Chart Watch: Nicki Minaj Tops Aretha (Or Does She?)

Paul Grein
Writer
(Photo: Getty Images)

Nicki Minaj this week pulls ahead of Aretha Franklin as the female artist with the most Hot 100 hits. Minaj has amassed 76 hits on Billboard‘s flagship chart, compared to 73 for the Queen of Soul. That’s an impressive achievement, though it comes with a big asterisk. Franklin was the lead (or co-lead) artist on all 73 of her chart hits. Minaj has been the lead artist on only 32 of hers. She had a featured credit on the other 44.

That, to my mind, constitutes a big difference. So is the fact that chart hits are dispensed like Halloween candy nowadays. Minaj picks up three chart hits this week alone. “No Frauds” (with Drake and Lil Wayne) debuts at No. 14. “Regret in Your Tears” opens at No. 61. “Changed It” (with Lil Wayne) bows at No. 71.

Franklin set the record as the female artist with the most Hot 100 hits in June 1977, when “Break It to Me Gently” became her 54th Hot 100 hit. The old record was held by Connie Francis, with 53.

Franklin had co-lead billing on five of her 73 chart hits. She teamed with George Benson on “Love All the Hurt Away” (No. 46 in 1981), Eurythmics on “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” (No. 18 in 1985), George Michael on “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)” (No. 1 in 1987), Elton John on “Through The Storm” (No. 16 in 1989) and Whitney Houston on “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be” (No. 41 in 1989).

For all her hits, Minaj has yet to top the Hot 100—either as a lead or featured artist. She came closest when “Anaconda” reached No. 2 in September 2014. Franklin has topped the chart twice, with the aforementioned “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)” and the immortal “Respect.” Franklin is way ahead in another respect, too. She has collected 18 Grammys. Minaj has yet to win her first.

Trailing Minaj and Franklin on the list of female artists with the most Hot 100 hits are Taylor Swift (70), Rihanna (58), Madonna (57), Dionne Warwick (56), Beyonce (54), Connie Francis (53), Mariah Carey (48), Brenda Lee (48), Miley Cyrus (43), Barbra Streisand (41), Mary J. Blige (40), Janet Jackson (40),  and Diana Ross (40).

Minaj still has a ways to go to become the solo artist with the most Hot 100 hits. Lil Wayne holds that record, with 135 Hot 100 hits. Drake is nipping at his heels with 133. The leader, among all chart acts, is the Glee Cast, with 207 charted hits. (Yes, of course, you can’t compare output by a TV phenomenon like Glee with hits by actual groups such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys, but that’s another column.)

Top Songs

Sheeran’s “Shape of You” logs its eighth week at No. 1 on the Hot 100. That’s the longest run at No. 1 since The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” (featuring Halsey) had 12 weeks on top last year. “Shape of You” sold 104K copies this week, which enables it to hold at No. 1 on Top Digital Songs for the eighth week. That’s the longest run at No. 1 on that chart since “Closer” had 13 weeks on top.

“Shape of You” logs its 10th week at No. 1 on The Official U.K. Singles Chart. That’s the longest run since Drake’s “One Dance” (featuring Wizkid and Kyla) logged 15 weeks on top last year.

Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” jumps from No. 3 to No. 2 in its ninth week. Mars pulled two No. 1 hits from each of his first two albums. Will he manage to pull a No. 1 hit from his third album? Stay tuned. “That’s What I Like” jumps to No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, displacing Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” (featuring Lil Uzi Vert). It’s Mars’ first No. 1 on that chart.

“Bad and Boujee” dips from No. 2 to No. 3 in its 18th week. The song logged three weeks at No. 1.

The Zayn/Taylor Swift collabo “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” holds at No. 4 in its 14th week. It peaked at No. 2.

The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming” (featuring Daft Punk) rebounds from No. 12 to No. 5 in its 17th week. It’s The Weeknd’s fifth top five hit; Daft Punk’s third. “I Feel It Coming” echoes the super-smooth vocal approach of such Michael Jackson hits as “Heal the World.” Ne-Yo’s “Closer” (No. 7 in 2008) and The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” (No. 1 in 2015) also evoked MJ, but neither was this close to the real thing.

Kodak Black’s “Tunnel Vision” holds at No. 6 in its fourth week.

Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” drops from No. 5 to No. 7 in its 22nd week.

“Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay  rebounds from No. 11 to No. 8 in its fourth week. The song has climbed as high as No. 5. The Chainsmokers’ “Paris” drops from No. 7 to No. 9 in its ninth week. The song has climbed as high as No. 6.

Lil Yachty lands his second top 10 hit as KYLE’s “iSpy,” on which he is featured, jumps from No. 14 to No. 10 in its 12th week. Lil Yachty was previously featured on D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli,” which reached No. 5.

The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” (featuring Halsey) finally drops out of the top 10, ending a record-tying 32-week run in the top 10. Two other songs drop out of the top 10 this week: Big Sean’s “Bounce Back” and Clean Bandit’s “Rockabye” (featuring Sean Paul & Anne-Marie).

Top Albums

Ed Sheeran’s third album, ÷, holds at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 for the second week. It’s the first album by an English male solo artist to spend two or more weeks on top since Eric Clapton’s Unplugged in March 1993—when Sheeran was a ginger-haired tyke of two. It’s the first album by an English male solo artist to spend its first two weeks on top since Elton John’s Rock of the Westies in 1975.

In fact, ÷  is the first album of any kind to spend its first two weeks at No. 1 since Suicide Squad: The Album, which did it in August.

Sheeran’s album was not the best-selling album in the U.S. last week. Metallica’s Hardwired…to Self-Destruct sold 13K more copies. Sheeran’s album came out ahead when streaming and digital track sales were factored in. The Billboard 200 has been based on this “multi-metric” formula since December 2014. Usually, this formula works to the advantage of hip-hop (rap and R&B) artists and soundtracks. Sheeran is the first pop artist to benefit from it since his pal Taylor Swift, whose 1989 came out on top in February 2014 even though Now 53 sold more copies that week.

Sheeran’s previous album, x, drops from No. 21 to No. 26 in its 142nd week. The album debuted at No. 1 in July 2014. The album is No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums for the fifth week.

÷ also logs its second week at No. 1 on The Official U.K. Albums Chart. It’s the first album to log two or more weeks at No. 1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. since Drake’s Views, which spent 13 weeks at No. 1 in the U.S. and two weeks on top in the U.K.

Metallica’s Hardwired…to Self-Destruct holds at No. 2 in its 17th week on The Billboard 200. The album debuted at No. 1 in December. The resurgence is linked to a concert/ticket bundle.

The soundtrack to the live-action reboot of Disney’s 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast is the top new entry at No. 3. The soundtrack to the original Beauty and the Beast peaked at No. 19 in April 1992.

Beauty and the Beast debuts at No. 1 on Top Soundtracks, displacing another Disney soundtrack, Moana. The soundtrack to the original Beauty and the Beast was the highest-ranking soundtrack on The Billboard 200 for two weeks in January 1992.

The film, which stars Emma Watson, was No. 1 at the box-office over the weekend. You may be surprised to learn that the original animated film never reached No. 1 at the box office. It peaked at No. 2 (behind Hook) in the last weekend of 1991.

Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic dips from No. 3 to No. 4 in its 17th week. The album has logged four weeks at No. 2  The album has yet to dip below No. 7. (It just can’t seem to reach No. 1.)

The Moana soundtrack rebounds from No. 8 to No. 5 in its 17th week. The album peaked at No. 2. The resurgence is linked to the release of the film’s DVD.

Future’s Future drops from No. 4 to No. 6 in its fourth week. The rapper’s other current album, HNDRXX,drops from No. 5 to No. 9 in its third week. Both albums debuted at No. 1.

The Weeknd’s Starboy holds at No. 7 in its 16th week. The album spent five non-consecutive weeks at No. 1.

Migos’ Culture drops from No. 6 to No. 8 in its seventh week. The album debuted at No. 1 last month.

The Trolls soundtrack holds at No. 10 in its 25th week. The album peaked at No. 3.

Only one album drops out of the top 10 this week. Khalid’s debut album, American Teen, drops from No. 9 to No. 13.

Josh Turner’s Deep South debuts at No. 18. It enters Top Country Albums at No. 1, displacing Little Big Town’s The Breaker. It’s Turner’s third No. 1 country album, following 2006’s Your Man and 2012’s Punching Bag.

Look for Drake to land his seventh No. 1 album next week with More Life. It will probably move 500-550K in equivalent units, which includes 225-250K in traditional sales. Rick Ross’ Rather You than Me and Depeche Mode’ Spirit also seem to be headed for debuts in the top five.