Weekly Chart Notes: The Hot 100, From Birth to 'Born'
GRAND ENTRANCE: As revealed on Billboard.com yesterday, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" arrives as the 1,000th Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 dating to the chart's 1958 inception.
What a fitting title, then, to revisit how the chart was born.
In the Nov. 12, 1955, issue, Billboard had premiered the Top 100 chart, a "combined tabulation of Dealer, Disk Jock and Juke Box Operator" sales-only ranking.
Before long, however, then-Billboard charts department leader Tom Noonan said, "'You know, we've got to come up with a faster way (to gauge) what's going on,'" Sire Records founder Seymour Stein told former Billboard director of charts Geoff Mayfield upon the Hot 100's 50th anniversary in 2008.
The Top 100 was "not good for the jukebox operators. They've got to buy their records early enough to get them in the jukeboxes before they become outdated," Stein recalled Noonan as saying. (As a teen in the '50s, Stein often visited Billboard's New York office in hopes of working in the music business).
Noonan also "saw all these top 40 stations sprouting up around the country. These stations compiled their own top 40 charts. Some of them were accurate and some of them were not," Stein said.
In tandem with then-Billboard publisher/president Bill Littleford, Noonan's theories culminated in the Aug. 4, 1958, Billboard issue, when the Hot 100 premiered as the first chart combining radio airplay, sales and jukebox activity data measurement.
Billboard promoted the new chart as "the fastest, most complete and most sensitive index to the popularity of recorded music in America."
Author/chart historian Joel Whitburn told Billboard in 2008 that the Hot 100 "took the industry by storm" upon its arrival. "You started seeing it creeping up in all the record shops. Everybody would gather around and look at it.
"It was so different. Any other chart that existed wouldn't even compare."
After more than a half-century, and numerous changes in methodology, notably, the 1991 adoption of Nielsen SoundScan and BDS sales and airplay data, respectively, and, more recently, streaming activity figures, the Hot 100 continues to unite music fans by ranking the country's top songs via multiple data pools.
And, if no longer as much in "record shops," certainly at society's more modern meeting spot of note, i.e., Twitter, where hitmakers themselves often can't contain their joy at contributing to music history.
"ThankYou so much to Radio+Monsters for making Born This Way the 1000th #1 in Billboard History," Lady Gaga Tweeted. "ThankYou for believing."
SINGLING OUT: Billboard.com runs down all 1,000 Hot 100 leaders here, complete with video clips and dates and number of weeks spent at No. 1.
As we celebrate each song that, for at least one week, has reigned as the top title in the U.S., certain tracks serve as benchmark leaders in the Hot 100's history.
Here is a look at 25 songs that help narrate the Hot 100's storied timeline:
1, "Poor Little Fool," Ricky Nelson (1958)
The Hot 100's first No. 1, by the Justin Bieber of his era.
35, "The Twist," Chubby Checker (1960, 1962)
The only song to reach No. 1 in each of two chart runs, and a fun example of the many dance-craze hits the scaled the Hot 100 at the time. Also, the chart's No. 1 song in Billboard's 50th anniversary Hot 100 countdown in 2008.
104, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," the Beatles (1964)
The "Ed Sullivan Show"-assisted, revolutionary first of the band's record 20 Hot 100 No. 1s.
177, "I'm a Believer," the Monkees (1966)
Before "Glee," the Monkees successfully combined comedy and music on primetime TV.
226, "Someday We'll Be Together," Diana Ross & the Supremes (1969)
The last No. 1 of the '60s, and one of Ross' 18 combined group or solo leaders.
228, "I Want You Back," Jackson 5 (1970)
Two No. 1s later, the Ross protégés notched their first of four career-opening chart-toppers.
281, "Ben," Michael Jackson (1972)
Jackson's first of 13 No. 1s, the most among solo male artists.
439, "Stayin' Alive," Bee Gees (1977)
At the height of disco, the group's Barry Gibb co-wrote five No. 1s that blanketed the Hot 100 summit for all but one week from Dec. 24, 1977, through May 13, 1978.
495, "(Just Like) Starting Over," John Lennon (1980)
A sad reminder that the Hot 100 mirrors the public's pulse. The song spent five weeks at No. 1 following his Dec. 8, 1980, murder.
511, "Physical," Olivia Newton-John (1981)
With 10 weeks at No. 1, the longest-reigning leader of the '80s, and one of the signature videos of the burgeoning MTV era.
530, "Billie Jean," Michael Jackson (1983)
The seven-week No. 1 spurred the standing of "Thriller" as the top-selling studio album of all-time. RIAA has certified the set as 29-times Platinum.
561, "Like a Virgin," Madonna (1984)
The first of the icon's 12 No. 1s. ("There is no one that is a more adoring and loving Madonna fan than me," Lady Gaga said on "The Tonight Show" Monday).
566, "We Are the World," USA for Africa (1985)
A time capsule of (43) rock-era superstars. The charity single raised a reported $63 million for worldwide humanitarian causes.
706, "Listen to Your Heart," Roxette (1989)
The first No. 1 not available on vinyl, but only as a cassette single.
723, "Vision of Love," Mariah Carey (1990)
Carey's first of 18 No. 1s, the most among solo female artists.
732, "Ice Ice Baby," Vanilla Ice (1990)
The first No. 1 by a rap artist.
761, "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," P.M. Dawn (1991)
The new No. 1 on the first Hot 100 to employ Nielsen data Nov. 30, 1991.
800, "You Are Not Alone," Michael Jackson (1995)
The first of 19 songs to debut at the summit.
804, "One Sweet Day," Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men (1995)
The song with the most weeks - 16 - spent at No. 1 in the chart's history.
857, "Try Again," Aaliyah (2000)
The first non-commercially-available song to rule since the Hot 100's Dec. 5, 1998, switch to allow album tracks to chart. (At the time, labels promoted numerous songs to radio without offering them in stores as a means to boost album sales).
887, "A Moment Like This," Kelly Clarkson (2002)
The first No. 1 by an "American Idol" contestant.
926, "SOS," Rihanna (2006)
The first of her nine No. 1s. Since her first week atop the list, no one else has more than four toppers (Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake).
973, "Boom Boom Pow," the Black Eyed Peas (2009)
974, "I Gotta Feeling," the Black Eyed Peas (2009)
With a combined 26 consecutive weeks at No. 1, the foursome set the mark for longest uninterrupted Hot 100 command.
1,000, "Born This Way," Lady Gaga (2011)
From "Poor Little Fool" to the artist celebrated by her army of "Little Monsters," music fans continue to just dance ...
What other Hot 100 No. 1s do you consider especially historic hits?
With 975 other songs from which to choose, please feel free to analyze, add, or (dis)agree in the comments section below or by e-mailing [email protected].