Skip to main content

Greatest of All-Time Charts: Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Adele & LeAnn Rimes Are Hot 100 & Billboard 200’s Leading Ladies

The four stars top Billboard's all-time recaps of the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart & Billboard 200 albums tally.

As Billboard celebrates the accomplishments of Women in Music throughout the industry with this year’s festivities, the charts likewise reflect that female artists have achieved some of the biggest hits in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart and Billboard 200 albums ranking.

In honor of this year’s Women in Music event, Billboard has compiled four special Greatest of All-Time charts: the top female artists and songs by women over the history of the Hot 100 and the top female artists and albums by women on the Billboard 200.



Greatest of All-Time Hot 100 Women Artists / Greatest of All-Time Hot 100 Songs by Women

Madonna (Billboard‘s 2016 woman of the year) reigns as the all-time top-performing female artist since the Hot 100 launched in the issue dated Aug. 4, 1958. She boasts a record (among all acts) 38 top 10s, including 12 No. 1s.

Mariah Carey is the No. 2 all-time female Hot 100 artist, powered by her 18 No. 1s, the most of any soloist (as well has her 79 cumulative weeks at the summit, a record among all acts). Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston and Rihanna – the lattermost of whom has earned the second-most No. 1s among solo artists, 14, despite not notching her first until 2005 – round out the top five.

LeAnn Rimes‘ smash “How Do I Live” is the all-time No. 1 Hot 100 hit by a female. Despite peaking at No. 2 on Dec. 13, 1997, the ballad – penned by a superstar female writer: Diane Warren – charted for 69 weeks, the most for a title by a woman. It also spent 27 weeks in the top five, a record matched only by The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” (featuring Halsey) this March.

The Nos. 2 through 5 all-time top Hot 100 hits by women, respectively, are Olivia Newton-John‘s 10-week 1981-82 No. 1 “Physical”; Debby Boone‘s “You Light Up My Life” (the first song, in 1977, to top the Hot 100 for 10 weeks); Carey’s 14-week 2005 leader “We Belong Together”; and Toni Braxton‘s 1996-97 No. 1 “Un-Break My Heart.”



Greatest of All-Time Billboard 200 Women Artists / Greatest of All-Time Billboard 200 Albums by Women

Barbra Streisand is the all-time queen of the Billboard 200 (since Aug. 17, 1963, when separate stereo and mono listings were combined into one weekly survey). She has logged 34 top 10 albums, the most among soloists, including 11 No. 1s, the most among women.

Taylor Swift is the No. 2 Billboard 200 female artist. Billboard‘s woman of the year for 2011 and 2014 arrived on the chart in 2006 and has posted twin 11-week leaders (2008’s Fearless and 2014’s 1989) among her dominant discography, which includes her newest and fifth topper, Reputation. Rounding out the top five, Swift is followed by, in order, Carey, Houston (the woman with the most total weeks atop the Billboard 200: 46) and Madonna.

Adele (the No. 6 female artist) reigns with the top Billboard 200 album by a woman: 21, which topped the tally for 24 weeks beginning March 12, 2011, the longest rule for an album by a solo female in the chart’s history.

The rest of the Billboard 200’s all-time top five among women: Swift’s Fearless (No. 2); Alanis Morissette‘s 1995 alt-rock opus Jagged Little Pill (No. 3); Carole King‘s signature 1971 set Tapestry (No. 4); and Swift’s 1989 (No. 5).

Check out all of Billboard‘s Greatest of All-Time charts here.

Methodology: The Greatest of All-Time Hot 100 Songs by Women & Billboard 200 Albums by Women, as well as their respective Artists rankings, are based on weekly performance on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart (from its Aug. 4, 1958, inception through Nov. 4, 2017) & Billboard 200 albums chart (from Aug. 17, 1963, through Nov. 4, 2017). Songs & Albums are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value & weeks at lower spots 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 a formula blending performance, as outlined above, of all their respective chart entries. Songs included are sung entirely by a female credited as a lead artist or are duets in which a solo female is credited. Albums included are by solo females or groups in which vocals are primarily female. Artists include female soloists, as well as duos or groups in which vocals are primarily female.