ELVIS, KING OF THE #2 HITS

The upcoming 30th Anniversary celebration will generate stories about Elvis in all sorts of media.  Many of these feature articles will mention the fact that Elvis had eighteen #1 hits.  What they won’t mention is that Elvis also had a record six #2 hits.  These songs sold over a million copies each and spent many weeks on the Top 40 charts, but they had unfortunate timing for their release and got stalled behind some of Rock & Roll’s monster hits.  Let’s take a look at the six Elvis songs in reverse chronological order.  All statistical information comes from a reference I have used for over twenty years: “The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits.”

 

Burning Love:  This was Elvis’ highest-ranking song during the last seven years of his career, but it was kept from the top spot by the only #1 hit for another legend, Chuck Berry.  It’s hard to believe Berry’s songs like “School Day,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” and “Johnny B. Goode” never reached #1, but his 1972 novelty song “My Ding-A-Ling” did.  It stayed on top for two weeks and effectively blocked Elvis.  However, “Burning Love” is a classic that became a staple of his concerts, and it stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks.

 

Return To Sender:  In 1962 this song stayed at #2 for an unbelievable five weeks, and it was blocked from the top by the same song for the entire period.  So what was the powerhouse single that denied Elvis #1?  It was “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by the Four Seasons.  1962 was the year they blasted onto the music scene, and their first three releases (not counting a Christmas song) spent a combined thirteen weeks at #1.  It was a pretty good year for Elvis, too, with “Good Luck Charm” going to #1 and six other singles ranking on the charts.  “Return To Sender” stayed in the Top 40 for a total of fourteen weeks.

 

Can’t Help Falling In Love:  This was one of those six other hits in 1962, making it a year of double frustration for Elvis.  “Can’t Help Falling In Love” had the misfortune of trying to buck the early 60s twist fad.  During the one week it reached #2, it was sandwiched between two twist songs.  “The Twist” by Chubby Checker was #3 and dropping after it’s second reign as #1 (the other was in the Fall of 1960).  No other song has ever gone to #1 twice in different years.  The song that kept Elvis from the top was “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee and The Starlighters.  “Can’t Help Falling In Love” stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks.

 

A Fool Such As I:  Elvis was still in the Army in 1959, but the vault of songs he recorded before going to Germany produced four hits, including “A Big Hunk of Love” at #1.  Next best was “A Fool Such As I,” and it stalled at #2 behind “Come Softly To Me” by the Fleetwoods, which claimed the top spot for four weeks.  “A Fool Such As I” spent eleven weeks in the Top 40.  However, it fared better in England, where it was #1 for five weeks.

 

Wear My Ring Around Your Neck:  In April 1958, this song entered the Billboard charts at #7 – the highest entry position of any Elvis single.  It was certified a million seller based on advance orders alone.  With momentum like that, how could “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” not make it to #1?  It was blocked blocked by the novelty song “Witch Doctor” by David Seville, who later created Alvin and the Chipmunks.  “Wear My Ring Around your Neck” stayed in the Top 40 for thirteen weeks.

 

Love Me:  Elvis entered 1957 with five #1 hits already to his credit (“Jailhouse Rock,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” and “Love Me Tender”).  He would achieve four more in 1957 (“Too Much,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,” and “Jailhouse Rock).  ”Love Me” stalled at #2 for two weeks, but this is quite an achievement for a song that was not released as a single.  It was one of four songs on the EP Elvis, Volume 1.  EPs (Extended Play) were in essence 45-RPM mini-albums.  Elvis, Volume 1 was released on the same day as Elvis’ first album Elvis.  The four songs were also in the album, and the EP cover had the same picture.  “Love Me” was blocked by a huge hit “Singing The Blues” by Guy Mitchell.  “Singing The Blues” stayed at #1 for ten straight weeks.  If that sounds like it ought to be a record, it is not.  The longest stay at # 1 belongs to Elvis.  “Don’t Be Cruel” sat at #1 for 11 weeks, and the next week, the flip-side “Hound Dog” moved into the top spot.

 

For what it’s worth, Elvis also had three songs stalled at 3#.  “Devil In Disguise” and “Crying in the Chapel” in 1963, and “In The Ghetto” in 1969.

 

©  2007   Philip R Arnold   All Rights Reserved   www.elvisblog.net.

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