, Harrisonâ€™s track (his third solo No. 1) made him the third member of the Fab Four to snag a chart-topper after age 40. John Lennonlast topped the survey with â€œJust Like Starting Overâ€ in 1980, weeks after his assassination at age 40. Paul McCartney, meanwhile, crossed the four-decade mark when â€œEbony and Ivory,â€ a duet with Stevie Wonder, was in the middle of a seven-week No 1 stint in 1982. The following year, McCartney also crowned the list again with another duet: â€œSay Say Say,â€ with Michael Jackson.
1987 – Bob Seger, â€œShakedownâ€ (42 years, 2 months)
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee shook up the Hot 100 with his first and only No. 1 to date, a cut from the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack.
1987 – Aretha Franklin, â€œI Knew You Were Waiting For Meâ€ (45 years)
After â€œRespectâ€ topped the Hot 100 in June of 1967, the Queen of Soul waited nearly 20 years for her second visit (and so far last) to the penthouse. The moment finally arrived in April of 1987 courtesy of this duet with George Michael, which scored the pair a Grammy Award.
1986 – Peter Cetera, â€œGlory of Loveâ€ & â€œThe Next Time I Fallâ€ (41 years, 10 months andÂ 42 years, 2 months)
The former Chicago frontman reached the pinnacle twice in his 40s: first with â€œGlory,â€ the theme to the hit film The Karate Kid II in 1986. He then teamed up with Amy Grantfor â€œFall,â€ which rose to No. 1 three months later.
1984 – Tina Turner, â€œWhatâ€™s Love Got To Do With Itâ€ (44 years, 9 months)
Twenty-four years after she first reached the Hot 100 â€“ as half of Ike & Tina Turner in 1960 â€“ Tina claimed her first leader on the list. â€œWhatâ€™s Love Got To Do With Itâ€ clocked three weeks at the summit in 1984.
1975, 1978 – Frankie Valli, â€œMy Eyes Adored Youâ€ & â€œGreaseâ€ (40 years, 10 months and 44 years, 3 months)
Valli — the legendary leader of The Four Seasons — reinvigorated his career with solo chart-toppers in his 40s. In 1975, â€œEyesâ€ became the singerâ€™s first top 10 hit in eight years, while the smash success of the film Grease thrust Valliâ€™s recording of the title track to the summit in 1978.
1972 – Chuck Berry, â€œMy Ding-a-Lingâ€ (46 years)
The rock and roll pioneer solidified his place as Hot 100 chart royalty in 1972, when his novelty track â€œMy Ding-a-lingâ€ rang up a week at No. 1. It was his first, and only, leader on the Hot 100.
1972 – Sammy Davis Jr., â€œThe Candy Manâ€ (46 years, 6 months)
The classic movie tune, originally written for the film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, became a runaway success when Davis covered the track in 1972. The tune became the Rat Pack memberâ€™s sole leader on the list, and spent three weeks at No. 1.
1966, 1967 – Frank Sinatra, “Strangers in the Night” andÂ â€œSomethinâ€™ Stupidâ€ (50 years, 6 months and 51 years, 4 months)
Sinatra achieved both of his Hot 100 No. 1s over the age of 50, as his solo smash â€œStrangers in the Nightâ€ acended to the top when he was 50, while his duet with his daughter Nancy Sinatra on â€œSomethinâ€™ Stupidâ€ led the tally the following year, when he was 51.
1964 â€“ Dean Martin, â€œEverybody Loves Somebodyâ€ (47 years, 2 months)
Martin beat his Rat Pack pals Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra to No. 1 on the Â Hot 100, as Martinâ€™s scored his first No. 1 on the list in 1964 with â€œEverybody Loves Somebody.â€ (Sinatra and Davis Jr. would notch their first No. 1s in 1966 and 1972, respectively.) Notably, like Davis Jr. and Sinatra, Martinâ€™s Billboard chart history pre-dates the launch of the Hot 100 in 1958. Martin and Sinatra first began visitingBillboardâ€™s various pop singles charts in the 1940s, while Davis Jr. made his pop singles chart arrival in the mid-1950s.
1964 – Louis Armstrong, â€œHello Dollyâ€ (62 years, 9 months)
The jazz legend became the Hot 100â€™s oldest No. 1 hitmaker when he said hello to No. 1 with this tune. He also forced The Beatles to say goodbye to the top, as the Fab Four ended a 14-week stretch at the top by way of three different songs.