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Ask Billboard: Ariana Grande’s Sales, Kelly Clarkson’s Streak & … Bernie Sanders’ Sales, Too

A look at Grande's top hits, Clarkson perfect string of albums with Hot 100 top 10s & Sanders' moonlighting career as a folk singer.

Submit questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, tweet @gthot20

Quick note before we get into this week’s mailbag: tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of the launch of Chart Beat, which premiered March 28, 1981, in Billboard magazine. With Billboard‘s premier outlet for chart news and analysis going strong in print and online three-and-a-half-decades later, tomorrow’s birthday brings a new dimension to the column and our charts coverage. Essentially, if you like reading Chart Beat, we hope you’ll enjoy listening to it, too. All details revealed on tomorrow!

Now onto this week’s “Ask Billboard”:

@gthot20 Hey Gary, in the next AskBB article please could you update us on @ArianaGrande‘s career sales? Tnks!

Bruno Coelho @bipbruno

Hi Bruno,

With Grande having become/remained the first artist to debut in the Billboard Hot 100‘s top 10 with the first single from each of her first three full-length albums (it’s a little complicated), let’s run down her U.S. career sales, according to Nielsen Music.

My Everything (2014): 692,000; Yours Truly (2013): 572,000; Christmas & Chill EP (2015): 35,000; Christmas Kisses EP (2013): 16,000.

Top-Selling Songs
“Problem” (feat. Iggy Azalea): 3.6 million; “Bang Bang” (with Jessie J & Nicki Minaj): 3.2 million; “The Way” (feat. Mac Miler): 2.3 million; “Break Free” (feat. Zedd): 1.8 million; “Love Me Harder” (with The Weeknd): 1.2 million; “One Last Time”: 772,000; “Focus”: 425,000.

“Dangerous Woman” ushers in Grande’s album of the same name, due May 20. And, a recent sneak preview of the set courtesy of Republic Records suggests that more hits are on the way (including one particularly catchy, uptempo pop/dance track in line to be a future single).


Hi Gary,

I’ve always been a fan of Kelly Clarkson and I have especially enjoyed her most recent album, Piece by Piece. The title track instantly spoke to me and I’m so thrilled that her American Idol performance of the single (Feb. 25) has thrust her back into the spotlight and garnered her some well-deserved commercial and critical acclaim (although I still prefer the original, more uptempo version of the song).

I noticed that with “Piece by Piece” hitting No. 8 on the Hot 100 (dated March 19), Clarkson has now notched top 10 singles from six consecutive (non-holiday) studio albums. How rare is that achievement?

Ask Billboard: Rihanna’s Record Streak of Seven Studio Albums With Hot 100 No. 1s

I looked into the stats of some of Kelly’s female contemporaries that came to mind as potential spoilers and not many have matched her streak. Obviously, as you discussed in the last “Ask Billboard,” Rihanna has done so with eight consecutive studio albums, a streak active through her current set Anti (“Pon de Replay” wasn’t a No. 1 in 2005, but it was certainly a top 10, reaching No. 2.) P!nk, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears have all released albums that have halted their streaks (Try This, Brave and Britney, respectively) and Lady Gaga and Katy Perry each haven’t released enough albums to be in contention. Beyoncé hasn’t released enough solo albums to qualify either, although when/if B6 finally drops, the streak will have already been broken; the great 4 infamously failed to yield any Hot 100 top 10s.

As for more veteran stars, Janet Jackson made it to five studio albums in a row with Hot 100 top 10s. Two other Billboard chart queens, Madonna and Mariah Carey, have surpassed Kelly’s six-album feat.

As for men, the only contemporaries I can think of who have matched such a tally is Eminem, who scored top 10s from six consecutive studio albums, spanning from the original Marshall Mathers LP in 2000 through its sequel, released in 2013, and Usher, who has done the same from 1997’s My Way through 2012’s Looking 4 Myself.

Also of note, particularly for Clarkson, is that these streaks usually continue due to the success of each album’s lead single. Each of her five previous non-holiday studio albums delivered a first single that reached the Hot 100’s top 10. The fact that the original American Idol is extending her streak with the out-of-nowhere success of the project’s third single, let alone due to the track’s exposure on the final season of the show that made her a star, is especially remarkable. Quite a steal for Kelly!

Thanks for all the great reads over the years!

Xavier Andrews
San Francisco, California

Thank you Xavier,

Great stat and thoroughly insightful analysis.

Let’s recap all of Clarkson’s Hot 100 top 10s and their parent albums:

“A Moment Like This” (No. 1, two weeks, 2002) (first released as her stand-alone Idol coronation single), “Miss Independent” (No. 9, 2003)

“Breakaway” (No. 6, 2004) (first released from the soundtrack to The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement), “Since U Been Gone” (No. 2, 2005), “Behind These Hazel Eyes” (No. 6, 2005), “Because of You” (No. 7, 2005)

My December:
“Never Again” (No. 8, 2007)

All I Ever Wanted:
“My Life Would Suck Without You” (No. 1, two weeks, 2009)

“Mr. Know It All” (No. 10, 2011), “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” (No. 1, three weeks, 2012)

Kelly Clarkson & Carrie Underwood to Perform at ‘American Idol’ Finale

Piece by Piece:
“Piece by Piece” (No. 8, 2016)

You mentioned Madonna and Carey. If we count only proper studio albums, Madonna, like Rihanna, notched Hot 100 top 10s from eight straight studio albums (and, like Rihanna, her first eight). The Material Girl’s run of albums yielding top 10 Hot 100 material:

“Borderline” (No. 10, 1984), “Lucky Star” (No. 4, 1984)

Like a Virgin:
“Like a Virgin” (No. 1, six weeks, 1984-85), “Material Girl” (No. 2, 1985), “Angel” (No. 5, 1985), “Dress You Up” (No, 5, 1985)

True Blue:
“Live to Tell” (No. 1, one week, 1986), “Papa Don’t Preach” (No. 1, two weeks, 1986), “True Blue” (No. 3, 1986), “Open Your Heart” (No. 1, one week, 1987), “La Isla Bonita” (No. 4, 1987)

Like a Prayer:
“Like a Prayer” (No. 1, three weeks, 1989), “Express Yourself” (No. 2, 1989), “Cherish” (No. 2, 1989), “Keep It Together” (No. 8, 1990)

“Erotica” (No. 3, 1992), “Deeper and Deeper” (No. 7, 1993)

Bedtime Stories:
“Secret” (No. 3, 1994), “Take a Bow” (No. 1, seven weeks, 1995)

Ray of Light:
“Frozen” (No. 2, 1998), “Ray of Light” (No. 5, 1998)

“Music” (No. 1, four weeks, 2000), “Don’t Tell Me” (No. 4, 2001)

Did Madonna extend her streak past eight straight studio albums? It depends how you consider “Die Another Day.” The No. 8 Hot 100 hit was released from the Die Another Day soundtrack in 2002 and then included on her ninth proper studio set, American Life, released in spring 2003.

If we count “Day” as from Life, Madonna’s streak remained intact through her next three studio albums: 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor (“Hung Up,” No. 7), 2008’s Hard Candy (“4 Minutes,” featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, No. 3) and 2012’s MDNA (“Give Me All Your Luvin’,” featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., No. 10). Then, we get to last year’s Rebel Heart … whose third single, “B**** I’m Madonna,” featuring Minaj, was its only song to reach the Hot 100. It peaked at No. 84.

Madonna Extends Record as Highest-Grossing Solo Touring Artist: $1.31 Billion Earned

Also impressively, from Madonna through MDNA, Who’s That Girl (1987), I’m Breathless (1990), The Immaculate Collection (1991), Something to Remember (1995) and Evita (1996) additionally generated Hot 100 top 10s for Madonna, the all-time leader with 38 top 10s on the chart. The next eight (all of whom we’ll cover in this answer): The Beatles (34), Michael Jackson (29), Stevie Wonder (28), Carey, Janet Jackson, Elton John and Rihanna (27 each).

As for Carey, her first six proper studio albums bore Hot 100 top 10s, although we should note that during that run, from 1990’s Mariah Carey through 1999’s Rainbow, she also released the 1992 MTV Unplugged EP, featuring the two-week No. 1 “I’ll Be There”; following Rainbow, the Glitter soundtrack produced the No. 2-peaking “Loverboy,” featuring Cameo. The stretch also included 1994’s Merry Christmas, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” reached No. 11 … this past holiday season. Finally, 2002’s Charmbracelet failed to send any songs higher than No. 81 on the Hot 100. Still, Carey rebounded with top 10s from her next three studio albums in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

Among men, let’s add Michael Jackson to the list of acts with top 10s from at least six straight studio albums, from 1979’s Off the Wall through 2001’s Invincible. And, John strung together seven studio albums in a row with Hot 100 top 10s, from 1972’s Honky Chateau through 1976’s Blue Moves. (Shoutout to John’s hook-filled new set, Wonderful Crazy Night, whose lead single, “Looking Up,” has reached No. 12 on Adult Contemporary. It’s John’s highest-peaking hit on the chart in more than a decade, since “Answer in the Sky” rose to No. 7 in 2005. “Up” is also John’s record-extending 71st AC chart hit.)

Even better than those two male superstars, Wonder linked eight consecutive studio albums that each generated Hot 100 top 10s, encompassing 1972’s Talking Book through 1985’s In Square Circle … as long as we count the almost-fully-Wonder soundtrack The Woman in Red, as he contributed seven of the set’s eight songs; two are with Dionne Warwick, who also added a solo track.

Among groups, The Beatles scored Hot 100 top 10s from six straight studio sets, from Beatles ’65 though Revolver (although their discography is a bit muddled due to certain songs appearing on different sets globally). Paul McCartney subsequently racked five albums in a row with Hot 100 top 10s as both a soloist and as frontman of Wings.

Whew. Let’s move on to a lighter topic. Like politics …


Hi Gary,

How many copies has Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sold of his 1987 album We Shall Overcome?


Jesse Rifkin
Washington D.C.

Hi Jesse (checking in from a fitting location, our nation’s capital). Sanders’ album of folk covers has sold 3,000 copies, according to Nielsen Music, following its 2014 rerelease. (If that sum seems modest, he does, of course, have aspirations at the moment other than scaling Billboard charts.)

Meanwhile, the official clip for the set has drawn nearly 160,000 global YouTube views to date.

How did the release from the then-mayor of Burlington, Vt., originate? “The idea came to me over a cup of coffee at a Burlington café,” recalls producer Todd R. Lockwood. “The morning regulars thought I was out of my mind, but the more I thought about it, the more intriguing the idea seemed. Sanders had established himself as a no-nonsense problem-solver and someone who didn’t mince words … but not the sort of person you would imagine making a record. This paradox appealed to me.

“When I approached Bernie with the idea, he saw it as an opportunity to tell a larger story, a story about the inequities of life in America. Suddenly, the project was more than a novelty. It had purpose. Bernie chose the music: five protest songs from the ’50s and early ’60s. I hired arranger Don Sidney to update the songs with contemporary rhythms.

Halsey on 2016 Presidential Election: ‘I Love Bernie Sanders So Much’

“When we recorded the title song, ‘We Shall Overcome,’ the scene was reminiscent of the Michael Jackson/Lionel Richie ‘We Are the World’ session. A 21-voice chorus stood on risers in the studio. A five-piece rhythm section included some of the finest players in the area. And, Bernie stood at the ready in the vocal booth, with his text in hand.

“Bernie is not a particularly musical person, but he more than made up for it with his delivery and sense of purpose. His presence in the studio electrified everyone, making this into a landmark Vermont recording.”

Billboard Hot 100 Fest 2016