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Ask Billboard: Beyonce Vs. Gaga Vs. Rihanna

Readers check in on the achievements of three of music's top female stars, plus the nine artists cozying up in the Billboard Hot 100's top five.

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


Hi Gary,

I was wondering if you could run a sales and chart analysis of the solo careers of Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Rihanna. In my opinion, these three women are currently the top female artists in the industry.

Thank you,

Deandre Williams
Detroit, Michigan

Hi Deandre,

Having first appeared as a solo act on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2002, Beyonce has a big head start over Rihanna, who arrived in 2005, and Lady Gaga (2008). Still, all three stars have enjoyed enormous success, so let’s see how they rank against each other in various categories.

Album sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan
11,282,000, Beyonce
5,482,000, Rihanna
4,457,000, Lady Gaga

Digital track sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan
28 million, Rihanna
24.4 million, Lady Gaga
23.6 million, Beyonce

Hot 100 No. 1s
6, Rihanna
5, Beyonce
2, Lady Gaga

Hot 100 top 10s
14, Beyonce
14, Rihanna
7, Lady Gaga

Pop Songs No. 1s
6, Beyonce*
6, Lady Gaga*
5, Rihanna
*tied, with Mariah Carey, for most in chart’s 17-year history

As in any multi-layered chart and sales comparison among artists, there is no definitive choice as to which artist can be dubbed the most successful.

Clearly, each artist has enjoyed numerous honors. In December, Beyonce was crowned Billboard’s top female artist of the 2000s. She has won 13 Grammy Awards as a solo artist (and three with Destiny’s Child).

Lady Gaga was named Billboard’s top new artist and top Hot 100 artist of 2009; she boasts the two top-selling digital tracks by female artists, according to SoundScan: “Just Dance,” featuring Colby O’Donis (5,084,000), and “Poker Face” (4,928,000); and, even the “Glee” cast went Gaga this week).

And, Rihanna has been such a presence on top 40 radio that from her first week on the Pop Songs survey on June 25, 2005, through Feb. 28, 2009, she placed at least one title on the list in 190 of 193 weeks.

No matter their rankings in the categories above, it’s indisputable that Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Rihanna have all secured their places among the most celebrated women in pop music history.ASK BILLBOARD FEATURING BEN NAVARRO

Hi Gary,

I am a longtime Billboard fan and read your column every week. I hope I am the first to bring this to your attention and if I’m not, I’m not. So here it goes.

Last week and this week, each song in the Hot 100’s top five shows a main artist and a featured guest artist. Maybe you or one of your readers can identify if this is the first time that this has occurred.

Sounds like a nice challenge!

Ben Navarro
Trenton, New Jersey

Hi Ben,

Thanks for reading Billboard and Chart Beat. You are the first to point out the record crowd storming the Hot 100’s top five.

The last two weeks do mark the first times that the chart’s top five comprises titles sporting featured billings. The top four songs included guests for the first time on the chart dated Nov. 1, 2003:

No. 1, “Baby Boy,” Beyonce featuring Sean Paul
No. 2, “Stand Up,” Ludacris featuring Shawna
No. 3, “Get Low,” Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz featuring Ying Yang Twins
No. 4, “Damn!,” YoungBloodZ featuring Lil Jon

And, despite featured artist credit being more common on R&B/hip-hip recordings, such all-encompassing spreading of chart wealth has never occurred in the top five of the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

While the Hot 100 is viewable in full on, here is a look at the songs and nine acts that occupy this week’s top five:

No. 1, “OMG,” Usher featuring
No. 2, “Airplanes,” B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams
No. 3, “California Gurls,” Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg
No. 4, “Break Your Heart,” Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris
No. 5, “Nothin’ on You,” B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars


Hi Gary,

With Lee Brice‘s “Love Like Crazy” climbing 21-18 in its 40th week on Country Songs, two thoughts come to mind.

The track breaks the record for the longest trip into the chart’s top 20, passing Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train” (35 weeks, 2003-04).

“Love Like Crazy” is also Brice’s most successful hit on Country Songs. His debut entry, “She Ain’t Right,” reached No. 29 in 2007.

If Brice can continue his path up the chart, “Love Like Crazy” will have a shot at breaking the record for the steadiest journey into the top 10.

Only (more) time will tell.


John Maverick
Burt County, Nebraska

Hi John,

It’s crazy – literally – how much time certain songs require to reach milestones on the Country Songs chart. While Brice’s “Love Like Crazy” sets the longevity mark for top 20 ascensions, another song with “crazy” in its title shares the record for longest wait until logging top 10 status:

Weeks to top 10, Title, Artist, Year(s)
40, “We Weren’t Crazy,” Josh Gracin, 2000-01
40, “Right Where I Need to Be,” Gary Allan, 2007-08
39, “Let’s Make Love,” Faith Hill with Tim McGraw, 1999-2000
38, “Red Light,” David Nail, 2009
37, “Best Days of Your Life,” Kellie Pickler, 2008-09

Thus, should Brice’s current hit reach the top tier, it will rewrite the record for most weeks needed for a title to reach the top 10 on Country Songs.