Owning a #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 is a milestone that almost every music artist dreams of. Since the first edition of the chart was published on August 4, 1958 with “Poor Little Fool” by Ricky Nelson at #1, a total of 1,036 other songs (as of the week ending July 26, 2014) have made it to the top. However, of those songs, only a select few, 31 to be exact, have been able to rack up ten or more weeks at #1. And of these 31, only 9 have been able to stay atop the charts for thirteen or more weeks.
Here are nine of the longest reigns at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts:
9. “The Boy Is Mine” / Brandy and Monica / 13 Weeks (1998)
“The Girl Is Mine” was a massive hit for Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney when it was released as the first single for Jackson’s sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). However, it was only able to peak at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. That was bettered by one notch in 1998 with Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy is Mine”, an answer to the Jackson-McCartney duet. In fact, the song spent thirteen weeks atop the Hot 100 charts to become the first #1 hit for both singers.
Not known to many, Brandy was inspired to write the song about two females battling for a man while she was watching The Jerry Springer Show, the theme for that particular episode being love triangles. However, after she and her co-writers completed the tune, they felt it best for the track to be performed as a duet. Monica was then contacted to join Brandy for the song, which was interesting since the two had been rumored to share a rivalry. The two repeatedly denied having any tension between them, but tabloids repeatedly published stories to the opposite effect. Monica was said to be upset that Brandy performed the song solo on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, while Brandy was reported to be miffed that Monica had used their song’s title as the name of her second album. Worse, it was reported that the women came to blows during a rehearsal for the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, their only televised performance of the song.
In 2012, Brandy admitted, “We were young. We could barely stay in the room with each other. By no means was it jealousy or envy. She and I are polar opposites, and instead of embracing that, we used our differences as reasons not to be amongst each other.” However, both say they are now close friends who regularly meet up with their children.
8. “End of the Road” / Boyz II Men / 13 Weeks (1992)
Motown, with its powerhouse acts like The Supremes, The Jackson 5, and Marvin Gaye, has been a significant producer of hits since it was founded in 1959. That strong cast of stars is a testament to the popularity of Boyz II Men as their 1992 single “End of the Road” replaced Diana Ross and Lionel Richie‘s “Endless Love” as Motown’s most successful single of all time. In fact, the soundtrack to Eddie Murphy‘s Boomerang had a thirteen-week stay atop the Billboard Hot 100 to beat Elvis Presley‘s 36-year record of eleven weeks on top with “Hound Dog / Don’t Be Cruel”. However, just two weeks after “Road” left the top spot, another massive hit spent even more weeks at #1. Nevertheless, Boyz II Men later tied then broke that record.
7. “I Gotta Feeling” / The Black Eyed Peas / 14 Weeks (2009)
Spending fourteen weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas is the most popular party song of all time. In fact, when “Feeling” hit #1 as the second single from The E.N.D. (2009), it replaced “Boom Boom Pow”, the opening single from the album. That made The Black Eyed Peas only the eleventh artist to have occupied the top two positions of the Hot 100 at the same time. Furthermore, Feeling’s 8.3 million downloads sold in America (as of June 2013) has made the song the highest-selling non-charity digital single in the United States, while its 15 million units sold worldwide has made it the best-selling digital single of all time.
6. “We Belong Together” / Mariah Carey / 14 Weeks (2005)
“We Belong Together” is the second single from Mariah Carey‘s 2005 release The Emancipation of Mimi. It was a highly anticipated album as Mariah’s previous two releases, Glitter (2001) and Charmbracelet (2002), were both commercial and critical flops. But what a return to form Mimi turned out to be. The first single “It’s Like That” peaked at #16 on the Hot 100, a modest hit by Carey’s lofty standards. But the second single “We Belong Together” turned out to be one of Mariah’s biggest hits, spending fourteen amazing weeks at #1.
After Mariah and Jermaine Dupri completed the song, Carey knew they had created a gem:
I had the chills. I had a great feeling about it when we finished writing the song, and I was flying back from Atlanta at some crazy hour of the morning… But we were listening to it on the plane ride on the way home, and even from the demo version, I really felt something very special.
5. “Candle in the Wind 1997 – Something About the Way You Look Tonight” / Elton John / 14 Weeks (1997-1998)
Elton John‘s double A-side record, Candle in the Wind 1997 / Something About the Way You Look Tonight, is listed by the Guinness World Records as the “biggest-selling single [33 million worldwide] since UK and US singles charts began in the 1950s. In fact, with more than 11 million copies sold in America, it is the only single ever certified Diamond in the United States. The popularity of the song was undoubtedly spurred by its lyrics being re-written and re-recorded as a tribute to John’s friend, Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in a car accident in 1997. In fact, the song, in its rewritten version, has only been performed once, during Diana’s funeral. That’s because John stubbornly insists that he’ll only perform the song again if asked by Diana’s sons. Furthermore, the single has never been released on any of John’s albums or compilations.
4. “Macarena” (Bayside Boys mix) / Los del Río / 14 Weeks (1996)
Because of its unforgettable hook and unusual sound, “Macarena” by Los del Río is widely considered to be the most iconic #1 song of all time. The inspiration for the dance tune is not widely known, but it was actually a Venezuelan flamenco teacher and dancer, Diana Patricia Cubillán Herrera, that spurred Los del Río to spontaneously pen the monstrous hit. The group was watching the woman perform at a party, and the members of Los del Río were so enthralled by her dancing that they recited “Macarena”‘s chorus on the spot. Why “Macarena”? It was actually “Magdalena” in the original version, a reference to how Cubillán reminded them of Mary Magdalene’s seductiveness. Eventually though, “Magdalena” was changed to “Macarena”. And after the single earned Los del Río $250,000 in royalties, who can argue with the revision?
3. “I’ll Make Love to You” / Boyz II Men / 14 Weeks (1994)
These days, many songs with sexual innuendos have achieved amazing popularity, so it’s quite surprising that the naughtiest song to have spent the longest time at the helm of the Billboard Hot 100 was a hit from all the way back in 1994. Boyz II Men’s lead single from their II album spent fourteen weeks at #1 from August 27 until November 26. The song’s popularity likely contributed to influencing Grammy voters as they gave the single the award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. And after the thirteen-week and fourteen-week #1 reigns of “End of the Road” and “I’ll Make Love to You” respectively, it’s indeed quite a feat that neither of those two songs are their biggest hits of all time.
2. “I Will Always Love You” / Whitney Houston / 14 Weeks (1992-1993)
Most people will remember “I Will Always Love You” as the biggest hit of the legendary Whitney Houston, who passed away in 2012. However, before Whitney recorded the song as the soundtrack for 1992’s The Bodyguard, the tune’s writer, Dolly Parton, had already brought the song to #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart not once, but twice — first in 1974, then again in 1982. Surprisingly though, the song wasn’t even the first choice to be used for The Bodyguard; the original selection was Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”, but it had been used in the film Fried Green Tomatoes. That forced Houston to request another song to record, and the second choice turned out to be the most successful soundtrack song of all time. In fact, upon Houston’s death, it also became the song most often used in tributes for her, including for when her casket was being brought out of the church.
1. “One Sweet Day” / Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men / 16 Weeks (1995-1996)
Mariah Carey is the only female artist to have more than one song to have topped the Hot 100 Charts for more than ten weeks. And amazingly, she owns the longest-reigning #1 song of all time. On “One Sweet Day”, the second single from her Daydream album, she gets vocal help from Boyz II Men, who along with Walter Afanasieff, helped Carey pen the monstrous hit. “Day”, by the way, is the third and last Boyz II Men song to top the Hot 100 for ten weeks or more.
Mariah was actually moved to write the tune after her good friend and musical collaborator David Cole passed away. Boyz II Men then chipped in their ideas, and together, they made the song relatable to the AIDS epidemic, which had victimized Carey’s sister and ruined their relationship. Mariah describes the song as being about how “when you lose people that are close to you, it changes your life and changes our perspective”.