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Ask Billboard: Lady Gaga’s Biggest Hot 100 Hits

In the latest mailbag, a recap of Gaga's best-selling albums, songs and more; Soko's quick Hot 100 run; and your favorite one-word-titled hits.

As always, submit your 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 questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


@gthot20 Can we have a new update/story on all of Gaga’s albums and singles sales for her birthday?

Sophie ?@cosmiquelover

Hi Sophie,

In honor of Lady Gaga’s 28th birthday on Friday, here’s a present for all the Little Monsters: her top-selling albums (in the U.S.) and downloads (both according to Nielsen SoundScan) and her top-performing Billboard Hot 100 hits.

And, even though her birthday was two days ago, Gaga herself is still celebrating: she’s performing a series of seven shows at New York’s Roseland Ballroom through April 7 leading up to the famed venue’s closing, ahead of her forthcoming full-scale ArtRave: The Artpop Ball Tour. Check Billboard’s review of the first show on Friday here.

“Thank you so much for all my beautiful birthday wishes. I feel like luckiest girl in the world this birthday.,” she Tweeted last night.

Here is a look at the U.S. sales of each of Gaga’s albums (chronologically):

4,572,000 “The Fame” (2008)
1,585,000, “The Fame Monster” (EP) (2010)
308,000, “The Remix” (2010)
2,326,000, “Born This Way” (2011)
60,000, “Born This Way: The Remix” (2011)
42,000, “A Very Gaga Holiday” (EP) (2011)
679,000, “ARTPOP” (2013)

Meanwhile, these are her top-selling digital tracks (recapping her 12 songs that have sold at least 1 million each):

7,092,000, “Poker Face” (the seventh-best-selling download all time)
6,891,000, “Just Dance” (feat. Colby O’Donis)
5,485,000, “Bad Romance”
3,987,000, “Born This Way”
3,434,000, “Paparazzi”
3,328,000, “Telephone” (feat. Beyonce)
2,860,000, “The Edge of Glory”
2,584,000, “LoveGame”
2,505,000, “Alejandro”
2,413,000, “Applause”
2,232,000, “You and I”
1,112,000, “Do What U Want” (feat. R. Kelly)

And, here are Lady Gaga’s biggest Hot 100 hits, dating to her debut the week of Aug. 16, 2008, when “Just Dance” entered at No. 76 before becoming her first of three No. 1s (and 13 top 10s):

Rank, Title (Peak, Year)
10, “Alejandro” (No. 5, 2010)
9, “LoveGame” (No. 5, 2009)
8, “Telephone” (feat. Beyonce) (No. 3, 2010)
7, “Paparazzi” (No. 6, 2009)
6, “The Edge of Glory” (No. 3, 2011)
5, “Applause” (No. 4, 2013)
4, “Born This Way” (No. 1, six weeks, 2011)
3, “Bad Romance” (No. 2, seven weeks, 2009-10)
2, “Poker Face” (No. 1, one week, 2009)

1, “Just Dance” (feat. Colby O’Donis) (No. 1, one week, 2009)

This ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart. The ranking is based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 having the greatest value and weeks at lower ranks proportionately less. Due to various changes in chart rules and methodology through the years, songs have had reigns at No. 1 and on the chart of varying average lengths. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from all years, certain time frames were weighted to account for the differences in song turnover rates.

NEXT: Soko, so quick, so gone

As always, submit your 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 questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary,

I noticed that Soko’s “We Might Be Dead by Tomorrow” has dropped completely off the Billboard Hot 100 after debuting at No. 9 last week. Do you still believe that the Hot 100 accurately measures popularity? If that song had debuted at No. 1 last week, wouldn’t that pose a serious problem for the chart’s credibility?

Garrett Godbey
Tampa, Florida

@gthot20 Gary, is Soko out of the hot 100 altogether? if so, is it the first time a song drops from a top 10 position out of the hot 100?

Sebastian Driemer ?@echtersebo

Hi Garrett and Sebastian,

Last week, Soko’s track blasted onto the Hot 100 at No. 9 thanks to its huge viral week. It also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart with 11.5 million U.S. streams, according to Nielsen BDS.

Here’s what the charts department’s streaming charts manager William Gruger wrote:

Of the song’s streaming sum (in the week ending March 16), 99 percent are from YouTube, the majority of which stem from users who viewed the viral video “First Kiss,” which hit the Internet on March 10. Shot entirely in black-and-white, the 3-minute, 28-second “Kiss” clip captures 20 strangers sharing an intimate moment for the first time, along with their ensuing bashful, yet heartwarming, reactions. Throughout, Soko’s song accompanies the potential romance, its subtly-stated melody and instrumentation adding to the ambience necessary to set the video’s intended intimate mood.

That was last week. This week (for the tracking period ending March 23), the song plummeted 1-42 on Streaming Songs, down by 86 percent to 1.6 million streams.

When “Dead” debuted on the Hot 100, 96 percent of its chart points were from streaming. The ratio is a comparable 93 percent this week (with the song having sold 10,000 and 3,000 downloads in the Nielsen SoundScan weeks ending March 16 and 23, respectively).

First, the chart stat: Billboard research shows that “Dead” is the first song to fall off the Hot 100 from inside the top 10. Previously, three songs had departed from as high as No. 11: Taylor Swift’s “Mean” debuted at No. 11 on Nov, 6, 2010, as a preview track from her album “Speak Now” (selling 163,000 that week). It did, however, return as a proper single in April 2011, rising to No. 31 thanks to its run at country radio. Two other tracks spent a single frame on the Hot 100, each at No. 11 and both by boy bands: Jonas Brothers’ “A Little Bit Longer” (2008) and One Direction’s “Diana” (2013). Those songs, like Swift’s, also debuted a week before each group bowed with new albums on the Billboard 200.

Do such debuts compromise the Hot 100’s integrity or accuracy? Can a song really go from nowhere to No. 9 to off the chart in a span of three weeks? (This week, “Dead” ranks just below the chart, within striking distance of No. 100.)

I think that, A) Yes, such odd chart lives do reflect the chart’s accuracy and, B) they, ultimately, reflect the current era of music consumption.

We’re in an era of more immediate reactions to all things commercial, as Facebook and Twitter both reflect and engender. And, prior to those platforms, iTunes came along, helping to make music purchasing decisions more impulsive, since instead of going out to a record store, we needed only to press a button on our laptops (or, maybe desktops in the earlier 2000s).

As the Swift, Jonas Brothers and One Direction debuts also show, preview tracks have become common, so songs have gone from zero to more than 150,000 sold and then regressed over three weeks based on how they’ve been marketed. When the Hot 100 shows such yo-yoing, it’s reflecting a new type of sales arc that never existed in a physical music world; 45s, cassette singles or CD singles (not worked to radio) just didn’t appear on store shelves for a week only leading up to album, tape or CD releases.

Until 2012, the Hot 100 also didn’t include streaming, while YouTube plays didn’t begin factoring in until last year, when they clearly began to Harlem-shake things up drastically (led by Baauer’s No. 1 debut and five-week reign). When a song draws 11.5 million streams in a week, it seems clear that the Hot 100, which for 55 years has aimed to rank the most popular songs in the U.S. each week, should factor in that consumption. Plus, the lives of viral videos can be volatile. The Soko track caught fire for a week before viewers/listeners seemed to move on to the next thing that drew their attention in their Facebook feeds. When a song isn’t selling much and has no notable radio airplay, it’ll live – and die (Hot 100-wise) – based on the whims of the web.

We’ve also recently seen a key Hot 100 record set, as the cast of Fox’s “Glee” has blasted to 207 chart entries since 2009. Of those 207, 173, or 84 percent, have spent a single week on the survey. A whopping 95 percent (196) has spent one or two weeks each on the chart. The cast’s longest-charting hit, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” charted for seven weeks. So, there’s another example of how recent times have brought about songs that enjoy noteworthy popularity for about a week before receding. Of course, that makes sense for a show that releases around five tracks a week with each new episode. A track like the “Glee” cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” came and went in a week (No. 16; Oct. 16, 2010), but in that week, it sold 109,000 downloads, placing at No. 9 on Digital Songs. Like Soko ranking at No. 1 for a week on Streaming Songs, a song can place in the top 10 of Digital Songs for a week and then disappear from the Hot 100. Radio and traditional sales now share music consumers’ options with streaming and quick-hit digital tracks, and the Hot 100 is reflecting that reality.

At the same time, streaming is helping big hits stay on the Hot 100 for record runs. The two longest-charting hits all time have set their marks this year: Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (82 weeks and counting) and AWOLNATION’s “Sail” (79). The former has ranked in the Streaming Songs chart’s top 25 continuously since the list’s inception on Jan. 26, 2013 – 63 weeks running. “Sail” has done the same since the week of Feb. 16, 2013. Thus, more than three years after “Sail” debuted on the Alternative Songs chart, it’s the No. 21 title on Streaming Songs this week with 2.5 million U.S. streams. Hits that connect at radio, sell and draw streams can, therefore, live longer chart lives than were likely possible prior to streaming, a chart version of the rich getting richer (i.e., the biggest hits across all platforms remaining on the chart longer than those not making such across-the-board-connections).

So, while Soko can make the Hot 100 look schizophrenic week-to-week, such movement appears merely to mirror the modern behavior of how we discover music and how short, or long, we stay with songs, whether it’s for a week or for unprecedented lengths.

NEXT: In a word, it’s a hit

As always, submit your 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 questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


This past week, Chart Beat looked at the trend of one-word song titles continuing to take over the Billboard Hot 100. In the third week of March 1989, for instance, just nine titles with one word populated the chart. Twenty-five years later, thanks to smashes like “Royals,” “Timber,” “Happy,” “Radioactive,” “Pompeii” and so many more, more than 30 one-word titles infuse the Hot 100. Essentially, Hot 100-charted artists (the Chainsmokers, “#SELFIE”) and writers (Bonnie McKee of Katy Perry’s “Roar”), as well as rising acts (Liz Longley, Myla Smith) shared that in a social media-driven world, less can be more when it comes to making an impact.

Going beyond the original story, will the next generation of artists will continue the movement toward song titles that pack a quicker punch? I reached out to Berklee College of Music admissions interviewer Fuat Abdullah, who’s likewise noticed the inclination. “The shortcut language that social media prefers creates a different form of expression altogether,” he says. “The new forms of communication, in turn, penetrate the way songwriters express themselves.

“A significant portion of Berklee’s prospective students still use traditional instruments to write,” Abdullah observes. “But, what they do after they write seems to have changed with the times: they share their work immediately and get immediate feedback. That immediacy changes even their song titles.”

For now, though, we have plenty of one-word titles, and we even ranked the top 50 biggest such Hot 100 hits here.

More favorites? You picked ’em on Twitter:

“Pressure” by Youngblood Hawke
“Golden” by Parade of Lights
Jack Adams ?@jackzakalump

“Empire,” Shakira
“Vogue,” Madonna
“One,” Metallica

“Home,” Phillip Phillips, the best song ever 🙂
Nabilobi ?@namarinad

“Heroes,” David Bowie
“Santeria,” Sublime
“Kashmir,” Led Zeppelin
“Summertime,” Janis Joplin
“Angel,” Jimi Hendrix
“Woodstock,” Joni Mitchell
J M B ?@JahMMARastafari

“Drive,” Incubus

“Diamonds,” Rihanna
#23 Carpé Vita! ?@Songz_OfMyLife

“Burn,” Usher … also “Yeah!”

“Austin,” Blake Shelton
“Then,” Brad Paisley
“Crazy,” Aerosmith
“Patience,” Guns N’ Roses
Michael Sgroi ?@LuckyMikee

“Runnin’,” Adam Lambert

“Black,” Pearl Jam
“Roar,” Katy Perry

“Believe” by @Yellowcard

“Fantasy,” “Honey,” Mariah Carey
Lollipop Unicorn ?@DeVanteB

“Stronger,” Britney Spears
jessica norton ?@jessnort

David Cook’s “Permanent.” A one-word title that completely embodies the meaning of the song.

“Bootylicious,” Destiny’s Child 🙂

A song that should have been called “To the Left” but they went for the one-word “Irreplaceable”
Garrett Clayman ?@CLAYMANislands

… and, my list of five favorite one-word-titled songs, including two (at Nos. 4 and 1) by an artist who recently stopped by Billboard’s studios to chat and perform songs from her new album):

5, “Fixed,” Stars
4, “Gypsy,” Suzanne Vega
3, “Stranded,” Jennifer Paige
2, “Everywhere,” Michelle Branch

1, “Luka,” Suzanne Vega