Fueled by the viral hit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” the Encanto soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 for eight consecutive weeks earlier this year. That stands as the longest continuous run at No. 1 so far this year. But it’s very far from the record.
In the last 20 years, two albums have managed to string together 10 consecutive weeks at No 1 – Adele’s 21 from January to March 2012, and Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album from January to March 2021. The last album to log more than 10 consecutive weeks at No. 1 was the Titanic soundtrack, which was on top for 16 consecutive weeks in 1998.
Long continuous runs at No. 1 used to be fairly common. Between March 1956, when the Billboard 200 was introduced, and May 1998, when Titanic ended its long reign, 19 albums spent 15 or more consecutive weeks at No. 1. Let’s take a closer look at those albums that completely dominated the Billboard 200 in their time.
First, Michael Jackson’s Thriller deserves special mention. It was No. 1 for 17 consecutive weeks twice – from Feb. 26, 1983 to June 18, 1983, when “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” topped the Hot 100, and again from Dec. 24, 1983 to April 14, 1984, when the “Thriller” video dominated MTV and the album swept the 1984 Grammy nominations and awards. An interesting side note: Soundtracks to iconic ‘80s movies snapped Jackson’s 17-week winning streaks both times. Flashdance ended Thriller’s first long run at No. 1. Footloose ended its second.
Five of the six albums with the longest continuous runs at No. 1 since the inception of the Billboard 200 are film soundtracks, which dramatizes the power of the movie/music tie-in. The non-soundtrack with the longest continuous run at No. 1 (20 weeks) is Harry Belafonte’s Calypso, which was at the forefront of the calypso craze of the 1950s.
Carole King’s Tapestry has had the longest continuous run at No. 1 (15 weeks) of any album by a female solo artist. Billy Ray Cyrus’ Some Gave All has had the longest continuous run at No. 1 (17 weeks) for a country album – and for an artist’s debut album in any genre. MC Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em has had the longest continuous run at No. 1 (18 weeks) for a hip-hop album.
As we work our way through this, we’ll make note of the albums that unseated these blockbuster albums after such long runs. Some were unlikely “giant slayers” – notably albums by Bobbie Gentry and Gerry Rafferty.
Here are all albums that logged 15 or more consecutive weeks at No. 1 from the inception of the Billboard 200 in March 1956 to the present, beginning with five albums that had 15 consecutive weeks on top, and ending with one album that had 29 consecutive weeks on top. (From May 1959 to August 1963, Billboard published separate mono and stereo charts, which has complicated things for chart researchers ever since. For that four-year period, we show all albums that logged 15 or more weeks at No. 1 on either chart.)