On top of the many other records that Taylor Swift set when she entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 this week with Evermore, there is this: She is only the third female solo artist to notch two No. 1 albums in a calendar year.
The first two female solo stars to accomplish this feat were LeAnn Rimes, who had a pair of No. 1 albums in 1997 — Unchained Melody/The Early Years and You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs — and Susan Boyle, who doubled up in 2010 with I Dreamed a Dream (a 2009 carryover) and The Gift.
Swift’s first No. 1 album of 2020 was Folklore, which topped the Billboard 200 for eight weeks.
In addition to these three female solo recording artists, two groups that included women notched two No. 1 albums in a calendar year; Peter, Paul & Mary, with the late Mary Travers, scored in 1963 with Peter, Paul and Mary (a carryover from 1962) and In the Wind. Prince & the Revolution, which included Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, scored in 1985 with the Purple Rain soundtrack (a carryover from 1984) and Around the World in a Day.
The first act to land two No. 1 albums in a calendar year was Harry Belafonte in 1956: He was No. 1 the week the Billboard 200 was launched in March 1956 with Belafonte and returned to the top spot in in September with Calypso.
The first act to land three No. 1 albums in a calendar year was Elvis Presley in 1957. The King topped the chart that year with Elvis (a 1956 carryover), the Loving You soundtrack and Elvis’ Christmas Album.
Presley was also the first act to have three No. 1 albums in a calendar year twice. He scored for the second time in 1961 with the G.I. Blues soundtrack (a 1960 carryover), Something for Everybody and the Blue Hawaii soundtrack.
The Beatles were the first act to have three No. 1 albums in a calendar year three times. The Fab Four topped the chart in 1964 with Meet the Beatles!, The Beatles’ Second Album and the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack; in 1965 with Beatles ’65, Beatles VI and the Help! soundtrack; and in 1966 with Rubber Soul, “Yesterday”…And Today and Revolver.
Five other acts notched three No. 1s in a calendar year, though they each just did it once. They are The Kingston Trio (1960), Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (1966), Elton John (1975), Garth Brooks (1998) and the Glee Cast (2010).
One act has amassed four No. 1 albums in a calendar year. It’s an act that, for many readers, might not come immediately to mind. In 1967, The Monkees occupied the No. 1 spot with The Monkees (a carryover from 1966), More of the Monkees, Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.
The Monkees’ phenomenal success was boosted by their weekly sitcom on NBC that ran from 1966-68. The show won two Emmys in 1967, including outstanding comedy series.
Here, in handy list form, are all the acts that have notched two or more No. 1s on the Billboard 200 in a calendar year since the Billboard 200 was launched in March 1956 as the magazine’s first regularly published weekly albums chart.
Two notes: Throughout this study, we’re going by Billboard chart dates, not release dates. And we’re looking only at artists who had two No. 1 albums in a calendar year, going by Billboard chart dates, not at artists who had two No. 1 albums in any 12-month period.
1956: Harry Belafonte (2); Elvis Presley (2)
1957: Elvis Presley (3)1958: Mitch Miller & the Gang (2); Frank Sinatra (2)
1959: The Kingston Trio (2); Mitch Miller & the Gang (2)
1960: The Kingston Trio (3)1961: Elvis Presley (3)
1963: Peter, Paul & Mary (2); Allan Sherman (2)
1964: The Beatles (3)
1965: The Beatles (3)
1966: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (3); The Beatles (3)
1967: The Monkees (4)
1968: The Beatles (2)
1969: The Beatles (2)
1970: The Beatles (2); Led Zeppelin (2)
1973: Elton John (2)
1974: John Denver (2); Elton John (2)
1975: Elton John (3); Chicago (2)
1985: Prince and the Revolution (2)
1987: Bruce Springsteen (2, counting a 1986 carryover recorded with the E Street Band)
1992: Garth Brooks (2)
1996: The Beatles (2); 2 Pac (2, counting one issued under his alter ego Makaveli)
1997: LeAnn Rimes (2)
1998: Garth Brooks (3)
2000: Jay-Z (2)
2004: Jay-Z (2)
2005: Kenny Chesney (2); Eminem (2); System of a Down (2)
2010: Glee Cast (3); Susan Boyle (2)
2011: Justin Bieber (2)
2012: One Direction (2)
2013: Luke Bryan (2); Justin Timberlake (2)
2015: Drake (2); Future (2)
2017: Future (2)
2018: BTS (2); XXXTentacion (2)
2020: BTS (2); Taylor Swift (2); YoungBoy Never Broke Again (2)
The Fine Print I: Simon & Garfunkel had a No. 1 album in 1968, Bookends. They had several songs on The Graduate soundtrack too, which also hit No.1 that year. (One album or the other was No. 1 for 16 consecutive weeks!) Billboard doesn’t count The Graduate as an S&G album. By the same token, Eminem had a No. 1 album in 2002, The Eminem Show. He also had several songs on the 8 Mile soundtrack, which hit No. 1 that year too. But 8 Mile isn’t counted as an Eminem album.
The Fine Print II: Paul McCartney had a No. 1 solo album in 1970 and also had two No. 1 albums that year with The Beatles. George Harrison had a No. 1 solo album in 1973 and McCartney had a No. 1 album as frontman of Paul McCartney & Wings, while both also had a No. 1 album that year with The Beatles. But that’s a little different.
The Fine Print III: Shout-out to the great Julie Andrews, who was the principal artist on two film soundtracks that hit No. 1 in 1965: Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. The albums weren’t credited to her personally, however.