Chart Watch Extra: Lil Wayne Passes Elvis (Sort Of)
Lil Wayne this week surpasses Elvis Presley for the most Hot 100 singles by a solo artist. That's a true, actual fact. But it comes with a couple of very big asterisks. But first, the fact itself: Lil Wayne lands his 109th Hot 100 single as a featured artist on Game's "Celebration," which debuts at #82. Presley amassed 108 Hot 100 singles. Now the asterisks: Presley had 31 hits prior to the inception of the Hot 100 in August 1958, which this stat doesn't take into account. Furthermore, Presley was the lead artist on all 108 of his Hot 100 singles. Lil Wayne has been the lead artist on only 42 of his. About two-thirds of his hits have been collaborations on which he was a featured artist.
Even so, anytime an artist comes anywhere near a record by chart royalty such as Elvis, The Beatles and Michael Jackson, it's worth pointing out—if only to start a good debate.
Presley remains comfortably ahead of the pack if you omit featured credits and count only songs on which the artist was in the lead position. His closest rivals are James Brown (91), Aretha Franklin (73) and Ray Charles (72).
And Presley is still far ahead of Lil Wayne in terms of most top 40 hits on the Hot 100 (80 compared to Lil Wayne's 57), most top 10 hits on the Hot 100 (25 vs. Lil Wayne's 17) and most #1 hits on the Hot 100 (seven vs. Lil Wayne's two). (Notably, all of those stats exclude Presley's hits prior to the inception of the Hot 100. Presley was far and away the hottest artist in the pop music from 1956 to 1958.)
Is it fair to count a featured credit the same as a song where an artist is in the lead? In a word, no. But it's a different era. It used to be very rare for artists to collaborate. For the first decade of the rock era, not one collaboration of top two stars reached #1 on the Hot 100. (The first to do so was "Somethin' Stupid" by Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra, which did the trick in April 1967.)
While Lil Wayne edges past Presley to become the solo artist with the most Hot 100 entries, he still has a long way to go to catch the overall leader. That must mean it's a group. The Beatles? Sadly, no. The artist with the most Hot 100 entries is the cast of Glee, with 204 Hot 100 entries. Most of these songs made it almost entirely on the strength of digital sales, with little radio airplay. Only three Glee songs have made the top 10: covers of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and an original song, "Loser Like Me."
This good news for Lil Wayne comes at a welcome time. He has yet to crack the top 10 in 2012, as either a lead or featured artist. Unless he picks up a top 10 hit in next few months, this will be the first calendar year since 2006 in which he has been shut out of the top 10.