The First Songs to Ever Top the Billboard Chart

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

Originally a trade publication for outdoor billboard advertising and entertainment-related news coverage, Billboard published its first music “hit parade” list in 1936. With the greater focus on song performance came a number of respective charts, paving the way for the Billboard Hot 100. It debuted in 1958 and remains the foremost domestic signifier of song popularity in America to this day. And for anyone who’s curious, Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” was the first hit to take the No. 1 spot. (Over time, these are the artists with the most No. 1 hits.)

To determine the biggest pop hits of the first five years of the Billboard Hot 100, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Hot 100 charts for songs that entered the Hot 100 between 1958 to 1962. We ranked them based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Chart data is current through the week of August 20, 2022. Christmas songs were not included.

The resulting list features an iconic mix of country, pop vocals, rock, and orchestral music. To this day, music lovers still recognize names like Conway Twitty, Frankie Avalon, Brenda Lee, and Bobby Darin, all of whom topped the chart at least once during its first five years. (Here, on the other hand, are famous musicians who never topped the Billboard Hot 100.)

As for the era’s biggest hit, it’s a song that pretty much any music expert will see coming. Not only did it inspire countless imitations and yield a seminal dance craze, but it reappeared at the top of the chart two years after its initial release. Come on baby, you definitely know this one! And if you don’t, you certainly will soon.

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

25. Brenda Lee, “Sweet Nothin’s”
> Entered Hot 100: December 21, 1959
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 24

Source: Archive Photos / Archive Photos via Getty Images

24. Conway Twitty, “It’s Only Make Believe”
> Entered Hot 100: September 15, 1958
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 21

Source: Adam Cuerden / Wikimedia Commons

23. Connie Stevens, “Sixteen Reasons”
> Entered Hot 100: February 1, 1960
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 24

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

22. Johnny Preston, “Running Bear”
> Entered Hot 100: October 12, 1959
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 27

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

21. Johnny Horton, “North To Alaska”
> Entered Hot 100: September 19, 1960
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 23

Source: Hulton Archive / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

20. Frankie Avalon, “Venus”
> Entered Hot 100: February 9, 1959
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 5 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 28

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

19. The Kingston Trio, “Tom Dooley”
> Entered Hot 100: September 29, 1958
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 21

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

18. Ferrante & Teicher, “Exodus”
> Entered Hot 100: November 14, 1960
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 21

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

17. Percy Faith and His Orchestra, “The Theme From “A Summer Place””
> Entered Hot 100: January 11, 1960
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 9 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 21

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

16. Ritchie Valens, “Donna”
> Entered Hot 100: November 24, 1958
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 23

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

15. Johnny Horton, “The Battle Of New Orleans”
> Entered Hot 100: April 27, 1959
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 21

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

14. Big Bopper, “Chantilly Lace”
> Entered Hot 100: August 11, 1958
> Peak position on Hot 100: #6 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 24

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

13. Chubby Checker, “Limbo Rock”
> Entered Hot 100: September 8, 1962
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 23

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

12. The Teddy Bears, “To Know Him, Is To Love Him”
> Entered Hot 100: September 22, 1958
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 23

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

11. Clyde McPhatter, “A Lover’s Question”
> Entered Hot 100: October 6, 1958
> Peak position on Hot 100: #6 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 24

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

10. Brenda Lee, “I’m Sorry”
> Entered Hot 100: May 30, 1960
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 23

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

9. Bobby Lewis, “Tossin’ and Turnin'”
> Entered Hot 100: April 24, 1961
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 7 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 23

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

8. Tommy Edwards, “It’s All in the Game”
> Entered Hot 100: August 18, 1958
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 22

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

7. Jim Reeves, “He’ll Have To Go”
> Entered Hot 100: December 28, 1959
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 23

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

6. The Contours, “Do You Love Me”
> Entered Hot 100: August 11, 1962
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 34

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

5. Bobby Darin, “Mack the Knife”
> Entered Hot 100: August 24, 1959
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 9 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 26

Source: Hulton Archive / Archive Photos via Getty Images

4. Neil Sedaka, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”
> Entered Hot 100: June 30, 1962
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 28

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

3. Ben E. King, “Stand By Me”
> Entered Hot 100: May 8, 1961
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 35

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

2. Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers, “Monster Mash”
> Entered Hot 100: September 8, 1962
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 38

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

1. Chubby Checker, “The Twist”
> Entered Hot 100: August 1, 1960
> Peak position on Hot 100: #1 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 39

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