Never Number One: “Waiting for a Girl Like You” by Foreigner

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Detail From the 45 Picture Sleeve of "Waiting for a Girl Like You"

Detail From the 45 Picture Sleeve of “Waiting for a Girl Like You”

A couple of weeks ago, our Never Number One feature about [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Gerry Rafferty[/lastfm]‘s “Baker Street” noted that the song spent six weeks at #2 without ever getting to #1. But that’s not the longest stretch.

Since 1991, when Billboard began using Soundscan data to compile its charts, eight songs have spent at least eight weeks at #2 without ever getting to #1. In the pre-Soundscan era, however, there was only one: the power ballad “Waiting for a Girl Like You” by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Foreigner[/lastfm].

“Waiting for a Girl Like You,” the third single from Foreigner’s monster hit album 4, came out in the fall of 1981 and rose quickly up the Hot 100. For the week of November 28, it tucked in behind “Physical” by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Olivia Newton-John[/lastfm], which was spending its second week at #1. For nine weeks, the top two songs in the United States remained unchanged. In January 1982, when “Physical” finally sank back exhausted, “I Can’t Go for That” by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Hall and Oates[/lastfm] leap-frogged Foreigner for the top spot. After 10 weeks at #2, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” started back down the chart dated February 6, 1982.

It would be 14 years — and a change in chart methodology — before another record equaled Foreigner’s mark. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Whitney Houston[/lastfm]‘s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” stuck at #2 for 11 weeks, but it had already spent a week at #1. Only [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Missy Elliott[/lastfm], with the 2002 hit “Work It,” would spent 10 weeks as a bridesmaid without ever becoming the bride.

Here’s a live performance of “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” recorded sometime around 1981.


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