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The 'Glee' cast surpasses Beatles on Billboard Hot 100 chart, inches closer to James Brown and Elvis Presley


Move over Beatles, and make way for the cast of “Glee.” The hit TV show has now produced more songs that have charted on the Billboard Hot 100 than the Fab Four throughout its career.

The Beatles placed 71 titles in the Hot 100 from their first appearance in 1964 with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” through “Real Love” in 1996. But it’s only taken the karaoke-minded cast members of “Glee” a bit more than 16 months to put 75 songs onto the same chart.

Because of the sheer quantity of “Glee” releases -- five or six songs are typically made available for downloading after each week’s episode -- the number of potential charting songs from the show has rapidly outstripped releases by conventional bands or solo acts.

That doesn’t, however, mean the “Glee” singers have surpassed the Beatles’ sales. In the era of eroding record sales, it often takes far lower sales figures to make the Hot 100 today than it did in decades past.  Total download sales of the “Glee” titles are at 11.5 million, according to Billboard.

Its biggest seller was the cast’s version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which has sold 992,000 downloads. That also is the only "Glee" single to make the top 10, peaking at No. 4. The Beatles, on the other hand, logged 34 top 10 hits, 20 of them making it to No. 1, a statistic still unsurpassed by any other act.

The Nielsen SoundScan sales monitoring service didn’t come into existence until 1991, before which the most reliable measure was the Recording Industry Assn. of America’s certifications for single and albums sales. The Beatles remain the biggest selling act of all time, with certified album sales of 177 million copies in the United States. Six of the group’s albums have scored RIAA diamond awards for sales of 10 million copies or more. The quartet also has received 24 gold singles awards, signifying sales of 500,000 each, 10 platinum and four multiplatinum singles certifications recognizing sales of at least 1 million copies.

The tally of 75 songs, which will no doubt grow with future “Glee” releases, is now third overall behind James Brown, who charted 91 songs on the Hot 100, and the top singles chart performer of all time, Elvis Presley, whose record is holding secure, for now, at 108. In addition to surpassing the Beatles, with this week’s entry of six debuts on the Hot 100, the “Glee” cast also slipped past Aretha Franklin (with 73) and Ray Charles (74).

-- Randy Lewis

Photo at top left: The Beatles in 1969. Credit: EMI/Capitol Records. Photo of the "Glee" cast live in concert at the Gibson Amphitheatre in May. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (25)

Interesting. Another pointless statistic released by a press agency. Forty years after the fact, everyone knows who The Beatles are and the impact they made. In a couple of years, after it's canceled, no one will remember Glee.

The Glee cast charting more than the Beatles is truly pathetic; as I recall, the Glee cast/writers haven't written a single tune. If memory serves me right, the Beatles actually did. :D

Uh, does this really count? There should be a separate list for "covers." The difference between Glee and The Beatles, James Brown, and Elvis is the "original music" category.

there will always be a separation between the music industry before computers and then after the digital age... (BC and AD). That's a sanity check for those of us lucky enough to have experienced the 60's and 70's first hand. You simply can't lump together 'then' and 'now'.

Slow news day? Comparing karaoke versions of hit songs to The Beatles? Really?...really?......really.

Elvis Presley has been dead for more than 33 years and still he is the guy to beat!
A new Viva Elvis album is to be released soon so he is not going away anytime soon.
That stunning voice of his is winning new fans every decade. Amazing isn't it?

It's pathetic that a group of somewhat talented wanna-be pop-stars can put out cover versions of songs that pale in comparison to the originals and somehow earn a comparative spot in a list of such distinguished ORIGINAL MUSIC superstars as the Beatles, Elvis, James Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. The methodology is severely skewed, not to mention the incredibly low standards of today's music buying public. I am even disappointed in myself for taking the time to read the article and write a comment. GEEEEEEESH!

This isn't a commentary on The Beatles vs Glee. This is a commentary on what was available and how it was available in the 1960's and 70's vs Now. This is all about technology. It's not about music. As stated by other commentors ... and as is OBVIOUS, but obviously NOT stated in the article ... is the fact that the Glee People ... group ... committee ... w/e ... have NEVER WRITTEN ANY SONGS!


I could compare my Grandma's apple strudle to your first cousin's bunions. That would make more sense.

Billboard magazine published its first "Hot 100" chart the week of August 4, 1958, and Elvis' heyday preceded that date. Before that "Hot 100" chart, there was Billboard's "Top 100" chart, which was first published in November 1955. If add Elvis' "Top 100" hits to his later "Hot 100" hits, you have a total of more than 150 songs which cracked the top/hot 100. No one else is close to that figure. That's where the title - the King - comes from.

McDonald's sells millions of burgers on their dollar menu too. Glee is mass produced fast food music for people into that sort of thing.

The arguments here that attempt to raise up other artists at the expense of the "Glee" cast by claiming that other artists wrote their own material are misplaced. The Beatles performed a number of cover versions early in their career, such as "Roll Over Beethoven" and "'Til There Was You" (from a musical, of all things - "The Music Man"!). Most of Elvis' hits were written by others, and many of his hits were covers of songs first performed by lesser known artists like Big Mama Thornton ("Hound Dog"). Sinatra and Streisand started huge careers singing the songs of other songwriters. The reasons this is a meaningless statistic are that it's easier to make it to the Top 100 these days, and there are simply more people on the planet to buy music than there were 40 and 50 years ago.

Wow, really? They don't even write the songs, how can they get compared?
The Beatles will always be the best. :)

One can not compare songs that are purchased by downloading and songs that required physical manufacturing, physical distribution, much greater financing, and physical purchasing. If the downloading technology had existed in the 1960’s, the Beatles could have had over 200 hits on the top 100 chart.

How ironic that all these artists get beaten by covers of their own songs. However, I'm a little confused, why is cast of Glee a compilation? Many of these songs are solos; shouldn't they be listed under individual totals? Maybe if we included all of the Beatles solo work (ie Paul McCartney) as "Beatles" totals they would still reign.

It's true that The Beatles recorded a lot of cover versions on their first couple of albums, that neither Elvis nor Sinatra were songwriters, that most of Aretha Franklin's material was written by others and that several of James Brown's hits were cover versions.

However, all of them were responsible for major changes in music. They were original artists, regardless of whether or not they recorded original material. The cast of Glee can't make the same claim.

What a ridiculous comparison. I'll never, ever understand why people would download the Glee version of anything when they could download the original, anyway.

I doubt even the cast of Glee would be surprised by your comments. They are great singers and have put music in the fore front for those who think that taking out the preforming arts from schools is a good thing. However I don't think that even they think they are in the same category as the Beatles, Elvis or any of the other artist they have covered. Shouldn't credit to the writers of the songs be given. Shouldn't it be for example Number one - John Lennon - Imagine - sung by Glee cast.Because the true art was in the writing of the song both lyrically and musically.

This is the most tragic thing I've heard all day. I guess auto-tuned, copy-cat covers is what sells this days.

Happy Birthday Lennon. Please reincarnate.

Glee chooses the most popular songs and glams them up. That is why they passed The Beatles. They sing songs that everyone loves and covers them. They should not be considered a band or anything like that. Plus, it's all voice editing software. Glee is a terribly unfunny show with terrible actors and terrible jokes. They didn't write anything so this shouldn't be considered their songs.

Glee will fade away. The Beatles and Elvis Presley never will.

"Glee" is performing covers because they are a SHOW CHOIR. Doing covers is what show choirs do. And there aren't really any teenagers that have a great hand at the pen when it comes to songwriting.

They will be doing an episode though of original work in the spring I do believe.

They are also performing this music for a generation who would otherwise just brush aside the original songs saying they are "boring" and "old-time". There are so many teens today who only listen to rap. "Glee" is helping make older songs cool for teens who would usually not think so otherwise.

There will be people who remember Glee...I just hope they don't remember Justin Bieber...bleh!!!

This is like comparing apples and oranges. The Beatles wrote all their lyrics and music, are you seriously implying that the glee cast member renditions of other peoples music is on the same level as the Beatles HAHAHAHAHAHA

"Glee" is the 21st century version of "Sing Along with Mitch," minus the lyrics on the screen and a whole lot of talent.

Uh! Hello, The Beatles songs were written by the Beatles, Original,, Glee couldn't hold a candle to the Beatles Music, Nobody Can!!!!

I think you all need to cut Glee some slack. First of all, this article is NOT comparing Beatles and Glee. In a time where most of the youngsters are discarding old songs as boring, glee is picking them up and releasing them with a modern twist. They've made songs like 'Don't Rain On My Parade' and 'Defying Gravity' immensely popular again. Lea Michele who stars as Rachel in Glee has amazing talent and an enviable voice. She will be big, very soon. But also, the Beatles were and are the Beatles, something you can not dispute.


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