Highlights from Billboard Hot 100′s 1,000 No. 1 Hits: 20 Songs that Broke Records, Made History

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

This week, the Billboard Hot 100 crowned Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” the 1,000th song to top its chart since it was created in 1958. Here are some of the highlights from the past 1,000 No. 1s, including songs by the Beatles, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey.

1958: “Poor Little Fool” — Ricky Nelson

First No. 1

Ricky Nelson, a star on the television show The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, began his recording career to impress his girlfriend and was lucky enough to have the top song in the country the week Billboard introduced the Hot 100.


1960, 1962: “The Twist” — Chubby Checker

Only song to go No. 1 on two separate occasions

Chubby Checker’s cover of “The Twist” was a hit with the youth in 1960 after he performed it on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and sent it to No. 1. The song reached the adult audience in 1962 after a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show and topped the chart again — the only time in chart history that has occured.


1960: “Theme from ‘A Summer Place’” — Percy Faith

Most successful instrumental No. 1

Although the Hot 100 has been the home of the country’s top rock, pop, and hip-hop hits, a few instrumental songs have done well, including “Theme from ‘A Summer Place’” which spent nine weeks at No. 1.



1963: “Fingertips Pt. 2″ — Stevie Wonder

Youngest person to have a No. 1 song

Stevie Wonder was barely 13 years old when he landed his first No. 1 single, which also happened to be the first live recording to top the charts.

1964: “I Want To Hold Your Hand” — The Beatles

The Beatles’ first No. 1

In six short years, the Beatles set the record for most No. 1 hits — 20 in all. Their first, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” was a commercial smash, holding the record for best-selling single of all time until Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind 1997.”



1964: “Hello, Dolly!” — Louis Armstrong

Oldest person to have a No. 1 song

Louis Armstrong, a 63-year-old jazz trumpeter, not only became the oldest artist to have a No. 1, but he knocked the Beatles from the top spot after their first three singles — “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” — had spent 14 consecutive weeks at No. 1.

1971: “Go Away Little Girl” — Donny Osmond

First song to go No. 1 by two different artists

Nine songs have been taken to the No. 1 spot by two different artists. The first was “Go Away Little Girl,” originally a hit for Steve Lawrence in 1962 and later covered by Donny Osmond almost a decade later.




1972: “Ben” — Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s first No. 1

Depending on how you count it, Michael Jackson is either the male artist with the most No. 1s or the second (depending on whether or not you count Presley’s 10 pre-Hot 100 chart toppers). His first outside of the Jackson 5 was “Ben,” a song about a rat.


1981: “Keep On Loving You” — REO Speedwagon

500th No. 1

Billboard got halfway to a thousand No. 1s with the textbook ’80s power ballad “Keep On Loving You” by REO Speedwagon. After the ’80s, the Hot 100′s metabolism slowed down as songs tended to spend more time at No. 1. So while it took 23 years to get to the first 500 songs, it took 30 to get the last 500.



1981: “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″ — Stars on 45

Longest title for No. 1 song

This 41-word long titled song featured session musicians singing snippets of other songs — mostly Beatles hits. Think of it as the first mash-up, but recorded by Kidz Bop.


1981: “Endless Love” — Diana Ross & Lionel Richie

Most successful duet to go No. 1

Both Diana Ross and Lionel Richie have storied careers on the Hot 100, but their duet, “Endless Love,” ended up being the biggest hit of both of their careers. The song held the No. 1 spot for nine weeks and remained on the chart for 27 weeks — a remarkable feat for a single in 1981.



1990: “Vision of Love” – Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s first No. 1

With 18 No. 1s to her name, Mariah Carey leads female artists for most chart toppers. Her first, 1990′s “Vision of Love,” began a ten year streak that made her the only artist in chart history to have at least one No. 1 every year for an entire decade.


1991: “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” — P.M. Dawn

First No. 1 in the “SoundScan era”

Before 1991, Billboard relied on people reporting sales figures to compile their charts — a method prone to error and fraud. P.M. Dawn had the No. 1 song in the country when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard using barcodes. This change was monumental; a BC/AD dividing point in Hot 100 history.


1995: “You Are Not Alone” — Michael Jackson

First song to debut at No. 1

Michael Jackson’s last No. 1 was also the first song to debut at No. 1. Billboard rules at the time required songs have a physical single available for purchase to be eligible to chart, so Epic Records used this to their advantage by servicing the song to radio before releasing the physical single. Demand built until consumers could finally buy the song, and first week sales were big enough to lead to a No. 1 debut. From 1995-1998, the biggest artists routinely followed this release method, resulting in numerous No. 1 debuts.


1995: “One Sweet Day” — Mariah Carey feat. Boyz II Men

Longest time spent at No. 1

Mariah Carey spent the’ 90s releasing No. 1 records at will, and Boyz II Men had set and broken their own record for longest stay at No. 1 with “End of the Road” (No. 1 for 13 weeks in 1992) and “I’ll Make Love To You” (No. 1 for 14 weeks in 1994). When the two teamed up for “One Sweet Day,” its record-shattering 16 weeks at No. 1 seemed inevitable.


1999: “Believe” — Cher

Longest span of No. 1s

Cher’s first No. 1 was way back in 1965, “I Got You Babe” with Sonny. When “Believe” ascended to the top of the chart 33 years, seven months and three weeks later, she became the artist with the longest span of No. 1 hits.


2000: “Try Again” – Aaliyah

First “airplay-only” No. 1

During the ’90s, a number of songs that were never commercially released as singles dominated the airwaves but were unable to chart on the Hot 100 because of its rule against airplay-only songs. Billboard changed the policy in 1998, and in 2000, Aaliyah’s Timbaland-produced “Try Again” became the first song to go No. 1 with airplay alone.


2008: “3″ – Britney Spears

Shortest title for No. 1 song

The song with the shortest title to top the Hot 100 was Britney Spears’ “3,” an inappropriate single that was appropriately her third No. 1 and also the first song to debut in the penthouse in three years.


2009: “My Life Would Suck Without You” — Kelly Clarkson

Biggest jump to No. 1

Kelly Clarkson broke the Beatles’ 34-year-old record for biggest jump to No. 1 when her first single, 2002′s American Idol victory ballad “A Moment Like This,” jumped 52-1. Her new record stood for five years before being broken on a near weekly basis in the late ’00s. She recaptured that record with “My Life Would Suck Without You,” which pole vaulted 97-1.


2011: “Born This Way” – Lady Gaga

1,000th No. 1

Billboard crowned Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” its 1,000th No. 1 after the single broke the record for both first week sales for a female and first week radio spins after less than three days of chart eligibility.


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