The world’s greatest popular music artistes

On 3rd Apr 2008, the BBC reported that Mariah Carey has broken Elvis’ US singles (Billboard Hot 100) chart record when she scored her 18th number 1 single with Touch My Body, from her new album E=MC2.

Elvis has had 17 US number 1 singles.

With that achievement, she’s 2nd on the all-time list, behind The Beatles’ 20.

Does that mean Mariah Carey is now a bigger star than Elvis ever was? I don’t think so. I think she still can’t be considered a bigger international star than Elvis because she has only topped the other important chart: the UK’s singles chart twice, and both times with cover versions: Without You, originally made popular by Harry Nilsson, in 1994 and with Phil Collins’s Against All Odds, which she sang with Irish balladeers Westlife in 2000.

In contrast, Elvis has had 21 British number ones, beating the Beatles’ 17.

Here’s a list of all the acts to gain 5 or more UK chart toppers:

21 – Elvis Presley
17 – The Beatles
14 – Westlife
14 – Cliff Richard
12 – Madonna
12 – The Shadows
10 – Take That
9 – ABBA
9 – Spice Girls
8 – Kylie Minogue
8 – The Rolling Stones
8 – Oasis
7 – McFly
7 – Eminem
7 – Michael Jackson
7 – Elton John
7 – George Michael
7 – U2
6 – Blondie
6 – Queen
6 – Slade
6 – Robbie Williams
6 – Boyzone
6 – Rod Stewart
6 – Sugababes
5 – Britney Spears
5 – All Saints
5 – The Bee Gees
5 – David Bowie
5 – The Police

Here’s a list of all the acts to gain 5 or more US chart toppers :

20 – The Beatles
18 – Mariah Carey
17 – Elvis Presley
13 – Michael Jackson
12 – Madonna
12 – The Supremes
11 – Whitney Houston
10 – Stevie Wonder
10 – Janet Jackson
9 – Bee Gees
9 – Elton John
8 – Rolling Stones
8 – George Michael
8 – Usher
7 – Phil Collins
6 – Daryl Hall and John Oates
6 – Wings
6 – Diana Ross
6 – Pat Boone
6 – Paula Abdul

So, by combining the total number of #1 singles from arguably the two most important singles charts in the world, we can conclude that the most popular / best-selling act of all time is Elvis Presley at 38 (21+17) number one singles on both sides of the Atlantic, closely followed by The Beatles at 37 (17+20). It’s interesting to note that each of these two legendary acts are more popular “on the other side”, i.e. British band The Beatles has more no.1 singles in the US than it has in their native US; the opposite is true for Elvis.

In fact, Elvis and The Beatles are the only acts with more than 30 number one singles on both sides of the Atlantic.

Wow, that sure underlines the undisputable fact that Elvis remains the king of rock and roll, even in death. Everywhere, including of course the internet, his appeal endures.

Now the question is: who’s the 3rd most popular act in the world? Is it Mariah Carey? Nope. Actually, it’s none other than the Queen of Pop, Madonna, at 24 (12+12).

The rest are as follows (I try to list acts which have had at least one chart topper in the US and UK, with a total of at least 5, number in parentheses are the number of chart toppers in the UK first, followed by the US):

Mariah Carey, 20 (2+18)
Michael Jackson, 20 (7+13)
Rolling Stones, 16 (8+8)
Elton John, 16 (7+9)
Whitney Houston: 15(4+11)
George Michael, 15 (7+8)
Bee Gees: 14(5+9)
Supremes: 13(1+12)
Stevie Wonder: 12 (2+10)
Usher: 11 (3+8)
Phil Collins: 10 (3+7)
Blondie: 10 (6+4)
Rod Stewart: 10 (6+4)
Spice Girls: 10 (9+1)
Prince [incl as part of The Revolution & NPG]: 9 (1+8)
U2: 9 (7+2)
Olivia Newton-John: 8 (3+5)
Queen: 8 (6+2)
Diana Ross: 8 (2+6)
Everly Brothers: 8 (4+4)
Nelly:8 (4+4)
Eminem: 8 (7+1)
Christina Aguilera: 8 (4+4)
Pat Boone: 7 (1+6)
David Bowie: 7 (5+2)
Wham!: 7 (4+3)
Wings: 7 (1+6)
Justin Timberlake: 7 (3+4)
Beyonce: 7 (3+4)
Cher: 7 (3+4)
Beach Boys: 6 (2+4)
Bryan Adams: 6 (2+4)
Celine Dion: 6 (2+4)
Jennifer Lopez: 6 (2+4)
Boyz II Men: 6 (1+5)
Police: 6 (5+1)
The Four Seasons: 6 (1+5)
Lionel Richie: 6 (1+5)
Barbra Streisand: 6 (1+5)
Guy Mitchell: 6 (4+2)
Shaggy: 6 (4+2)
KC and The Sunshine Band: 6 (1+5)
Britney Spears: 6 (5+1)
Destiny’s Child: 6 (2+4)
Pet Shop Boys: 5 (4+1)
UB40: 5 (3+2)
Ludacris: 5 (1+4)
The Platters:5 (1+4)
Donna Summer: 5 (1+4)
John Denver:5 (1+4)

Some acts are very popular on one side of the Atlantic only:

Cliff Richard has 14 number ones in the UK but none whatsoever in the US
Westlife has 14 number ones in the UK, none in the US
The Shadows has 12 no.1s in the UK, zero in US
TakeThat has 10 no.1s in the UK, zero in US
Janet Jackson has 10 no.1s in the US, zero in the UK
ABBA has 9 number ones in the UK, none in US
Kylie has 8 no.1s inthe UK, none in US
Oasis: 8,0
Mcfly: 7,0
Slade: 6,0
Robbie Williams: 6,0
Boyzone: 6,0
Sugarbabes: 6,0
Daryl Hall & John Oates: 0,6
Paula Abdul: 0,6
All Saints: 5,0
Eagles: 0,5
Gareth Gates: 4,0
S Club 7: 4,0
Jason Donovan: 4,0
Geri Halliwell: 4,0
Busted: 4,0
B*Witched: 4,0
Frank Ifield:4,0
The Jam: 4,0
Frankie Laine: 4,0
Guy Mitchell: 4,0
Shakin’ Stevens: 4,0
T Rex: 4,0
Will Young: 4,0
Roxette: 0,4
Temptations: 0,4
Bon Jovi: 0,4
TLC: 0,4
Bobby Vinton: 0,4

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