(For this research, we'll leave out both Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston, who charted top 40 hits in the '80s, '90s, 2000s and '10s, but only in the current decade via re-entries of prior hits; Bon Jovi's 1987 "Livin' on a Prayer" re-entered for a week at No. 25 in 2013 thanks to viral activity, while multiple Houston classics returned following her death in 2012. Also, an honorable mention to Aerosmith: The band scored top 40 hits in each decade from the '70s through the '00s, including at least one top 10 in each of those decades, while frontman Steven Tyler added a solo top 40 track in 2011.)
Here are the elite four acts that have charted at least one new top 40 Hot 100 hit in every decade since the '80s.
The band enters the Hot 100's top 40 for the first time since 2009, when "Get On Your Boots" debuted at its No. 37 peak. The group first reached the region with "Pride (In the Name of Love)," a No. 33 hit (like "XXX.," so far) in 1984. U2 lands its 17th top 40 title, having notched six in the '80s, seven in the '90s, three in the '00s, and now one in the '10s.
Notably, lead singer Bono and lead guitarist The Edge had already visited the Hot 100's top 40 this decade: "Haiti (Mon Amour)," billed as by Jay Z, Bono, The Edge and Rihanna, hit No. 16 in 2010.
Meanwhile, U2's latest achievement occurs amid the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree becoming the band's first of seven No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200. The set began a nine-week command on April 25, 1987. The same date, lead single "With or Without You" became U2's first Hot 100 top 10; three weeks later, it became its first of two No. 1s, with the album's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" reigning in August 1987.
Jackson became the first act with top 40 Hot 100 hits in the '80s, '90s, '00s and '10s, when "Hold My Hand," with Akon, spent a week at its No. 39 peak on Jan. 1, 2011. Jackson, who died in 2009, added his most recent, and 39th total solo top 40 hit, in 2014, when his virtual duet with Justin Timberlake, "Love Never Felt So Good," rose to No. 9.
Jackson's decade-by-decade breakdown of sending new songs into the Hot 100's top 40 looks thrillingly like this: 18 in the '80s, 10 in the '90s, and two each in the '00s and '10s. And, that's on top of seven as a soloist in the '70s. Befitting his title, and beyond top 40 hits, the King of Pop is the only artist with top 10 Hot 100 hits in each of five decades.
From the King of Pop to the Queen, Madonna added her 49th and most recent top 40 Hot 100 hit in 2012 with the No. 10-peaking "Give Me All Your Luvin'," featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. Madonna by the decades: 19 top 40 Hot 100 hits in the '80s, 20 in the '90s, nine in the '00s and one in the '10s.
As for Madonna's total of 49 top 40 Hot 100 hits, among women, Taylor Swift has one-upped her for the most, as her recent No. 2-peaking duet with Zayn, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)," became her milestone 50th. Madonna is snugly sandwiched between Swift and Rihanna in third place among women with 48 top 40 Hot 100 hits, with Rihanna adding her 48th this week: She's featured on Lamar's "Loyalty." (from DAMN.), new at No. 14. (Among all acts, Swift is tied with The Beatles for the sixth-most top 40 entries in the Hot 100's 58-year history. Elvis Presley leads with 80.)
"Weird Al" Yankovic
The pop parody master is perhaps an unlikely entrant on this list. Of course, both Jackson and Madonna have helped his ascent: "Eat It," Yankovic's cover of Jackson's 1983 Hot 100 No. 1 "Beat It," became his first top 40 hit, reaching No. 12 in 1984. In 1985, "Like a Surgeon," his doctored take on Madonna's "Like a Virgin," missed the top 40, although it came close, reaching No. 47. And, his next charted Hot 100 title, "Fat," expanded upon Jackson's 1987 No. 1 "Bad," denting the chart with a No. 99 peak in 1988.
Yankovic boasts four top 40 Hot 100 hits, and he makes this exclusive list by having spaced them out one per decade. After "Eat It," "Smells Like Nirvana" climbed to No. 35 in 1992; "White & Nerdy," his riff on Chamillionaire's "Ridin'," featuring Krayzie Bone (a two-week Hot 100 No. 1), became Yankovic's lone top 10, hitting No. 9 in 2006; and "Word Crimes," which spoofs Robin Thicke's 12-week 2013 No. 1 "Blurred Lines," featuring T.I. and Pharrell, debuted at its No. 39 peak in 2014.
Ultimately, and logically, Jackson, Madonna, Yankovic and U2 have all managed to extend their runs of top 40 hits to historic levels by adapting, thanks to assists from acts who've followed in their footsteps: Akon, Timberlake, Minaj, M.I.A., Thicke (indirectly) and, as of this week, Lamar.