Special Report

This Is the Artist With the Most No. 1 Hits

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images

5. Madonna
> No. 1 hits: 12
> Total weeks at No. 1: 32
> First chart topper: Like A Virgin (Dec. 22, 1984)
> Last chart topper: Music (Oct. 7, 2000)

The undisputed Queen of Pop, the highest-grossing solo touring artist of all time, and the most successful female recording artist of all time, with more than 300 million records sold, Madonna first rose to fame in the early ’80s and hasn’t shied away from the spotlight since. Even though her first, self-titled, album gave us dance-pop classics like “Borderline” and “Holiday,” it wasn’t until her second album, “Like a Virgin,” that her star really exploded, and its title track became her first No. 1 hit. Her career only grew from there, with 11 additional chart-toppers including “Vogue,” “Like a Prayer,” and her most recent No. 1, 2000’s “Music,” demonstrating her ability to reinvent herself and push boundaries.

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4. Michael Jackson
> No. 1 hits: 13
> Total weeks at No. 1: 37
> First chart topper: Ben (Oct. 14, 1972)
> Last chart topper: You Are Not Alone (Sep. 2, 1995)

Following up the Queen of Pop… the King of Pop, who had 13 No. 1 hits, the most of any male solo artist. One of the most towering pop culture figures of all time and the most-awarded music artist in history, Michael Jackson began his career as the lead singer of the Jackson 5, which had three chart-toppers of their own (“I Want You Back” made him the youngest artist to record a No. 1 single, at age 12). As a solo artist, his first No. 1 was 1972’s “Ben” from the movie of the same name. His 1979 album “Off the Wall” made him a solo star in his own right. His “Bad” was the first album to produce five No. 1 singles, and his astonishing string of hits culminated with his final No. 1 in 1995, “You Are Not Alone.”

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3. Rihanna
> No. 1 hits: 14
> Total weeks at No. 1: 60
> First chart topper: SOS (May 13, 2006)
> Last chart topper: Work (Apr. 30, 2016)

Barbados-born Robyn Rihanna Fenty: singer, fashion designer, entrepreneur, the wealthiest female musician on earth, and singer of an incredible 14 chart-topping singles. Her first single to hit No. 1 was “SOS,” off of her second album, “A Girl Like Me,” but it was her third album, “Good Girl Gone Bad,” and its hit single, “Umbrella,” that catapulted her to stardom. Her star hasn’t dimmed in the slightest since then, and her most recent No. 1, “Work,” topped the charts in 2016.

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2. Mariah Carey
> No. 1 hits: 19
> Total weeks at No. 1: 84
> First chart topper: Vision Of Love (Aug. 4, 1990)
> Last chart topper: All I Want For Christmas Is You (Jan. 2, 2021)

Mariah Carey came out of the gate strong: Every single one of her first five singles reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100! From the release of her eponymous first album in 1990 until 2001, she had a No. 1 hit every single year (the only artist to do so), and she had the most hits out of anyone during the 90s, spending a grand total of 60 weeks at the top of the charts. Her 1995 collaboration with Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day,” spent 16 weeks at No. 1, the longest of any song released during the decade. From “Hero” to “Fantasy” to “Always Be My Baby” to “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” we simply can’t imagine the ’90s (or a Holiday season) without Mariah.

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1. The Beatles
> No. 1 hits: 20
> Total weeks at No. 1: 59
> First chart topper: I Want To Hold Your Hand (Feb. 1, 1964)
> Last chart topper: The Long And Winding Road/For You Blue (June 20, 1970)

Here we are, folks, the top of the top of the pops. And did you expect anyone else? The four lads from Liverpool known as The Beatles had an astonishing 20 No. 1 hit singles during their six-year tenure, and it’s fair to say that they flat-out changed the world during that time. Tracking their chart-toppers reveals an almost supernatural transformation from bubble gum pop (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”) to flower-power psychedelia (“All You Need is Love”) to world-weary maturity (“Let It Be”). Along the way, they did more than anyone else to shape the pop culture of the ’60s with timeless classics like “Help!”, “Yesterday,” and “Hey Jude.” John, Paul, George, and Ringo all went on to have successful solo careers after their tumultuous 1970 breakup, but for those six magical years there was nothing else quite like The Beatles, and there most likely never will be again.

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