Disney’s latest animated film Frozen has all the makings of a classic, including a strong run at the box office and a soundtrack selling very well. Early reports by both Billboard and HITS Daily Double last week indicated that it may be enjoying its first week at #1 on the album chart, which will officially be reported in a few days. A song from it, “Let It Go”, was released in two different forms by different vocalists, which are charting concurrently: one featured in the film by Idina Menzel and a poppier take by Demi Lovato. Lovato’s version thus far has peaked at #43 on the Hot 100, while the version by Menzel’s gone to #32. The two renditions are still doing modestly well at iTunes despite little radio play.
This certainly isn’t the first time this kind of situation has happened on Billboard’s singles survey. It was commonplace in the 50’s and 60’s when a small amount of original music reached the public. Even in the 90’s, the dance sensation that swept the nation, the “Macarena”, had two different versions charting at one time by Los Del Rio (#1) and Los Del Mar (#71). However, this is likely the most notable case in the digital era as it’s occurred outside of a music competition show issuing a set of the contestants’ weekly studio cuts or a series like Glee that releases multiple covers in a week. If you’re wondering about who else has pulled off the trick, here’s several of my favorite examples from the 70’s and 80’s:
“(Where Do I Begin?) Love Story” (from Love Story) (1971)
The Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal film was huge at the box office. A vocal version of its theme went to #9 for Andy Williams, while two instrumentals by Henry Mancini & His Orchestra (#13) and Francis Lai & His Orchestra (#31) were top 40 concurrently for four weeks in the spring. Mancini and Williams would chart on the Hot 100 again.
“I Don’t Know How To Love Him” (from Jesus Christ Superstar) (1971)
Two renditions of one of this work’s most famous songs went top 40, one by Helen Reddy and the other by Yvonne Elliman. The Reddy version hit first in early May, peaking at #13, while the Elliman version followed two weeks later and peaked at #28. Both singers scored #1 singles later in their career, with Reddy doing it three times and Elliman once.
“I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” (1971-2)
It was one iconic Coca-Cola commercial and two bubbly takes. A version by American The Hillside Singers went top 40 in mid-December, but after a debut by England’s The New Seekers the next week, the latter eclipsed it, peaking at #7 vs. a #13 for the original. The English group would seek one last hit in 1973 with a medley from the musical Tommy.
“Gonna Fly Now” (from Rocky) (1976)
During the summer of 1976, both the film starring Sylvester Stallone and song exploded. A version by composer Bill Conti climbed to #1 in July while jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson went as high as #28. Two other disco versions by R&B groups Current and Rhythm Heritage each peaked at #94, though all four didn’t appear together on one chart.
“Theme from Star Wars” and “Theme from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” (1977 and 1978)
May 1977 brought about the premiere of a classic, Star Wars, and with it brought two versions of its theme into the top 40. John Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to a #10 hit, but it was Meco and his “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” medley that propelled to #1. One year later in 1978, the two charted together again when Close Encounters Of The Third Kind premiered. This time around, John Williams went to #13, while Meco stopped at #25.
“Dancin’ Shoes” (1979)
With a title like this, you’d expect this would be two takes on a dance song. However, it’s a ballad. Both cracked the Hot 100 during the same week in December 1978; however, a version by Nigel Olsson, longtime drummer in Elton John‘s band, climbed to #18 on Bang Records, while the original version by Mercury’s The Faith Band rose to a lowly #54.
“One Night In Bangkok” (from Chess) (1985)
Before it was a show, the concept album named Chess garnered good reception and placed this song onto the charts. The most well-known version by English singer Murray Head peaked at #3, giving him a second top 40 hit. An alternate version sung by Canadian actress Robey (born Louise Robey) went to #77. Both wouldn’t chart again on the Hot 100.
Other notable examples of this occurrence from the 70’s onward include 1974’s “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” (#1 for Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods vs. #96 for Paper Lace), 1977’s “Love In C Minor” (#36 for Cerrone vs. #46 for The Heart and Soul Orchestra) and 1997’s “How Do I Live” (#2 for LeAnn Rimes vs. #23 for Trisha Yearwood).
Is there another chart entry with two versions that you like and I didn’t mention? Let me know! Comment below or click the “Get Social!” tab to find PGTC on social media.