This list highlights significant milestones and achievements based upon Billboard magazine's singles charts, most notably the Billboard Hot 100.
This list spans from the issue dated January 1, 1955 to the present. The Billboard Hot 100 began with the issue dated August 9, 1958, and is currently the standard music popularity chart in the United States.
Prior to its creation, Billboard published four singles charts: "Best Sellers in Stores", "Most Played by Jockeys", "Most Played in Jukeboxes" and "The Top 100" (an early version of the Hot 100). These charts, which ranged from 20 to 100 slots, were phased out at different times during 1957 and 1958. Though technically not part of the "Hot 100" chart history, their data is included by Billboard for computational purposes, and to avoid unenlightening discrepancies (i.e. "Buddy Holly's debut single in the Top 40 was released posthumously" or "Elvis Presley has seven Hot 100 number-ones").
There are chart discrepancies. In a prominent example of the magazine's retroactive methodology, Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog" single is credited with an 11-week run atop the Billboard chart in 1956, because the double-sided release topped the "Best Sellers in Stores" and "Most Played in Jukeboxes" lists for that length of time (though the specific weeks differed). Presley's run lasted just eight weeks atop the "Most Played by Jockeys" chart, and seven weeks in "The Top 100"'s number one slot, but artists are credited with their most favorable placements on any of the four charts. This is why Billboard and its official statistician Joel Whitburn lists 17 number one singles, for a total of 71 weeks, in 1956.
However, Billboard and Whitburn are not in complete statistical agreement. Originally, each side of the aforementioned Presley single had a separate turn topping the sales chart, with the titles "flipping" during its 11-week run. The Best Sellers in Stores chart specified that in the case of such double-sided releases, the "leading side" would be listed first. But Billboard has since decertified all two-sided hit singles retroactively for computational purposes, by voiding the matching status of whichever songs were deemed to have been the lesser sides. Because "Hound Dog" was the lead side during the single's number-one chart run for a shorter period than "Don't Be Cruel," it is thus no longer counted as a separate number-one hit by Billboard magazine. Whitburn continues to rely on preexisting research.
All items listed below are from the Hot 100 era, unless otherwise noted (pre-Hot 100 charts).
Most weeks at number one
- Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men - "One Sweet Day" (1995-1996)
- Whitney Houston — "I Will Always Love You" (1992-1993)
- Boyz II Men — "I'll Make Love to You" (1994)
- Los del Río — "Macarena" (Bayside Boys mix) (1996)
- Elton John — "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" (1997)
- Mariah Carey - "We Belong Together" (2005)
- Boyz II Men — "End of the Road" (1992)
- Brandy and Monica — "The Boy Is Mine" (1998)
- Santana featuring Rob Thomas — "Smooth" (1999)
- Eminem — "Lose Yourself" (2002)
- Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris — "Yeah!" (2004)
- Elvis Presley — "Hound Dog" / "Don't Be Cruel" (1956) ("Best Sellers in Stores" and "Most Played in Jukeboxes" charts)
- All-4-One — "I Swear" (1994)
- Toni Braxton — "Un-Break My Heart" (1996)
- Puff Daddy and Faith Evans featuring 112 — "I'll Be Missing You" (1997)
- Destiny's Child — "Independent Women Part I" (2000-2001)
- McGuire Sisters — "Sincerely" (1955) ("Most Played by Jockeys" chart)
- Pérez Prado — "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" (1955) ("Best Sellers in Stores" chart)
- Debby Boone — "You Light Up My Life" (1977)
- Olivia Newton-John — "Physical" (1981)
- Santana featuring The Product G&B — "Maria Maria" (2000)
- Ashanti — "Foolish" (2002)
- Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland — "Dilemma" (2002)
- Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx — "Gold Digger" (2005)
- Beyoncé — "Irreplaceable" (2006)
- Flo Rida featuring T-Pain — "Low" (2008)
Most weeks at number two
- Whitney Houston — "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" (1995) (after spending one week at number one)
- Foreigner — "Waiting for a Girl Like You" (1981)
- Missy Elliott — "Work It" (2002)
Biggest jump to number one
- 80-1 - T.I. featuring Rihanna — "Live Your Life" (October 18, 2008)
- 71-1 - T.I. — "Whatever You Like" (September 6, 2008)
- 64-1 - Maroon 5 — "Makes Me Wonder" (May 12, 2007)
- 53-1 - Rihanna — "Take a Bow" (May 24, 2008)
- 52-1 - Kelly Clarkson — "A Moment Like This" (October 5, 2002)
- 51-1 - Usher featuring Young Jeezy — "Love in This Club" (March 15, 2008)
- 42-1 - Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake — "Give It to Me" (April 21, 2007)
- 41-1 - Rihanna featuring Jay-Z — "Umbrella" (June 9, 2007)
- 34-1 - Rihanna — "SOS" (May 13, 2006)
- 32-1 - Mims — "This Is Why I'm Hot" (March 10, 2007)
Changes in when the eligibility of a single first begins, as well as more accurate digital download totals, have made abrupt chart jumps more commonplace. From 1955-2001, under Billboard's previous methodologies, only two singles ascended directly to #1 from a previous position beneath the Top 20: The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love", which jumped from #27 to the top slot in April 1964, and Brandy and Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" which jumped from #23 to #1 in June 1998.
Biggest single-week upward movement
Under Billboard's previous methodologies, jumps of this magnitude were rare. One exception was Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley PTA," which advanced 74 slots in August 1968; this upward acceleration went unmatched for 30 years, but has already been surpassed nine times since 2006. Changes in when the eligibility of a single first begins, as well as more accurate digital download totals, have made abrupt chart jumps more commonplace.
Biggest drop from number one
Most total weeks on the Hot 100
Number-ones by two different artists
Non-English language number-ones
Self-replacement at number one
Most Hot 100 entries
Most top 40 hits
- Elvis Presley (104)
- Elton John (56)
- The Beatles (51)
- Madonna (48)
- Stevie Wonder (45)
Most top 10 singles
- Madonna (37)
- Elvis Presley (36)
- The Beatles (29)
- Michael Jackson (28)
- Janet Jackson (27) (tie)
- Stevie Wonder (27) (tie)
NOTE: If Top 10 sides are considered-- that is, singles whose A-sides and B-sides both charted as separate Top 10 entries-- then Elvis Presley would have the most, with 38 Top 10 songs. The Beatles' total would increase from 29 to 34, and Janet Jackson would pass her brother with 29. The totals for Madonna, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder would remain as is.
Most number-one hits
- 1. The Beatles (20)
- 2. Mariah Carey (18)
- 3. Elvis Presley (17) (Pre-Hot 100 charts and Hot 100)
- 4. Michael Jackson (13)
- 5. Madonna (12) (tie)
- 5. The Supremes (12) (tie)
- 7. Whitney Houston (11)
- 8. Janet Jackson (10) (tie)
- 8. Stevie Wonder (10) (tie)
- 10. Bee Gees (9) (tie)
NOTE: Billboard now credits the dual #1 Presley single "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" as a single chart entity. Their statistician Joel Whitburn continues to list Presley as having an 18th number one.
- 10. Elton John (9) (tie)
Most cumulative weeks at number one
- Elvis Presley (80 weeks)† ("Best Sellers in Stores", "Most Played in Jukeboxes" and Hot 100)
- Mariah Carey (79 weeks)
- The Beatles (59 weeks)
- Boyz II Men (50 weeks)
- Usher (43 weeks)
- * † Presley's "80th week" occurred when "All Shook Up" spent a ninth week on top of the "Most Played in Jukeboxes" chart. Although Billboard's chart statistician Joel Whitburn still counts this 80th week based on preexisting research, the magazine itself has revised its methodology and no longer does.
- * Presley has the record for the most separate calendar weeks with a charting single in any position, with 1,598. As of 2007, Elton John is second with 1,051, Madonna had 873 (a total which has since increased), and no other artist has as many as 800.
Most consecutive number-one hits
- 7 — Whitney Houston (1985-1988)
- 6 — The Beatles (1964-1966)
- 6 — Bee Gees (1977-1979)
Most number-two hits
Simultaneously occupying the top two positions
- December 2 2006
- "I Wanna Love You" (Akon featuring Snoop Dogg)
- "Smack That" (Akon featuring Eminem)
- April 14 2007
- "Don't Matter"
- "The Sweet Escape" (Gwen Stefani featuring Akon)
- T.I.: October 18, 2008
- "Live Your Life" (T.I. featuring Rihanna)
- "Whatever You Like"
Longest span between first and most recent number-one hits
- Cher — (33 years, 7 months)
- "I Got You Babe" (August 1965, with Sonny)
- "Believe" (March 1999)
- Michael Jackson — (25 years, 8 months)
- "I Want You Back" (January 1970, as part of The Jackson 5)
- "You Are Not Alone" (September 1995)
- Elton John — (24 years, 8 months)
- "Crocodile Rock" (February 1973)
- "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" (October 1997)
- "I Get Around" (July 1964)
- "Kokomo" (November 1988)
- "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (February 1964, as part of The Beatles)
* NOTE: Two other artists had comparable durations between their first and final #1 hits, if the pre-Hot 100 era is considered. Louis Armstrong's "All of Me" topped the 1932 chart, according to Whitburn's "Pop Memories: 1890-1954" research; Armstrong's "Hello, Dolly!" was #1 in May 1964, some 32 years and 2 months later. Frank Sinatra's first chart-topper was "All or Nothing at All" in September 1943, as the singer for Harry James' orchestra; his last was "Somethin' Stupid," an April 1967 duet with his daughter Nancy Sinatra, for a span of 23 years, 7 months.
- "Got My Mind Set on You" (January 1988)
Posthumous number ones
Producers with the most number-one hits
Songwriters with the most number-one hits
Additional Hot 100 achievements
- The first number-one song on the Hot 100 was "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson (August 4 1958). The number-one song on the first week Billboard incorporated sales and airplay data from Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems was "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" by P.M. Dawn (November 30 1991). The first "airplay-only" song to reach number one (no points from a commercial single release) was "Try Again" by Aaliyah (June 17 2000).
- For the week of April 11, 1964, the Beatles had fourteen singles on the Hot 100, a record unlikely to be surpassed at any time in the conceivable future. The group held the number 1, 2, 4, 7, 9, 14, 38, 48, 50, 52, 61, 74, 78 and 81 slots. One week earlier, five Beatles singles had filled the entire top five, also a record.
- American Idol season 7 winner David Cook set a record with the most debuts in a single week (11) in the issue dated June 7, 2008.
- "The Twist" by Chubby Checker is the only song to hit number one twice in two separate chart runs (one week in 1960 and two weeks in 1962).
- "Le Freak" by Chic (1978) and "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis (2008) are the only songs to reach the number-one position three separate times during the same chart run; each was knocked off the top of the chart twice by other singles, before reclaiming the slot.
- The record for the most separate chart runs for the same single is nine, and is held by Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". Re-released annually by Decca Records, the song was still on the chart in January 1955, as well as 1955 through 1962. The song also had twelve previous runs on Billboard's pre-rock charts, from 1942 to 1945, and 1947 to 1953. For singles first released during the rock era, the record is five separate chart runs, and is held by three other Christmas songs: David Seville and the Chipmunks' "The Chipmunk Song", which charted for five consecutive years between 1958 and 1962, topping the Hot 100 during its original 1958 run; Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock", which charted in 1957, 1958, and 1960 through 1962; and the Harry Simeone Chorale's "Little Drummer Boy", which is the only single of the rock era to reach the top forty for five consecutive years, between 1958 and 1962. Beginning in 1963, Billboard consigned these and other seasonal rereleases to a separate Christmas chart, ending their strings of appearances on the Hot 100. ("Best Sellers in Stores" and "Most Played in Jukeboxes" charts)
- James Brown holds the record for most Hot 100 entries (ninety-nine) without a number-one song.
- Creedence Clearwater Revival holds the record for the most number-two hits (five) without ever hitting number one.
- Steve Alaimo has had the most singles to chart on the Hot 100 (nine) without ever having reached the Top 40.
- The oldest artist to hit number one on the Hot 100 is Louis Armstrong in 1964 with "Hello, Dolly!" at the age of 62. The oldest woman to top the Hot 100 is Cher with "Believe" in 1999 at the age of 53.
- The youngest artist to hit number one on the Hot 100 is Stevie Wonder in 1963 with "Fingertips Pt. 2" at the age of 13. The youngest female to top the Hot 100 is Little Peggy March, also in 1963, with "I Will Follow Him" at the age of 15. Wonder's single was also the first live recording to top the chart.
- The youngest artist to chart on the Hot 100 is Jordy, a four-year-old from France whose "Dur Dur D'Être Bébé" (roughly, "It's Tough to Be a Baby") reached number fifty-eight.
- The oldest artist to chart on the Hot 100 is comedian George Burns, whose "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again" began its 10-week chart run the day before his 84th birthday. This 1980 release peaked at number forty-nine. Before that, Burns' most recent charting record had been a spoken word comedic routine with his wife and partner Gracie Allen in the summer of 1933.
- The artist with the longest overall span of hits on Billboard's chart is Elvis Presley, who debuted with "Heartbreak Hotel" in February 1956; a remixed version of "Rubberneckin'" charted in late 2003, more than 47 years later. For non-posthumous artists, Frankie Valli first charted as one of the Four Lovers in 1956, and had his final placement with The Four Seasons in 1995. If pre-1955 charts are considered, Nat "King" Cole's Billboard career extended from November 1943 until his studio-spliced "duet" with daughter Natalie in 1991 ("Unforgettable"), some 48 years later. ("Best Sellers in Stores" and "Most Played in Jukeboxes" charts)
- Elton John had at least one top forty hit every calendar year from 1970 (beginning with "Your Song") until 1999 (with "Written in the Stars", a duet with LeAnn Rimes). (However, this methodology credits one late 1995 hit that extended into the January 1996 chart, and another single whose chart run covered both 1997 and 1998.) Whether John's streak lasted 26 or 30 consecutive years depends on which criteria are considered; either figure would be the longest in chart history.
- Two Tommy James & the Shondells covers ("I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany and "Mony Mony" by Billy Idol) were consecutive number-one hits in 1987.
- Several artists have charted with two recordings of the same song, but only three acts have hit the top ten with two different versions of the same song. Those acts are The Ventures ("Walk, Don't Run"/"Walk, Don't Run '64"), Neil Sedaka ("Breaking Up is Hard to Do"), Elton John ("Candle in the Wind"/"Candle in the Wind 1997"; also "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," the second as a duet with George Michael).
- The song with the most versions on the Hot 100 is "Unchained Melody," which charted with nine different performers: Les Baxter (whose version topped the chart); Al Hibbler; the Righteous Brothers, who recorded two separate versions that charted 25 years apart; Roy Hamilton; June Valli; Vito & the Salutations; the Sweet Inspirations; and Heart. ("Best Sellers in Stores" and "Most Played in Jukeboxes" charts)
- The Beatles and Usher are the only two artists to have both the year-end number-one and number-two songs in the same year, with the former having "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" in 1964, and the latter with "Yeah!" and "Burn" in 2004.
- Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, Faith Hill, and Lifehouse are the only three acts to have a Billboard Year-End number-one single that did not top the Billboard Hot 100 at any point during its run. In all three cases, the relevant single peaked at number two: Sam the Sham's "Wooly Bully" (1965), Faith Hill's "Breathe" (2000), and Lifehouse's "Hanging by a Moment" (2001).
- The Isley Brothers hold the record for being the only act to have had Top 40 hits on the Hot 100 in six consecutive decades: the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.
- Usher holds the record for the most weeks spent at number one in a calendar year. In 2004 he spent twenty-eight weeks at number one with four different singles. This represents 54% of 2004's chart weeks.
- The Bee Gees claimed the number one spot for 25 of 32 consecutive weeks beginning the last week of 1977, either as writers, producers, and/or backing vocalists on singles by Yvonne Elliman, their younger brother Andy Gibb, and on three singles credited to themselves.
- When Lisa Loeb hit number one with "Stay (I Missed You)" in 1994, she became the only artist to top the Hot 100 before being signed to any record label.
- The longest title for a song to chart in the Hot 100 was "Medley: Intro "Venus"/Sugar Sugar/No Reply/I'll Be Back/Drive My Car/Do You Want to Know a Secret/We Can Work It Out/I Should Have Known Better/Nowhere Man/You're Going to Lose That Girl/Stars on 45" (41 words) by Stars on 45. It went to number one in 1981.
- The instrumental artist with the most Hot 100 hits is Herb Alpert. Thirty of his thirty-five charting singles are without vocals. He is also the only artist to reach number one with both a vocal ("This Guy's In Love With You" in 1968) and an instrumental ("Rise" in 1979).
- The number one hit with the shortest running time (1:37) is Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs' "Stay." The shortest charting record of the rock era was 1964's "Little Boxes" by the Womenfolk, which was exactly one minute long, and reached number eighty-three.
- "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses (1992) stands as the longest-running song to reach the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, at a length of eight minutes, fifty-seven seconds.
- The largest act to chart in the Hot 100 is the 375-person Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" reached number thirteen in 1959.
- Studio drummer Hal Blaine appeared on the most number one hits, thirty-nine in all, between 1961 and 1976.
- In 1973, George Harrison's "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)"' replaced Paul McCartney's "'My Love"; the two had been bandmates in the Beatles. In 1978, Andy Gibb's number one "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" replaced "Stayin' Alive" by his brothers, the Bee Gees; the Bee Gees then did the same to his single with their "Night Fever"'. In 1986, Genesis' "Invisible Touch" was replaced in the top spot by the band's original lead singer Peter Gabriel and "Sledgehammer".
- Paul McCartney is the only artist to have separate top-ten singles as a solo act, as half of a duo, as a third of a trio, as a fourth of a quartet, and as a fifth of a quintet. (Graham Nash also charted in these five configurations, but only in the top forty.)
- Fred Bronson's Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, 5th Edition (ISBN 0-8230-7677-6)
- Christopher G. Feldman The Billboard Book of No. 2 Singles (ISBN 0-8230-7695-4)
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (ISBN 0-89820-155-1)
- Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Pop Charts, 1955-1959 (ISBN 0-89820-092-X)
- Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: The Sixties (ISBN 0-89820-074-1)
- Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: The Seventies (ISBN 0-89820-076-8)
- Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: The Eighties (ISBN 0-89820-079-2)
- Joel Whitburn Presents the Billboard Hot 100 Charts: The Nineties (ISBN 0-89820-137-3)
- Additional information obtained can be verified within Billboard's online archive services and print editions of the magazine.