"Say Say Say" ranks as Michael Jackson's top-performing single on Billboard's ranking of the late legend's 50 best-charting songs, while a second duet between the King of Pop and a former Beatle bookends the list's top 10.
Billboard's tally of Jackson's 50 top titles, which features songs from his complete catalog, including solo recordings, collaborations and classic hits with the Jackson 5, was compiled from songs' chart performances on the weekly Billboard Hot 100. Songs were ranked based on an inverse-point system, i.e., weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least.
(Eras were weighted to ensure a balanced representation of titles, as the formula used to compute the weekly Hot 100 and turnover rates for songs on the survey have varied from decade to decade).
"Say Say Say" earns the list's coveted top spot as Jackson's best-performing Hot 100 chart single. His duet with Paul McCartney led the list for six weeks beginning in December 1983. The pair also ranks at No. 10 with "The Girl Is Mine," the first single from Jackson's "Thriller," the best-selling studio album of all-time (29 million), according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The cut peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 for three weeks in January 1983.
"Billie Jean" places as Jackson's second-biggest single. While the song spent one more week at No. 1 and two more weeks on the Hot 100 than "Say Say Say," the latter title totaled more weeks than the former track in the top 10 (13/11), top 20 (16/12) and top 40 (18/17).
The evergreen 1970 Jackson 5 ballad "I'll Be There," which topped the Hot 100 for five weeks in 1970, is Jackson's third-biggest hit, followed by "Beat It," a three-week Hot 100 No. 1 in 1983 from "Thriller," at No. 4. Jackson's first Hot 100 leader of the 1980s, "Rock With You," which ruled for four weeks in 1980, ranks as his fifth-biggest single on the survey.
The Jacksons' "Dancing Machine," a No. 2-peaking Hot 100 hit in 1974, places at No. 6 and Jackson's 1988 solo No. 1 "Man in the Mirror," from his "Bad" album, claims the No. 7 spot. Despite the latter title's higher peak on the weekly Hot 100, "Dancing Machine" ranks higher on this list due to its having totaled more weeks on the chart (22/17), in the top 40 (16/13) and in the top 10 (9/7).
The Jackson 5's debut No. 1 Hot 100 smash "I Want You Back" ranks as the No. 8 title of Jackson's catalog. The song kicked off Jackson's Hot 100 resume, having debuted at No. 90 on the chart dated Nov. 15, 1969. He has graced Billboard charts in all six decades since that first frame.
The Jackson 5's 1970 Hot 100 No. 1 "ABC" ranks at No. 9, one rung above "The Girl Is Mine."