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Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Dear Gary,

After your analysis last week of the chart performances of Madonna and Lady Gaga in their first two years each, I'd like to compare Lady Gaga to another artist. How does Taylor Swift's first two years on Billboard charts compare to Gaga's?

Thank You,

George Mattar

Hi George,

Madonna and Lady Gaga make for a logical comparison, considering the similarities in everything from their pop/dance musical leans to flashy fashion sense. Comparing Lady Gaga to Swift, however, also makes for in interesting exercise, as they are two of the most successful female stars to arrive with debut albums since the second half of the 2000s.

As we did with Madonna and Lady Gaga, who's been appearing on the Hot 100 for almost two years, since Aug. 16, 2008 (Madonna's birthday, coincidentally, as Chart Beat reader Ron Raymond, Jr., of Portland, Maine, reminded in an e-mail following last week's "Ask Billboard" posting), we can look at how each artist has performed in their first 23 months on Billboard charts:

Billboard Hot 100

Lady Gaga: 10 entries, 7 top 10s, 2 No. 1s (and 4 Platinum titles, according to the RIAA)
Taylor Swift: 6 entries, 1 top 10 (and 5 Platinum titles, according to the RIAA)

Billboard 200

Lady Gaga: 2 entries, 2 top 10s
Taylor Swift: 3 entries, 2 top 10s

Adult Contemporary

Lady Gaga: 5 entries
Taylor Swift: 3 entries, 3 top 10s, 2 No. 1s

While Lady Gaga easily outnumbers Swift in Hot 100 top 10s (7-1) almost two years into each artist's career, Swift banked one more Platinum single in that span and enjoyed a faster crossover to adult radio.

Ultimately, Lady Gaga and Swift target different core audiences. While Lady Gaga has notched seven No. 1s on Dance/Club Play Songs, Swift has registered comparable success on Country Songs, sending five top 10s, including two No. 1s, onto the chart from May 2006 through May 2008.

To date, with Swift having released her first album two years earlier than Lady Gaga, total album sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan, clearly favor the former artist:

11,761,000, Taylor Swift
4,718,000, Lady Gaga

The pair's digital sales, according to SoundScan, however, are much closer:

28,499,000, Taylor Swift
26,026,000, Lady Gaga

Overall, as with Madonna and Lady Gaga, looking simply at chart performances and sales figures between Swift and Lady Gaga offer just one angle in a view of the performers' careers.

Still, since both artists write their own material, have already helmed successful headlining tours and become ubiquitous on radio and in pop culture, it seems logical that two of the brightest relatively newer female stars in music are only at the beginning of potentially long-lasting residences in the public consciousness.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard