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Ask Billboard: Avril Lavigne’s Best-Selling Songs & Albums

A look at the pop singer/songwriter (and new Taylor Swift duet partner)'s biggest hits. Plus, more Max Martin music and name-checked celebs in hit songs.

As always, 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


@gthot20 Hey Gary. Please update Avril Lavigne’s career sales in next #AskBillboard! Thank you.

LUCAS @AvrilenaArm

Hi Lucas,

As we wait find out if Justin Bieber can debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “What Do You Mean?” this coming week, let’s kick off our latest mailbag with your question in the meantime.

Given that she’s been in the news for both happy and not-so-happy news of late, it seems like a good time to celebrate Lavigne’s sales successes. Here’s a look at the U.S. sales of her albums, as well as her top-selling digital songs, to-date (through the week ending Aug. 27), according to Nielsen Music:

6.9 million, Let Go (2002); 3.2 million, Under My Skin (2004); 1.7 million, The Best Damn Thing (2007); 394,000, Goodbye Lullaby (2011); 156,000, Avril Lavigne (2013)

Lavingne’s total U.S. album sales: 12.4 million.

And …

Best-selling Digital Songs (with her career slightly predating the start of the download era)

3.8 million, “Girlfriend”; 2.1 million, “What the Hell”; 1.6 million, “Keep Holding On”; 1.3 million, “Here’s to Never Growing Up”; 1.29 million, “When You’re Gone”; 1.2 million, “My Happy Ending”; 1.1 million, “Complicated”

Also notably, Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” which Lavigne co-wrote, has sold 2.1 million downloads.

A rough week for the pop singer/songwriter in that she announced, on Instagram, her separation from husband Chad Kroeger of Nickelback. “It is with a heavy heart that Chad and I announce our separation. Through not only the marriage, but the music as well, we’ve created many unforgettable moments. We are still and forever will be the best of friends, and will always care deeply for each other. To all our family, friends and fans, thank you sincerely for the support.”

Still, smiles for Lavigne on Aug. 29, as she joined Taylor Swift on-stage at the latter’s San Diego stop on her 1989 tour. The pair duetted on Lavigne’s “Complicated,” her debut No. 2 Hot 100 smash in 2002. “So incredible sharing the stage with @AvrilLavigne!” Swift tweeted after their performance. “‘Complicated’ is such a brilliant pop song and I just love her.”

Meanwhile, Lavigne’s 2011 No. 11 Hot 100 hit “What the Hell” led to this next comment …


So many top [Max Martin] 10s got away: “Friday I’ll Be Over U,” by Allison Iraheta; “Quitter” by Carrie Underwood; “Kiss ‘n’ Tell” by Kesha; “Inside Out” by Britney Spears; “Va Va Voom” by Nicki Minaj; and “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne.

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Ask Billboard: Max Martin Has Written How Many Hot 100 Top 10s?!

As many top 10 Hot 100 hits that pop mastermind Max Martin has written – 56 so far, including 21 No. 1s, a sum surpassed only by Paul McCartney (32 No. 1s as a writer) and John Lennon (26) – he’s tallied several more hits that missed the top 10 but still hit the top 40.

Also in Martin’s hit-stuffed resume are these infectious top 40 tunes, all of which he co-wrote:

“22,” Taylor Swift, No. 20, 2013
“Birthday,” Katy Perry, No. 17, 2014
“C’Mon,” Ke$ha, No. 27, 2013
“Cool for the Summer,” Demi Lovato, No. 16 (so far?), 2015

“Feels Like Tonight,” Daughtry, No. 24, 2008
“I Want You Back,” ‘N Sync, No. 13, 1998
“If I Had You,” Adam Lambert, No. 30, 2010
“If U Seek Amy,” Britney Spears, No. 19, 2009
“It’s My Life,” Bon Jovi, No. 33, 2000
“Larger Than Life,” Backstreet Boys, No. 25, 1999
“Light Up the World,” Glee Cast, No. 33, 2011
“Lucky,” Britney Spears, No. 23, 2000
“Please Don’t Leave Me,” P!nk, No. 17, 2009
“Stronger,” Britney Spears, No. 11, 2001
“The One,” Backstreet Boys, No. 30, 2000
“This Is How We Do,” Katy Perry, No. 24, 2014
“Unconditionally,” Katy Perry, No. 14, 2013
“Va Va Voom,” Nicki Minaj, No. 22, 2012
“Walking on Air,” Katy Perry, No. 34, 2013

“What the Hell,” Avril Lavigne, No. 11, 2011
“Wild Wild Love,” Pitbull feat. G.R.L., No. 30, 2014
… and … “Your Body,” Christina Aguilera, No. 34, 2012


In addition to “If I Had You,” Lambert has so far reached No. 67 on the Hot 100 with his Martin collab “Ghost Town.”

Martin is likely to add another top 40 hit as a writer as early as this week with the expected surge for Swift’s “Wildest Dreams,” following its video premiere on the MTV Video Music Awards pre-show. The ballad should blast back onto the Hot 100, likely in the top 40 (after previously spending a week at No. 76 as a 1989 album cut).

There’s also a chance that Lovato’s No. 16-peaking “Cool for the Summer” could challenge for the top 10 this week, after she performed it on the VMAs. Find out in the forthcoming Hot 100 story. (Did we mention that Bieber has a chance to debut at No. 1?)


Hi Gary,

In the last “Ask Billboard,” you analyzed songs whose titles name-check various celebrities, including musicians, such as current top 40 Hot 100 hits “Uma Thurman” by Fall Out Boy and “Marvin Gaye” by Charlie Puth featuring Meghan Trainor.

How about taking it a step further: we’ve seen cases of songs ranking in the top 40 that pay tribute to other acts simultaneously in the top 40 with their own hits. For instance, you noted one: “We Love You Beatles” by the Carefrees. When that song spent its lone week (April 11, 1964) in the top 40, at No. 39, the Fab Four were all over the top 40, too, with seven songs of their own (a record, later matched by Lil Wayne and Taylor Swift). In fact, the Beatles held the Nos. 1 and 2 spots that week, with “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Twist and Shout,” respectively, and even ranked adjacent to the Carefrees’ ode: “I Saw Her Standing There” was at No. 38.

Some other examples of artists name-checked in top 40 Hot 100 hits (even if not directly in titles) while charting their own top 40 tracks at the same time:

“The King Is Gone,” Ronnie McDowell / “Way Down,” Elvis Presley, 1977

“When Smokey Sings,” ABC / “One Heartbeat,” Smokey Robinson, 1987

And, “I’ll Be Missing You,” Puff Daddy and Faith Evans feat. 112 / “Mo Money Mo Problems,” the Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase, 1997


Larry Cohen
Trumbull, Connecticut

Thanks Larry, fun angle.

Of course, naming people in song titles can be confusing. (Confusing, Larry, confusing!)

Three more examples of acts who’ve charted top 40 Hot 100 hits while being the subject of other top 40 hits at the same time:

“The Ballad of John and Yoko,” the Beatles / “Give Peace a Chance,” Plastic Ono Band, 1969

“Smells Like Nirvana,” “Weird Al” Yankovic / “Come as You Are,” Nirvana, 1992. (Nirvana, meanwhile, could soon return to the top 40 via its name-check in Halsey’s budding alt/pop hit “New Americana.” The Notorious B.I.G., too: “We are the new Americana … raised on Biggie and Nirvana,” she sings in the song’s catchy chorus.)

And, “My Name Is Prince,” by … Prince, and the New Power Generation, 1992. Oddly enough, Prince holds the distinction of charting top 40 hits with his name in both a song’s title and artist field, and … not featuring his name at all … thanks to his temporary ’90s transformation to a symbol.

Three more related examples beyond only the Hot 100:

In 1996, Joe Diffie hit No. 1 on Hot Country Songs with “Bigger Than the Beatles.” Despite its chart-topping status at the format, technically he wasn’t bigger than the Beatles, since, during its 20-week run on the country chart, it didn’t hit the Hot 100 … while two songs by the Fab Four did: “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” (the latter the band’s 71st and most recent entry).

Also in 1996, Junior Vasquez took “If Madonna Calls” to No. 2 on Dance Club Songs. During its run, Madonna’s No. 16-peaking “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” shared space on the chart. That seems as close as the two wanted to be at the time, as the song chronicles the DJ/producer and Material Girl’s falling out.

And, on the Hot 100 dated Jan. 13, 2007, Swift’s debut hit “Tim McGraw” hit its No. 40 peak. The same frame, McGraw’s “My Little Girl” fell 47-49, so McGraw didn’t double up in the region as an artist and in a song title. But, the tracks spent six weeks in the top 10 together on Hot Country Songs.

Swift’s work even before “Tim McGraw” seemed to be making the rounds this week on Facebook. Among her earliest songs:

Can Swift add her latest top 40 hit this coming week? And, can a certain song soar to a No. 1 debut? What do I mean? Again, check this week for the latest Hot 100 news, sure to be dominated by, among others, Bieber and Swift.