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Ask Billboard: Remembering the Time When Michael Jackson Kept Hitting the Hot 100’s Top 10, From ‘Thriller’ to ‘Dangerous’

Bruno Mars is following in the footsteps of one of his idols. Plus, the uncommon longevity of the No. 1s from Ed Sheeran's "Divide."

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Dear Gary,

This week, you noted how Bruno Mars has become the second male artist after Lionel Richie to score at least three Billboard Hot 100 top 10s from their first three consecutive proper albums, as “Finesse,” with Cardi B, follows “24K Magic” and “That’s What I Like,” all from 24K Magic, to the top 10.

I found one more male act with a longer streak, just not from the start of his solo career: Michael Jackson.

Jackson scored at least four top 10 hits on the Hot 100 from four consecutive albums: Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad and Dangerous.


Here are the details:

Off the Wall (1979-80): “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (No. 1, one week), “Rock With You” (No. 1, four weeks), “Off the Wall” (No. 10), “She’s Out of My Life” (No. 10)

Thriller (1983-84): “The Girl Is Mine,” with Paul McCartney (No. 2), “Billie Jean” (No. 1, seven weeks), “Beat It” (No. 1, three weeks), “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” (No. 5), “Human Nature” (No. 7), “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (No. 10), “Thriller” (No. 4)

Bad (1987-89): “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” with Siedah Garrett (No. 1, one week), “Bad” (No. 1, two weeks), “The Way You Make Me Feel (No. 1, one week), “Man in the Mirror” (No. 1, two weeks), “Dirty Diana” (No. 1), “Smooth Criminal” (No. 7)

Dangerous (1991-93): “Black or White” (No. 1, seven weeks), “Remember the Time” (No. 3), “In the Closet” (No. 6), “Will You Be There” (No. 7)


Raditya Gunardisurya
Jakarta, Indonesia

Thanks Raditya,

Also, as we noted, there’s that quirky tie-in (that’s fun to me, if no one else) between “Finesse” and one of MJ’s hits above: Mars’ new Hot 100 top 10 and Jackson’s “Black or White” are the only songs ever to vault from No. 35 to No. 3.

As for much more substantive stats, Jackson’s run marked the first instance of an act landing at least four Hot 100 top 10s from four consecutive proper albums. Among his run were a record-establishing five No. 1s from one set, Bad, since matched only by Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, in 2010-11.

Also impressively, Dangerous completed the achievement of at least four Hot 100 top 10s from four straight LPs after a bit of a wait. After the album’s first three singles (“Black or White,” “Remember the Time” and “In the Closet”), Jackson missed the top 10 with the next three: “Jam” (No. 26), “Heal the World” (No. 27) and “Who Is It” (No. 14). The gospel-tinged “Will You Be There” hit No. 7 in September 1993, well over a year after “Closet” had reached the region in May 1992.


Meanwhile, following 24K Magic, Mars (who counts Jackson as one of his biggest influences) could extend his streak to four albums with at least three Hot 100 top 10s each. If he can, as previously reported, he’ll join Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as the only acts with at least three top 10s from each of their first four proper LPs.

He’d also match Jackson, Carey, Houston and two others as the only artists with streaks of four straight proper albums each yielding at least three Hot 100 top 10s each. The other members of the exclusive club: Rihanna and Taylor Swift, each thanks to their second through fifth studio LPs.

Rihanna did so with singles from A Girl Like Me, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rated R and Loud, in 2006-11.

Swift’s streak is via Fearless, Speak Now, Red and 1989, in 2008-15. Incredibly, she could become the first artist with at least three Hot 100 top 10s from five consecutive proper albums … if she can earn one more from her latest LP, Reputation. Lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” spent three weeks at No. 1 and follow-up “…Ready for It?” debuted and peaked at No. 4. The set’s “Gorgeous” debuted at its No. 13 high; “Call It What You Want” debuted and peaked at No. 27; and current single “End Game,” featuring Ed Sheeran and Future, has hit No. 36 … and could rise on this coming week’s Hot 100 following the first full week of tracking for its official video.

As for Mars’ amazing three-album streak … what would be the “Ask Billboard” equivalent? I guess one reader with three consecutive entries in one mailbag.

Let’s see who’s up next.


Hi Gary,

So, Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” atop the Hot 100 for six weeks running, first hit No. 1 on the chart dated Dec. 23. He previously led with “Shape of You” beginning on Jan. 28, 2017.

With both songs from his album ÷ (Divide), is that a record for the longest gap between a first and second Hot 100 No. 1 from an album?


Raditya Gunardisurya
Jakarta, Indonesia

Ooh, that’s two, Raditya.

Fun question. Even (the now newly-engaged) Sheeran himself has marveled at the album’s staying power, telling Billboard‘s Kevan Kenney in December, “Albums go up and down [the charts] so quickly, it’s hard to have campaigns now. To be able to have an album that came out in March and it’s still having a hit single [“Perfect”] … I’ve had a pretty mad year, I have to admit.”


“Shape” spent 12 weeks at No. 1 following its Jan. 28 debut at the summit. Second single “Castle on the Hill” debuted and peaked at No. 6 concurrent with the bow of “Shape,” making Sheeran the first artist ever to debut two Hot 100 top 10s simultaneously, and returned to the top 25 (rising as high as No. 21) for eight weeks in June-August once promoted to radio.

With “Perfect” reaching No. 1 on Dec. 23, Sheeran waited 11 months between rising to the top with ÷ (Divide)‘s first two singles.

Is that a record? It depends on how we look at it.

Only one other album saw a longer break between first and second Hot 100 No. 1s. On June 9, 2007, Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” featuring JAY-Z, began a seven-week reign. Eleven months and two weeks later, “Take a Bow” led the list (dated May 24, 2008), following three singles after “Umbrella.” “Bow,” however, was added to the reissue of Good Girl Gone Bad; so was “Disturbia,” which would also hit No. 1 in August 2008.

So, Sheeran claims the longevity mark among albums featuring two No. 1 songs that appeared on a set’s original release. Adding another qualifier, “Perfect” topped the Hot 100 after the addition of Beyoncé (for five of the song’s first six weeks at No. 1), with the duet version not available on ÷ (Divide).

Before Sheeran and Rihanna, we have to go back to Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailamos,” which hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 dated Sept. 4, 1999. After “Rhythm Divine” peaked at No. 32, the third single from Enrique, “Be With You,” reached No. 1 on June 24, 2000 … nine months and three weeks after “Bailamos” began its reign.

Hey, got a Mars-like third hit, Raditya?


Dear Gary,

The soundtrack to The Greatest Showman topped the Billboard 200 in its fourth chart week. Before the survey began using Nielsen Music data in 1991, albums often took long rides to No. 1, with Paula Abdul’s Forever Your Girl completing a record 64-week climb in 1989.

Is four weeks to No. 1 notable for nowadays, and what’s the longest rise to No. 1 since 1991?


Raditya Gunardisurya
Jakarta, Indonesia

Well done, Raditya!

The four-week ascent to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for The Greatest Showman is the longest since Pentatonix’s A Pentatonix Christmas took nine weeks, leading at last on Jan. 7, 2017.

Before that, Prince’s 2001 album The Very Best of Prince hit No. 1 in its 40th week on May 7, 2016, after his passing that April 21.

As for non-catalog and non-holiday albums, The Greatest Showman wrapped the most scenic route to No. 1 since Chris Stapleton’s Traveller (eight weeks, 2015).

Here’s a look at the albums to complete the 10 longest rises to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 since the adoption of Nielsen Music data in 1991:

Weeks to No. 1, Artist, Title, Date Reached No. 1
63, Soundtrack, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, March 23, 2002
52, Live, Throwing Copper, May 6, 1995
49, No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, Dec. 21, 1996
46, Norah Jones, Come Away With Me, Jan. 25, 2003
44, Hootie & The Blowfish, Cracked Rear View, May 27, 1995
40, Prince, The Very Best of Prince, May 7, 2016
31, Toni Braxton, Toni Braxton, Feb. 26, 1994
28, Celine Dion, Falling Into You, Oct. 5, 1996
27, Eric Clapton, Unplugged, March 13, 1993
26, Shaggy, Hotshot, Feb. 17, 2001



Hi Gary,

This past weekend, prior to Dolores O’Riordan‘s passing Monday (Jan. 15), I was going through my e-mail folders, trying to organize and clean things up, and while I was prowling around my music folder, I came across and reread a letter never sent … to “Ask Billboard.” I wrote it in September 2013 in reaction to Billboard publishing the Top 50 Alternative Songs Artists (and Top 100 Alternative Songs) for the 25th anniversary of the Alternative Songs chart’s debut on Sept. 10, 1988.

The timing was obviously uncanny. Here’s what I wrote:

Only one female voice, Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, ranks in the Top 50 Alternative Songs Artists of the past 25 years, squeaking in at No. 50, no less. How about a shout-out to Kate Bush, Bjork and Tori Amos, who each make legitimate alternative music that is critically lauded and relatively high-profile. Also noteworthy: Liz Phair, Aimee Mann, Garbage, PJ Harvey, Ani DiFranco and Alanis Morrisette, who still has a resolute following after the success of Jagged Little Pill.

I can’t recall why I never sent the email along to you, because it looks like I had finished writing it. Anyhow, despite the electronic dust that it has collected, I thought you might be curious to read it some four-and-a-half years later, and in honor of O’Riordian’s voice that will continue to resonate.

All the best,

Christopher Brisson
Los Angeles, California