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