The Billboard Hot 100 chart – the one that measures the popularity of songs across America – turns 60 years old today, August 4, 2018!
The Hot 100 was first published on August 4, 1958, and the first No. 1 song on it was Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool.”
Its inaugural tagline read: “These 100 sides are listed in order of their national popularity, as determined by weekly local studies prepared for The Billboard in markets representing a cross-section of the United States. These studies take into account such factors as disk jockey plays, jukebox activity and record sales.”
Billboard Magazine had been charting the popularity of singles long before 1958. In fact, its first chart ranking songs by national popularity was published in 1940. But the Hot 100 took a bunch of separate charts that tracked record sales, jukebox play, radio airplay and combined them into this one chart that has stood for sixty years.
The chart has a rich history of chronicling the career accomplishments of legendary artists like Elvis, the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, The Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Adele, Drake and many others.
The chart has had to make many changes in how it tracks music popularity as technology has advanced over the decades. Currently, it includes three main factors in its formula: digital single sales (basically, paid downloads from sites like iTunes or other similar sites), radio airplay (as tracked by a 24-hour monitoring service that detects actual play on stations) and song streaming on apps like Spotify, Apple Music, and video streaming on YouTube. All of these things are tracked by Nielsen Media, which provides the data to Billboard in an exclusive arrangement.
The chart has also morphed from being a pop chart – as it was branded for its first 40 years – to being an all-genre-inclusive chart. No longer does a song have to be played on mainstream top-40 pop stations to be eligible (as was the case before the 1990s). The radio panel that contributes to the Hot 100 today is unrestricted, including R&B/Hip-Hop, rock, country and other genres, which is a better reflection of the hybridization of musical tastes over the years.
DJRob is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the chart with a listing of 60 major chart feats or milestones involving many of the artists whose music we’ve come to know and love over the years.
So please scroll through this list of accomplishments to see where some of your favorite songs or artists stand among the most amazing feats on the longest-standing institution in popular singles chart history.
- First No. 1 Song: “Poor Little Fool,” Ricky Nelson (Aug. 4, 1958); Incidentally, Nelson’s offspring – the duo called Nelson – also reached Number One 32 years later (1990’s “Love And Affection”). No. 1 on the chart’s 60th anniversary: “In My Feelings” by Drake. The latter is thanks to the viral internet craze in which people perform the song’s dance challenge on video.
- Still considered by most to be the chart’s most amazing feat: Beatles Dominate The Entire Top Five – April 4, 1964 (1. “Can’t Buy Me Love,” 2. “Twist and Shout,” 3. “She Loves You,” 4. “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” 5. “Please Please Me”). They still stand as the only act to ever accomplish that feat.
- Most No. 1s – Beatles (20, from 1964-70). Second-most: Mariah Carey (18, from 1990-2008). Combining group and solo efforts, Diana Ross is tied with Mariah with 18 (including twelve with the Supremes and one in a duet with Lionel Richie). Michael Jackson has the most among solo men with 13 (1972-95).
- Most Hot 100 entries among all artists: The Glee Club Cast (207)
- Most Hot 100 entries – male: Drake (187); second and third place, respectively: Lil Wayne (138) and Elvis Presley (108)
- Most Hot 100 entries – female: Nicki Minaj (93); second and third place, respectively: Taylor Swift (77) and Aretha Franklin (73)
- Studio albums with the most Number One singles: Bad – Michael Jackson (1987-88); Teenage Dream – Katy Perry (2010-11), with five each. (This and other album-related stats exclude compilation and greatest hits collections.)
- Albums with the most top-ten singles: Thriller (Michael Jackson, 1982), Born In The USA (Bruce Springsteen, 1984), Rhythm Nation 1914 (Janet Jackson, 1989) – each with seven singles that reached the top ten on the Hot 100.
- Album with the most top-five singles: Rhythm Nation 1814 with seven: “Miss You Much,” “Rhythm Nation,” “Escapade,” “Alright,” “Come Back To Me,” “Black Cat,” “Love Will Never Do (Without You).” Incidentally, Janet ranks one position above Michael on Billboard’s recap of the Hot 100’s greatest artists.
- Song That’s Bounced In And Out Of No. 1 The Most Times: “Nice For What” – Drake (moved in and out of No. 1 four times over a twelve-week span between April and July 2018). Chic’s “Le Freak” had this record all to itself for 29 years (with three yo-yo moves in and out of No. 1) before artists like Leona Lewis, T.I., Bruno Mars, The Weeknd and Drake tied it. Now Drake has it with four.
- Other artists to have songs peak at every position in the top ten: Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Madonna, Drake
- First Song To Début At No. 1 – “You Are Not Alone” – Michael Jackson (September 1995). (Most recent: “This Is America” – Childish Gambino (May 2018)
- Most No. 1 singles in a single year: Beatles with six in 1964 – “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and “I Feel Fine.”
- Most No. 2 Singles overall – Madonna with six: “Material Girl,” “Causing A Commotion,” “Express Yourself,” “Cherish,” “I’ll Remember” and “Frozen”; although she’s also had twelve No. 1 singles.
- Most No. 2 Singles Without Having a No. 1 – Creedence Clearwater Revival (5): “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Traveling Band”/“Who’ll Stop The Rain,” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”
- Song with longest time spent at No. 2: “Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)” – Whitney Houston (11 weeks); it debuted at No. 1 and lasted just one week there before settling in at No. 2 for eleven weeks.
- Longest time spent at No. 2 for a non-No. 1 song: tied-“Waiting For A Girl Like You” – Foreigner, 1982; “Work It” – Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, 2002 (ten weeks each)
- Longest time spent at a position other than No. 1 or No. 2: “Another Night” – Real McCoy (11 weeks at No. 3 in 1994)
- Longest span between first and latest No. 1 hits: Female: Cher – 33 years, seven months and two weeks between “I Got You Babe” (duet with Sonny, August 14, 1965) and “Believe” (April 3, 1999). The male with the longest span is Stevie Wonder – 22 years and two months between “Fingertips – Pt. 2” (August 3, 1963) and “Part-Time Lover” (November 2, 1985). Including group contributions, Michael Jackson has the longest span among men between January 1970 (with the Jackson 5) and September 1995 (solo).
- Oldest Artist to have a No. 1 hit – Louis Armstrong (“Hello Dolly!,” 1964, age 62); this song ended the Beatles’ 14-week run at the top during Beatlemania.
- Oldest Woman to Have A No. 1 Hit – Cher (“Believe,” 1999, age 52).
- First woman to sing on a No. 1 hit: Annette Kleinbard (of the Teddy Bears) on “To Know Him Is To Love Him” (December 1958)
- First female to reach No. 1 as a credited solo artist: Connie Francis (“Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” June 1960); second was Brenda Lee (“I’m Sorry,” two weeks later). Francis and Lee had the next three No. 1 songs by women until Shelley Fabares knocked Francis out of No. 1 in April 1962 with “Johnny Angel.”
- First girl-group to hit No. 1: The Shirelles (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” January 1961).
- First All-Female Top Five: June 30, 1979 – 1. “Ring My Bell” – Anita Ward; 2. “Hot Stuff” – Donna Summer; 3. “Bad Girls” – Donna Summer; 4. “We Are Family” – Sister Sledge; 5. “Chuck E.’s In Love” – Rickie Lee Jones.
- First black artist to reach No. 1: Tommy Edwards – “It’s All in The Game” (September 1958). First black solo female: Little Eva – “The Locomotion” (August 1962). First black group: The Platters – “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” (January 1959)
- First Country Song to Reach No. 1: “The Three Bells” – by The Browns (August 1959) (honorable mention: Conway Twitty topped the chart before the Browns with “It’s Only Make Believe,” which is largely regarded as a rockabilly song).
- First Disco No. 1: “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” – MFSB (April 1974). Some might challenge this by including Love Unlimited Orchestra’s “Love’s Theme,” which topped the chart two months earlier.
- First No. 1 Rap Song – “Ice, Ice Baby” – Vanilla Ice (November 1990); The group Blondie (with Debbie Harry on vocals) is largely recognized as the artist who first rapped on a No. 1 record, but neither the song or the group are considered hip-hop or rap.
- First Rap Song to make the Hot 100: “Rapper’s Delight” – Sugar Hill Gang (November 1979). The song also became the first rap song to reach the top 40 on the chart, peaking at No. 36 in January 1980.
- Hip-Hop’s Most Impressive Chart Showing: Hip-hop songs have reigned at No. 1 for 27-straight weeks… and counting (February 2018 to the current chart dated August 4, 2018)
- Rappers with the most No. 1 singles – male: Drake (6); female: Cardi B (2)
- Most Weeks In the Top Ten (any genre) – pre-Nielsen Soundscan/BDS: “How Deep Is Your Love” (17 weeks, 1977/78); post-Soundscan/BDS (November 1991): “Shape Of You” – Ed Sheeran (33 weeks, 2017)
- Most Weeks On The Hot 100: “Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons (87 weeks; 2012-14)
- Most Dominant Label Performance: RSO Records held the No. 1 spot for 29 of 32 (including 21 consecutive) weeks in late-December 1977 through July 1978 with a stretch of nine No. 1 singles, including four from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
- Longest consecutive No. 1 reign by a single act: Black Eyed Peas – 26 straight weeks (April – October 2009, “Boom Boom Pow” – 12 weeks, followed by “I Gotta Feeling” – 14 weeks)
- Most songs simultaneously charted by one artist: Drake (27; on July 14, 2018). This occurred as a result of the release of his album Scorpion during the streaming era. The album contained 25 of the songs listed on the chart that week.
- Only song to reach No. 1 in two separate chart runs: “The Twist,” Chubby Checker (1960 and ‘62). The song’s second phase of popularity was famously attributed to adults finally catching on to the fad that their kids had started two years earlier (and had already long abandoned). “The Twist” is ranked as the Hot 100’s biggest hit thanks to its two No. 1 chart runs.
- Longest wait for a song to return to No. 1 during the same chart run: “Wrecking Ball” – Miley Cyrus (9 weeks) – reached No. 1 on September 28, 2013, remained for another week on Oct 4, then relinquished the No. 1 spot for nine weeks before returning to the top spot on December 14.
- Only group (with four or more members) whose members all hit No. 1 away from the group: The Beatles (John, Paul, George and Ringo all hit No. 1 apart from the Beatles). Interestingly, late former Beatle George Harrison was the first and last member to have a solo No. 1 single (“My Sweet Lord” in 1970 and “Got My Mind Set On You” in 1988).
- Only group not named The Beatles whose members all had top ten hits apart from the group: New Edition (Bobby Brown solo, Ralph Tresvant solo, Johnny Gill solo and Ricky Bell, Michael Bivens and Ronnie DeVoe as Bell Biv Devoe)
- Most successful Hot 100 duo: Daryl Hall & John Oates (six No. 1 singles; 29 top 40 hits)
- Most No. 1 Hot 100 singles without ever having a No. 1 album: Frankie Valli (seven No. 1 singles – 5 with the Four Seasons, two solo). Highest album rank: No. 6 (twice with the 4 Seasons)
- Most No. 1 albums without ever having a No. 1 single: Bruce Springsteen with eleven No. 1 albums. Highest Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (“Dancing In The Dark,” 1984)
- First artist to hit No. 1 posthumously: Otis Redding with “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (1968)
- Most posthumous No. 1 singles: The Notorious B.I.G. (2): “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money, Mo Problems” (both 1997). Ironically, both songs came from an album titled Life After Death.
- First Instrumental song to hit No. 1: “The Happy Organ” by Dave “Baby” Cortez (May 1959)
- Last Instrumental song to reach No. 1: “Harlem Shake” by Baauer, 2013 (before that it was “Miami Vice Theme” – Jan Hammer, 1985)
- Musical instrument most represented in the titles of No. 1 singles: the tambourine with two (“Mr. Tambourine Man” – The Byrds, 1966; and “Green Tambourine” – Lemon Pipers, 1968)
- Only parent-child pairing to reach No. 1 together and separately: Frank Sinatra and daughter Nancy Sinatra (together: “Something Stupid,” 1967; separately: “Strangers In The Night” – Frank, 1966; “These Boots Are Made For Walking” – Nancy, 1966)
- The family with the most siblings to hit the chart as solo artists: The Jacksons with 5 (Michael, Jermaine, Janet, Latoya, Rebbie)
- Number of married couples with No. 1 songs together (10): Sonny and Cher (once as a duet), John and Michelle Phillips (once as members of the Mamas and the Papas); Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (once as a duet and twice with the 5th Dimension); Paul & Linda McCartney (once as a duet and six times with Wings); Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille (twice as the Captain & Tennille); Agnetha Fältzkog & Björn Ulvaeus (once as members of ABBA) Anni-Frid Lyngstad & Benny Andersson (once as members of ABBA); John McVie & Christine McVie (once as members of Fleetwood Mac); Emilio & Gloria Estéfan (once as members of Miami Sound Machine); Beyoncé & Jay-Z (once as a duet, with Jay-Z as featured artist).
- Number of primarily non-English language No. 1 songs – six: “Volare” – Domenico Modugno (Italian), 1958; “Sukiyaki” – Kyu Sakamoto (Japanese), 1963; “Dominique” – The Singing Nun (French), 1963; “La Bamba” – Los Lobos (Spanish), 1987; “Macarena” – Los Del Rio (Spanish), 1996; and “Despacito” – Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber (Spanish), 2017
- Country besides the U.S.A. with the most acts to hit No. 1: England. British acts account for 200 of the Hot 100’s 1077 No. 1 songs.
- Biggest Leap To No. 1 for a song already on the Hot 100: “My Life Would Suck Without You” – Kelly Clarkson (97-1, February 2009). The 96-position leap of “My Life Would Suck” is also the largest leap on the chart to any position.
- Biggest drop from No. 1: tied-“Nothing From Nothing” – Billy Preston (Oct. 26, 1974) and “Then Came You” – Dionne Warwick & the Spinners (Nov. 2, 1974). Both fell from No. 1 to No. 15 the following weeks (ironically, both fell from No. 15 to No. 38 in successive weeks following an unusually duplicative chart progression).
- Highest Rank From Which A Song Exited The Top-40 the Following Week (pre-Soundscan): “Even The Nights Are Better” – Air Supply (exited the top 40 from No. 6 in September 1982)
- Song title that’s appeared the most times at No. 1: “My Love” by Petula Clark (1966), by Wings (1973) and by Justin Timberlake (2006) – none of those songs were remakes. “Venus” also appeared three times – first by Frankie Avalon in 1959, then in a different song by the Shocking Blue (1970) that was remade by Bananarama into a No. 1 song in 1986.
- Only album whose first single reached No. 1 after its second one did: Rihanna’s Loud. The first single, “Only Girl (In The World),” released in September 2010, reached No. 1 on December 4, two weeks after the second single, “What’s My Name?” (featuring Drake), released that October, topped the chart (November 20).
- Only artists whose names begin with the letter Z to top the chart (as credited artists, not as members of groups): Zager & Evans – “In The Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)” (July 1969); Zayn – “Pillow Talk” (February 2016)
There are many more amazing chart feats that didn’t make this list, including acts with the most consecutive No. 1 hits (Whitney Houston, with seven) and youngest solo artist to reach No. 1 (Stevie Wonder, age 13 in 1963 when “Fingertips” topped the chart) and many more.
Can you think of some others? Feel free to provide them in the comments, either here or on social media where this article is posted.
Long live the Hot 100… and Happy 60th!