Billy Joel is the new king of easy listening

November 26, 1993|By Jan DeKnock | Jan DeKnock,Knight-Ridder News Service

Back in 1961, even before the Beatles and other British Invasion bands changed the mood of America's pop charts forever, Billboard magazine felt the regular Top 40 list wasn't accurately reflecting the popularity of music that appealed to older audieBack in 1961, even before the Beatles and other British Invasion bands changed the mood of America's pop charts forever, Billboard magazine felt the regular Top 40 list wasn't accurately reflecting the popularity of music that appealed to older audiences. Thus began the "easy listening" chart, which over the years has been dominated by such classics as Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John" (1961), Louis Armstrong's "Hello, Dolly!" (1964) and the Nancy Sinatra-Frank Sinatra duet "Somethin' Stupid" (1967).

The name of the list eventually evolved into "adult contemporary," but since 1968, the chart's all-time champ has been Paul Mauriat's romantic instrumental "Love Is Blue," which was No. 1 on the adult-contemporary chart for 11 straight weeks.

But this week, there's finally a new leader -- Billy Joel's "The River of Dreams," which now has been No. 1 on the adult-contemporary list for 12 straight weeks. It also has been amazingly durable on the pop list, where it slipped from No. 17 to No. 18 this week.

The pop leader remains Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," which once again held off a strong challenge from Janet Jackson's "Again" (still No. 2) and Ace of Base's danceable "All That She Wants" (still No. 3).

The surprise of the week was the relatively poor showing by Bryan Adams' "Please Forgive Me," which last week skyrocketed into the Top 20 with a jump from No. 24 all the way up to No. 7. This week, "Please Forgive Me" not only didn't make the Top 5, it slipped to No. 8.

But there's better news for Mr. Adams on the top albums chart, where his new "So Far So Good" entered the list at a strong No. 9. Also scoring a big debut was A Tribe Called Quest, whose "Midnight Marauders" checked in at No. 8. The week's other big debut was expected to be Phil Collins' "Both Sides," which cracked the Top 20 in its first week of release. But a No. 13 debut isn't exactly eye-popping for an artist of the stature of Mr. Collins.

The action was quiet elsewhere on the albums chart, with no changes in position among the top seven titles. That left Pearl Jam repeating at No. 1 with "Vs.," Frank Sinatra still at No. 2 with "Duets," Meat Loaf hanging on at No. 3 with "Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell" and the country collaboration "Common Threads: The Songs of the Eagles" failing to move up from No. 4 (though it remains at No. 1 on the country albums chart).

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