Billboard Hot 100

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The Billboard Hot 100 is the main U.S. singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. The new charts go into effect every Saturday, while the charts are posted every previous Thursday on the website.

What is now the Hot 100 existed for nearly fifteen years as numerous different charts: "Best Sellers In Stores," "Most Played By Jockeys," "Most Played In Jukeboxes," "The Top 100" (an early version of the Hot 100). On August 4, 1958 the charts were combined into one main all-genre singles chart: the Hot 100. The first number one song of the Hot 100 era was "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson. As of the week ending November 19, 2005, the Hot 100 has had 913 number one hits. Its current number one is "Gold Digger" by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx.

The Hot 100 served for many years as the data source for the weekly radio countdown show American Top 40. This relationship ended in 1995, though from November 30, 1991, AT40 had been using only the airplay side of the Hot 100 (due to the fact that many popular songs were not getting a single release, and the Hot 100 at the time would not list a song unless it had a single being sold in stores), the result of the narrowing of major radio playlists – few so-called "Top 40" stations in recent decades will play the full array of pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, country and other genres depicted in a typical week's Hot 100.

A new chart, the Pop 100, has been created to answer criticism that the Hot 100 in recent years has been biased in favor of rhythmic songs, as throughout most of its existence, it was seen predominantly as a pop chart.

Airplay-Only "Singles"/Album Cuts

Billboard's Hot 100 chart policies have been modified many times over the years to accommodate changes in the record industry, but one rule always remained constant: songs were not eligible to enter the Hot 100 unless they were available to purchase as a single. During the 1990s, a growing trend in the music industry was to promote songs to radio without ever releasing them as singles. It was feared by major record labels that singles were cannibalizing album sales, so they were slowly phased out. During this period, accusations eventually began to fly of chart manipulation as labels would hold off on releasing a single until airplay was at its absolute peak, thus prompting a Top 10 or, in some cases, a number one debut (see Number one debuts, below). As this occurred more and more often, Billboard finally answered the requests of music industry artists and insiders by including airplay-only singles (or album cuts) in the Hot 100. On December 5, 1998 the Hot 100 changed from being a "singles" chart to a "songs" chart (renamed from "Hot 100 Singles" to "Hot 100 Singles & Tracks").

Many album cuts hit the Top 10 once the policy was changed, but the first song to climb all the way to number one as an airplay-only single was Aaliyah's "Try Again" on June 17, 2000 (the song was eventually released as a single, but not until after it had dropped from number one, and then only as a limited 12-inch single, and not a conventional CD Single). It is worth noting that several classic, extremely popular songs from this era never entered the Hot 100 because they were not released as singles before Billboard changed its policy: "Lovefool" by The Cardigans, "Killing Me Softly" by the Fugees and "Don't Speak" by No Doubt (which spent 16 weeks at number one on the Airplay chart) are three such examples. Three of the era's biggest songs eventually did chart, but only after Billboard changed the airplay-only policy, well after the songs had reached their peak at radio: "Iris" by The Goo Goo Dolls, "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia and "Are You That Somebody?" by Aaliyah.

As of the Hot 100 chart dated February 12, 2005, Billboard introduced the Pop 100 Chart and the Pop 100 Airplay Chart. The two charts track mass-appeal mainstream hits. See Hot Digital Songs.

Also the Billboard Hot 100 now tracks paid digital downloads from such websites as iTunes, Napster, Musicmatch, Rhapsody, etc. With paid digital downloads added to the airplay-sales formula of the Hot 100, many songs benefited on the charts from the change. Billboard actually started tracking downloads in 2003 with the Hot Digital Tracks chart. But those downloads did not count towards the chart and that chart (as opposed to Hot Digital Songs) counted each version of a song separately (the chart still exists today along with Hot Digital Songs).

Also because of the digital download sales, the Hot 100 now shows many singles on the chart with gold and platinum bullets. This is the first major overhaul of the Hot 100's chart formula since December 1998.

Notable Hot 100 records

Longest run at number one

Arguably, the most notable Hot 100 record is the longest consecutive week run at number one. Chart enthusiasts usually note the early mark set by Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel," in 1956, which held number one for 11 weeks. If counting this feat, the record held for 36 years. However, Billboard did not initiate the Hot 100 as we know it for another two years. So if starting from 1958, the first long-running number one was Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" at 9 weeks in 1959. This was matched by Percy Faith's "The Theme From 'A Summer Place'" in 1960 and The Beatles' "Hey Jude" in 1968.

Years passed, and then two songs stayed at number one for 10 weeks: "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone in 1977 and "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John in 1981.

In 1992, Boyz II Men held number one for 13 weeks with "End of the Road". Just two weeks after that run ended, Whitney Houston began her own record-breaking run at the top with "I Will Always Love You" (her rendition of the Dolly Parton hit). It stayed at number one for 14 weeks during late 1992 and early 1993. Boyz II Men then equalled Whitney Houston's record when their single "I'll Make Love To You" spent 14 weeks at number one from August to November 1994. Boyz II Men then broke Houston's record in late 1995 and early 1996 when their collaborative single with Mariah Carey, "One Sweet Day", retained number one for 16 weeks. This record holds to the present.

Longest runs at number one:

Biggest jump to number one

Another notable record is the biggest jump to number one in Hot 100 history. This record has only changed hands twice since the launch of the Hot 100. The Beatles were the first act to leap to the top spot from outside the top 20, with "Can't Buy Me Love," their third U.S. number one single, which jumped to number one from #27. That record was set on April 4, 1964, the same week in which The Beatles occupied the entire top five of the Hot 100. In 2002, the Beatles' record was broken by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, who posted a massive 52-1 gain with her song "A Moment Like This" (this move being an example of a more typical modern-day chart pattern: a song debuting first based solely on airplay, then making large chart advancement once a full week of sales points are factored in).

The biggest gains to number one in Hot 100 history:

Number one debuts

Another notable record is the first debut of a single on the Hot 100 at the number one position. To date, only fourteen singles have ever debuted at number one on the chart; but Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" holds the record for being the first. It debuted at number one on the Hot 100 chart dated September 2, 1995, due to the single having been released and selling copiously during a time when radio airplay had already had a chance to grow. It spent one week at number one, as its sales declined rapidly during the following week.

The songs that have debuted at number one are, in order:

Like "You Are Not Alone", the above songs, with the exception of the three most recent ones, managed their number one debuts by employing the release the commercial single when the airplay levels were already substantially high. As can be seen, the December 1998 modification to the chart, which allowed album cuts to chart prior to the release of a commercial single, all but ended number one Hot 100 debuts. Aiken, Fantasia and Underwood each managed to debut at number one with radio airplay that was too insignificant to cause their singles to chart. The fact that they still achieved number one debuts with minimal airplay on a chart that weights radio airplay far more heavily than sales, in a market where buyable singles are hardly popular anymore, could be seen as a testament to the commercial popularity of those three artists. However, a more likely explanation for their success is the impact of American Idol, as all were successful contestants on that show (Aiken was runner-up in the second season, Fantasia and Underwood won third and fourth).

+++ There is some argument about whether "I'm Your Angel" debuted at number one or if it made a 46-1 jump to the top spot. The song appeared as the number one song in the print edition of Billboard magazine on the very first week airplay-only singles were allowed to chart. In order to demonstrate the growth or decline of the songs on that week's chart, the "Last Week," "Two Weeks Ago" and "Weeks On Chart" columns shown on the Hot 100 reflected rankings from unpublished, test charts Billboard had used prior to making the new, airplay-only policy official. On the very last "test" chart, "I'm Your Angel" was #46. With its release as a single, the song shot to number one the following week, but because its life as an airplay-only single began before Billboard allowed album cuts to enter the Hot 100, "I'm Your Angel"'s first official chart week was spent at number one.

Most number one singles

The record for most number ones by a group belongs to The Beatles, who have had twenty on the US charts. The record for a female soloist is sixteen, held by Mariah Carey. The Supremes, with twelve, hold the record for a female group. Although chart historians attribute seventeen number ones to Elvis Presley (eighteen, if counting "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" separately), many of Presley's big hits occurred before the official beginning of the Hot 100 in 1958 (In fact, the last #1 before the Hot 100 was initiated was a Presley song- "Hard Headed Woman"). If discounting Presley's pre-Hot 100 hits, the male solo artist with the most number ones is Michael Jackson, with thirteen.

Most consecutive number one singles

Whitney Houston holds the record for consecutive number ones: she had seven in 1987, surpassing the previous record held The Bee Gees, who had six from 1977 through 1979. In the middle of Houston's run of seven consecutive number one singles, she released one song that charted only on Billboards R&B Chart; however, her record stands at seven when worded as "most consecutive number-one-peaking Hot 100 singles," since the non-charting single never peaked anywhere lower than number one (it didn't peak at all) on the Hot 100.

Some Billboard chart statistic sources (such as Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles) credit Elvis Presley with having ten number ones in a row and The Beatles with having six. These records are sometimes argued because many B-sides, Christmas singles, and EP's made Hot 100 appearances in the middle of the number one streaks at the height of these artists' popularity. In the Beatles' case, many songs of theirs originally licensed to smaller labels prior to their popularity explosion were re-released once Beatlemania kicked in, thus technically "breaking" their number one streaks, although many argue these were not official releases of the time and thus the straight run remains.

Most successful debut

The most successful debut also belongs to Mariah Carey, whose first five singles reached number one. The previous record was four, achieved by The Jackson 5 in 1970.

Self-replacement at number one

A total of eight musical acts have replaced themselves on top of the Hot 100. The first artist to accomplish this feat was Elvis Presley whose two-sided hit "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel", was replaced after an eleven-week stay at number one with another Elvis single, "Love Me Tender," which held the top spot for five weeks. As with many of Presley's chart feats, however, this occurred prior to the implementation of the Hot 100 in 1958.

The Beatles followed eight years later, and they set their own record which is yet to be broken: they three-peated on top of the charts. "I Want To Hold Your Hand" became their first number one which topped the charts for seven weeks when Beatlemania exploded in the US. It was then replaced by "She Loves You" for two weeks (both these recordings had already succeeded in topping the UK charts). "Can't Buy Me Love" then knocked "She Loves You" off the top and remained for five weeks, becoming their first single to top both the UK and US charts simultaneously.

The feat was not repeated until 1994, when Motown vocal quintet Boyz II Men replaced their record-setting "I'll Make Love To You" with "On Bended Knee". The former topped the charts for fourteen weeks, becoming the second number one single to do so, however the latter only managed two weeks, but soon returned to the top for another four after being temporarily relegated down for a week.

Some chart historians debate whether the next two artists replaced themselves at number one because technically they were not credited as the "lead" artist on the records (instead falling under "featuring" status), however Billboard researchers and columnists such as Fred Bronson do credit the two artists with self-replacement since their names are officially name-checked in the credits on the recording.

In 1997, P. Diddy (then still known as "Puff Daddy") replaced himself at the top of the charts when, after his tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G. ("I'll Be Missing You," credited to Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112), was knocked out of number one by the very artist to which Diddy was paying tribute. The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money Mo Problems," credited to The Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase, gives Diddy a number one self-replacement credit (see Bronson's The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits).

Similarly, rapper Ja Rule spent two weeks at number one in 2002 with "Always On Time" (credited to Ja Rule featuring Ashanti), and then he spent six more weeks in the top position when "Ain't It Funny," a song credited to Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule took over.

Rapper Nelly followed just a few months later when his duet with Kelly Rowland, "Dilemma", knocked off his solo single "Hot In Herre". Both originally had seven week runs at number one, however "Dilemma" returned for an extra three after being temporarily knocked off the top by first season American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.

The feat was then accomplished two more times in 2004. Hip-hop group OutKast's single "Hey Ya!" topped the US charts for nine weeks and the follow-up, "The Way You Move" followed straight after, but only managed one week at the top. R&B singer Usher, who was responsible for breaking several records during 2004, became the sixth -- and to date last -- artist to replace themselves on top of the Hot 100. His resurgence was so large during the course of the year that after a twelve-week stay at the top with his dance track "Yeah!", "Burn", replaced it with a seven-week run. "Burn" was then knocked out for one week by third season American Idol winner Fantasia, and returned to the top spot the following week. Usher then replaced himself again, with the title track from his album Confessions taking over for "Burn." Usher also broke the longest stay from a single artist record, staying on top for nineteen consecutive weeks. Usher is the only artist to accomplish two self-replacements at number one, however the Beatles are the only ones to three-peat (three in a row with no interruption).

However, two other key artists have just missed out on replacing themselves at number one. In 1983, Michael Jackson just missed out as his hit song "Beat It" hit #1 just one week after "Billie Jean" exited the top spot, separated by "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners.

The same case occurred in 1995, when Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" was displaced by Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)", one week before "One Sweet Day" could reach the top spot. Ironically, 10 years later, Carey would miss out again, as her song "We Belong Together" sat perched atop the Billboard Hot 100 for its 14th week, and her song "Shake It Off" was inching up closer to the summit. Many predicted the song would continue its upward run, replacing Carey's "We Belong Together" as that week "Shake It Off" was number two. However, "Shake It Off" was cut off from the top due to an unexpected leap of Kanye West's "Gold Digger" from 19-1, becoming the second time Carey just missed replacing herself.

Most number ones from a single album

The first artist to gain three number one singles from one LP were The Supremes with three hits from their album Where Did Our Love Go in 1964. Later, in 1978, the Bee Gees broke the record by gaining four number one singles from one album, Saturday Night Fever. Ten years later, Michael Jackson broke the record with five number ones from his album Bad. This record holds to the present. However, several albums since Jackson's have managed to rack up four number one singles, but no album has been able to match or better Jackson's achievement. The most number ones from a single album in Hot 100 History:

Notable artist records on the Hot 100

Note: these records do not include totals from any of Billboard's pre-Hot 100 charts.

  • Most Top 10 hits (A-side and B-sides separated) (in descending order): Madonna (35), The Beatles (34), Janet Jackson (29), Michael Jackson (28) and Stevie Wonder (28) (tie).
  • Most Top 10 singles: Madonna (35), The Beatles (29) Janet Jackson (29), Michael Jackson (28) and Stevie Wonder (28) (tie).
  • Mariah Carey is the only artist to have entered the Billboard Hot 100 at least once every year since 1990 (her debut).
  • Madonna has appeared in the Billboard Hot 100 every year since "Holiday" entered the charts in 1983.
  • Mariah Carey and Celine Dion are the only artists who have debuted at number one more than once consecutively on the Hot 100. Dion accomplished this with "My Heart Will Go On" and "I'm Your Angel" (though the second one is often controversial). Carey accomplished that feat three times with "Fantasy", "One Sweet Day", and "Honey". The first two were consecutive hits, separated only by a week by another number one debut (Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)").
  • Elton John had at least one Top 40 hit every calendar year from 1970 (beginning with "Your Song") until 1999 (with "Written in the Stars," a duet with LeAnn Rimes).
  • The October 11, 2003 chart week marked the first time since its inception that the Billboard Top 10 artists were exclusively black individuals or groups with a majority of black members.
  • James Brown holds the record for most Hot 100 entries without a number one.
  • Santana, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men are the only artists to have two or more double-digit runs at number one:
    • Santana:
    • Mariah Carey:
      • 16 weeks with "One Sweet Day" (with Boyz II Men)
      • 14 weeks with "We Belong Together"
    • Boyz II Men:
      • 16 weeks with "One Sweet Day" (with Mariah Carey)
      • 14 weeks with "I'll Make Love To You"
      • 13 weeks with "End of the Road"
  • "How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes holds the longevity record on the Hot 100 with 69 consecutive weeks, 61 of them being on the Top 40.
  • The longevity record for a group is Los del Río's "Macarena" which remained in the Hot 100 for 60 weeks, including a 14-week stay at number one in 1996.
  • Madonna, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Janet Jackson are the only female artists to have single peak at every position of the Hot 100 Top Five. (Foreigner does that one better, peaking at every position through number six.) Madonna further extends her slew of record setting by being the only artist to claim a single peaking at every position of the top ten.

Nielsen SoundScan

Currently, sales performance of singles are tracked by Nielsen SoundScan, and radio airplay performance of singles is tracked by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. Since Nielsen Soundscan's implementation on November 30, 1991, it was reported that people would continue purchasing some songs longer than previously suggested in the 1980s (thus double-digit consecutive week runs at number one). Because of the double-digit consecutive weeks runs at number one, the amount of number ones for a year have dropped considerably. The four years Billboard posted the least amount of number ones in Hot 100 history were 2002 (seven number one hits), 1996 (eight number one hits), 1994 and 1997 (nine number one hits).


The limitations of the Hot 100 have increased in importance over time. Since the Hot 100 is based on singles sales and radio airplay, as singles have themselves become a less common form of song release, the Hot 100's data has represented a narrowing segment of sales and number of releases. Further, the history of popular music shows nearly as many remarkable failures to chart as it does important charting positions. Some critics have argued that the emphasis on a limited number of single releases has distorted record industry development efforts, and there are nearly as many critics of the Hot 100 as there are supporters.

See also

External links

nl:Billboard Hot 100