The Hot 100 existed for nearly 15 years as almost a half-dozen different charts. Apparently all the charts became a little too much, until Billboard started the main Hot 100 chart on August 4, 1958. The first #1 song of the Hot 100 era was "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson. As of December 13, 2003, the Hot 100 has had 939 different No. 1 hits.
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2 Notable Hot 100 Records
3 Nielsen Soundscan
Prior to December 5, 1998, the Hot 100 was compiled solely on available singles that could be purchased. Now singles can hit #1 based only on airplay points. These variety of singles are called album cuts. The year after the album cut implementation, no album cut single managed to hit #1 because the album cuts just were not strong enough to advance to pole position. In fact, the first airplay-only single to hit #1 came on June 17, 2000 when Aaliyah's "Try Again" managed to spend one week at the top.
Airplay-only singles are not allowed on the Hot 100 until they make the top 75 of the Hot 100 Airplay Singles chart (separate from this one).
Notable Hot 100 Records
Practically the most notable Hot 100 record is the longest consecutive week run at #1. The record changed hands among three different artists during the Hot 100 era. Elvis Presley set the record at 11 weeks with "Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel". That was the record for 36 years until Boyz II Men held #1 for 13 weeks with "End of the Road". Then just 2 weeks after that run ended, Whitney Houston broke the record yet again with "I Will Always Love You" (her rendition of the Dolly Parton hit). It stayed at #1 for 14 weeks and made 1993 the first year where Billboard did not get its very first new #1 until March. The record was then broken again early in 1996 when Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men retained #1 for 16 weeks with "One Sweet Day".
Another notable record is the biggest gain to #1 in Hot 100 history. This record has only changed hands twice since the Hot 100 implementation. Up until October 5, 2002, The Beatles held that record with "Can't Buy Me Love". The record was set on April 4, 1964, the exact same week when The Beatles had the entire top 5 of the Hot 100 occupied. The record was broken 38 years later when American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson posted a massive 52-1 gain with her song "A Moment Like This". This is an example of how strong commerically released singles sometimes are compared to airplay-only songs.
These are the five biggest gains to #1 in Hot 100 history:
52-1 Kelly Clarkson "A Moment Like This" October 5, 2002 46-1 R. Kelly and "I'm Your Angel" December 5, 1998 Celine Dion 27-1 The Beatles "Can't Buy Me Love" April 4, 1964 24-1 Usher "U Remind Me" July 7, 2001 23-1 Brandy and Monica "The Boy Is Mine" June 6, 1998Yet another notable record was the highest appearing debut in Hot 100 history. To date, it is the one and only #1 debut single in Hot 100 history; Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone". It debuted at #1 on the Hot 100 chart dated September 2, 1995. It spent one week at #1.
Nowadays, sales performance of singles are tracked by Nielsen Soundscan, and radio airplay performance of singles is tracked by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. Since Nielsen Soundscan's implementation in May 1991, it was reported that people like most songs longer than previously suspected (thus double-digit consecutive week runs at #1). Because of the double-digit consecutive weeks runs at #1, the amount of #1's for a year have dropped considerably. The four years Billboard posted the least amount of #1's in Hot 100 history were 2002 (7 #1 hits), 1996 (8 #1 hits), 1994 and 1997 (9 #1 hits).