Billboard has just hit 1000 #1 hits on their charts, and have released a timeline of every #1 hit since the chart’s formation. I made an Excel spreadsheet of the past decade to see if there were any fun trends about American listening habits and pop music. All of the data below is based on the number of #1 tracks each artist had over the last decade, according to Billboard. Billboard included the newest hits on the chart in 2011 (of which there are four), because they were part of the 1000 #1’s. I included that data (e.g. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”).

Top Artists between 2000-2010 (and number of #1’s)

  • Usher – 8
  • Beyonce – 5
  • Rihanna – 5
  • Mariah Carey – 4
  • Nelly – 4
  • Katy Perry – 4

2000-2010 was the decade of RnB – A lot of people I talk to think of the 00’s in terms of pop punk, indie, or mainstream pop. Apparently, 00’s music was a lot more R&B than we realized. I was surprised to see that Usher was the best-performing artist of the decade, but at the same time, when I read through the charts, his hits were familiar to me (U Got it Bad, Yeah!, My Boo, etc.). The guy makes ’em for the radio, and he has reminded me that I will have to rant about R&B sometime. That said, when you start factoring in the roughly 10 or so artists that had three #1 hits in the past decade, they’re all pop (of the Fergie/Lady Gaga variety).

53 of the 85 #1 Hits in the past decade were One-Hit Wonders – That’s 62%. It may not be surprising, but I hate the hype comes around with every new artist, when we can say that only 38% are going to stick around for a second single, much less a second album. What it suggests is that there are artists such as Gwen Stefani, Ja Rule, and Chamillionaire that release entire albums of songs that are so bad, only one is JUST MEDIOCRE ENOUGH to go #1 on the charts. It also suggests that Americans are dumb enough to buy into any artist who accidentally wrote a catchy hook. Soulja Boy has a number one hit because of you guys. Good job.

Hip-hop is dead – Between 2002 and 2008, mainstream rap (gangsta rap or otherwise) was huge on the charts. Most of the one-hit wonder artists were rappers, but also present were 50 Cent, T.I. Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, and the like. That entire sound in mainstream music is gone, right now. The closest thing to it is Wiz Khalifa, and you can tell me if you think he reminds you of 50 Cent. If I knew people were abandoning mainstream rap for underground hip-hop, I’d be pleased, but instead, they’re just getting rid of an entire genre of music in favor of B.o.B’s song about airplanes in the night sky.

Justin Bieber is not on the list – and neither are the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, or any of the remarkably overhyped kids you hear about on celebrity gossip shows. Honestly, it’s like these guys aren’t even making music at all. They exist to set trends for middle and high schoolers, and I do not understand the media attention they have received. I do feel bad for the Jonas Brothers, though, because Justin Bieber has completely steamrolled their demographic. As an addendum, recognize that the kids listening to this trash are the future of music.

American Idol is depressing – The following Idols have #1 hits: Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks (and Clay Aiken, if you want to count him). The show has had 9 seasons. Five of the AI winners went nowhere. Of the ones listed above, only Kelly Clarkson has hit the top more than once. I know that Fantasia and Carrie Underwood dropped out of pop into other genres where they have had success, but still, it seems that Clarkson the only success the show has produced. Maybe that’s why Simon quit.

Gaga, Perry, and Ke$ha continue to be what is wrong with pop – To oversimplify the billboard chart just a bit, I will say that these three artists, who have only been around for 2-3 years, are one or two singles away from passing Mariah Carey, and it took Carey the entire decade to get four hits. The same goes for any of the artists at the top of the list: it took Usher four albums across the decade to get 8 hits. All three of these gals have released one album to get an average of 3 hit singles in one year. Without even getting into the quality of the music, the monopoly these three hold on pop music is ridiculous. Throughout the past decade, the charts have never looked like they did between 2009 and now. Years like 2004 and 2006 saw the introduction of ten artists; 2010 had Taio Cruz, Bruno Mars, Far East Movement, B.o.B., and then a circle jerk between the three queens. I’d love to know the cause of this, but until further research says otherwise, I’m saying it is because Americans are getting dumber.

Doesn’t the radio start to bore you when it only plays songs by three artists, and all their songs are the same?


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