Billboard Announces the Biggest R&B Hits, Albums and Artists of the Last 59 Years

by VVN Music

Over the last couple of years, Billboard magazine has used its huge archive of weekly charts going back decades to name the top Hot 100 hits and Billboard 200 Albums along with those in country, dance, adult pop and Latin. On Thursday, they added R&B/Hip Hop to the mix.

The magazine uses an inverse point system with variations based on chart methodology to determine the biggest of the big hits. For the R&B survey, they used the singles charts from October 1958 to today and for the albums, from January 1965. They then combine the results of both lists to determine the biggest artists.

In R&B, the Temptations are the top artist of the last 59 years with sixteen number 1 albums and fourteen number 1 singles. They are followed by Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and Michael Jackson

The top 20:
  1. Temptations
  2. Aretha Franklin
  3. Stevie Wonder
  4. James Brown
  5. Michael Jackson
  6. Marvin Gaye
  7. Isley Brothers
  8. Gladys Knight & the Pips
  9. R. Kelly
  10. Mary J. Blige
  11. O'Jays
  12. Luther Vandross
  13. Prince
  14. Earth, Wind & Fire
  15. Whitney Houston
  16. The Jacksons
  17. Janet Jackson
  18. Mariah Carey
  19. Drake
  20. Jay Z
Drake is the only artist in the top twenty that has not been recording for at least twenty years. He has managed to amass a chart history that puts him up with the greats of R&B in just the last eleven years.

It is also notable that The Jacksons, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson are all in the top twenty. 

The full list is here

The top R&B song of the last 59 years is Be With You by Mary J. Blige, a 2005 record that spent a total of sixteen weeks at number 1 on the R&B Singles although it only made number 3 on the Hot 100. 


Another long-time number 1, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' Thrift Shop is at number 2 after spending 14 weeks at the top. Those two are followed by Usher's You Make Me Wanna, Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing and Deborah Cox's Nobody Supposed to Be Here.

The top 20:
  1. Be With You - Mary J. Blige
  2. Thrift Shop - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz
  3. You Make Me Wanna... - Usher
  4. Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye
  5. Nobody's Supposed to Be Here - Deborah Cox
  6. I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
  7. Pretty Wings - Maxwell
  8. Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. + Pharrell
  9. Let's Stay Together - Al Green
  10. The Hills - The Weeknd
  11. We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
  12. The Twist - Chubby Checker
  13. Fortunate - Maxwell
  14. Too Close - Next
  15. That Girl - Stevie Wonder
  16. Tossin' & Turnin' - Bobby Lewis
  17. Let Me Love You - Mario
  18. Creep - TLC
  19. U Know What's Up - Donell Jones
  20. When Doves Cry - Prince
It's interesting to see the differences between how artists have charted over the years on the R&B chart compared to the Hot 100. The Twist is the biggest hit of all-time on the Hot 100 but only 12 on R&B. For Usher, his biggest Hot 100 hit was Yeah! which is 14 on the all-time list while it is not one of the three that he put on the R&B list, You Make Me Wanna... (#3), U Got It Bad (#48) and There Goes My Baby (#87).

Then there is the case of Maxwell, who has two of the biggest R&B hits of all time, Pretty Wings (#7) and Fortunate (#13) but, with only five total albums released since 1996 and eighteen charting singles, he didn't have enough points to make the top 100 artists. 

The full singles list can be seen here

Finally, on the R&B Albums list, there is no doubt that number 1 would be Michael Jackson's Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time although Billboard's own overall Albums survey lists it at number 3 behind Adele's 21 and The Sound of Music soundtrack.


The top 20:
  1. Thriller - Michael Jackson
  2. The E.N.D. - Black Eyed Peas
  3. Off the Wall - Michael Jackson
  4. Whitney Houston - Whitney Houston
  5. Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em - M.C. Hammer
  6. Songs in the Key of Life - Stevie Wonder
  7. Can't Slow Down - Lionel Richie
  8. Don't Be Cruel - Bobby Brown
  9. Confessions - Usher
  10. Recovery - Eminem
  11. 400 Degreez - Juvinile
  12. Just Like the First Time - Freddie Jackson
  13. The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey
  14. Rapture - Anita Baker
  15. Hot Buttered Soul - Isaac Hayes
  16. Control - Janet Jackson
  17. The Temptations Greatest Hits - Temptations
  18. Shaft - Soundtrack
  19. Lou Rawls Live - Lou Rawls
  20. Forever My Lady - Jodeci
Only one non-veteran artist made the Album list, but they did it big (and are very close to veteran status). The Black Eyed Peas, who started recording in 1998, have the number 2 album of all time with The E.N.D.

Two artists managed to put two albums in the top twenty. Michael Jackson, who is at 1 with Thriller and 3 with Off the Wall also appears further down the chart at 30 with Bad and 43 with Dangerous. Isaac Hayes sits at 15 with Hot Buttered Soul and 18 with the Shaft soundtrack along with 47 with The Isaac Hayes Movement

While he only has one in the top twenty, Eminem has a total of four on the chart with Recovery (#10), The Eminem Show (#24), The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (#59) and Relapse (#93). 

The full list is here.

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