Top 40 Smash Near Misses — “Fallen”

These posts are about the songs that fell just short of crossing the key line of chart success, entering the Billboard Top 40. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 41.

Sarah McLachlan was a cultural force in the latter half of the nineteen-nineties. After gradually building towards prominence with her first three studio albums, McLachlan experienced a major commercial breakthrough in the U.S. with the 1997 release Surfacing. The album peaked in the runner-up position on the Billboard chart and yielded four Top 40 singles, two of which cracked the Top 5. That album was released in the midst of the enormously popular Lilith Fair festival tour that McLachlan co-created and headlined. McLachlan’s place in the mainstream was so secure that she enjoyed the relatively rare feat of registering a Top 40 hit with a live album cut when “I Will Remember You,” released as a single from the 1999 album Mirrorball, peaked at an impressive #14 on the Hot 100. Then she receded from the spotlight for awhile.

The studio follow-up to Surfacing didn’t arrive until 2003, six years later and four full years after the final mounting of Lilith Fair. Afterglow was greeted with excitement, and it did as well as it’s predecessor on the Billboard album chart, peaking at #2. By that time, though, the singles chart was far less amenable to McLachlan’s luxuriant balladry. It was the time of boastful hip hop and R&B anthems. The album dropped right in the middle of Beyoncé’s nine weeks on top of the chart with the Sean Paul collaboration “Baby Boy.” The first single from Afterglow was “Fallen,” which was right in line with McLachlan’s other hits. It peaked at #41, and McLachlan never came close to crossing the magic Top 40 threshold again.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Top 40 Smash Near Misses” tag.

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