Ask Billboard: Missy Elliott, Hot 100 And The Best Selling Album Of All Time

Keith and his readers discuss Missy Elliott, Hot 100 and the best selling debut album of all time.

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



I'll go ahead and admit I'm a Missy Elliott fanatic. With that said, it's scary how terrible the state of female rap is. Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Trina and Eve have all struggled as of late. I had hoped Missy could come through and prove female rappers are still relevant.

It started to look promising; Missy was on the cover of Billboard in June, explaining her plans for her forthcoming album "Block Party." However, the record now has no release date and promotion behind lead single "Best, Best"
has ceased. Old friend Timbaland recently said he has a huge record for Missy.

Should I keep my hopes up or not?

M. W. Jones
Virginia Beach, Va.


Never fear. Missy Elliott's new album is almost here.

Originally, her new album "Block Party" was slated to drop this month, but, plans have changed. A new release date will be announced soon (really!), so stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.


Hi Keith,

I know that in 1969 the Billboard Hot 100 rules were changed to combine double-sided hits as one entity, but how were the chart positions calculated? Was the airplay for both songs combined together or was the song that gathered the most airplay used to determine where both songs charted?

If both songs' airplay were combined, I would imagine that you would see the single up at the top for quite a few weeks. But it seems odd to me how the Beatles' "Come Together/Something" only stayed in at one week.

John Wilson
New York, N.Y.

Hi John,

Billboard changed its policy about how double-sided singles (a term that will escape most young readers of this column) the exact same week that the Beatles' "Come Together/Something" vaulted to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated Nov. 29, 1969.

The previous week, when the songs were charting separately, "Something" was at No. 3 and had lost its bullet. "Come Together" was No. 7, also without a bullet (falling from its former peak at No. 2 the previous week).

So, both singles were already on the decline the week Billboard made the change.

My theory is that when you combined the airplay points for both titles - even though they were both on the decline ­ it was easily enough to overtake the No. 1 spot for that one week.


Hi Keith,

How are you? I participate in a online forum and one of the topics is music trivia. My question was "What is the best selling debut album of all time?"

I thought it was Boston's first album in 1976, but they tell me it is Ace of Base's debut. I looked it up and found the answer to be Boston everywhere.
What is the correct answer? Thank you for your time.

Luis T. Carreño
Chula Vista, Calif.

Hello Luis,

About a year ago, in the June 22, 2007 edition of "Ask Billboard," I answered essentially the same question.

So, without further ado, here is what I wrote then. (And, none of the sales figures have changed, so this list is still current.)

Since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991, we can't use SoundScan alone in determining what the biggest debut albums are.

But we can use the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) list of the top 100 best-sellers in the U.S., since the RIAA has been around much longer than SoundScan.

According to the RIAA, here are the biggest selling debut albums in the U.S.
Generally speaking, all of the titles listed below are the major-label debuts of the artists. We're including Morissette's "Jagged," as it was her U.S. major label debut. Same for Hootie & the Blowfish, Guns N' Roses and the Dixie Chicks, who had released independently distributed albums previous to the major label bow. Previous to his "Bat Out of Hell" success, Meat Loaf released a little known album through Motown as part of a duo, but we're discounting that album as well.

(Note: We updated this answer on July 2, 2007, after reader Jason Englisbe wrote in, noting that Shania Twain's first album was not "The Woman In Me,"
but rather her 1993 self-titled debut. We apologize for the error.)

Boston, "Boston" (17 million)
Alanis Morissette, "Jagged Little Pill" (16 million) Hootie & the Blowfish, "Cracked Rear View" (16 million) Guns N' Roses, "Appetite For Destruction" (15 million) Backsteet Boys, "Backstreet Boys" (14 million) Meat Loaf, "Bat Out of Hell" (14 million) Britney Spears, "... Baby One More Time" (14 million) Whitney Houston, "Whitney Houston" (13 million) Jewel, "Pieces of You" (12 million) Matchbox Twenty, "Yourself Or Someone Like You" (12 million) Dixie Chicks, "Wide Open Spaces" (12 million) Pearl Jam, "Ten" (12 million)

Any way you slice it, Boston's self-titled debut - the act's real, true, first album - is the biggest selling debut album.