Ask Billboard: The All-Pharrell Edition

Pharrell Williams performs onstage during the 2013 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California.

Mark Davis/Getty Images for BET

Readers discuss other acts who've hit No. 1 solo, with duets and as part of trios, Oscar songs on the Hot 100 & more

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

HITTING No. 1 IS AS EASY AS 1-2-3

Hi Gary,
 
With "Happy" reaching No. 1 on this week's Billboard Hot 100, Pharrell Williams becomes the latest member of the solo/duo/trio No. 1 club, a rather exclusive group of acts that have reached No. 1 separately as a solo act; as half of a duo; and as one-third of a trio (or, at least, a triple-billed No. 1). Williams has previously topped the chart as part of a twosome, as featured on Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" (2004) and Ludacris's "Money Maker" (2006), and threesome, thanks to Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring Williams and T.I., last year.

Among the other acts who have achieved this incredibly difficult accomplishment:

Paul McCartney
Solo, although credited as "with Wings"; duets with Linda McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson; and, technically, as a trio with "Band on the Run," on whom he, Linda and Denny Laine were the only personnel. McCartney is unique in that he has also reached No. 1 with a quartet (20 Beatles' No. 1s) and a quintet (the Beatles' 1969 leader "Get Back" features Billy Preston).

Diana Ross
Five solo No. 1s; her duet "Endless Love" with Lionel Richie; and as a trio with the Supremes (12 No. 1s)

Phil Collins
Six solo No. 1s; his duet "Separate Lives" with Marilyn Martin; and as a trio with Genesis (1986's "Invisible Touch")

Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado
Both carry cards for the club, as they've each notched solo leaders: teamed with Timbaland on 2007's "Give It to Me"; and, each has duetted, Timberlake with T.I. ("My Love") and Furtado with Timbaland ("Promiscuous")

Nelly
The rapper/singer boasts four such machinations: solo ("Hot in Herre"); his duet with Kelly Rowland ("Dilemma"); as a trio with Diddy and Murphy Lee ("Shake Ya Tailfeather"); and, as a quartet with Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp ("Grillz")

Beyonce
Two solo No. 1s; three with featured artists Jay Z, Sean Paul and Slim Thug, respectively; and, of course, as a trio with Destiny's Child (four No. 1s)

T.I.
Solo ("Whatever You Like"); as featured on Timberlake's "My Love" and featuring Rihanna ("Live Your Life"); and as one of three acts on "Blurred Lines"

Kanye West
Solo ("Stronger"); team ups with Katy Perry and Jamie Foxx; and, with Twista's "Slow Jamz," featuring West and Foxx

Eminem, 50 Cent
Both boast unaccompanied No. 1s; leaders with one other act; and, both are credited with Dr. Dre on 2009's "Crack a Bottle."

Maybe you and Chart Beat readers can add to the list?

Best,

Patrick Kelly
Brampton, Ontario

Thanks Patrick,

Great observation! It certainly shows not only acts' talent to tally multiple Hot 100 No. 1s, but also the versatility that artists like Pharrell possess. (Although … is "Happy" really a solo hit? Pharrell's hat is okay not accepting any credit? Hmm, hard to tell …)

Here's who I'll add to the list. Readers, feel free to chime in if we've missed anyone:

Mariah Carey
Of her 18 Hot 100 No. 1s, one is an equally-billed duet ("One Sweet Day," with Boyz II Men); one features Jay Z ("Heartbreaker"); and one features Joe and 98 Degrees ("Thank God I Found You").

Usher
His nine No. 1s include five on his own; three with one other act, including 2004's co-billed "My Boo," with Alicia Keys; and, earlier that year, "Yeah!," featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris.

As for those who almost qualify:

Christina Aguilera and P!nk have each reigned solo, with one other act and together as part of a quartet with Lil' Kim and Mya. So, each is shy of a No. 1 as part of a trio.

Speaking of P!nk, thanks to last year's "Just Give Me a Reason," Nate Ruess has notched a No. 1 as part of a duo and trio, thanks to fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae, so it's also kind of a quartet, actually …)

Diddy has posted five No. 1s, with, coincidentally, three with three acts and two with two. He's missing only a No. 1 by himself.

Sting is an interesting case: his two No. 1s are both as part of trios: the Police's eight-week 1983 topper "Every Breath You Take" (covered by Lea Michele and Naya Rivera on "Glee" this week) and 1994's three-week No. 1 "All for Love" with Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart.
 
And, Will Smith, the first guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" last week, also narrowly misses entrance to the club. He's ruled solo with "Getting' Jiggy Wit It" and "Wild Wild West" features Dru Hill and Kool Mo Dee. And, while they never topped the Hot 100, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince gave Smith his start. The pair peaked as high as No. 4 with "Summertime" in 1991.

(As far as I know, "Summertime" is a song about a fictional time of year that's warm and no snow falls. Great imagination, that Will Smith has.)

(Sorry, let's keep things "Happy"!)

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