Top 10 Artists With the Most Billboard Hot 100 #1 Singles
There have been 1,043 number-one singles in the Billboard Hot 100’s 57-year history. While most artists are lucky enough to have a single number-one in their career, some have had numerous. To date, 10 artists have hit double-digits with their number of #1 singles. Current artists who may still join this club are Katy Perry, who has 9, and Usher, with 8, while The Bee Gees and Elton John just missed out, having 9 each.
#9. Janet Jackson (10 Singles)
The youngest of the 10 children of Katherine Esther and Joseph Walter Jackson, Janet Jackson saw her brothers form the Jackson 5 at a young age, and she released her first album, Janet Jackson, when she was 16. Her first two albums charted, but received little publicity. After the first two albums, she decided to break away from her family and began working on her next album. Control was released in 1986, and became a massive success. The album peaked at #1 on Billboard, and spawned five top 5 hits, including her first #1 single, “When I Think of You”. Her next album, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, gave her another four #1 singles, and is the only album in history to have #1 singles for three consecutive years. Her next four albums produced 5 more number-one singles in all, with “All For You” her final #1, in 2001.
#9. Stevie Wonder (10 Singles)
Stevland Hardaway Judkins was 11 years old when he sang his own composition, “Lonely Boy” to Robbie White of The Miracles. White loved it so much, he rushed the boy and his mother to Motown and “Little Stevie Wonder” as White began calling him, signed a contract with the Tamla label. Two years later, Wonder’s single “Fingertips” reached #1 on the Hot 100. At 13, he was the youngest artist to ever have a number-one single. He would have to wait 9 years before having another #1, when “Superstition”, arguably his biggest hit, topped the charts. In 1982, Wonder’s duet with Paul McCartney, “Ebony and Ivory” became one of his most successful singles. Wonder had his final #1 single in 1985, 22 years after his first #1, with “That’s What Friends Are For”.
#8. Whitney Houston (11 Singles)
As a teenager, Houston began touring nightclubs and working as a teen model, becoming one of the first African-Americans to grace the cover of Seventeen. She signed with the major label Arista in 1983 but took two years to work on her debut album, Whitney Houston. Starting with “Saving All My Love For You” in 1985, Houston’s next 7 singles all hit #1, an incredible record that still stands today. In 1992, Houston’s single “I Will Always Love You” became the best-selling song by a female singer in history, and The Bodyguard became the best selling album by a female singer. Houston’s last #1 was “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” in 1995, although she had several top 10 hits over the next few years. On February 11th, 2012, Houston was found unconscious in her bathtub and was later pronounced dead. Her death was listed as an “accident” while cocaine was found in her body.
#6. Madonna (12 Singles)
Madonna was a back-up dancer until she formed the band Breakfast Club with her boyfriend at the time, a musician. She decided to go solo and signed a deal with Sires record company. Her debut album, Madonna, spawned several club hits, but her second album Like a Virgin, was a mainstream success, with the eponymous song becoming her first #1 hit in 1984. Her third album, True Blue, had another three #1 singles, including “Papa Don’t Preach”. In 1990, she starred in the film Dick Tracy, and her song for the movie, “Vogue”, became yet another #1 single. She had two more #1 singles, “Take a Bow” in 1995, and “Music” in 2000. In 2008, she nearly topped the charts yet again, as “4 Minutes” features Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, reached #3. In 2012, her single “Give Me All Your Luvin” featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. reached #10, her last appearance, as of now, on the Hot 100.
#6. The Supremes (12 Singles)
The Supremes are still the most successful American vocal group of all time, a title they have held for over 50 years. The group formed as The Primettes in 1958 as a sister act to The Primes. Three years later the group, consisting of Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson, signed with Motown as The Supremes. The next three years, none of their singles reached the Top 40 on Billboard, and they began to be referred to as “the no-hit Supremes” in Motown circles. In 1964, “Where Did Our Love Go” became their first number-one. Ironically, the band disliked the song and were coerced into recording it by their record label. Their next four singles all hit number one as well, and they would have a further 5 number-one hits before being renamed Diana Ross & The Supremes. Their final number one came in 1969 with “Someday We’ll Be Together”. Diana Ross then pursed a solo career, and incredibly had 6 number-one hits of her, meaning she was involved in 18 number-one hits.
#4. Michael Jackson (13 Singles)
After the Jackson 5’s incredible success, Michael Jackson began transitioning into a solo artist in the early 70’s, releasing his debut album Got to Be There in 1972. The album spawned two top 5 singles, but the title track of his second album, Ben, would become his first #1. Five years later, Jackson had another two number-one singles, and in 1983 Thriller spawned two of his most popular #1’s, “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”. In the same year, “Say, Say, Say” with Paul McCartney also hit number-one. Four years later, Bad, became the first album in history (and still only one of two albums) to have five #1 hits. Jackson had his last number-one single in 1995 with “You Are Not Alone” before returning to the top 10 posthumously in 2014 with “Love Never Felt So Good”, featuring Justin Timberlake.
#4. Rihanna (13 Singles)
The youngest solo artist to have 13 number-ones, Rihanna was discovered in her home country of Barbados by record producer Evan Rogers, who was on vacation with her wife. Only 16, she recorded a demo during school holidays and sent it to Rogers, who immediately signed her to his label. She reached #2 with her very first single, “Pon De Replay” in 2005. The next year, “SOS” became her first #1. Her next album, Good Girl Gone Bad, spawned three number-one hits, “Umbrella”, “Disturbia”, and “Take a Bow”. In 2010 alone, she had four #1 hits and in late 2011, “We Found Love”, with Calvin Harris, became one of the most successful songs in Billboard history, spending 10 weeks on top. It is currently ranked by Billboard as the 24th best song of all time.
#2. Mariah Carey (18 Singles)
Over the course of her career, Mariah Carey has spent 79 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100, more than any other artist. In what has been described as a “modern day Cinderella story”, the head of Columbia record, Tommy Mottala, on his way home from a proudcers’ gala that Carey had attended. He was so amazed by her voice that he returned to the party, only to find Carey had already left. After 2 weeks of searching, he found her and immediately gave her a deal. Incredibly, her first four singles all hit #1 in 1990. Over the next five years, she would have another five #1 songs before “One Sweet Day” featuring Boyz II Men remained on top for 16 weeks, which remains a record. Her 2005 #1 song “We Belong Together” was ranked by Billboard as the best song of the 2000’s decade. Three years later, “Touch My Body” became her last number-one, at least as of now.
#2. Elvis Presley (18 Singles)
“The King of Rock and Roll” got his start when he walked into the offices of Sun Records and asked to record a two-sided disk. He later claimed that it was a gift for his mother, but it is believed Presley did this in hopes of being discovered. Although it took numerous meetings and recordings, he managed to sign with Sun before moving to RCA Victor to release his debut album in 1954. It became the first million-selling rock album and spawned his first #1,”Heartbreak Hotel”. Presley had 11 more #1 singles in the 50’s, including classics like “Love Me Tender” and “Jailhouse Rock”. The 60’s produced more number-ones for Presley and in 1969, “Suspicious Minds” became his final #1. He nearly reached the top one last time in 1962, five years before his death, as “Burning Love” reached #2.
#1. The Beatles (20 Singles)
The Beatles released their first album, Please Please Me, in 1963, and the album quickly became hugely successful in the UK. When they toured the US, opening for Tommy Roe, Chris Montez, and later Roy Orbison, they overshadowed the main acts as “Beatlemania” set in. “Love Me Do” became their first #1, with “She Loves You”, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, and “Can’t Buy Me Love” all quickly following. By the time Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, their best-selling album, was released, The Beatles had already had 11 #1 singles. The band’s final #1 was the double-sided single “The Long and Winding Road”/”For You Blue”. Paul McCartney would go on to have another 15 #1 singles solo and with his band Wings, meaning McCartney has been involved in 35 #1 singles in his incredible career.