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Sunday, March 4, 2012

A look at the 20 songs to debut at #1 on the Hot 100








In the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, which dates back to 1958, twenty songs have debuted at #1. The first was Michael Jackson with “You Are Not Alone” in 1995. The most recent happened on the chart which officially ended the week of March 3, 2012 – Katy Perry’s “Part of Me”. Here’s a rundown of all the songs to start life in the pole position and the date when they debuted:



1. Michael Jackson “You Are Not Alone” (9/2/1995)
2. Mariah Carey “Fantasy” (9/30/95)
3. Whitney Houston “Exale (Shoop Shoop)” (11/25/1995)
4. Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men “One Sweet Day” (12/2/1995)
5. Puff Daddy with Faith Evans & 112 “I’ll Be Missing You” (6/14/1997)
6. Mariah Carey “Honey” (9/6/1997)
7. Elton John “Candle in the Wind 1997” (10/11/1997)
8. Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” (2/28/1998)
9. Aerosmith “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (9/5/1998)
10. Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (10/3/1998)
11. Clay Aiken “This Is the Night” (6/28/2003)
12. Fantasia “I Believe” (7/3/2004)
13. Carrie Underwood “Inside Your Heaven” (7/2/2005)
14. Taylor Hicks “Do I Make You Proud” (7/1/2006)
15. Britney Spears “3” (10/24/2009)
16. Eminem “Not Afraid” (5/22/2010)
17. Ke$ha “We R Who We R” (11/13/2010)
18. Britney Spears “Hold It Against Me” (1/29/2011)
19. Lady Gaga “Born This Way” (2/19/2011)
20. Katy Perry “Part of Me” (3/3/2012)

Mariah Carey: the only act to start at #1 three times



What does this list tell us? Well, it isn’t too startling to find that the best route to starting at the top is to, well, have been at the top before. Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Puff Daddy, Elton John, Celion Dion, Britney Spears, Eminem, Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry all had chart-topping songs before their #1 debuts. Only Aerosmith was a superstar act who’d never topped the charts before.

On the opposite end of the scale, however, are those acts who were just starting their careers. Thanks to the American Idol juggernaut, there were four years in a row where the AI winner then debuted at #1 on the Hot 100: Clay Aiken, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Hicks.

These two critiera account for 19 of the 20 songs on the list. What’s left? Lauryn Hill. She had become a hitmaker with the Fugees first. That rap collective did score an airplay-only #1 song with a cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly”, but Hill’s success as a solo act was still surprising. However, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the album from which “Doo Wop (That Thing)” was taken, did become an Album of the Year Grammy-winner and rates as one of the top 100 albums of all time.

I couldn’t help but wonder how likely it is that an instant hit goes on to achieve classic status. Half of these songs came and went quickly, spending only one week atop the charts. Only seven of these songs rank amongst the top 1000 of all time. The top two are featured in the Dave’s Music Database book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999.



1. Elton John “Candle in the Wind 1997” (10/11/1997)
2. Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” (2/28/1998)
3. Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men “One Sweet Day” (12/2/1995)
4. Puff Daddy with Faith Evans & 112 “I’ll Be Missing You” (6/14/1997)
5. Mariah Carey “Fantasy” (9/30/95)
6. Lauryn Hill “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (10/3/1998)
7. Aerosmith “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (9/5/1998)
8. Whitney Houston “Exale (Shoop Shoop)” (11/25/1995)
9. Michael Jackson “You Are Not Alone” (9/2/1995)
10. Eminem “Not Afraid” (5/22/2010)
11. Lady Gaga “Born This Way” (2/19/2011)
12. Mariah Carey “Honey” (9/6/1997)
13. Clay Aiken “This Is the Night” (6/28/2003)
14. Fantasia “I Believe” (7/3/2004)
15. Carrie Underwood “Inside Your Heaven” (7/2/2005)
16. Britney Spears “Hold It Against Me” (1/29/2011)
17. Ke$ha “We R Who We R” (11/13/2010)
18. Britney Spears “3” (10/24/2009)
19. Taylor Hicks “Do I Make You Proud” (7/1/2006)
20. Katy Perry “Part of Me” (3/3/2012)

It should be noted that songs from the 21st century haven’t had as much opportunity to become “classics”, but, interestingly, NONE of the songs from this list make the DMDB’s list of the top 100 songs of the 21st century. Here’s how the twenty songs stack up against each other:




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