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Ask Billboard: Who’s Sold More, Katy Perry Or Lady Gaga?

What else would we talk about this week? Plus, more tributes following Madonna's birthday and hits that have made second encores on Billboard charts.

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 the release of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga’s new singles, everyone is comparing the two artists. To add fuel to the fire, could you please update us with the Nielsen SoundScan figures for their albums and top-selling singles? And, which artist has sold more albums and singles?



Krzysztof Gorecki
Lublin, Poland

Hi Krzysztof,

The big news on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, other than Robin Thicke snagging an 11th week at No. 1 with “Blurred Lines,” was obviously the 85-2 blast of Perry’s “Roar” and the No. 6 bow for Lady Gaga’s “Applause.”

As a sort-of Hot 100 afterparty, how do Perry and Gaga fare in comparison to each other when it comes to their career album and digital song sales? Given that both artists first charted on the Hot 100 in 2008, it’s a pretty even playing field (one which we’re apparently about to help set more fire to …)

Here are each star’s best-selling digital songs and their U.S. album sales through the week ending Aug. 18, according to Nielsen SoundScan:

Katy Perry: Digital Songs
6,341,000, “Firework”
5,606,000, “E.T.” (feat. Kanye West)
5,542,000, “California Gurls” (feat. Snoop Dogg)
5,414,000, “Hot N Cold”
4,573,000, “Teenage Dream”

4,444,000, “I Kissed a Girl”
3,470,000, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”
3,074,000, “Wide Awake”
2,662,000, “Part of Me”
2,617,000, “The One That Got Away”
2,211,000, “Waking Up in Vegas”
1,079,000, “Thinking of You”
643,000, “Peacock”
Lady Gaga: Digital Songs
6,987,000, “Poker Face”
6,809,000, “Just Dance” (feat. Colby O’Donis)
5,401,000, “Bad Romance”
3,918,000, “Born This Way”
3,388,000, “Paparazzi”
3,268,000, “Telephone” (feat. Beyonce)
2,792,000, “The Edge of Glory”
2,558,000, “LoveGame”
2,473,000, “Alejandro”
2,181,000, “You and I”
942,000, “Judas”
781,000, “Starstruck”

Katy Perry: Albums
2,749,000, “Teenage Dream” (2010)
1,529,000, “One of the Boys” (2008)
55,000, “MTV Unplugged” (EP) (2009)

Lady Gaga: Albums
4,525,000, “The Fame” (2008)

2,298,000, “Born This Way” (2011)
1,566,000, “The Fame Monster” (EP) (2009)
57,000, “Born This Way: The Remix” (2011)
302,000, “The Remix” (2010)
40,000, “A Very Gaga Holiday” (EP) (2011)

The totals?

First, digital song sales:
Katy Perry: 49,897,000
Lady Gaga: 46,322,000

And, album sales:
Lady Gaga: 8,817,000
Katy Perry: 4,333,000

So … Perry narrowly leads in digital song sales, while Gaga boasts a more than two-to-one lead in album sales, reflecting the latter’s clearer status as an album act.

In all, victories for both Little Monsters and Katycats! … Plenty more discussion is a lock as “Roar” and “Applause” grow, leading up to the releases of Perry’s album “Prism” (Oct. 22) and Gaga’s “ARTPOP” (Nov. 11).

(Special thanks to Nielsen SoundScan’s Nancy Wagner and Anna Loynes)

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,

For Madonna’s birthday last Friday (Aug. 16), I compiled a playlist of some of her best “B-side” tracks and live performances.

Here’s the link: https://www.doyouremember.com/news/happy-birthday-madonna

It would be great if you could share that piece. I bet her fans would really appreciate it.

Keep up the great work. You’ll always have a fan in me!

Nihal Advani

Thanks Nihal,

Fun list! And, of course, Billboard ranked her 40 top-performing hits on the Hot 100, viewable here.

Your lists and even ours, however, don’t quite reflect each fan’s specific personal tastes. Here, then, is how I’d rank my top 20 favorite Madonna songs. (As I became a fan upon the release of “Like a Prayer” in 1989, my countdown leans more toward her efforts from then on):

20, “Oh Father”
19, “Beautiful Stranger”
18, “Music”
17, “Live to Tell”
16, “La Isla Bonita”

15, “Beautiful Killer”
14, “This Used to Be My Playground”
13, “Vogue”
12, “I’ll Remember”
11, “Like a Prayer”
10, “Nothing Fails”
9, “Dress You Up”
8, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”
7, “Cherish”
6, “Sorry”
5, “Time Stood Still”
4, “Frozen”
3, “Rain”
2, “The Power of Goodbye”

… and at No. 1, thanks to its effortlessly melodic verses, great chorus and lush ’80s production:

1, “Who’s That Girl”

How about you? Please feel free to rank your favorite material by the Material Girl and send it, along with any commentary, to askbb@billboard.com for the next mailbag.

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


@gthot20 ’13 remix of Walking On Thin Ice is on the dance club play chart for Yoko Ono, a 3rd go round. How many others hit 3x?

Bill Smith @billcs

Hi Bill,

Great question. Yoko Ono’s “Walking on Thin Ice” reached No. 13 on Dance/Club Play Songs in 1981 and returned in 2003, going all the way to No. 1. This week, “Walking on Thin Ice 2013” jumps 22-18 in its fourth week, marking its third run up the tally.

A rare feat, indeed, although not a first on Dance/Club Play Songs. Alison Limerick, for example, sent “Where Love Lives” to No. 3 in 1991. A new “Where Love Lives ’96” rose to No. 4 in 1996, while a third mix climbed to No. 16 in 2003. Clearly, the proliferation of remixes makes dance/EDM a natural genre in which songs can return in new forms.

I can think of a few other much more well-known thrice-is-nice hits (excluding holiday classics, which return annually to the seasonal Holiday Songs chart). (And, like “Ice,” it’s sometimes taken multiple recordings of a composition for it to become a hit three times.)

Two stand out as the most prominent examples of songs that hit the same chart three times:

Dolly Parton, “I Will Always Love You,” Hot Country Songs
No. 1 (one week), 1974
No. 1 (one week), 1982 (re-released alongside the film “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” in which she starred)
No. 15, 1995 (with Vince Gill) (the ballad had found a new generation of fans following Whitney Houston’s cover, which led the Hot 100 for 14 weeks in 1992-93)

The Righteous Brothers, “Unchained Melody,” Hot 100
No. 4, 1965
No. 13, 1990 (the same version as above returned thanks to its inclusion in the box office smash “Ghost”)
No. 19, 1990 (the No. 13-peaking 1990 version was the original, released only on vinyl, and the one which received almost all its airplay that year. A new recording released only as a cassette single sold enough to chart on practically sales alone, as consumers by then had largely moved on from buying 45s to cassette singles, even if the version they surely wanted was the original on vinyl.)

Other songs that fit the spirit of the topic, if, perhaps, with asterisks:

Peter Gabriel, “In Your Eyes”: A No. 26 Hot 100 hit in 1986, it returned to reach No. 41 in 1989 thanks to its famous usage in “Say Anything.” Last year, a new stripped-down version of the classic reached No. 23 on Alternative Digital Songs.

Elton John, “Candle in the Wind”: The ballad peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100, in live form, in 1988 and returned to spend 14 weeks at No. 1 in 1997-98, rewritten as a tribute for Princess Diana. The 1973 original, meanwhile, was never a U.S. single but did reach No. 11 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart an continues to receive airplay today.

Chubby Checker, “The Twist”: The Hot 100’s all-time No. 1 song is the only hit to top the tally in each of two chart runs: in 1960 and, following renewed awareness of its legendary dance by adults (after younger crowds had first taken to it), 1962. In 1988, the Fat Boys’ version shimmied to No. 16; Checker sings on it although he did not technically receive a featured billing. (The affable Checker also charted five other hits with the word “twist” in their titles, including 1961’s No. 8-peaking “Let’s Twist Again.”)

And, honorable mention to the No. 7 song of the Hot 100’s first 55 years: Los Del Rio’s “Macarena.” The track peaked at No. 45 in 1995 before returning in 1996, as remixed by the Bayside Boys, for a 14-week pop culture-conquering reign.

A separate version, meanwhile, reached No. 23 amid the Bayside Boys’ mix’s Hot 100 command. Then, that December, “Macarena Christmas” debuted, reaching No. 57.

So, I’m really not sure if that makes Los Del Rio a one-, two-, three- or four-hit wonder …

Any others I missed? Please email askbb@billboard.com or hit me up on twitter: @gthot20

And, see you back here soon for the next “Ask Billboard”!