This seems really weird to me, but in terms of putting out new singles that are commercially successful (measured by top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100) in four different decades, Aerosmith is apparently the most enduringly popular American (maybe the world, too?) band of all time. Not the most critically acclaimed, for sure, but the most enduringly popular...from 1975-2001.
Is there any other band that had top 10-charting new studio hit singles in 4 different decades? The Eagles only had top 10-charting songs from 1972-1980. Even bands like U2 (10 years of top 10 singles from 1987-1997) and the Grateful Dead (only 1 top 10 single) only really have a 20 year period of commercially successful newly released music. Pink Floyd had 14 high-charting (though only 1 in the top 10) singles from 1967-1994, which is 27 years. The Rolling Stones' had 23 US top 10 singles from Sept 1964- Aug 1989, just less than a 25 year span, (and only in 3 decades).
Aerosmith had 8 top 10 hits from Dec 1975- Feb 2001 - 25+ years. "Dream On" (1975), "Walk This Way" (1975), "Angel" (1988), "Love in An Elevator" (1989), "Janie's Got a Gun" (1989), "What it Takes" (1990), "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" (1998), "Jaded" (2001). And "Dream On" was actually initially released in 1973 with a 45 rpm single, and reissued in 1975 with the album version as the single (which is the one that broke into the top 10) so you could add another couple of years to that range if you wanted to go back to 1973.
The Beach Boys had 15 top 10 hits from March 1963-July 1988, but only because of "Kokomo" (which Brian Wilson wasn't involved in recording). Without "Kokomo" their streak would have ended in 1976, and regardless, they only had singles in 2 or 3 decades.
I'm talking bands, not solo artists.
1. I'm not certain but The Isley Brothers immediately came to mind.
2. I'd be willing to bet the farm that Queen undoubtedly would've gotten there if Mercury was still with us.
Granted, but I think they would've managed it even if a given song of theirs only charted once, and within a couple years of it being first released.Im pretty sure than Queen have about 5 straight decades, maybe 6, of number 1 singles in the U.K. with the various reissues of that damned song. I think they might have broken Cliff Richard’s previous record that was broken by him not having a number 1 in the 10s.
The Isley Brothers is a great guess! Hadn’t thought of them.1. I'm not certain but The Isley Brothers immediately came to mind.
2. I'd be willing to bet the farm that Queen undoubtedly would've gotten there if Mercury was still with us.
I'm not sure if it's a hot take since I'm not really stating an opinion - just a way of looking at facts that yields a surprising result (at least to me). I'm not saying that chart success makes them good - just, like, culturally relevant in a way that I don't think most people give them credit for. Of all of the legacy acts that have high-priced tours, I don't think Aerosmith gets recognition for the fact that, love them or hate them, they actually tried to keep making NEW music and were pretty damn successful in making new music over a long span of time, rather than just coasting on the success of their past hits.Is the hot take in this discussion that the chart success makes Aerosmith good?
This is interesting. It looks like they disqualified Aerosmith because their streak started in the 70s and ended in the 2000s. I would argue however, that it's more impressive that Aerosmith managed not just top 40 hits in each of those decades, but top 10 hits in each of those decades. U2 only has top ten hits in the 80s and 90s, but none since then. (Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Weird Al are all solo artists.)
I actually thought the U2 claim was a bit of a stretch as they were only featured...This is interesting. It looks like they disqualified Aerosmith because their streak started in the 70s and ended in the 2000s. I would argue however, that it's more impressive that Aerosmith managed not just top 40 hits in each of those decades, but top 10 hits in each of those decades. U2 only has top ten hits in the 80s and 90s, but none since then. (Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Weird Al are all solo artists.)
"Honkin' on Bobo"?I'm not sure if it's a hot take since I'm not really stating an opinion - just a way of looking at facts that yields a surprising result (at least to me). I'm not saying that chart success makes them good - just, like, culturally relevant in a way that I don't think most people give them credit for. Of all of the legacy acts that have high-priced tours, I don't think Aerosmith gets recognition for the fact that, love them or hate them, they actually tried to keep making NEW music and were pretty damn successful in making new music over a long span of time, rather than just coasting on the success of their past hits.
Mostly I posted it here to see if someone could come up with any other band that had a longer stretch of top 10 singles. Maybe it's more of a "musical confession" because I haven't been able to come up with any. I think it's interesting that there are so many solo artists with that kind of longevity, but bands don't seem to last nearly as long - maybe it's easier to stay in the music business with fewer people to pay and negotiate decision-making with. It's wild to me that Aerosmith still exists and tours with the same 5 band members they started with 50 years ago.
For whatever reason, it seems like most bands tend to be rock bands, and rock bands tend to focus less on hit singles now and more on complete albums. And maybe Aerosmith has more of a pop sensibility to their music than other rock bands, and that's why they've been more successful on the singles charts, so maybe that skews things here.
Ultimately, I was trying to think of a way of determining with objective criteria how long a band has put out new music successfully that at least registers with people in a measurably significant way. I feel like measuring album sales is messy and is distorted by the fact that pre-streaming, people would just buy albums by popular bands because that was the only way to listen to the album* - singles don't really have that issue as much. And the issue with album sales post-streaming is that album sales in general have declined so much that "topping the charts" doesn't necessarily mean what it used to. Case in point [for both of those points], Aerosmith's last SIX albums have all made it to at least #5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. That includes 2005's "Honkin' on Bobo" and 2012's "Music From Another Dimension!". So, if we wanted to talk high-charting albums, their streak would go from 1976 with "Rocks" at #3 to 2012 with MFAD at #5 - they'd still have a top 5 album in each of 5 decades (1 in the 70s, 1 in the 80s, 2 in the 90s, 2 in the 00s, and 1 in the 10s) - but all of that seems to be a less accurate way of measuring cultural relevance and significance. Every Rolling Stones album has charted in the top 5 on the Billboard 200, other than their debut which came in at #11 - but they're not all great, culturally significant albums. For both of these bands, the albums chart highly just because the bands are so popular that people just buy the albums without really checking to see if they enjoy that particular collection of songs.
*I feel like there's a weird phenomenon when you look through many artists'/bands' album sales where the albums that are the most popular or considered the best didn't necessarily chart the highest in their discography. Sometimes, their highest-charting album owes that status to the album(s) that were released right before in that artist/band's discography, which may have been a slower burn in generating sales, but built up the expectations for the new release. Like in Aerosmith's discography, I think Toys in the Attic is great, it charted at #11, but the album that came after it went to #3. "Nine Lives" went to #1 even though I don't think it's really considered to be that great - its biggest single was that song "Pink." But the album that came before it was "Get a Grip" which was their highest selling album ever worldwide.
--One last fun fact about Aerosmith: "On June 27, 1994, Aerosmith became the first major artist to release a song as an exclusive digital download, making the unreleased track "Head First" available as a 4-megabyte WAV file to Compuserve subscribers. Around 10,000 users downloaded the song in the first few days, even though at the time, most users accessed the service with a modem, meaning the download would have taken several hours."
All excellent points.I think part of the issue with the argument, at least for me, is the volume of singles and the somewhat arbitrary timeframe. This is kind of like arguing that Adam Vinatieri is the most enduringly good football player because he played the most years and had some exceptional moments. Maybe technically true, but much like Aerosmith, Adam Vinatieri can take a nap for much of the game and it doesn't matter. It's an interesting discussion for sure.
So, let's look into Aerosmith using the metric of hit singles (which I would probably argue isn't nearly as relevant to popularity of an artist in America, especially today)*. Here are the years in which they had Top 20 singles (I'll use Top 20, eye test wise it feels like the songs that made it 11-20 for them were generally bonafide hits) with Top 10 bolded
75, 76, 87, 88, 88, 89, 89, 90, 93, 93, 94, 98, 01
They had, as is said, Top 10 hits in four decades, but they had over a decade where they just weren't popularly relevant that just happens to fall between the decade divides, and while the 90-98 gap did have a lot of smaller hits, they still had small gaps between these numbers where they just weren't relevant. I think that, combined with that they conveniently fell right into the area where rock had a foothold in the Top 40 radio scene, makes them particularly suited to this particular challenge. They also were the beneficiary of the quasi-random soundtrack mega hit otherwise they'd have another 11 year gap between Top 10 songs.
Comparing to another band you mentioned, the Rolling Stones:
64, 64, 65, 65, 65, 65, 66, 66, 67, 67, 68, 69, 71, 72, 73, 73, 74, 74, 76, 78, 78, 80, 81, 81, 82, 83, 86, 89
So technically three decades but roughly the same number of years but much more consistent output and more big singles to keep them in the ears of listeners. The argument that Aerosmith edges them out because of Jaded is a lot to ask that particular song to carry. It helps it win the trivia question most likely. Like, I'm ok if you want to rule out Kokomo for the Beach Boys given how bizarre of a single that was, but it wouldn't be too much of a stretch in that case for someone to rule out a soundtrack hit (as huge as it was) and Jaded which put grandpa on TRL for a hot second in that case either, and Aerosmith is down to 15 years.
*On this point, I am thinking of a band like Green Day. Purely in U.S. Top 40, their range is probably five years. However, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn't heard a lot of Green Day's 1990s output and once you go into the sub-genre charts like U.S. Alternative (which I think especially for rock is important now that rock music really doesn't hit the Billboard charts like it used to), they've been putting out Top 5 singles consistently for the last 26 years. Like, Good Riddance wasn't a Top 100 song but it's more relevant in the American psyche than a slew of chart toppers. This also would help Aerosmith's longevity argument - if you include the U.S. Rock charts for them it gives them a much more robust discography). I'd probably say if we want to center the argument around "enduringly popular band", I think we'd need to move away from chart performance and use a variety of measures to really gauge that especially as listening methods are so much more spread out now and different mediums will provide different popular artists, and that popularity is much more of a fleeting and subjective concept now.
Edit: If you want an answer everyone will really hate, we're getting to the point where Maroon 5 might be getting into this conversation based purely on amount of time with high level singles as a band though we can have hope here that people are giving up on that dream.