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Ask Billboard: Michael Jackson, ‘Back’ To The Beginning

Including his hits with the Jackson 5, the King of Pop has hit the Hot 100's top 10 in six different decades. Plus, Luke Bryan makes country chart news and your picks for this year's song of the…

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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,

With Michael Jackson now having collected Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits in five decades, thanks to the 22-9 jump for “Love Never Felt So Good,” if we count his Jackson 5 and Jacksons hits, as well, we can extend his span to six decades – just. “I Want You Back” reached the top 10 on the Hot 100 dated Dec. 27, 1969. (Here in the U.K., the song did not chart until 1970, thus narrowly denying him six decades of top 10 hits here, as well.)


Dating to “I Want You Back,” Jackson would further extend his record span of Hot 100 top 10s by almost two years.

Here’s another bit of Jackson trivia: In terms of individuals with the most top 10s as solo artists and as group members, Jackson, with 39 top 10 hits combining his solo career and his recordings with his brothers, has now moved ahead of Madonna’s total (38) and leveled with George Harrison, who had 34 top 10s as a Beatle and five as a solo artist, for 39 total. Ahead of him are only John Lennon and Ringo Starr (41 each; 34 with the Beatles and seven without apiece) and Paul McCartney (56; a total still unlikely to be equaled, thanks to 34 with the Beatles and 22 in his subsequent career).

That also means that McCartney has (of course) scored top 10 hits in collaboration with the next four individuals below him in terms of most total Hot 100 top 10s (including the only artist from the U.S. in that top five): Jackson, Harrison, Starr and Lennon.

Also, for all four of the Beatles, “Free as a Bird” was their only top 10 (reaching No. 6 in 1996) since Nielsen BDS and SoundScan brought more accurate compilation methods to the Hot 100 in the early ’90s. (Follow-up “Real Love” just missed out, peaking at No. 11). “Love Never Felt So Good” is Jackson’s eighth top 10 hit of the Nielsen era.

Also, a nod to Elvis Presley’s 25 Hot 100 top 10s (and, indeed, his lower chart entries), as he notched several more before the Hot 100 began under that name in 1958.

All the best,

Robin Carmody
Portland, Dorset, United Kingdom

Hi Robin,

Great observations about the King of Pop, whose appeal, of course, has always been worldwide. U.K. passion for Jackson clearly continues, and (self-promotion alert …), I was happy to appear on the London-based Monocle’s Midori House program last week, discussing all things Jackson. You can listen to the archived audio here; my segment is about 43 minutes in and lasts about six minutes, as Tom Edwards and I chatted about what other artists could reach the top 10 after their passing, who might one day live on as holograms (!) and more.

Shout-out, too, to reader Alan Kase, who also pointed out on Twitter that Jackson’s top 10 span expands to the ’60s when including the Jackson 5’s output. Dating to Dec. 27, 1969, through the latest Hot 100, dated May 31, 2014, Jackson’s combined group and solo top 10 span is a record 44 years and five months.

Robin, your round-up of the acts with the most Hot 100 top 10s, combining group and solo careers, reinforces the impact of the Beatles, both during their years as an active band and beyond. The Fab Four, by the way, reached the Hot 100’s top 10 in the ’60s, ’70s and ’90s. Had “The Beatles’ Movie Medley” climbed two spots higher than its No. 12 peak in 1982, they’d rank among the elite acts (Barbra Streisand, Cher, Aerosmith, Madonna, Whitney Houston) with top 10s in four different decades. Still, as McCartney, Lennon and Harrison all earned solo top 10s in the ’80s, as Beatles/soloists combined, each has appeared in the top 10 in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

Presley, meanwhile, reached the top 10 in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Honorable mention to Cheap Trick’s cover of “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached No. 4 in 1988. And, “A Little Less Conversation,” credited to Elvis Presley vs JXL, peaked at No. 50 in 2002, but it did hit No. 1 for three weeks on the Hot Singles Sales chart.

As for other notable acts whose top 10 counts swell when mixing band and solo hits, they include … well, for starters, Jackson’s duet partner on “Good,” Justin Timberlake. The song is his 16th solo top 10 to go along with six as a member of ‘N Sync, for 22 total top 10 trips. And, the two have been linked before: both Jackson and Timberlake first hit the Hot 100 in groups with songs called “I Want You Back.” The Jackson 5’s classic became their first of four career-opening No. 1s in 1970. ‘N Sync’s ode of the same name reached No. 13 in 1998.

Seven other group/solo superstars (including two from the U.K.): Diana Ross, with 30 top 10 visits (18 with the Supremes, 12 solo); Beyonce (25; 15 solo, 10 with Destiny’s Child); Lionel Richie (22; 13 solo, nine with the Commodores); Phil Collins (21; 14 solo, seven with Genesis); Don Henley (16; 10 with the Eagles, six solo); Fergie (15; 10 with the Black Eyed Peas, five solo); and Sting (11; six with the Police, five solo).

Jackson has additionally made two other ascents to the Hot 100’s top 10 with songs on which he didn’t receive official artist credit. In 1984, Rockwell rose to No. 2 with “Somebody’s Watching Me,” which features not only Michael but also his brother Jermaine. (Rockwell is the son of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr. More specifically, he’s the legendary exec’s sixth child. His eighth? Skyler Gordy, aka Sky Blu of LMFAO.)

Jackson also helped heal the world by co-writing, with Richie, “We Are the World.” USA for Africa’s smash topped the Hot 100 for four weeks in 1985 and, best of all, has helped raise more than $75 million to fight poverty in Africa since.

NEXT: Luke Bryan makes (more) country chart history

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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 am a big fan of Luke Bryan from Indonesia (which is rare!) You mentioned that Luke made history when “Play It Again” topped the Country Airplay chart while he’s also No. 2 with Florida Georgia Line on “This Is How We Roll,” becoming the first singer to hold the Nos. 1 and 2 spots on the same chart. That’s a great achievement!

However, his biggest achievement might be topping all four of Billboard’s country song charts in the same week with the same song: “Play” tops the airplay/sales/streaming-based overall Hot Country Songs chart for a sixth week and Country Digital Songs for a seventh week and rises 2-1 on Country Airplay and 3-1 on Country Streaming Songs. (And, “This Is How We Roll” is No. 2 on all four charts.)

Has anybody ever ranked at No. 1 on all four charts at the same time before? I bet not!


Jonhan Salim
Jakarta, Indonesia

Hi Jonhan,

Country music can be popular in any country! Thanks for offering another angle as to how Bryan continues to conquer the genre.

He is, in fact, the first artist to crown all four country charts simultaneously – although the tallies have coexisted only since April 20, 2013, when Country Streaming Songs launched. The closest an act had previously come to quadrupling at No. 1? Bryan himself, the week of Nov. 2, 2013, when “That’s My Kind of Night” led Hot Country Songs, Country Digital Songs and Country Streaming Songs … and rose to its No. 2 peak on Country Airplay.

This week’s country charts, meanwhile, bring a notable anniversary: 20 years ago this week, Tim McGraw reached the top of Hot Country Songs for the first time, as “Don’t Take the Girl” jumped 5-1 on the May 28, 1994, tally. His total now stands at 24 Hot Country Songs leaders, the most of all artists in that stretch. Kenny Chesney ranks second with 22 No. 1s in the past 20 years, followed by Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson and George Strait, each with 19 in that span.

McGraw’s latest single, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s,” featuring his wife, Faith Hill, has reached No. 27 so far in its first five weeks on Country Airplay. His new album, “Sundown Heaven Town,” arrives Sept. 16, just after summer unofficially ends on Labor Day.

Speaking of summer …

NEXT: What’s 2014’s song of the summer?

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. 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


“Ask Billboard” has attempted to pick this summer’s top songs (emphasis on “attempted”). Will Iggy Azalea ultimately claim the top two spots with her own “Fancy” (featuring Charli XCX) and as a guest on Ariana Grande’s “Problem”? Will Justin Timberlake, Calvin Harris, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran and maybe even Michael Jackson be in the mix?

Here’s a sample of your picks, via Twitter and Facebook:

Song of Summer 2014? I think “Problem” and “Fancy” are both strong nominees. “Classic” or “Birthday” would also be great, though.

It’s between Fancy and Problem. I’m obsessed with both at the moment
Brandon Monster Wu

The song of the summer: FANCY!

Heres your one chance FANCY don’t let me down.
Greg Humphreys

problem will be the best summer song trust me 😉

iggy is the only thing you need to be listening to this summer. period.
Mikaela Tannous

For this summer….. Calvin Harris-Summer … lol
Ghimire Bon

Turn Down For What
Paul Han

I think a top 40 song for the summer will be “We Are One (Ole Ola)” by Pitbull. remember its the World Cup in June-July!

you dont know what to do by mariah carey of course!
Gary de Mesa

No, it’s time for Thirsty by Mariah Carey.
Domenico Pannone

Chromeo Jealous!
Dan Marzella

Really Don’t Care Demi Lovato ft Cher Lloyd 2014’s Song Of The Summer!

I think Dare by Shakira is great. But I love Fancy too It’s perfect!
Cindy Lam

Duke Dumont – I Got U (Official video) ft. Jax Jones
Tiago’j Câmara

i just hope katy perry releases international smile as a single from prism … And, it may go underrated but j.lo’s i luh ya papi would be a fav song of summer.
Robert Spice Price

#PillsNPotions. Single Nicki Minaj. Queen of rap, hip hop. All.
Leonardo Souza

Madonna’s next #1
Madder Iconer

summer song? idk summer hasnt even started yet…we should wait til summers over to figure out the 2014 song of the summer…
Megan McCullough

… fair enough, Megan McCullough! I already feel like I missed a few songs that could become big summer hits, anyway (i.e., One Direction’s “You & I,” Sia’s “Chandelier,” the Dirty Heads’ “My Sweet Summer,” DJ Cassidy’s “Calling All Hearts,” featuring Robin Thicke and Jessie J, and Thicke’s own new “Get Her Back”; plus, personal favorites I’m rooting for: Haim’s “Forever,” Oh Honey’s “Be Okay” and Chvrches’ “Recover”). Also check out the great Sean Ross’ take on what could be this summer’s top songs. And, Billboard has compiled a list of 30 key albums due over the next few months.

As you get ready to jump into the pool, whether in your backyard or with your picks in the top summer song-pool (I deserve to be pushed off the diving board for that pun), have a happy and safe Memorial Day!