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Ask Billboard: Lady Gaga’s Sales & What’s the Longest Streak for Americans Atop the Hot 100?

Recapping Gaga's top-selling songs & albums. Plus, who has led the Hot 100 longer consecutively: American or foreign acts?

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

Before we get into this week’s mailbag, hope you’re enjoying the new Billboard Chart Beat Podcast! The first three guests: Chart Beat column creator Paul Grein; successor and author of The Billboard Book of Number One Hits Fred Bronson; and Hit Songs Deconstructed’s Dave and Yael Penn, who analyzed the factors that made Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” such big chart hits. Got a suggestion for a future guest, or any topics you’d like explored on the podcast? Email or tweet, as noted above. Happy listening!

Now onto this week’s “Ask Billboard”:


Hi Gary,

Would it be possible for you to please break down Lady Gaga’s sales in the U.S.? She’s been having a good year so far, from the Super Bowl to the Grammys to the Oscars.

Kind regards,
Tanguy Cachin
Paris, France

Hi Tanguy,

Gaga’s 2016 has picked up where 2015 left off, as she was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year in December. “Music was the single thing that kept me going in my life,” she said in her acceptance speech. “It was a warm blanket on my darkest days, something so powerful for me.”

Here’s an updated look at the superstar’s U.S. sales, according to Nielsen Music.

The Fame, 4.7 million; Born This Way, 2.4 million; The Fame Monster (EP), 1.6 million; ARTPOP, 757,000; Cheek to Cheek (with Tony Bennett), 717,000; The Remix, 314,000; Born This Way: The Remix, 62,000; A Very Gaga Holiday, 44,000

Top-Selling Songs
“Poker Face,” 7.3 million; “Just Dance” (feat. Colby O’Donis), 7.1 million; “Bad Romance,” 5.6 million; “Born This Way,” 4.1 million; “Paparazzi,” 3.5 million; “Telephone” (feat. Beyonce), 3.4 million

“The Edge of Glory,” 3 million; “Applause,” 2.64 million; “LoveGame,” 2.63 million; “Alejandro,” 2.57 million; “You and I,” 2.3 million; “Do What U Want” (feat. R. Kelly), 1.2 million

“Judas” is next in line to potentially become Lady Gaga’s lucky 13th million-selling download. It’s currently at 984,000.


Hi Gary,

As you noted Monday, this week marks the record-extending 40th consecutive week that non-American acts have held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Perhaps the record will extend further, either with another week at No. 1 by the current top song, “Work” by Rihanna (from Barbados), featuring Drake (from Canada), or runner-up “7 Years” by Lukas Graham (from Denmark).

My question is: what is the opposite record? In other words, when did the Hot 100 see the most consecutive weeks of No. 1 songs solely by American acts?

Jesse Rifkin
Washington, D.C.

Hi Jesse,

Good point – while we know that the current streak of foreign domination on the Hot 100 is unprecedented, with likely factors for it analyzed here, how does that compare with the longest stretch of leaders by American acts?

Let’s do a quick comb through … more than 57 years of Hot 100 history and see what we find.

It actually doesn’t take too long to note that as recently as 2012-13 American artists linked a No. 1 streak longer than 40 weeks. The total? 42 weeks, thanks to these hits, all by U.S.-born acts:

“Locked Out of Heaven,” Bruno Mars (6 weeks at No. 1)
“Thrift Shop,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz (6)
“Harlem Shake,” Baauer (5)
“When I Was Your Man,” Bruno Mars (1)
“Just Give Me a Reason,” P!nk feat. Nate Ruess (3)
“Can’t Hold Us,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton (5)
“Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke feat. T.I. + Pharrell (12)
“Roar,” Katy Perry (2)
“Wrecking Ball,” Miley Cyrus (2)

That stretch began after (guess who?) Rihanna wrapped her three-week reign with “Diamonds” (Dec. 15, 2012) and ended when Lorde’s “Royals” assumed the Hot 100’s throne (Oct. 12, 2013).

Now that we know that Americans have held the Hot 100’s top rung longer consecutively than non-Americans, let’s keep time-traveling back to see if 42 is a record streak of weeks at No. 1 for U.S. acts.

Nearly a decade earlier, from Dec. 6, 2003, through March 4, 2006, patriots (including groups that featured only U.S.-born members at the time of their chart rules, as far as my research shows) presided over the Hot 100 for a whopping 118 straight weeks, via these 24 No. 1s (including two by, aptly, American Idol champs, Fantasia and Carrie Underwood):

“Stand Up,” Ludacris feat. Shawnna (1 week at No. 1)
“Hey Ya!,” OutKast (9)
“The Way You Move,” OutKast feat. Sleepy Brown (1)
“Slow Jamz,” Twista feat. Kanye West & Jamie Foxx (1)
“Yeah!,” Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris (12)
“Burn,” Usher (8)
“I Believe,” Fantasia (1)
“Confessions Part II,” Usher (2)
“Slow Motion,” Juvenile feat. Soulja Slim (2)
“Lean Back,” Terror Squad (3)
“Goodies,” Ciara feat. Petey Pablo (7)
“My Boo,” Usher and Alicia Keys (6)
“Drop It Like It’s Hot,” Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell (3)
“Let Me Love You,” Mario (9)
“Candy Shop,” 50 Cent feat. Olivia (9)
“Hollaback Girl,” Gwen Stefani (4)

“We Belong Together,” Mariah Carey (14)
“Inside Your Heaven,” Carrie Underwood (1)
“Gold Digger,” Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx (10)
“Run It!,” Chris Brown (5)
“Don’t Forget About Us,” Mariah Carey (2)
“Laffy Taffy,” D4L (1)
“Grillz,” Nelly feat. Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp (2)
“Check On It,” Beyonce feat. Slim Thug (5)

Hmm, 118 weeks, or more than two consecutive years of all-American No. 1s, seems like a high total to beat. (The streak actually isn’t that surprising given that hip-hop and rap, largely the dominion of American acts, especially in the early 2000s, was such a large presence on the Hot 100 at the time.)

Going back through the ’90s … and ’80s, ’70s and mid-’60s … it was much easier to research No. 1 streaks of American artists, since there was always a foreign leader by the likes of Celine Dion, Phil Collins, George Michael, U2, Duran Duran, Elton John, Rod Stewart, the Rolling Stones and, of course, with at least one topper every year from 1964 to 1970, the Beatles. But, what about before the Fab Four, dating to the Hot 100’s 1958 launch? Again, no streak anywhere near 118 weeks, thanks to No. 1s by such acts as Percy Faith and Paul Anka, both from Canada, and Italian Domenico Modugno, who scored the chart’s second No. 1 (after Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool”), “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare),” for five weeks beginning Aug. 23, 1958.

When might Yanks yank the Hot 100’s top rank back from foreign talent? Meghan Trainor (from Nantucket, Mass.) could, as her “No” is currently No. 3, or Desiigner (Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, N.Y.), who blasted 14-5 this week with “Panda.”

Speaking of Trainor …


Hi Gary,

With Meghan Trainor’s newest anthem up to No. 3 on the Hot 100, is “No” the highest-charting two-character title ever? While “3” (2009) by Britney Spears stands as the sole chart-topper with one character in its title, I don’t recall any two-character-named songs having reached the top three. Soft-rock band Bread scored a No. 4 hit with ballad “If” in 1971, while Janet Jackson also peaked at No. 4 with her tune called “If” in 1993. (If … only they had risen higher.)

No. 1 songs such as “E.T.” (featuring those two periods) and “S&M” (featuring an ampersand, or, a logogram, my new word of the day) have more than two characters, including punctuation. (Maybe that catchy hit “Like a G6” would have still hit the top in 2010 if it had been called just “G6.”) Whatever the case, I don’t recall any high-ranking recordings called “Me” or “Go,” etc.

In the “no,”
Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Hi Pablo,

As for two characters, you and I are certainly two characters who enjoy quirky chart trivia.

Correct, “3” is the only one-character title to top the Hot 100. Next closest are multiple titles of three characters.

As for No. 2-peaking two-character titles? “Oh,” “no” … Trainor’s song does not hold the mark for the highest-charting such song. In 2005, “Oh” by Ciara, featuring Ludacris, reached No. 2 (although that’s probably not the only reason that the pair scored the plum hosting gig at the upcoming Billboard Music Awards).

Still, Trainor boasts the only No. 3-peaking (to date) title (to borrow the name of her debut album) just two characters-long.

Meanwhile, Megatrons might want to check out this fun flashback, recently published, to when Trainor, now 22, was just starting out on Nantucket. Seemingly, she always knew the work needed to achieve success. “If you get a gig somewhere, any gig, anywhere, go do it!,” she said in an interview conducted when she was 17. “Even if you’re only playing for, like, three people, you’ll still be getting practice.

“Something good will come of it.”