8 Victims of MC Hammer: Madonna, Vanilla Ice, AC/DC and More
MC Hammer took his first step to the top of the Billboard 200 on this date 25 years ago with Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em , the hip-hop album that would introduce the world to "U Can't Touch This" and help the rapper to maintain a place at the top of the charts for 21 weeks, interrupted only once. That's impressive but it makes us feel bad for all of the other performers who were denied a no. 1 album by that craze. Nothing tops a best-selling album for musicians but Hammer wasn't trying to give his spot up. Music Times checked out the eight albums that took the no. 2 spot during Don't Hurt 'Em's run, from Madonna to Vanilla Ice, and listed them from least weeks to most in second place.
08) To The Extreme by Vanilla Ice (one week)
Vanilla Ice was the last performer to play no. 2 to MC Hammer as To The Extreme debuted at no. 2 on the charts before overtaking the longtime no. 1 the next week. Hammer had, at that point, the bestselling hip-hop album of all time and it seemed like "U Can't Touch This" would, in 25 years, be the most-cited pop culture reference coming out of the genre. Alas, "Ice Ice Baby" would also drop as as single during 1990. Vanilla never overtook Don't Hurt 'Em for overall sales, but we'd argue his '90s niche single trumped Hammer's.
07) The Razors Edge by AC/DC (one week)
AC/DC seems to have thrived across more than four decades of work, but the truth is that the group has largely made its money by releasing several great albums among numerous less satisfactory products. The band had a rough decade after trying to replicate the masterpiece that was Back In Black, and it finally hit a elate high during 1990 with The Razors Edge (no apostrophe is the band's mistake, not ours), which featured now-iconic hits such as "Thunderstruck" and "Moneytalks." That said, it would only peak at no. 2 on the Billboard charts for one week, due to the popularity of the aforementioned two rappers.
06) Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 by George Michael (one week)
It's pretty surprising that Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 didn't spend multiple weeks at the top of the Billboard 200, much less just one week at no. 2 on the chart. George Michael had taken the nation by storm with Faith, which would go on to be the best-selling album of 1988. Three years later however, perhaps due to the lack of strong singles present on Faith, the former Whammer could only muster one week at no. 2 behind the Hammer. The good news for Michael is that the album was still a smash in his homeland of the UK, where it actually outsold his debut.
05) Flesh & Blood by Poison (one week)
Only one other act spent just one week behind Hammer at no. 2-the other four entries on this list all had to sit there for at least two. Poison found itself in a similar situation to Michael: Its previous album Open Up and Say...Ahh! was a huge commercial success, and the band was just trying to match. It had a few Top 10 singles with Flesh & Blood but nowhere near the critical success of hits such as "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" and "Nothing But A Good Time." Flesh & Blood would go on to sell 4 million copies but it, just like every other Poison album, would come up just short of no. 1.
04) Step By Step by New Kids on The Block (two weeks)
Two albums on this list spent two weeks behind Don't Hurt 'Em, so why did we opt for the New Kids on The Block's Step By Step as "less" oppressed by Hammer's success? Because Step By Step was the only album that managed to break his spell at the top of the Billboard 200. What's interesting is that the gap (which prevented Hammer from having 22-consecutive weeks at no. 1) actually came fairly soon after Don't Hurt 'Em debuted. The group ran with the success of the title track and "Tonight" and managed to open at no. 1 before falling to no. 2 during its second and third weeks on the chart.
03) I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got by Sinead O'Connor (two weeks)
If you back and look at the "must listen" albums lists for 1990, odds are you won't see Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em, but you will see Sinead O'Connor's equally longwinded I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. Her album came in at no. 2 during the first two weeks of Hammer's reign, but she didn't get the raw end of the stick: That year happened to be full of records that dominated the albums charts, with four that spent at least six weeks at no. 1 overall. O'Connor's had a six week run before being replaced by Hammer (the other two albums that had healthy streaks at no. 1 were the aforementioned Vanilla Ice record as well as Paul Abdul's Forever Your Girl).
02) I'm Breathless by Madonna (three weeks)
Madonna has more no. 1 albums during his career than any other female performer. And yet she's come so close on so many more. For example, her 2015 record Rebel Heart was denied because of new Billboard metrics that count streams and single downloads toward "equivalent" album sales, allowing the Empire soundtrack to take the top spot. Another example was I'm Breathless, the soundtrack album to the film Dick Tracy that mostly consisted of tracks from the pop star (as she also starred in the film). Despite featuring the classic single "Vogue," Breathless was held off by Hammer for three weeks.
01) Wilson Phillips by Wilson Phillips (ten weeks)
Yes, when we discussed the heartbreak of missing out on a no. 1 album because another performer hogged the top spot for 21 weeks, we were thinking of Wilson Phillips. The trio had done everything necessary to grab the top position, including releasing three singles—"Hold On," "Release Me" and "You're In Love"—that went to no. 1 on the Hot 100 (and another that peaked at no. 4). They continued a sales assault on the Billboard 200, placing second for ten nonconsecutive weeks, just waiting for that one where Hammer would eventually fall below the band's sales tally. It never happened. Imagine: In a world without MC Hammer, Wilson Phillips would have spent ten weeks at the top of the Billboard 200, what would have been the longest streak of 1990. But alas, bad luck gave them none.