Ask Billboard: Who's Bigger, Def Leppard Or Poison?

Def Leppard Cancels Upcoming Tour

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.


Hi Gary,

Who has totaled more record sales, Def Leppard or Poison?

I have a bet with my best friend. I say Def Leppard.


Tony L.

Hi Tony,

Wasn't mainstream rock music so much more fun in the '80s and early '90s? The list of the era's party rock songs is as big as '80s hair, including Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and "Let's Get Rocked" and Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me" and "Unskinny Bop."

Other than the occasional "Rockstar" by Nickelback, mainstream rock has been largely absent the carefree whimsy of the MTV music video era following the rise of grunge in the early-to-mid '90s.

In the '80s and into the '90s, however, Def Leppard and Poison each enjoyed quite a run in their hit-making primes.

The careers of the bands each predate the advent of Nielsen SoundScan sales data in 1991, but let's look at how each has sold since then.

Poison has sold 6,058,000 albums in the U.S. in that span. Its top seller is 1996's "Greatest Hits 1986-1996," with 2,017,000.

Since 1991, Def Leppard has sold more than twice that of Poison: 16,566,000 albums. Its best-selling title in that period is also a best-of collection, 1995's "Vault - Greatest Hits 1980-1995," with sales to date of 4,908,000.

According to the Recording Industry of America (RIAA), Def Leppard handily leads Poison in album sales, 35 to 14.5 million, sums which encompass the bands' entire careers.

Some deeper comparisons, chart-wise?

Billboard Hot 100 hits: Def Leppard 19, Poison 12
Billboard Hot 100 top 40 hits: Def Leppard 15, Poison 10
Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits: Poison 6, Def Leppard 4
Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits: one each (Def Leppard "Love Bites," Poison "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"), both in 1988
Mainstream Rock hits: Def Leppard 21 (including 13 top 10s, three of which reached No. 1), Poison 8 (including two top 10s)

So, with Def Leppard ahead in all but one of the above comparisons, you easily win bragging rights over your friend.

Since their last Hot 100 appearances in the '90s, both have acts remained relevant thanks to touring and/or Bret Michaels' celebreality career post-Poison's '80s heyday. Both have even paired with two of today's top female stars. Def Leppard teamed with Taylor Swift on an episode of CMT's "Crossroads" in 2008, and the episode's subsequent release topped Billboard's Video Music Sales chart last July.

Michaels recently debuted a new song, "Nothing to Lose," featuring Miley Cyrus. She's due to return the favor by covering "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," with Michaels, on her next album.

"Miley got ahold of me and wanted to re-cut 'Every Rose...,' " Michaels recently told "When we were in the studio, I said, 'Do you want to hear some of my new tracks?' She said 'I'd love to,' and I played her 'Nothing to Lose' and she fell in love with it and said she'd love to sing on the song. I was like, 'That'd be killer!'"


Dear Gary,

In the March 4 Chart Beat, you mentioned that Zac Brown Band is the first band since Rascal Flatts eight years ago to have four songs from a debut album place in the top 10 on the Country Songs chart. (I think the group could score another one should it release the song "Wherever the Boat Leaves From" as a single).

My question is, counting all artists, not just groups, who has posted five top 10s on Country Songs from a debut album?


Glenn Sanders
Griffith, Indiana

Hi Glenn,

Billboard country chart manager Wade Jessen says that no single beyond "Highway 20 Ride" has been scheduled yet from Zac Brown Band's "The Foundation," the group's first major label effort. I agree with you, however, that "Wherever the Boat Leaves From" sounds like a hit, in line lyrically and musically with the act's former Country Songs No. 1 "Toes."

While we wait to see if the Best New Artist Grammy Award-winners can notch a fifth top 10, here is a look at the six artists to begin with five top 10s from a major label debut album on Country Songs:

Clint Black, "Killin' Time" (1989-90)
No. 1 (one week), "Better Man"
No. 1 (one week), "Killin' Time"
No. 1 (three weeks), "Nobody's Home"
No. 1 (two weeks), "Walkin' Away"
No. 3, "Nothing's News"

Mark Chesnutt, "Too Cold at Home" (1990-92)
No. 3, "Too Cold at Home"
No. 1 (two weeks), "Brother Jukebox"
No. 5, "Blame It on Texas"
No. 3, "Your Love Is a Miracle"
No. 10, "Broken Promise Land"

Diamond Rio, "Diamond Rio" (1991-92)
No. 1 (two weeks), "Meet in the Middle"
No. 3, "Mirror Mirror"
No. 9, "Mama Don't Forget to Pray for Me"
No. 2, "Norma Jean Riley"
No. 7, "Nowhere Bound"

Brooks & Dunn, "Brand New Man" (1991-92)
No. 1 (two weeks), "Brand New Man"
No. 1 (two weeks), "My Next Broken Heart"
No. 1 (two weeks), "Neon Moon"
No. 1 (four weeks), "Boot Scootin' Boogie"
No. 6, "Lost and Found"

Dixie Chicks, "Wide Open Spaces" (1998-99) (*first album with Natalie Maines as lead singer; first to impact Billboard's charts)
No. 7, "I Can Love You Better"
No. 1 (two weeks), "There's Your Trouble"
No. 1 (four weeks), "Wide Open Spaces"
No. 1 (two weeks), "You Were Mine"
No. 6, "Tonight the Heartache's on Me"

Taylor Swift, "Taylor Swift" (2007-08)
No. 6, "Tim McGraw"
No. 2, "Teardrops on My Guitar"
No. 1 (six weeks), "Our Song"
No. 3, "Picture to Burn"
No. 1 (two weeks), "Should've Said No"

An honorary mention goes to Blackhawk. In 1994, the band just missed the top 10 when its first single, "Goodbye Says It All," from its self-titled debut album, peaked at No. 11. Four subsequent songs then reached the top 10, led by the No. 2 hit "Every Once in a While."


Hi Gary,

I have a question regarding La Roux and the duo's song "Bulletproof." I noticed it debuts this week on the Hot 100 at No. 92, and it's also new at No. 37 on the Pop Songs chart.

What is the reason for the single to surface now after months of being in rotation in clubs? If I am not mistaken, the song went to No. 1 on the Dance/Club Play Songs chart last summer.

Is there a new version of the track, or special remix serviced to radio, that has given new life to "Bulletproof"?

Thank you for your time.


Jaime Puentes
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hi Jaime,

A record executive at Interscope confirms that the original version of "Bulletproof" is the one catching on at radio.

You are correct: the song led Dance/Club Play Songs in September. It led the U.K. singles chart in June 2008.

The song is following a path that dance hits commonly take, building a base in clubs before crossing over to a wider audience on mainstream top 40 radio. Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" topped Dance/Club Play Songs in June 2008. It wasn't until that November that the cut entered Pop Songs, where it rose to No. 1 in January 2009.

Hot Dance Airplay reporter KNHC/Seattle was the first U.S. radio station to play "Bulletproof," premiering it on June 5, 2009, according to Nielsen BDS. The station also leads all U.S. signals with 1,091 total plays to date (through March 11).

Among mainstream top 40 stations, WXRK (Now 92.3)/New York leads with 50 plays in the last week (March 5-11).

WHTG (Hit 106)/Monmouth, New Jersey, doubled its plays of "Bulletproof" from nine to 18 in that span. The station's program director/music director Matt Knight attributes La Roux's burgeoning pop radio success to a sound that's unique, yet familiar.

"'Bulletproof' is a perfect balance song that's very distinct. It's got that retro, '80s electropop sound, and every time it plays, it garners a reaction.

"It's become a big 'club-banger' here on the Jersey Shore!"