The music world is full of numbers and metrics—top-selling albums, most-played singles, and biggest chart-topping hits. Musicians and industry folks are constantly tallying the figures up, eager to determine who’s the hottest icon of the moment.
According to Billboard’s Top 10 Hot 100 artists of All Time (1958–2018), The Beatles rank as the top artist of all time, followed by Madonna at #2 and Elton John at #3. Beyond the artists, songs have their own records, often unique ones. The song “Stay,” for example, by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs—which topped the Hot 100 list for a week in 1960—is the shortest #1 hit of all time, running at just 1 minute, 38 seconds.
As far as albums are concerned, Michael Jackson holds the best-selling studio album of all time with 1982’s “Thriller,” which has sold an impressive 47.3 million certifiable copies (claiming actual sales at over 66 million). This number is significantly higher than the next best-selling studio album, Shania Twain’s 1997 country-pop album “Come On Over.”
But it hasn’t only been classic icons like Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson who’ve made musical waves. The last decade has seen tons of new stars rising and breaking records, too, such as Katy Perry, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Taylor Swift, and others. The two youngest chart-toppers of all time are from the past decade—Rihanna was the youngest female solo artist at 23 to have a song in the Top 10 for at least 200 weeks while Justin Bieber was the youngest male at 25.
To honor the stars of the past 10 years, Stacker has put together a gallery of the most record-breaking musicians of the past decade and the impressive records they set. Take a look to see your favorites.
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In 2010, after the release of her fourth studio album, "Rated R," Rihanna broke a music industry record by becoming the first woman solo artist in history to produce four #1 hits in a single calendar year. The songs included “Rude Boy,” “Only Girl (In The World),” “What’s My Name?” and “Love the Way You Lie.”
In January 2017, English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran became the first artist to ever debut two Top 10 hits within the same week. This impressive record occurred with “Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill” when the former soared to #1 while the latter hit #6 on the Billboard list. A few months later, Drake became the second person to do this—a feat he later matched and then eventually surpassed.
In February 2019, pop diva Ariana Grande achieved a feat that no one had accomplished since The Beatles in 1964: she had a song occupying the top three slots of Billboard’s Top 100. As “Thank U, Next” hit #3, it joined "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" at #2 and "7 Rings" at #1, the latter of which was in its fourth week occupying the space.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee made history in 2017 when their mega-hit single “Despacito”—which also featured Justin Bieber—tied Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men for the longest run in the #1 slot. The catchy reggaeton-influenced pop song held the top spot on the coveted Billboard list for 16 weeks in a row, a feat that only two other artists had ever achieved. In 2019, Lil Nas X beat the record with 19 weeks for "Old Town Road."
Katy Perry’s 2010 party album “Teenage Dream” made history that year when it became the second time that any record produced five #1 hits. The only other time came in 1987 when Michael Jackson had five top hits on “Bad.” The songs that made the list included the title track, “Teenage Dream,” as well as "California Gurls," "Firework," "E.T.", and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)."
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In 2018, XXXTentacion joined the short list of only eight artists in history who’ve had a single become a #1 hit posthumously with his emo-rap hit “Sad!”. Prior to the Florida rapper, the most recent example had been in 2008 when Louisville record producer Static Major made the list for his appearance on Lil Wayne’s auto-tune heavy hit "Lollipop." Others have included Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Jim Croce, John Lennon, Soulja Slim, and the Notorious B.I.G.
When “I Am… Sasha Fierce” swept the awards show in 2010, Beyonce’s third solo studio album garnered her the most Grammy awards won, six in total, in one night by a female artist (though Adele later tied her). In 2014, Beyonce passed Dolly Parton as the most Grammy-nominated woman of all time—a title she still holds.
In July 2018, Drake set the record for the most songs in the Billboard Top 10 at once with seven tracks. The Beatles had previously held the record since 1964 with five entries. The previous year, the Canadian rapper tied then beat Ed Sheeran for the most debut Top 10 hits the same week with four songs. He is also tied with Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and Janet Jackson for having the most Top 10 singles from one album with “Scorpion,” which had seven.
Country-pop star Taylor Swift broke the record Sept. 7, 2019 when she dominated the charts with an impressive 18 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The double-digit number remains the record among female artists for the most simultaneous entries on the coveted list. She beat singer-songwriter Billie Eilish who’d boasted 14. Swift is also the female musician with the most Top 10 debuts with 15 (just behind Drake who holds the overall record of 20).
In 2010, Lady Gaga’s smash debut album “The Fame”—which was released in 2008—passed Oasis’ previous U.K. record for the most consecutive weeks in the Top 75 when it hit 154 weeks in a row. The following year, Guinness World Records announced she was the “Most Searched-For Female on the Internet,” standing in company with the King of Pop Michael Jackson, who was the Most Searched-For Male that year.
In 2018, Post Malone’s album “Stoney,” which was released in 2016, claimed the all-time record for consecutive weeks in the Top 10 charts at a whopping 77 weeks. The next year, he matched his own record for the album “Beerbongs & Bentleys.”
After her wildly popular multi-platinum debut album “Invasion of Privacy” was released it April 2018, reality star turned rapper Cardi B won the Grammy Award for “Best Rap Album,” making her the only female solo artist to have ever nabbed the award. The album contained her breakout hit, "Bodak Yellow" which made her the second solo female rapper to have ever had a #1 Billboard Top 100 hit after following Lauryn Hill in 1998.
When Miley Cyrus entered the Billboard Top 100 under the name “Ashley O”—the moniker she used for music recorded for the sci-fi TV series “Black Mirror”—it made her the first female in history to have ever had a Top 100 hit under three different names (Ashley O, Hannah Montana, and Miley Cyrus). The pop singer has broken other records in the past too, including in 2013 when her video for “Wrecking Ball” broke Vevo’s 24-hour viewing record.
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In 2015, English singer-songwriter Adele beat NSYNC’s 2000 “No Strings Attached,” when “25” became the United States’ fastest-selling album since officials began tracking numbers. The pop singer’s third studio album sold over 3.38 million copies during its first week of sales, claiming the biggest single-week figures since Nielsen SoundScan began them in 1991.
After an impressive 19 weeks at the #1 slot on Billboard’s Top 100, Lil Nas X set the all-time record in 2019 for most consecutive weeks for “Old Town Road.” Prior to that, the record was 16 weeks, which was shared by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, and Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (featuring Justin Bieber).
Although Mariah Carey is better known for breaking music records in the ‘90s, she hit another milestone in 2019 when “All I Want for Christmas” made history at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the first time a holiday song had broken the Top 5 in 60 years. It was also the second time a holiday song had ever hit #3. Unfortunately, the song later produced another record when it dropped off the list completely from its #3 ranking, marking the biggest single-week drop from the Hot 100 list ever.
Justin Bieber has broken several records, but one of the most notable came early in his career with his debut album “My World.” The massively popular record made him the first musician ever to have seven songs from a debut record score a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
The year isn’t over yet; however, emerging mega-star Lizzo looked on the road to success in October when her album “Cuz I Love You” surpassed Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” and Nicki Minaj’s “Queen,” both of which were previously holding sales records for best-selling female rap albums of 2019.
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