17 Massive Songs You Won't Believe Never Made It Into the Top 40
You know and love these famous songs, but they never found success on the Billboard charts.
Typically speaking, when a song experiences massive mainstream success, it also does well on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It makes sense, after all—charting is how we measure popularity! However, not all treasured tunes end up doing well on the charts. Some songs don't get much airplay, others don't see many album sales, and many don't achieve legendary status until long after their debut. Below, we've rounded up some of the most surprising songs that never charted in the top 40. (One song never made it onto the charts at all!)
"Highway to Hell," AC/DC
Everything about AC/DC's chart history is surprising. Not only did their hit song "Highway to Hell" never crack the Hot 100 top 40—it peaked at No. 47 in 1979—but their best-performing song on the chart was "Moneytalks," which only made it to No. 23. At least the band can say they had two albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
"Changes," David Bowie
David Bowie had two No. 1 songs and six total top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And somehow, none of those high-ranking songs were "Changes," easily one of the best-known tunes from the album Hunky Dory. After being released as the B-side of "Space Oddity" in 1975, the song made it to No. 41, but it was never able to crack the top 40.
"Should I Stay or Should I Go," The Clash
Though The Clash managed to earn the No. 1 spot on the UK Singles Chart with "Should I Stay or Should I Go" when it was reissued in 1991, they didn't have the same luck in the United States. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song only ever made it to No. 45 in 1982.
"Badlands," Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen has had 20 songs (so far) in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. None of though songs, though, are the single "Badlands," considered by Rolling Stone to be Springsteen's second-greatest song of all time. Despite its invigorating energy and compelling lyrics, the song only ever made it to the No. 42 spot.
"Don't Stop Me Now," Queen
It's hard to deny that "Don't Stop Me Now" is a classic. When Rolling Stone readers ranked all of Queen's songs, the rock ballad ended up in the No. 3 spot. Upon its release in the '70s, however, the song didn't receive quite as much fanfare as it does today. It spent just four weeks on the Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 86 in 1979.
"Tiny Dancer," Elton John
"Tiny Dancer" is one of Elton John's most recognizable songs. In 2018, it was even certified 3x multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with 3 million units sold. But while this sweet song has seen success commercially, it hasn't translated to the charts. In 1972, it peaked on the Hot 100 chart in the No. 41 spot.
"All My Loving," The Beatles
The Beatles had tons of massive hits, ranging from "Twist and Shout" and "Something" to "Penny Lane" and "Yesterday." And while most of this success was reflected on the charts, they still had plenty of songs that never cracked the top 40.
"All My Loving" is one of the tracks that somehow never landed a top 40 spot. When it was released as a single in Canada in 1964, it got enough airplay in the U.S. to chart on the Hot 100—just not enough to be in the top 40. On April 25, 1964, it peaked at No. 45. Other surprising Beatles singles that never did too well on the charts include "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," "If I Fell," "I Am the Walrus," and "Roll Over Beethoven."
"It's Raining Men," The Weather Girls
The song's success on the charts, though, is another story. Despite spending 11 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, it only ever made it to No. 46. What's worse, "It's Raining Men" was the only song by The Weather Girls to make it onto the Hot 100 chart at all.
"Jolene," Dolly Parton
Even people who aren't country music fans know the song "Jolene." Released on an album of the same name in 1973, the Dolly Parton classic was nominated for a Grammy three times: in 1974, in 1975, and finally, in 2016, when it won Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
Despite all this, "Jolene" never made it to the top of the charts like Parton's other hits. In 1974, the song peaked at No. 60 on the Hot 100.
"Strong Enough," Cher
When Cher released "Strong Enough" as the second single from her 1999 album Believe, it skyrocketed to No. 3 on the Billboard Dance Singles Sales chart. On the Hot 100, however, it didn't do nearly as well. Despite spending 12 weeks on the chart, the song peaked at No. 57. Her fans might've believed, but in the end, their support just wasn't strong enough.
"You Can't Always Get What You Want," The Rolling Stones
When this Rolling Stones classic was first released as the B-side of "Honky Tonk Women" in 1969, it didn't even make it onto the Hot 100 chart. When it was released as a single again in 1973, it finally saw some chart success, but it still only made it to No. 42. Oh, well—you can't always get what you want, Mick Jagger.
"Super Trouper," ABBA
How is it possible that a song featured in Mamma Mia never made it into the top 40? "Dancing Queen" nabbed the No. 1 spot in 1977, "Take a Chance On Me" reached No. 3 in 1978, and "The Winner Takes It All" peaked at No. 8 in 1981, but "Super Trouper" only ever made it to No. 45 on the Hot 100 chart. This is an ABBA-mination!
"Comfortably Numb," Pink Floyd
"Comfortably Numb" didn't just fail to crack the Hot 100 top 40. The song—arguably one of Pink Floyd's most recognizable—never even made it onto the chart. One small consolation prize? In several online lists, David Gilmour's guitar solo has been ranked the greatest of all time.
"Rebel Yell," Billy Idol
Billy Idol's chart history is surprising, and not in a good way. The rockstar has only had one No. 1 single with "Mony Mony," and some of his other major hits—like "White Wedding" and "Flesh For Fantasy"—never cracked the top 20. Perhaps most surprising, though, is "Rebel Yell," which peaked at No. 46 in 1984.
"Landslide," Fleetwood Mac
With 500,000 units sold, Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" was certified Gold in Oct. 2009 by the RIAA. It's a moving, melodic, mainstream hit, heard in TV shows, movies, and commercials alike.
Looking at the Billboard Hot 100, though, you'd never know of the song's success. In 1998, it peaked on the chart in the No. 51 spot.
"Jeremy," Pearl Jam
"Jeremy" is a song so influential that major contemporary artists like St. Vincent have credited it as an inspiration. It was released internationally as a single in 1992, and in the U.S. as a single in 1995—and both times, it failed to cracked the Hot 100 top 40. The best it could do was reach the No. 79 spot in 1995.
"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," R.E.M.
Somehow, R.E.M. never saw much success on the Hot 100 chart. "Losing My Religion"—still a popular song today—only ever made it to No. 4, and the classic "Everybody Hurts" peaked at No. 29. What about "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," you ask? It never made it past No. 69 in 1988.