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Ask Billboard: Taylor Swift Out-‘Shake’s Mariah Carey

A song called "Shake It Off" tops the Hot 100 at last. Plus, Swift's place in pop/country crossover history, Christina Aguilera's career sales and more.

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,

With Taylor Swift topping the Billboard Hot 100 with “Shake It Off,” she’s outperformed the No. 2 peak of Mariah Carey’s 2005 hit of the same name.

So, it’s time to update the list of song titles that have peaked at Nos. 1 and 2 by different artists.

Notably, and in a sign of how many big hits she’s had, Mariah’s name comes up multiple times:

“Shake It Off”
No. 1, Taylor Swift, 2014

No. 2, Mariah Carey, 2005

“We Are the World”
No. 1, USA for Africa, 1985
No. 2, Artists for Haiti, 2010

“Inside Your Heaven”
No. 1, Carrie Underwood, 2005
No. 2, Bo Bice, 2005

“Total Eclipse of the Heart”
No. 1, Bonnie Tyler, 1983
No. 2, Nicki French, 1995

“Endless Love”
No. 1, Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, 1981
No. 2, Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey, 1994

“Dreamlover”/”Dream Lover”
No. 1, Mariah Carey, 1993
No. 2, Bobby Darin, 1959

“Can’t Help Falling in Love”
No. 1, UB40, 1993
No. 2, Elvis Presley With the Jordanaires, 1962

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”
No. 1, George Michael/Elton John, 1992
No. 2, Elton John, 1974

“Hold On”
No. 1, Wilson Phillips, 1990
No. 2, En Vogue, 1990

No. 1, the Association, 1966

No. 2, Madonna, 1989
No. 2, Kool & the Gang, 1985

“Wild Thing”
No. 1, the Troggs, 1966
No. 2, Tone-Loc, 1989

“(A) Groovy Kind of Love”
No. 1, Phil Collins, 1988
No. 2, the Mindbenders, 1966

“MacArthur Park”
No. 1, Donna Summer, 1978
No. 2, Richard Harris, 1968

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
No. 1, Marvin Gaye, 1968
No. 2, Gladys Knight and the Pips, 1967

An honorable mention: “Do You Want to Know a Secret” by the Beatles was a No. 2 hit in 1964. With its inclusion in Stars on 45’s “Medley,” it (basically) reached No. 1 in 1981.

And, despite Swift reaching No. 1 with a song title that Carey took to No. 2, their peaks are reversed with two similar-themed hits: I’m thinking about the song that Mariah released right before her “Shake It Off,” her 14-week 2005 No. 1 “We Belong Together.” Taylor reached No. 2 in 2009 with “You Belong With Me.”

1, 2 stepping out,

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Thanks Pablo,

Looking at Swift’s new Hot 100 No. 1 through this lens adds yet more history to Swift’s incredible week, which included a record launch at radio.

Of all the songs above, Swift and Carey join an even more exclusive club of like-titled Nos. 1 and 2 hits that are different compositions, placing alongside “Dreamlover”/”Dream Lover,” “Hold On,” “Cherish” and “Wild Thing.” Meanwhile, three different songs called “Cherish” have risen to Nos. 1 or 2, by the Association, Kool & the Gang and Madonna.

Thus, for the songs above that reached No. 1 and 2 as originals and remakes (“We Are the World,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love”), their repeat trips up the Hot 100 reinforce their evergreen appeal. In cases like “Cherish” and, now, “Shake It Off,” it’s more merely coincidence (and a fun chart one at that) that identical titles … fueled by undeniably catchy hooks … became hits multiple times.


Hi Gary,

I have a question regarding “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Over the past 15-20 years, a few high-profile female country stars have made their crossovers to pop.

By conquering the Hot 100’s summit for the second time, however (after first doing so with “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” in 2012), Taylor distances herself from three outstanding ladies who almost managed to hit the top with crossover smashes: LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live” (1997), Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” (1998) and Faith Hill’s “Breathe” (2000), all of which peaked at No. 2.

Meanwhile, Carrie Underwood hit No. 1 with her American Idol-crowning song, “Inside Your Heaven” (2005), although that was, like “Shake,” a hit geared at pop, not country, audiences.

The last female star who hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 twice after scoring a slew of country hits? Dolly Parton. She ruled both the Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs with her early ’80s hits “9 to 5” and “Islands in the Stream,” the latter with Kenny Rogers.

Are Parton and Swift the country crossover stars with the most Hot 100 No. 1s?


Luis Manuel Acosta
Barcelona, Spain

Hi Luis,

It’s beginning to look like we are never, ever going to stop finding superlatives for Swift’s current run of success.

What a great way to consider just how prominently Swift has won over both pop and country worlds, even if “Shake” is, by her own admission, an all-out pop song and country is largely avoiding her new single.

With seven No. 1s on Hot Country Songs and now two on the Hot 100, what other artists, along with Parton, have tallied multiple No. 1s on each chart? Swift joins an incredibly select group of now just seven acts with more than one No. 1 on both Hot Country Songs and the Hot 100.

The repeat pop/country crossover kings and queens (ranked by combined Hot Country Songs and Hot 100 No. 1s):

Dolly Parton (26: 24, Hot Country Songs; two, Hot 100)
Kenny Rogers (20: 18, Hot Country Songs; two, Hot 100)
Elvis Presley (10: three, Hot Country Songs; seven, Hot 100)
Taylor Swift (nine: seven, Hot Country Songs; two, Hot 100)
Glen Campbell (seven: five, Hot Country Songs; two, Hot 100)
John Denver (seven: four, Hot Country Songs; three, Hot 100)
B.J. Thomas (five: three, Hot Country Songs; two, Hot 100)

Parton, meanwhile, has been busy lately lending her support to the battle against ALS. Rogers, too. “A lot of people challenged me [to the Ice Bucket Challenge] … Kenny Rogers dared me,” Parton says in her Challenge video. “Kenny said, ‘You’ll never do it with your false hair, your false eyelashes, your false nails …’ “

Challenge ultimately accepted, as Parton’s nieces Rebecca and Hannah doused their aunt.

“Kenny,” Parton ribbed, “You’d be surprised at what I do with my … falseness.”


Hi Gary,

On the Aug. 23, Hot 100, “Bang Bang,” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj ranked at No. 9, while Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap” placed directly below at No. 10.

That got me wondering: what are other some other noteworthy onomatopoeic songs? I.e, songs with sounds as their titles.


Barry Noland

Hi Barry,

Sometimes a songwriter doesn’t have to find words to convey a song’s meaning other than those that double as a sound.

By ranking in the Hot 100’s top 10 together, “Bang Bang” and “Boom Clap” have shed new light on such songs. But, they’re not the first. Charli XCX’s hit, in fact, reminds me of Roxette’s “Crash! Boom! Bang!,” the title cut from the duo’s 1994 album of the same name. (Despite its explosive title, the song is a ballad.)

Here are 10 other such songs that double as sounds:

“Applause,” Lady Gaga
“Boom Boom Pow,” the Black Eyed Peas
“Roar,” Katy Perry
“Scream,” Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
“Shout,” Tears for Fears
“Slam,” Onyx
“Sussudio,” Phil Collins
“TiK ToK,” Ke$ha
“Whistle,” Flo Rida

And even … “Silence,” Delirium feat. Sarah McLachlan

Collins’ “Sussudio” is one of the best-known songs named after a sound. As Fred Bronson notes in his invaluable Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Collins made up the word “to verbalize the drum roll he uses on the track.”

The song was simply meant to be fun, Collins himself has explained. “I want[ed] to write some different kind[s] of songs. A lot of my songs are not necessarily miserable, but they’re about a certain aspect of relationships which isn’t … the most optimistic. So, I decided to do some dance-orientated songs.

“I didn’t want to be known as a miserable sod.”


@gthot20 shame on you refusing to post an article with @Xtina’s updated sales! #HeartBroken

The Aguilerean ?@ISlayForX

What, you think a guilt trip is going to work on me? I have a Jewish mother … of course it will!

Sure, let’s take an updated look at the U.S. sales of Christina Aguilera’s albums and her best-selling songs, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

8,279,000, Christina Aguilera, 1999
4,383,000, Stripped, 2002
1,712,000, Back to Basics, 2006
1,015,000, My Kind of Christmas, 2000
707,000, Burlesque (soundtrack), 2010
530,000, Keeps Gettin’ Better: A Decade of Hits, 2008
487,000, Mi Reflejo, 2000
325,000, Bionic, 2010
290,000, Lotus, 2012
128,000, Just Be Free, 2001

Top-selling digital songs:
6,507,000, “Moves Like Jagger” (Maroon 5 feat. Aguilera)
3,859,000, “Say Something” (A Great Big World and Aguilera)
2,406,000, “Feel This Moment” (Pitbull feat. Aguilera)
1,783,000, “Ain’t No Other Man”

1,512,000, “Beautiful”
1,187,000, “Hurt”
1,184,000, “Fighter”
1,156,000, “Keeps Getting Better”
1,153,000, “Candyman”
746,000, “Just a Fool” (Aguilera With Blake Shelton)

With Aguilera’s career predating the digital era, three of her songs have also sold more than 500,000 physical (CD/cassette) singles each: “Genie in a Bottle” (1,436,000), “What a Girl Wants” (605,000) and “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)” (579,000)

Overall, the new mom, who’s working on new music, has sold an impressive 17.9 million albums in the U.S.


Hi Gary,

In celebration of Labor Day, I thought it would be fun to look at Hot 100 No. 1s that mention professions or jobs in their song titles.

Here are 15:

“Cathy’s Clown,” the Everly Brothers (1960)
“Please Mr. Postman,” the Marvelettes (1961)
Soldier Boy,” the Shirelles (1962)
“The Stripper,” David Rose and His Orchestra (1962) (It is a job …)

“Paperback Writer,” the Beatles (1966)
“The Tears of a Clown,” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (1970)
“I Shot the Sheriff, Eric Clapton (1974)
“Please Mr. Postman,” The Carpenters (1975)
“Rhinestone Cowboy,” Glen Campbell (1975)
Private Eyes,” Daryl Hall  John Oates (1981)
Centerfold,” J. Geils Band (1982) (Also a job …)
Ghostbusters,” Ray Parker, Jr. (1984)
“Toy Soldiers,” Martika (1989)
“Because I Love You (The Postman Song),” Stevie B (1990)
“Gold Digger,” Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx (2005) (As in, archaeologist …)

Happy Labor Day weekend!

Blair Buchta
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Thanks Blair,

You too! And, given more recent musical history, let’s also salute those who operate wrecking balls, lumberjacks who yell “timber!” and proprietors of thrift shops (especially the ones that set prices at $20 or less on tags).