Ask Billboard: The Beach Boys, Jacksons & John Lennon Notch First Top 40 Hot 100 Hits Since the ’80s With Holiday Classics

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Hi Gary,

It’s fun to see Paul McCartney and John Lennon simultaneously in the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 (dated Dec. 31). The former’s “Wonderful Christmastime” re-enters at No. 32 (after it hit No. 28 two years ago) and the latter’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (credited to John & Yoko/The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir) hits a new high, placing in the top 40 for the first time as it returns at No. 38. Lennon logs his 14th top 40 title as a soloist and first since “Nobody Told Me” rose to No. 5 in 1984.

The Beatles last ranked in the Hot 100’s top 40 with “Real Love” and, before that, “Free as a Bird,” in 1995-96. But when did McCartney and Lennon last share space in the top 40 outside the group?

As we mention Paul, we can shout out another famed musical partner of his, Michael Jackson, as the Jackson 5 score another top 40 Hot 100 hit: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” re-enters at No. 33. It’s the Jackson 5/Jacksons’ 24th top 40 hit and, like Lennon, their first since 1984, when “Torture” hit No. 17. (The act had last appeared in the top 40 billed as the Jackson 5 in 1975.)

Also in this week’s countdown, the Beach Boys achieve a new Hot 100 high as “Little Saint Nick” returns at No. 30. The legendary group surfs (sleds?) to its 35th top 40 hit and first “Kokomo” became its fourth No. 1 in 1988.

Who can resist the most wonderful time of the year?

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, Calif.

Happy holidays, Pablo!

First, in another highlight on the newest Hot 100, Elvis Presley‘s “Blue Christmas” bounds 41-27, a new high for his 1957 classic. The King posts his highest rank since the chart dated Jan. 7, 1978 – a day shy of what would’ve been his 43rd birthday – when “My Way” held at No. 22.

As for your question, while The Beatles last appeared in the Hot 100’s top 40 on the chart dated April, 6, 1996, McCartney and Lennon had, until this week, not placed simultaneously in the region with songs outside the band since the Feb. 25, 1984, chart, when Lennon’s “Nobody Told Me” surged 12-7, becoming his eighth and most recent top 10, and McCartney’s “So Bad” ranked at No. 37.

Other Hot 100 highlights that week: Van Halen’s “Jump” ascended to No. 1; The Police’s “Wrapped Around Your Finger” (14-9) and Billy Joel’s “An Innocent Man” (13-10) also hit the top 10; and future No. 1 ballads “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins (No. 67) and “Hello” by Lionel Richie (No. 75) debuted.

Plus, the highest-entering song on the Hot 100 that frame? Eventual top 10 “They Don’t Know” (No. 63) by Tracey Ullman. Her Fox series in 1987 ushered in The Simpsons, which, like the holiday hits in the latest list’s top 40, is still going strong, now in its 34th season.

Gary Trust