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Ask Billboard: Swift’s Latest ‘Fearless’ Feat

For all the chart achievements Taylor Swift has earned of late, an Ask Billboard reader finds yet another impressive honor for the young star.

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com.

Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

I was just wondering if Taylor Swift is the music artist with the most top 20 Billboard Hot 100 debuts in her career.

Here is what Billboard reported following the publication of the chart dated Nov. 29, 2008:

T.I. began a fourth week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart Thursday with “Live Your Life” featuring Rihanna, but the big story was Taylor Swift‘s six new entries, led by “White Horse” at No. 13.


That song is the 18-year-old country star’s sixth top 20 debut of 2008, a calendar-year record for any artist in the 50-year history of the chart. She breaks the record of five, set this summer by the Jonas Brothers.

Swift is now tied for second place with Mariah Carey and the Beatles for the most top 20 debuts in a career. One more new entry inside this elite tier will put her in a three-way tie for first place with Janet Jackson and Madonna.”

Thus, a year ago Swift was tied for second place, but now that she has two new top 20 debuts, thanks to her “Platinum Edition” release of “Fearless” – “Jump Then Fall” at No. 10 and “Untouchable” at No. 19 – does this, indeed, make her the artist with the most top 20 debuts in Hot 100 history?


Erika Li

Hi Erika,

In this week’s online Hot 100 news story and Chart Beat, we focused on all five of Swift’s debuts this week between Nos. 10 and 30, but thanks for noting another key angle.

Swift’s two top 20 bows this week up her career total to eight. So, let’s rank the artists with the most top 20 starts on the Hot 100 through this week, as Mariah Carey has also launched a title “(“Obsessed”) in the chart’s top-fifth tier since last year:

8, Taylor Swift
7, Mariah Carey
7, Janet Jackson
7, Madonna
6, the Beatles

Therefore, with her two top 20 debuts this week, Taylor Swift takes sole ownership of a Hot 100 record by breaking out of a tie with the Beatles and passing the trio of Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Madonna.

And how was your week?


Dear Gary,

Adding to the recent discussion in Ask Billboard, if you can stand a few more Billboard Hot 100 top 10s that first appeared on greatest hits albums:

“Tell It Like It Is,” Heart (No. 8, 1980), from “Greatest Hits Live”
“That Girl,” Stevie Wonder (No. 4, 1982), from “Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium”
“That’s the Way It Is,” Celine Dion (No. 6, 1999), from “All the Way … A Decade of Song”

And, a slight correction on Heather Hansen’s informative e-mail last week: crocodiles (as in “Crocodile Rock”) and chameleons (as in “Karma Chameleon”) are both reptiles, meaning that two reptiles have been mentioned in No. 1 song titles, but no amphibians.


Jeff Lerner
Long Island, New York

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the latest additions to our running list (and science help).

On a similar vein, one of my favorite new albums is “Beautiful History – A Hits Collection” by pop/dance/Christian crossover artist Plumb. Included on the set are re-recordings of three of her best-known songs: “Stranded (2010),” “Here With Me (2010)” (both, by the way, covered by Jennifer Paige (“Crush”) on her 2001 album “Positively Somewhere”) and “God-Shaped Hole (2010),” the latter of which has reached No. 34 on Christian Songs.

We might have a whole new thread here: re-recorded hits by original artists.

The Righteous Brothers, for example, reached No. 19 on the Hot 100 with a 1990 version of their No. 4 1965 classic “Unchained Melody” (which itself re-charted and rose to No. 13 as “Ghost” reigned at the box office).

And, Michael Jackson‘s last Hot 100 hit to date remains last year’s No. 81-peaking “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008” with Akon, an update of his No. 5 original from 1983.

I’ll leave the topic in the more-than-capable hands of Ask Billboard readers for any further hit titles revived by their original artists.


Hi Gary,

After reading in Ask Billboard about songs that referenced other artists that charted simultaneously, I’ve found a few more – slightly related – cases:

On Oct. 28, 1989, the Cover Girls moved up one spot to a peak of No. 38 with “My Heart Skips a Beat,” while New Kids on the Block rose to No. 4 with “Cover Girl.”

On July 14, 1990, Poison pounced 70-36 with “Unskinny Bop,” while Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” dropped to No. 10.

On June 27, 1992, Linear advanced to No. 30 with “T.L.C.,” while Atlanta trio TLC was at Nos. 24 and 25 with “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Baby-Baby-Baby,” respectively.

And, on Nov. 21, 1992, Peter Cetera dipped to No. 51 with “Restless Heart,” while the country group Restless Heart climbed to No. 55 with “When She Cries.”

So, that’s four instances of song/artist chart coincidences. If only the Pet Shop Boys‘ “Go West” had debuted on the Hot 100 in 1993 (it Bubbled Under the Hot 100 at No. 6), it could have shared chart time with either “Faithful” or “What You Won’t Do For Love” by another pop duo: Go West.


Luis Manuel Acosta
Lloret de Mar, Spain

Hi Luis,

A clever take on songs and artists sharing titles – even if not as directly as, say, Miley Cyrus referring to Jay-Z specifically in “Party in the U.S.A.” Cetera’s “Restless Heart” wasn’t, of course, about the country group by that name, but it’s coincidences like that that make chart-watching so fun.

(Living in a Box, though, must have been referring to itself when it reached No. 17 on the Hot 100 with “Living in a Box” in 1987).


Dear Gary,

I’ve been an avid follower of the Billboard Hot 100 for nearly 20 years now. Since 2004, after reading a reference book on the subject, I’ve put together a massive CD mix of singles that reached No. 2.

Given my interest, I thought I’d run down the eight singles that have peaked No. 2 on the Hot 100 this year. Six songs on the list missed out on the top spot due to the recent dominance of the Black Eyed Peas with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling” (12 and 14 weeks at No. 1, respectively):

“Heartless” by Kanye West (1 week)
“Dead and Gone” by T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake (5 weeks)
“Blame It” by Jamie Foxx featuring T-Pain (1 week)
“I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho),” Pitbull (1 week)
“Best I Ever Had,” Drake (5 weeks)
“You Belong With Me,” Taylor Swift (1 week)
“Party in the U.S.A.,” Miley Cyrus (3 weeks)
“Run This Town,” Jay-Z, Rihanna, & Kanye West (1 week)

Enjoy! And, if you would like to provide any further notable trivia, it will be much appreciated. I’ll even give you an “executive producer” credit on the next CD’s liner notes (LOL!)

Thank you very much for your time. You’ll always have a loyal fan of the charts,

Dana E. McIntyre

Hi Dana,

Ooh, no pressure, right? OK, how about this: “Party in the U.S.A.” is the fifth song in Hot 100 history to debut and peak at No. 2. Here are all five that have started so close to the summit but, ultimately, did not reach it:

June 28, 2003, “Flying Without Wings,” Ruben Studdard
July 9, 2005, “Inside Your Heaven,” Bo Bice
Feb. 3, 2007, “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” Fall Out Boy
Aug. 30, 2008, “Crush,” David Archuleta
Aug. 29, 2009, “Party in the U.S.A.,” Miley Cyrus

Hope that’s liner-worthy! (If so, I’ll see you at the release party?)


Hi Gary,

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Lifehouse play at Mandalay Bay Beach (seriously, one of the best venues ever to see a summer concert).

The show got me thinking about sales totals for Lifehouse and some of my other favorite adult pop artists. Could you please provide sales figures for the albums of Lifehouse, 3 Doors Down and Five for Fighting?


Greg Phelan
Los Angeles, California

Hi Greg,

Here are the top-selling albums for the bands you cite, according to Nielsen SoundScan:

Lifehouse (4,671,000 total to date)
2,670,000, “No Name Face” (2001)
960,000, “Lifehouse” (2005)
614,000, “Who We Are” (2007)
411,000, “Stanley Climbfall” (2002)

3 Doors Down (12,535,000 total to date)
5,565,000, “Better Life” (2000)
3,863,000, “Away From the Sun” (2004)
1,434,000, “Seventeen Days” (2005)
820,000, “3 Doors Down” (2008)

Five for Fighting (2,296,000 total to date)
966,000, “America Town” (2000)
958,000, “Battle for Everything” (2004)
287,000, “Two Lights” (2006)
24,000, “Slice” (2009)

Good timing, too: Lifehouse this week bows at No. 25 on Adult Pop Songs with “Halfway Gone,” the first single from its fifth album, “Smoke & Mirrors,” due Dec. 8. The song’s start is the chart’s highest this year and best since the Fray‘s “You Found Me” rocketed in at No. 19 last December.