15 Pop Songs That Stalled At Number Two

Express Newspapers/Getty Images
Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Not every song can make it to the top, and some of your favorites were likely stunted before their time. Here's a look at 15 memorable hits that never quite made it to No. 1.

1. "Bohemian Rhapsody" // Queen

Queen's melodramatic masterpiece is everyone's favorite karaoke song, but the operatic rock ballad only hit No. 9 in the U.S. market following its 1975 release. However, after noted rock enthusiasts Wayne and Garth did their best falsetto in 1992's Wayne's World, the song reentered the charts and peaked at No. 2, behind Kris Kross' "Jump."

2. "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" // En Vogue

Another song that those Atlanta tweens kept from the top because of the eight-week reign of "Jump"? This highlight from the iconic Oakland girl group's repertoire.

3. "Great Balls of Fire" // Jerry Lee Lewis

The Killer may have sold a million copies of his song in 10 days, and it's been covered by everyone from Dolly Parton to Tom Cruise, but this rock standard couldn't take the top spot from "At the Hop."

4. "Waiting For a Girl Like You" // Foreigner

After stalling for 10 weeks in 1981-'82 behind Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" and Hall and Oates' "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," this song did manage to set a record for most weeks at No. 2.

5. "Work It" // Missy Elliott

Foreigner's record stood until 2002 when Missy Elliott tied it, spending 10 weeks stuck behind Eminem's Grammy and Oscar-winning "Lose Yourself." Missy's track got a second wind after her Super Bowl appearance earlier this year, though—it reentered the Billboard chart at No. 35.

6. "Gangnam Style" // Psy

The Korean songwriter achieved overnight global fame and broke the YouTube record for number of video views in 2012 (surpassing one—and then two—billion views), but Maroon 5's "One More Night" kept the breakout K-pop song from topping the U.S. charts. Too bad: Psy had promised to perform the song topless if he hit No. 1, and you know that would have been entertaining.

7. "Y.M.C.A." // Village People

Every roller rink and wedding reception has forced group participation with this double-entendre-filled ode to the YMCA, but its enduring appeal couldn't propel it past Chic's "Le Freak" or Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" in 1979.

8. "Get Lucky" // Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers

The French house duo released this Song of the Summer-worthy disco jam in 2013, and though it topped charts worldwide and won the Record of the Year Grammy, it never managed to overtake Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" (which Pharrell also wrote and was featured on).

9. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" // Green Day

Another Record of the Year winner that stalled at No. 2 was this standout from Green Day's 2004 rock opera album American Idiot. It spent five weeks in the shadow of 50 Cent's "Candy Shop."

10. "Be My Baby" // The Ronettes

In a travesty from 1963, the completely forgettable "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Glimer and the Fireballs kept this distinctive and oft-imitated beauty of a song from taking the top spot.

11. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" // Frankie Valli

This solo effort from the Four Seasons' frontman has had a lasting cultural impact and numerous soundtrack appearances, but it was held off by "Windy" from The Association.

12. "Breathe" // Faith Hill

The country crossover hit couldn't surpass Santana's "Maria Maria" or Aaliyah's "Try Again," but with 53 weeks on the charts, "Breathe" still snagged the Top 100 Song of the Year title in 2000.

13. "Bad Romance" // Lady Gaga

Gaga's 2009 hit screamed modern classic the moment it was released, but while "Bad Romance" sold more than 10 million copies and has become one of her signature songs and videos, it couldn't top Jay Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind."

14. "Like a Rolling Stone" // Bob Dylan

This seminal 1965 piece transformed Dylan from a folk artist to a rock icon, but No. 2 was the highest he ever charted on the Hot 100. "Like A Rolling Stone" couldn't roll past the Beatles' "Help."

15. "Rhythm Nation" // Janet Jackson

Janet's 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814 broke all kinds of new ground, but it just barely missed a major milestone. If it weren't for Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise," this single would have reached the top and she would have become only the second artist in history (after her brother Michael) to score five No. 1 hits from a single album.

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus
pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

1. Cotton Face Masks; $20 for 4

Protective Masks with Patterns.
Triple7Deals

This four-pack of washable cotton face masks comes in tie-dye, kids patterns, and even a series of mustache patterns, so you can do your part to mask germs without also covering your personality.

Buy it: $20 for four (50 percent off)

2. CE- and FDA-Approved KN95 Mask; $50 for 10

A woman putting on a protective mask.
BetaFresh

You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

Buy it: $50 for 10 (50 percent off)

3. Three-Ply Masks; $13 for 10

Woman wearing a three-ply protective mask.
XtremeTime

These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

Buy it: $13 for 10 (50 percent off)

4. Disposable masks; $44 for 50

A batch of disposable masks.
Odash, Inc.

If the thought of reusing the same mask from one outing to the next makes you feel uneasy, there’s a disposable option that doesn’t compromise quality; in fact, it uses the same three-layered and non-woven protection as other masks to keep you safe from airborne particles. Each mask in this pack of 50 can be worn safely for up to 10 hours. Once you're done, safely dispose of it and start your next outing with a new one.

Buy it: $44 for 50 (41 percent off)

5. Polyester Masks; $22 for 5

Polyester protective masks.
Triple7Deals

These masks are a blend of 95 percent polyester and 5 percent spandex, and they work to block particles from spreading in the air. And because they're easily compressed, they can travel with you in your bag or pocket, whether you're going to work or out to the store.

Buy it: $22 for five (56 percent off)

6. Mask Protector Cases; $15 for 3

Protective mask case.
Triple7Deals

You're going to need to have a stash of masks on hand for the foreseeable future, so it's a good idea to protect the ones you’ve got. This face mask protector case is waterproof and dust-proof to preserve your mask as long as possible.

Buy it: $15 for three (50 percent off)

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

10 Things You Need to Know About 'The Star-Spangled Banner'

The actual star-spangled banner is displayed at the National Museum of American History.
The actual star-spangled banner is displayed at the National Museum of American History.
National Museum of American History, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1814, Francis Scott Key saw the tattered remains of the American flag still blowing in the breeze after Maryland's Fort McHenry had been bombarded by the British navy all night. Here are a few facts about Key's poem (yes, poem) that we know as the American national anthem today.

1. There really is a specific star-spangled banner.

It's the actual flag Francis Scott Key saw when he was watching Fort McHenry in Baltimore being bombarded during the War of 1812. His tale goes just like the song: after gunfire and rain all night, the flag was still standing when the sun rose. Inspired, Key wrote down what he was feeling—but when he wrote it, it was simply a poem called “Defense of Fort McHenry.” It became a song when Key’s brother-in-law discovered the poem perfectly fit the tune of a popular song called “The Anacreontic Song” (see #3).

Although the song was played at public events and on patriotic occasions from that point on, it wasn’t officially named as the national anthem until after Robert Ripley of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! noted in his cartoon that “Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem.” John Philip Sousa rallied for "The Star-Spangled Banner" to become the new national anthem, and on March 3, 1931, Herbert Hoover signed a law making it so.

The actual star-spangled banner that Key observed is now displayed at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

2. There were other contenders for the national anthem besides "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Other candidates included “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Hail Columbia,” and “America the Beautiful.”

3. The national anthem's tune is based on a drinking song.

Before it was a national anthem, the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner" belonged to a popular British drinking song. The anthem takes its melody from “The Anacreontic Song” or “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a British drinking song sung by members of London’s Anacreontic Society.

4. Francis Scott Key wrote alternate lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

One version of the lyrics, handwritten by Francis Scott Key himself in 1840, changes the version we all know so well. It’s a subtle change, though: "Whose bright stars and broad stripes, through the perilous fight" was written as "Whose bright stars and broad stripes, through the clouds of the fight.” This version is now housed in the Library of Congress.

5. The lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner" are surprisingly difficult to remember.

It’s a hard song to sing musically because it stretches vocals an octave and a half, but it’s apparently a hard song to remember lyrically as well—at least for some people. In 1965, Robert Goulet sang the national anthem before the big Sonny Liston-Muhammad Ali fight. The crowd wanted to fight him, however, when he botched the lyrics right from the start: “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early night.”

"I walked into that town and I was a hero. Then the fight lasted a minute and half and I walked out of town and I was a bum," he said.

In 2009, Jesse McCartney was asked to sing the famous song before the NASCAR Pepsi 500. He went right from “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,” to “Whose broad stripes and bright stars." McCartney chalked it up to stage fright.

6. A fifth stanza was added to "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the Civil War.

It’s little known today, but it appeared in songbooks and sheet music in 1861. It goes like this:

When our land is illumined with liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strikes a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that tries to defile
The flag of the stars, and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained,
Who their birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave,
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

You might be surprised that there’s a fifth stanza—in fact, you might be surprised that there’s a second, third and fourth. The others are rarely played, but you might hear them on really formal occasions. You’ll almost never hear the third stanza, though, which is pretty anti-British. Here are the lyrics to the song in their entirety.

7. Francis Scott Key's grandson was imprisoned in Fort McHenry.

Ironically, Francis Scott Key’s grandson was jailed in the very place that inspired his granddad to write “The Star-Spangled Banner." In 1861, residents of Baltimore who were deemed to be pro-South were held in Fort McHenry.

8. Other countries have played "The Star-Spangled Banner" to support the American people.

The song inspires all kinds of emotions in a lot of people, but there’s one instance where it really tugged at the heartstrings of the world. On September 12, 2001, the Buckingham Palace band played the American national anthem during their Changing of the Guard. The gesture of solidarity and show of support was repeated for Spain (with their national anthem, of course, not “The Star-Spangled Banner”) in 2004 after the bombings in Madrid.

9. "The Star-Spangled Banner" wasn't always played before baseball games.

The tradition of playing the national anthem before a baseball game wasn't standard until WWII. Before that, the song was typically reserved for the seventh-inning stretch.

10. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is really hard to sing.

Our national anthem is so difficult to sing well that radio host Garrison Keillor started a campaign to transpose the song to a more congenial key, G major. He argued that most singers are able to tackle that key with ease, unlike A flat major, the key in which it's typically sung today. So far, obviously, he has been unsuccessful.

A version of this story first ran in 2010.