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Subject: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: MarkMc1990 on 12/27/14 at 8:20 pm

I've thought of a few who managed number ones in 3 different decades, whether as a solo artist, member of a group/duo, or as part of a collaboration. I can't think of anyone who hit #1 in 4 decades though.

60s, 70s, 80s: John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross
60s, 70s, 90s: Cher
70s, 80s, 90s: Michael Jackson, Elton John
80s, 90s, 00s: Janet Jackson, Madonna
90s, 00s, 10s: Usher, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera*

*Christina Aguilera is only a featured artist on Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" so I'm not sure if Billboard counts it.

Interestingly, neither Elvis nor Mariah Carey achieved this feat despite being record holders for most solo number ones for their respective genders. Elvis's 18 number ones spanned from 1956-1969 and Mariah's from 1990-2008.

Michael Jackson came close to having a number one in the '60s ("I Want You Back" hit #1 in January 1970) which would have given him 4 decades. Interesting how Cher appears to be the only artist with #1s in 3 non-consecutive decades. If "If I Could Turn Back Time" had made it to number one in 1989 she would have filled in the gap for the '80s.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: mxcrashxm on 12/27/14 at 8:32 pm

This is very interesting. I didnt think some artists achieve #1 hits in 3 decades. Thats a tough goal to achieve. As for Christina, it wouldn't count unless she was part of a duet for that song.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: MarkMc1990 on 12/27/14 at 9:21 pm


This is very interesting. I didnt think some artists achieve #1 hits in 3 decades. Thats a tough goal to achieve. As for Christina, it wouldn't count unless she was part of a duet for that song.


It is hard to achieve, but in most cases it happens when an artist debuts late in a decade and then ekes out a hit early in the third decade. For example, Usher and Britney both had their first number ones in the late '90s and last number ones in the early '10s, with the rest in the '00s. It might only be a span of 11-12 years between the first and last but can create the illusion of ~30 years when you consider 3 distinct decades.

I wonder if there's a chance in hell Madonna could ever have another number one and be the first to lead in 4 decades. She had a top 10 single as recently as 2012.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: mxcrashxm on 12/27/14 at 9:39 pm


It is hard to achieve, but in most cases it happens when an artist debuts late in a decade and then ekes out a hit early in the third decade. For example, Usher and Britney both had their first number ones in the late '90s and last number ones in the early '10s, with the rest in the '00s. It might only be a span of 11-12 years between the first and last but can create the illusion of ~30 years when you consider 3 distinct decades.

I wonder if there's a chance in hell Madonna could ever have another number one and be the first to lead in 4 decades. She had a top 10 single as recently as 2012.
Madonna could if she doesn't retire; however, there was a post from another topic about that some people don't like her recent songs from 2005 to today. And yes, Usher had his first one in 1997-98 while Britney had hers in 1999.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: Mitch Kramer on 12/28/14 at 3:36 am

The Rolling Stones came extremely close.  If only "Start Me Up" had peaked at #1 instead of 2, they'd have covered the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Marvin Gaye also came really close.  "Sexual Healing" peaked at #3.

Aretha Franklin came close with "Spanish Harlem" and "Rock Steady" in the early 70s.  If one of those had peaked at #1, that would've bridged the gap between the 60s and 80s.

The Beach Boys could've also bridged the 60s - 80s gap if their cover of "Rock and Roll Music" had peaked at 1 instead of 5.  There's second way they could've pulled it off: if Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" had peaked at #1 instead of #2 (Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston sang backup vocals on that one).

These charts are really weird.  There are certain songs that you wonder, "how come they never got to #1?" then others that make you go "what the hell were people thinking?!?!!".  Did you know that Bob Dylan never had a Billboard Hot #1?  Neither did The Who.  OTOH, Debbie Boone had a #1 with "You Light Up My Life".  *sigh*  Jefferson Airplane never got to #1 either, but Starship did ... THREE times.  Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" only went to #23, which is surprising given how often I heard that song back in 1986.  If that had been a #1, then he'd have been another 3-decade hit maker.  Another one which is like that is The Steve Miller Band.  They had #1 hits in the 70s and 80s.  What about "Living in the USA" in 1968, a perennial fan favorite?  Nope, only 94!

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: MarkMc1990 on 12/28/14 at 10:19 am


These charts are really weird.  There are certain songs that you wonder, "how come they never got to #1?" then others that make you go "what the hell were people thinking?!?!!".  Did you know that Bob Dylan never had a Billboard Hot #1?  Neither did The Who.  OTOH, Debbie Boone had a #1 with "You Light Up My Life".  *sigh*  Jefferson Airplane never got to #1 either, but Starship did ... THREE times.  Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al" only went to #23, which is surprising given how often I heard that song back in 1986.  If that had been a #1, then he'd have been another 3-decade hit maker.  Another one which is like that is The Steve Miller Band.  They had #1 hits in the 70s and 80s.  What about "Living in the USA" in 1968, a perennial fan favorite?  Nope, only 94!


Agreed. Not just based on my personal taste, but rather my perception of how popular a song was. For example during my research I was surprised to learn Britney's "Oops I Did It Again" only made it to #9 as I would have guessed that would have been another number one for her. She actually didn't have another number one until "Womanizer" made it there in 2008. There have been a lot of songs by various artists that I've looked up and was surprised to learn the song barely peaked in the top 40 when I thought for sure it would be at least top 5.

I think there could be a few different reasons why songs we thought were immensely popular didn't reach the summit, such as radio play being strong without high sales, or songs catching on to "classic radio" stations long after their initial peak. I'm only 24 so the latter would definitely affect my perception.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: yelimsexa on 12/28/14 at 11:19 am

Elvis did come close for the '70s with Burning Love just missing the top in 1972. Speaking of Marvin Gaye, although he didn't hit the top of the Hot 100 in three decades, he did for the R&B chart as Sexual Healing did hit #1. Aretha Franklin also achieved that feat, but with Freeway of Love instead of the George Michael duet topping the R&B chart. All told, Aretha Franklin is perhaps the Beatles of the R&B charts, with a total of 20 #1 R&B hits in all, more than any other artist. Other artists/groups who had R&B #1 hits in three or more decades:

50s, 60s, 70s: James Brown
50s, 60s, 80s: Ray Charles
60s, 70s, 80s: Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight & The Pips (just missed '90s with Men), Stevie Wonder
60s, 70s, 80s, 90s: The Isley Brothers (only artist pop or R&B to have a #1 in four different decades)
70s, 80s, 90s: Michael Jackson (came very close for '00s with Butterflies), Prince, Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, Teddy Pendergrass
80s, 90s, 00s: Janet Jackson
90s, 00s, 10s: Usher, Beyonce

Others who just missed:

-Dinah Washington: Would have bridged the gap between the '40s and '60s had several number 3 songs charted, or if Baby (You've Got What It Takes) was released just a month earlier.
-The Impressions: Came close with the '50s, '60s, and '70s had For Your Precious Love just climbed two spots more
-Patti Labelle: Would have covered 70s, 80s, 90s had Somebody Loves Your Baby passed the runner-up spot
-Barry White: Would have bridged the gap between the '70s and '90s had The Secret Garden been released just six weeks earlier.
-The O'Jays: Just missed the '90s in addition to the '70s and '80s with Don't Let Me Down.
-Jody Watley: Just missed the '90s in addition to her late '70s hit with Shalamar The Second Time Around and her solo '80s hit Looking For a New Love with the 1996 mulit-artist contribution This is For The Lover In You.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: MarkMc1990 on 12/28/14 at 2:22 pm

Speaking of Beyonce, I was surprised she hasn't had a number one on the Hot 100 yet this decade. "Drunk in Love" came close at #2, but I suspect she'll reach the top again before the decade is over.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: Howard on 12/28/14 at 2:50 pm

I wonder if there's a chance in hell Madonna could ever have another number one and be the first to lead in 4 decades. She had a top 10 single as recently as 2012.

She wants to stay relevant in the spotlight, she could have another hit if she wanted to.

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: whistledog on 01/12/15 at 8:47 pm

Outside of the USA, I can say that 4 or more decades has been achieved

In Canada, The Rolling Stones hit #1 in 4 consecutive decades ...

1960s
1965 - Get Off of My Cloud
1966 - As Tears Go By
1966 - Paint it Black

1970s
1971 - Brown Sugar
1973 - Angie
1978 - Miss You

1980s
1980 - Emotional Rescue
1989 - Mixed Emotions

1990s
1997 - Anybody Seen My Baby?

------------------

In the United Kingdom, Cliff Richard hit #1 in 5 consecutive decades ...

1950s
1959 - Living Doll
1959 - Travellin' Light

1960s
1960 - Please Don't Tease
1960 - I Love You
1962 - The Young Ones
1962 - The Next Time / Bachelor Boy
1963 - Summer Holiday
1965 - The Minute You're Gone
1968 - Congratulations

1970s
1979 - We Don't Talk Anymore

1980s
1986 - Living Doll (with The Young Ones)
1988 - Mistletoe and Wine

1990s
1990 - Saviour's Day
1999 - The Millenium Prayer

Subject: Re: Artists with Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits in 3 or more decades

Written By: MarkMc1990 on 01/24/19 at 1:28 pm

Beyoncé joins the list of artists with number ones in three decades after her duet with Ed Sheeran "Perfect" hit number one in 2017-18. She now has a shot at four decades if she has another number one hit as early as next year. This is counting "Bills, Bills, Bills" which she hit number one with in 1999 as part of Destiny's Child.

I see one very narrow chance for Mariah Carey...if "All I Want For Christmas is You" manages to hit number one this upcoming holiday season, she'll get a #1 in the '10s just under the wire. It hit a new peak of #3 this past season.

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