As in every year, superstar acts scored numerous record-setting feats on Billboard‘s charts in 2020. They also helped provide some fun, distracting normalcy in a year in which such comforts have been especially welcomed.
Here’s a look, in chronological order from January through December, at 20 of the most impressive chart achievements of 2020, by some of the biggest names in pop, Christian, country, dance/electronic, hip-hop, Latin, rock and more.
1. Mariah Carey became the first artist to have ranked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart in four distinct decades (the 1990s, 2000s, ’10s and ’20s), when “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” a song that has existed for all four decades itself, continued its No. 1 run (Jan. 4).
Carey recently told Billboard that the carol’s chart-topping coronation (which it reprises this week) “was a moment where I just sat there by myself at 3 in the morning looking at the Christmas tree lights and just really taking it in on a human level. What a validating thing to have happen. I never knew that the song was going to become a thing every year. I couldn’t have known it.”
2. Eminem earned his record-breaking 10th consecutive No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart when Music to Be Murdered By opened at the summit (Feb. 1). The rapper, whose streak dates to The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000, passed fellow hip-hop superstar Kanye West, who has linked No. 1s in nine straight appearances on the chart since 2005.
3. BTS broke the record for the most weeks atop Billboard‘s Social 50 chart (Feb. 8). The superstars have reigned for 209 weeks to date (through the latest, Dec. 19-dated survey), an uninterrupted domination stretching back to July 2017.
BTS subsequently became the first group with multiple No. 1 Hot 100 debuts, thanks to “Dynamite” and “Life Goes On,” the latter of which became the chart’s first predominantly-Korean-language leader. “Dynamite” has since gone on to claim the honors of the first Radio Songs top 10 and first top five hit on the Pop Songs airplay chart by an all-South Korean act.
4. Madonna became the first artist with as many as 50 No. 1s on a single Billboard chart when “I Don’t Search I Find” crowned Dance Club Songs (Feb. 22). “Dance is my first love,” she beamed upon learning of the accolade. “Every time one of my songs is recognized on the charts it feels like home. I never take the support of my fans for granted, and it’s always like … the very first time.”
5, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande‘s “Rain on Me” stormed in atop the Hot 100 (June 6), marking the first-ever debut atop the chart for an all-female collaboration. In August, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion would score the second such start (see below).
“Rain on Me” is from Gaga’s LP Chromatica, which opened as her sixth No. 1 on Top Dance/Electronic Albums, furthering her record for the most leaders on the chart among women.
6, The iconic Willie Nelson became the first artist with top 10s in every decade since the Top Country Albums chart’s 1964 inception, when First Rose of Spring bloomed at No. 5 (July 18). Dolly Parton became the second act, and first woman, to earn the honor when A Holly Dolly Christmas jingled in at No. 1 in October.
7. In 2020, Drake rewrote the record for the most Hot 100 top 10s, as he’s now up to 42, the most Hot 100 entries overall (now 228, having passed the Glee Cast’s 207) and the most Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs No. 1s, where he boasts 21. In overhauling the Hot 100’s top 10 record (Aug. 1), he surpassed Madonna, still the leader among women with 38. On Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, he exceeded the No. 1 sums of Aretha Franklin, who remains first among women with 20, and Stevie Wonder.
8. Thanks to the chart premieres of Folklore and “Cardigan,” respectively, Taylor Swift became the first artist to launch atop the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 simultaneously (Aug. 8). She also became the first act to have led the Billboard Artist 100 chart for as many as 40 weeks.
9. Cardi B‘s “WAP,” featuring Megan Thee Stallion, debuted atop the Hot 100 (Aug. 22) with 93 million U.S. streams in the week ending Aug. 13, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, the most for any track ever in its first week of release.
10. The Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights” broke the record, held by Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” since 1998, for the most weeks at No. 1 on the all-format Radio Songs chart, when it added its 19th frame on top (Aug. 22), on its way to a 26-week command. It also boasts the records for the most weeks in the Hot 100’s top five (33, through the Dec. 19-dated chart) and top 10 (42). Plus, on the latest Pop Songs chart, it becomes the first song to have spent 52 weeks on the survey.
The song’s ’80s vibe is a favorite of The Weeknd’s, as he told Billboard in April, “I’ve always had an admiration for the era before I was born. You can hear as far back as my first mixtape [2011’s House of Balloons] that the ’80s — Siouxsie & the Banshees, Cocteau Twins — play such a huge role in my sound. Sometimes it helps me create a new sound and sometimes it’s just obvious. I’m just glad the world’s into it now.”
(As for “Iris,” the song made its own resurgence in 2020: Phoebe Bridgers and Maggie Rogers’ cover debuted at No. 1 on Digital Song Sales, and became each singer-songwriter’s first hit on the Hot 100, in November.)
11. A steady presence on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart since the early 2000s, Shinedown broke the record for the most No. 1s in the chart’s nearly 40-year history, as “Atlas Falls” become the band’s 16th leader (Aug. 22). “The success of this song would have never been achieved if it wasn’t for the audience, the fans, family, the people,” frontman Brent Smith shared. “A song that was written and recorded eight years ago found its voice in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic as a symbol of optimism, courage and the human spirit.”
12. Lauren Daigle‘s “You Say” became the first song to top Hot Christian Songs (or any of Billboard‘s Hot 100-styled, multi-metric song charts) for triple-digit weeks (Sept. 5). To date, it has dominated for 113 frames.
“When I was a little girl, I would dream of moments like this,” Daigle marveled to Billboard. “Upon hearing the news, I called my family. We laughed. We cried. We made jokes. We celebrated. I am so honored and want to thank all the people involved in achieving this accomplishment. I may sing and write, but there are many people working behind the scenes. My sincere gratitude goes out to them. To be a part of a song that has not only made history but has lived inside the homes of families raising babies, widows needing comfort, teenagers needing a friend, those who have lost and those who have gained, that is a gift I’ll never fully put into words.”
13. Both fans and Carrie Underwood herself received a present with the unwrapping of My Gift. While her devotees got to enjoy her first holiday LP, Underwood added her eighth career-opening No. 1 with the set on Top Country Albums (Oct. 10). She one-upped Miranda Lambert, who’s working on an active streak of seven.
“It has been in my heart to do a Christmas album for years, and we started planning this last year when we finished the Cry Pretty Tour 360,” Underwood mused to Billboard. “Who would have known what would happen in the world since then, and how much we would all be ready for the hope and joy that Christmas music embodies, this year more than ever?”
14. Gabby Barrett‘s “I Hope” (helped by its remix with Charlie Puth) became any artist’s first debut single to have topped both Country Airplay and the overall Radio Songs chart (Oct. 31). This week, it rules Hot Country Songs for a 20th week, surpassing Maren Morris’ “The Bones” for the longest No. 1 run for a single by a woman and no accompanying artists.
15. With the launch of “Positions” (Nov. 7), Ariana Grande upped her count to a record five No. 1 debuts on the Hot 100. No other act has more than three.
17. Luke Combs‘ “Forever After All” soared onto the Hot 100 at No. 2 (Nov. 7), marking the highest entrance ever for a song that has also appeared on Hot Country Songs (where it opened at No. 1) by a solo male. Combs’ Hot 100 arrival surpassed the No. 5 start of “Lost in You” by Garth Brooks’ alter ego Chris Gaines in 1999.
The feat followed Combs having collected his record-extending ninth consecutive career-opening No. 1 single promoted to radio, “Lovin’ on You,” in September.
18. With her sixth top 10, “Therefore I Am,” on Billboard‘s Alternative Airplay chart, Billie Eilish took sole possession of the most top 10s among solo women or groups with female lead vocalists in the tally’s 32-year history (Dec. 5). In February, Eilish earned her third and latest leader, “Everything I Wanted,” tying her with Beck and Alanis Morissette for the most No. 1s among soloists.
19. Morgan Wallen became the first artist to debut two songs in the Hot Country Songs chart’s top 10 simultaneously, with “Somebody’s Problem” and “Still Goin Down” (Dec. 5). The tracks followed his “7 Summers,” which opened atop the ranking in August. “We wrote ‘Summers’ just a few months ago, and I really didn’t know if it would even make [an] album, let alone do everything it’s done so far,” Wallen told Billboard of the song, which will appear on his 30-track LP Dangerous: The Double Album, due Jan. 8. “I can’t wait to see what else it does.”
20. Bad Bunny earned not only his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with El Ultimo Tour del Mundo (Dec. 12), but the set also became the first all-Spanish-language album to reign in the 64-year history of the all-genre chart.
“I dreamt it!!! I felt it!!! I always knew it!!!” the Puerto Rican star gushed in Spanish on Instagram, sharing photos including a childhood throwback of him singing on stage and screenshots of his Billboard chart success. “I have no words, only thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!”
Additional reporting by Trevor Anderson, Jim Asker, Katie Atkinson, Pamela Bustios, Keith Caulfield, Kevin Rutherford, Gordon Murray and Xander Zellner