Question: What was the longest-running number one U.S. adult contemporary hit of the '80s?
music has never been among the most critically revered pop music, but it has always been one of the most popular. Ranging from R&B, pop and soft rock
styles to even mainstream rock, the balladry of adult contemporary has long captured audiences' affinity for love songs and romantic, soothing melodies. Here's a look at the longest-running number one hits on Billboard's niche adult contemporary chart during the ballad-friendly '80s. All told, the following eight different songs by seven different artists each spent six consecutive weeks at the top of the chart during the decade.
Well, the answer to this particular '80s music trivia question turns out to be a fairly complicated one. It's probably no surprise that the unofficial king of '80s adult contemporary - by virtue of his two songs on this list - is Lionel Richie
, the light R&B balladeer who helped define the softer pop music sounds of the era. Beyond that, however, Richie ultimately amassed 11 top hits on this niche chart, spread quite evenly through the '80s, with almost all of them enjoying multiple weeks at adult contemporary's pinnacle. Richie's peak '80s run coincides with his two six-week number ones, 1983's "You Are"
and 1984's "Hello."
Of the other six tunes bearing this impressive long-running distinction, two were recorded by bona fide easy listening legends who had already established decades of pop music dominance. Neil Diamond's "Yesterday's Songs" held the top spot for a period that straddled parts of December 1981 and January 1982, while Barry Manilow did the same thing two years later with his "Read 'Em and Weep."
The adult contemporary genre has long been the dominion of crossover artists, and the other four artists on our list certainly qualify as members of that fraternity. Country pop crooner Kenny Rogers scored a six-week reservation at the adult contemporary summit with "I Don't Need You" during the summer of 1981, a song not among his most famous selections. On most occasions, however, top adult contemporary hits of this period also performed similarly well on the pop charts, as in the case of the other three tracks on this list, Kool & the Gang's "Cherish" from 1985 and
two consecutive number-one hits from the summer of 1989 in Simply Red's "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting." So if you're looking for a number of adult contemporary options for the best of the best, this eight-way tie won't disappoint.