Ask Billboard: Rihanna's Record Streak of Seven Studio Albums With Hot 100 No. 1s

Courtesy Photo
Rihanna's "Work" music video featuring Drake, released in Feb. 2016.

"Anti" puts RiRi in unprecedented territory. Plus, Kesha's career sales & Adele's slow top 10 goodbye for "Hello."

Submit 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 @gthot20

Hi Gary,

With the ascension of "Work" (featuring Drake) to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Rihanna has now earned at least one No. 1 single on the chart from each of her last seven studio albums, all consecutively:

A Girl Like Me (2006): "SOS"
Good Girl Gone Bad (2007): "Umbrella," "Take a Bow," "Disturbia"
Rated R (2009): "Rude Boy"
Loud (2010): "What's My Name?," "Only Girl (In the World)," "S&M"
Talk That Talk (2011): "We Found Love"
Unapologetic (2012): "Diamonds"
Anti (2016): "Work"

Does she stand alone with her seven-album streak of Hot 100 leaders? Are any other acts even close?

Thanks a lot,
Peter Bailinson 
Cumberland, Maine

Hi Peter,

Great stat that reinforces Rihanna's uncommonly consistent run as Hot 100 royalty. Again, now with 14 No. 1s, she trails only the Beatles (20) and Mariah Carey (18).

After looking at all the acts with at least seven Hot 100 No. 1s each … Rihanna is the only artist with No. 1 Hot 100 singles from seven consecutive studio albums.

For the record, Rihanna's other three No. 1s aren't from her own albums, and have been in featured roles: on T.I.'s "Live Your Life" (2008) and Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" (2010) and "The Monster" (2013-14). Meanwhile, her streak would be eight straight studio sets, encompassing her entire output, if her debut hit, "Pon de Replay," from her debut album Music of the Sun, had risen one notch higher on the Hot 100. It peaked at No. 2 in July 2005.

As for the only two acts with more Hot 100 leaders than Rihanna, let's start with Carey. Depending on how we consider her chart history, she scored No. 1s from six consecutive non-seasonal studio sets:

Mariah Carey (1990): "Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday," "I Don't Wanna Cry"
Emotions (1991): "Emotions"
Music Box (1993): "Dreamlover," "Hero"
Daydream (1995): "Fantasy," "One Sweet Day," "Always Be My Baby"
Butterfly (1997): "Honey," "My All"
Rainbow (1999): "Heartbreaker," "Thank God I Found You"

Making the rundown above a bit murky: following Emotions, Carey released her MTV Unplugged EP in 1992, which added another No. 1 single: "I'll Be There." More to the point of studio albums, after Music Box, she gifted fans with her holiday studio set, Merry Christmas, whose biggest hit is "All I Want for Christmas Is You," which reached No. 11 (… on the Jan. 9, 2016, Hot 100). So, Carey boasts a streak of six non-seasonal studio LPs, plus an EP, producing Hot 100 No. 1s … with the yuletide studio set Merry Christmas released in that span, as well.

By the way, we've noted 15 of Carey's 18 Hot 100 No. 1s above. Her other three are from 2005's The Emancipation of Mimi ("We Belong Together," "Don't Forget About Us"), which followed 2002's Charmbracelet, and 2008's E=MC2 ("Touch My Body").

The Beatles' history of Hot 100 No. 1s and parent albums is, like Carey's, not as straightforward as Rihanna's. Let's look at their top 10 Billboard 200-charted sets (except for the documentary The Beatles' Story) released during their run as an active group, beginning with their first entry on the chart, 1964's Meet the Beatles. For the sake of an especially inclusive analysis, the list includes albums that both did and didn't house Hot 100 No. 1s (with those that didn't noted in strikethrough text, which is always fun to see make a rare appearance):

Meet the Beatles (1964): "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
Introducing the Beatles (1964)
The Beatles' Second Album (1964): "She Loves You"
A Hard Day's Night (1964): "A Hard Day's Night"
Something New (1964)
Beatles '65 (1965): "I Feel Fine"
Beatles VI (1965): "Eight Days a Week"
Help! (1965): "Help!," "Ticket to Ride," "Yesterday"
Rubber Soul (1966)
Yesterday and Today (1966): "We Can Work It Out"
Revolver (1966)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Magical Mystery Tour (1968): "Hello Goodbye," "Penny Lane"
The Beatles (1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969): "All You Need Is Love"
Abbey Road (1969): "Come Together"
Hey Jude (1970): "Can't Buy Me Love," "Paperback Writer," "Hey Jude"
Let It Be (1970): "Let It Be," "The Long and Winding Road," "Get Back"

Adding up the Fab Four's No. 1s above, we get 19 of their record 20 toppers. The only one missing? Their fourth, "Love Me Do," from their debut UK release Please Please Me.

Also note that McCartney logged his longest run of albums generating Hot 100 No. 1s not with the Beatles, but Wings: five in a row in 1973-78, thanks to Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Wings at the Speed of Sound and London Town.

In all, this study makes for yet another illustration of Rihanna's historic first decade-plus, with Anti adding a new chapter of unprecedented achievement.

KESHA'S CAREER SALES

@gthot20 Hi Gary, in the next AskBB article could you update us on Kesha's career sales?

‏@Matty10Pelu

Hi @Matty10Pelu,

As so many stand by Kesha, let's recap her sales successes.

Kesha has placed four albums on the Billboard 200, with her first, 2010's one-week No. 1 Animal, having sold 1.47 million in the U.S. to date, according to Nielsen Music. Her other three: Cannibal (No. 15, 2012; 527,000 sold); Warrior (No. 6, 2012; 349,000 sold); and I Am the Dance Commander + I Command You to Dance (No. 36, 2011; 118,000 sold).

Kesha has sold 2.47 million albums total.

And, her top-selling songs to date, nine of which have sold at least 1 million downloads each: "TiK ToK" (6.8 million); "Timber" (Pitbull feat. Kesha) (4.7 million); "We R Who We Are" (4.1 million); "Blow" (3.4 million); "Your Love Is My Drug" (3.3 million); "Die Young" (2.9 million); "Take It Off" (2.5 million); "Blah Blah Blah" (Kesha feat. 3OH!3) (2.4 million); and "My First Kiss" (3OH!3 feat. Kesha) (1.8 million).

Kesha's total song download sales: 36.3 million.

ONE STEP AT A TIME

Gary,

I don't write down the top of the Hot 100 the way I did in my days of listening to "American Top 40," so I can't be 100 percent sure, but I think that Adele's "Hello" has touched every spot from No. 1 to No. 7 on its way down the chart. How rare is it for a song to rank at all 10 positions in the top 10 on its way down?

Chuck Small
Raleigh, North Carolina

Hi Chuck,

Adele's steady slope with "Hello" was also noted by fellow insightful reader Ron Raymond, Jr. (host/producer of "Stuck in the 80s," on WMPG-FM and WMPG.org, Portland, Maine). You are both correct. Here's the run of the song on the Hot 100 following its 10-week domination: Nos. 2-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.

Like a local train, "Hello" is the first song to make every stop on its way down the Hot 100's top 10 to No. 8 (so far) since ... Rihanna and Drake's chart-topping collab prior to current leader "Work," "What's My Name?," in 2010-11. After its one week on top, "Name" ranked in this order: 7-8-5-3-2-3-4-4-3-4-5-6-8. (Unlike "Hello," "Name" hit all positions 2-8 out of order.)

"Hello" and "Name" are the only songs to place at Nos. 2-3-4-5-6-7-8 after leading the Hot 100 since ... Savage Garden's "Truly Madly Deeply" swept the region in 1998. After crowning the Hot 100 for two weeks, it held these ranks: 2-4-4-3-5-5-5-5-6-7-6-5-8-7-5-7-7-8-9-8-10 (again, bouncing up and down, unlike the direct descent of "Hello"). (And, how long ago that run occur? During it, Adele turned 10 years old.)

Ultimately, these moves make for a quirky chart stat but also reflect songs' staying power. "Hello" is still top five in airplay and top 10 in streams and has spent all 18 of its weeks on the Hot 100 in the top 10. Just as it arrived in the top tier, at No. 1, with a record-shattering hello, it's likewise making a prominent goodbye.

CANADIAN PIANO MAN

Hello Gary,  

My name is Tony and I am a 22-year-old pianist from Toronto. I have been keeping up with the Billboard charts since I was 14 because the music industry is where I ultimately want to work, as a pianist, artist, producer, songwriter, arranger and/or film composer. One of the things I love to do is take famous pop songs, by artists like Justin Bieber, One Direction and Taylor Swift, and turn them into piano arrangements.

2015 was one of my favourite years of pop music, which gave me the idea to create an arrangement for piano by mashing songs from Billboard's year-end Hot 100. I mixed a total of 54 hits, over four videos. My ultimate goal for this project is for it to be seen by, hopefully, many of the songs' original artists.

Here is the link to the full YouTube playlist, and, by itself, the first clip:

I hope you enjoy it!

Sincerely,  
Tony Ann

Hi Tony,

Very impressive! And, the influx of Canadian musical talent continues.