Upon the Billboard Hot 100‘s 60th anniversary, dating to its Aug. 4, 1958, inception, Chubby Checker‘s “The Twist” is the chart’s all-time No. 1 song, while The Beatles are the Hot 100’s top-performing act in the chart’s history.
The chart champions are reflected in Billboard‘s latest recap of the tally’s most successful songs and artists to date. For the first time, Billboard goes 600 titles deep in recapping the biggest hit songs of the survey’s first six decades, along with ranking the chart’s all-time top 100 artists.
Putting Checker and The Beatles’ coronations in further perspective, over 27,000 titles, by over 7,500 artists, have hit the Hot 100 in the chart’s six-decade history.
Meanwhile, such current hitmakers as Drake, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift shine on the all-time rankings. Billboard‘s latest review of the Hot 100 follows 2008’s inaugural flashback (marking the chart’s first 50 years) and retrospectives in 2013 and 2015. Each time, “The Twist” has ranked as the top Hot 100 title and The Beatles have led the artists ranking.
First, the math: The rankings of the all-time top Hot 100 songs and artists are based on actual performance on the weekly Hot 100, from its Aug. 4, 1958, launch through the July 21, 2018-dated chart. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods. Artists are ranked based on the combined point totals, as outlined above, of all their Hot 100 chart entries.
ALL-TIME No. 1 HOT 100 SONG: “THE TWIST”
“I think what rock and roll didn’t have was a dance,” Chubby Checker told Billboard in 2016. “The young people were doing the dances of the 1930s and ’40s. Then, Chubby Checker came along with ‘The Twist.’ For the first time, you [could] watch your girlfriend, fully dressed, exploiting her sexuality right in front of you.”
Checker’s transformative smash remains the No. 1 all-time Hot 100 hit, thanks in large part to its dual run atop the weekly chart in September 1960 (for one week) and January 1962 (for two frames). “The Twist” is the only song to have ruled the Hot 100 in separate release cycles, as it returned to the top after adults caught on to the song and its namesake dance that younger audiences had first popularized.
“That style of dancing wasn’t there before,” Checker, now 76, mused. “You’re watching her, she’s watching you…it was so explosive, it’s never left the dance floor.”
Santana’s “Smooth,” featuring Rob Thomas, ranks as the Hot 100’s No. 2 all-time top title, bolstered by its 12-week reign in 1999-2000; Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” a nine-week No. 1 in 1959 ranks third; Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk!,” featuring Bruno Mars, places fourth, following its 14-week run at No. 1 in 2015; and LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live” rounds out a wide genre- and era-spanning top five. Notably, Rimes’ hit never reached No. 1 on the weekly Hot 100, peaking at No. 2 for four weeks in 1997-98, but its 69 total chart weeks are fourth-best all-time.
ALL-TIME No. 1 HOT 100 ACT: THE BEATLES
The Hot 100 began with Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” topping the first chart. (The total has grown to 1,077 No. 1s through Drake’s current leader, “In My Feelings.”) At the time, Elvis Presley was two years into his reign as the King of Rock and Roll. With 108 appearances, including 25 top 10s and seven No. 1s (with the Hot 100 having begun two years after his career’s start), he’s the No. 4 Hot 100 artist of all time.
In 1964, Beatlemania arrived on U.S. shores, via Liverpool, and, 71 hits (including a record 20 No. 1s, beginning with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”) later, The Beatles rule as the top act in Hot 100’s history. The band spaced 34 top 10s over more than 31 years, through 1995’s “Free as a Bird” (featuring the late John Lennon’s vocals).
Madonna, with a record 38 Hot 100 top 10s (including 12 No. 1s), ranks as the Hot 100’s No. 2 artist, followed by Elton John, with 27 top 10s, including nine No. 1s, at No. 3. Below Presley, Mariah Carey places at No. 5. Carey has come closest to the Beatles’ vaunted chart-topping mark, notching 18 No. 1s from her 1990 debut through 2008.
“SHAPE OF YOU,” RIHANNA & DRAKE ROAR
While both Checker’s “The Twist” and the Beatles became entrenched in American pop culture over a half-century ago, relative newbies also rank among the recaps of the Hot 100’s all-time top songs and artists.
Among fairly recent hit titles, and those in Hot 100’s top 100 songs list for the first time since the last historical recap in 2015, is Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” With 12 weeks at No. 1 in 2017, it ranks as the No. 9 song to date. Also new to the top 100 since the 2015 tally: The Chainsmokers’ 12-week 2016 No. 1 “Closer,” featuring Halsey (No. 13); Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” featuring Justin Bieber (No. 33), as the smash spent a record-tying 16 weeks at No. 1 in 2017; Post Malone’s eight-week 2016 ruler “Rockstar,” featuring 21 Savage (No. 88); and Sheeran’s six-week 2017-18 No. 1 “Perfect,” spurred to the top thanks in large part to its remix with Beyoncé (No. 91).
Further, in the entire all-time top 600 songs chart are Cardi B‘s 2017 debut No. 1 “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” and two songs that ascended to the top of the Hot 100 in 2018: Camila Cabello‘s “Havana,” featuring Young Thug, and Drake’s “God’s Plan.”
While the bulk of the all-time top Hot 100 artists are veterans of multiple decades (unsurprisingly, since several years of hits naturally help acts’ standings), more modern-day stars shine bright. Rihanna, a rookie in 2005, is the chart’s No. 10 act, up from No. 13 in 2015, powered by her 14 No. 1s and 31 top 10s.
Meanwhile, Drake blasts onto the artists list at No. 21, as he boasts the most Hot 100 entries among soloists in the chart’s history (187), since his debut on the ranking under a decade ago. Taylor Swift surges from No. 34 in 2015 to No. 24; Bruno Mars bounds 61-34; and Maroon 5 rises 44-37.