Billboard Hot 100

From Academic Kids

The Billboard Hot 100 is the main U.S. singles popularity chart used 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 15 years as almost a half-dozen different charts. Apparently all the charts became a little too difficult for industry professionals to keep track of, so Billboard started the main Hot 100 chart on August 4, 1958. The first #1 song of the Hot 100 era was "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson. As of January 1, 2005, the Hot 100 has had 911 No. 1 hits. Its current number one is "Inside Your Heaven" by Carrie Underwood.

A new chart, the Pop 100 has been created to answer criticism that the Hot 100 was biased in favor of Rhythmic songs.


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 nineties, 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 #1 debut (see #1 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.

Many album cuts hit the Top 10 once the policy was changed, but the first song to climb all the way to #1 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 #1). 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, "Basket Case" by Green Day and "Don't Speak" by No Doubt (which spent 16 weeks at #1 on the Airplay chart) are three such examples. Two 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 and "I'll Be There For You" by The Rembrandts.

Paid digital downloads

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 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.

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 #1. The record changed hands three times during the Hot 100 era. Elvis Presley set the record at 11 weeks with "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel", in 1956. That was the record for 36 years, until 1992 when Boyz II Men held #1 for 13 weeks with "End of the Road". Then just 2 weeks after that run ended, Whitney Houston broke the record yet again with "I Will Always Love You" (her rendition of the Dolly Parton hit). It stayed at #1 for 14 weeks during late 1992 and early 1993 and made 1993 the first year where Billboard did not get its very first new #1 until March. 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, but did not fully regain their briefly-held record. They did however regain the record, admittedly with a collaborative single, again in late 1995 and early 1996 when Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men retained #1 for 16 weeks with "One Sweet Day"; this record holds to the present. One of Billboard's biggest predictions as to a song that could possibly break the record was a 1998 duet between two people who have held the record: Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. The song, "When You Believe", from the Prince Of Egypt soundtrack, was a relative flop, peaking only at #15 on the Hot 100. In the near future, it seems implausible that the 16 week streak will be broken; many songs have held onto the #1 position for 10+ weeks within the past few years, but--no matter how massive they've been--they haven't been able to spend more than twelve weeks (Santana's "Smooth", Eminem's "Lose Yourself", "Usher's "Yeah!") at the top since "One Sweet Day".

Biggest gain to #1

Another notable record is the biggest gain to #1 in Hot 100 history. This record has only changed hands twice since the Hot 100 implementation. Up until December 5, 1998, The Beatles held that record with "Can't Buy Me Love". The record was set on April 4, 1964, the exact same week when The Beatles had the entire top 5 of the Hot 100 occupied. The record was broken 34 years later when "I'm Your Angel", a popular duet between superstars R. Kelly and CÚline Dion, jumped from 46-1. In 2002, the record was again broken by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, who posted a massive 52-1 gain with her song "A Moment Like This". This is an example of how strong commercially released singles sometimes are compared to airplay-only songs: both "A Moment Like This" and "I'm Your Angel" broke the record during a time (1998 to present) when songs could chart based only on the strength of their radio airplay. This is different from pre-1998, when songs could only place on the Hot 100 if they were singles that were commercially buyable in stores.

The airplay and sales combined into a formula that Billboard used to determine the weekly song ranking. This makes the Beatles' record even more impressive because a very large increase in both weekly sales and weekly radio airplay likely fueled the jump to number one; as opposed to the more recent record-holders, whose songs had been charting based only on strong radio airplay and then received a large jump due only to very strong first-week single sales. Shady tactics have caused Billboard to alter their Hot 100 formula several times over the past six years, placing less and less of an emphasis on sales points and more of an emphasis on airplay points. The result is that the songs that place highly on the Hot 100 chart are now more likely than ever to be the same ones that are heard most often on the radio. Some people would argue that this has caused American radio playlists to become stagnant and boring and is also responsible for having depleted the American CD singles market.

These are the biggest gains to #1 in Hot 100 history:

#1 debuts

Yet another notable record is the first debuting of a single on the Hot 100 at the #1 position. To date, only thirteen singles have ever debuted at #1 on the chart; but Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" holds the record for being the first. It debuted at #1 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 #1, as its sales declined rapidly during the following week. The other twelve songs that have debuted at number one were, in order:

Like "You Are Not Alone" the above songs, with the exception of the two most recent ones, managed their number one debuts by employing waiting to release the commercial single till 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 and Barrino 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 Aiken and Barrino. However, a more likely explanation for their success is the impact of American Idol, as both were successful contestants on that show (Aiken was runner-up in the second season, while Barrino won the third season).

+ There is some argument about whether this song debuted at #1 or if it made a 46-1 jump to the top spot. This song appeared as the #1 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," "2 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 #1 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 #1.

Most #1 singles

The record for most #1's 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; Elvis Presley holds the record for a male soloist with eighteen.

Most consecutive #1 singles

Whitney Houston holds the record for consecutive #1's: she had seven in 1987, demolishing the previous record held by The Beatles, The Bee Gees and The Supremes, who were tied with six each. In the middle of Houston's run of seven consecutive number one singles, she released one song that did not even make it onto the Hot 100 chart; however, her record stands at 7 when worded as "most consecutive #1 peaking Hot 100 singles", since the non-charting single never peaked anywhere lower than #1 (it didn't peak at all) on the Hot 100. When overall consecutive #1 singles are considered, regardless of if they made it onto the Hot 100 or not, the Beatles' record of 6 holds.

Most successful debut

The most successful debut also belongs to Mariah Carey, whose first five singles reached #1. The previous record was four, achieved by The Jackson 5 in 1970.

On the UK charts, which were based solely on sales when the record was broken, the best debut is seven #1s, by Westlife. The record for most top 10's from one's debut belongs to Kylie Minogue. Her first eleven singles reached the top 10.

Self-replacement At Number One

A total of six musical acts have been responsible for replacing 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 11-week stay at #1 with another Elvis single, "Love Me Tender," which held the top spot for five weeks. The Beatles followed 8 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 #1 which topped the charts for 7 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 on top for 5 weeks which became their first single to top both the UK and US charts simultaneously.

The feat was not repeated again 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 14 weeks, becoming the second #1 single to do so, however the latter only managed 2 weeks, but soon returned to the top for another 4 after being temporarily relegated down for a week.

Rapper Nelly followed in 2002 when his duet with Kelly Rowland, "Dilemma", knocked off his solo single "Hot In Herre". Both originally had 7 week runs at #1, however "Dilemma" returned for an extra three after being temporarily knocked off the top by first season American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.

Amazingly, the feat was then accomplished twice in 2004. Hip-hop group OutKast had made a comeback across the world with their single "Hey Ya!" and it topped the US charts for 9 weeks. Their 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 12-week stay at the top from his dance track "Yeah!", "Burn", replaced it with a 7-week run. The song returned to #1 after finally being knocked off from third season American Idol winner, Fantasia Barrino. Usher then replaced himself again, with the title track from his huge selling album Confessions. Usher also broke the longest stay from a single artist record, staying on top for 19 consecutive weeks. Usher is the only artist to accomplish two self-replacements at #1, however the Beatles are the only ones to three-peat (three in a row with no interruption).

Many artists have just missed out on replacing themselves at the #1 spot. Michael Jackson almost became the third artist to replace himself at #1 in 1983, when "Beat It" hit #1 just one week after "Billie Jean" spent its last at the top; it was interrupted by "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. Mariah Carey had also nearly accomplished this feat in 1995, when her lead single from Daydream, "Fantasy" was overtaken by Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" just one week before "One Sweet Day", Carey's duet with Boyz II Men was able to hit the top.

Notable artist records on the Hot 100

Janet Jackson, Madonna, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles hold a majority of the other important Billboard records. For example, the four acts are the four with the most top five, top ten, and top twenty Hot 100 songs in Billboard history.

Mariah Carey is the only artist to have a #1 single every year for the decade of the 90s.

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.

The R&B group The Isley Brothers hold a 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.

Nielsen SoundScan

Nowadays, 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 in May 1991, it was reported that people like most songs longer than previously suspected (thus double-digit consecutive week runs at #1). Because of the double-digit consecutive weeks runs at #1, the amount of #1's for a year have dropped considerably. The four years Billboard posted the least amount of #1's in Hot 100 history were 2002 (7 #1 hits), 1996 (8 #1 hits), 1994 and 1997 (9 #1 hits).


The limitations of the Hot 100 have increased in importance over time. Since the Hot 100 is based on singles sales, as singles have themselves become a less common form of song release, the Hot 100's data has represented a narrowing segment of sales. 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 singles has distorted record industry development efforts, and there are nearly as many critics of the Hot 100 as there are supporters.

See also

External link


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