The Beatles had 20, Elvis had 18 and Michael Jackson racked up 13. Even Wham! managed a respectable two.

And I'm like, Baby, what the hell is this trophy? Photo:AFP

No, we’re not talking about girlfriends, but something just as hard to get – Billboard Hot 100 number one hits.

So how is it that the biggest star of the millennium, with as many screaming female fans as The Beatles or Elvis, hasn’t scored a single US number one hit some seven singles into his career?

Even Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby”, with over 600 million YouTube views, only climbed as high as five on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

With this barely average record, poor Justin has to stand embarrassed, holding his oversized baseball cap and staring enviously at people like Gregory Abbott, Little Eva, “112” and Juvenile – people the world has never heard of but who achieved what he has so far failed to do, climb to the top of the world’s biggest chart. 

The talented young Canadian must feel like an RSL Club cover artist when he thinks about Stevie Wonder, who at the same age had charted four top 10 US hits including his number one debut “Fingertips”.

He barely even rates a mention in comparison to Michael Jackson who by the age of 17 had four number one hits with his brothers in the Jackson 5, as well as his solo classic “Ben” which was released when Jackson was 13.

It begs the question of how an artist who has in the palm of his hand consumerism’s strongest army – screaming teenage girls, has failed to even threaten the top spot. 

In his defence, the method by which Billboard calculates its charts (based on downloads, airplay and physical sales) has been criticised as dubious over the years, to say the very least. It’s kept classics like Elvis’s “Burning Love” and The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” from top spot in place of Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-ling” and Englebert Humperdinck’s “Release Me” respectively.

Bieber has nearly 12 million Twitter followers (second only to Lady Gaga), over one billion YouTube views, a blockbuster 3D concert film and a world tour under his belt, but the Never Say Never star has failed to match even Rolf Harris in terms of singles success in the United States.

Harris rose to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” in 1960.

But Bieber isn’t alone in stars who seem to batting below their average on the Hot 100. Bob Dylan, arguably the greatest songwriter in Western history, failed to post a number one.

His 1965 masterpiece “Like a Rolling Stone”, regarded by many to be the best song ever, only made it to number two and was pipped at the post by the Beatles’ rock classic “Help!”

Admittedly, Justin Bieber did make it to number one in France with “Baby” and two of his LPs have claimed top spot on the Billboard Album charts. But possibly the most famous person in the world deserves a number one US song. 

His precociousness is a huge reason behind his success to date, yet surprisingly, it may also be holding him back.

With his trademark blonde flick seemingly given the sack, Bieber may be trying to forge a new and more adult image in the hope of cracking the ceiling. His advisers are surely aware of the modern market’s cynicism towards younger stars.

Hillary Duff and Aaron Carter – while hugely successful – have not come close to claiming top spot on the hallowed Billboard Hot 100.

Call it taste, call it jealousy but it seems modern music buyers are reluctant to fully endorse the younger generation of talent. It’s even forced Lil’ Bow Bow to lose the “Lil” from his name and coincidentally to enter the most successful period of his career.

It seems if Justin Bieber wants to do the same he’s going to have to say adios to his youthful lustre and embrace the music industry as a talented musician in his own right.

No more duets with juvenile children of Men in Black stars, no more video clips set in bowling alleys, no more tweets about schoolwork.

If Justin wants to climb to number one and match his fame and talent with results on the charts he sadly needs to grow up.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • Outraged says:

      05:12pm | 21/08/11


      The man just can not sing! He has no vocal range…just mumbles his words and is actually getting WORSE as he gets older.

      I know his die-hard fans are the first to say: “Yes…but it’s all about the words! He is a storyteller! It doesn’t matter how he sings”. Er, yes it does. If I wanted to listen to someone mumbling spoken-word poetry, I would listen to a poet.

      Dylan is a perfect example of “The Emporer’s New Clothes”! People think they look smart/cultured if they say they are a fan of his…even if they don’t understand his junk.

    • Bieber Fever says:

      06:53am | 19/08/11

      Justin Bieber doesn’t seem like the type of bloke I’d get to help me with a bit of hay carting, and then have a few cold ones with him afterward. In fact he seems like a little shit.

    • Nathan says:

      01:19am | 20/08/11

      why is that cause he is young successful and never been seen in trouble. Don’t hate him just cause he has made it big and all you have carting hay

    • malohi says:

      07:00am | 19/08/11

      Billboard does not count illegal downloads.

      Looking at your author picture you have no right to be throwing stones at the biebz.

    • Lloyd says:

      08:57pm | 19/08/11

      SNAP! Well said. What a pointless article. “The worlds most famous person?” By who’s standards? He’s a nobody who will be forgotten about in a few years, like so many of todays superficial, talentless hacks.

    • Lapun says:

      03:31pm | 20/08/11

      Agree with Bieber Fever and Nathan.  To me he comes across as talented, certainly, but also as an insufferable little prick.  Very reminiscent of our own Jack Vidgen.  Timomatic - Now there’s someone I could relate to!

    • Fiddler says:

      07:10am | 19/08/11

      Why doesn’t he have one?

      Umm….. because he is shit… duhhhh
      How can you seriously compare him to Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson or Bob Dylan. Yes he may have been playing the guitar since he was two or whatever but he is nowhere near their league.

    • Barry says:

      11:21am | 19/08/11

      Realistically, he’s probably a better singer than Bob Dylan . . . .

    • Shifter says:

      01:24pm | 19/08/11

      He’s very polarising. Although there’s a huge amount of adoring fans, there’s an equal number who don’t think he’s worth the time of day. So there’s no casual buy-ins for songs like the other mentioned artists would have.

      It’s the people who aren’t superfans who make the song #1 as opposed to #5.

    • Liam says:

      03:31pm | 19/08/11

      Guys - coming from someone who used to assume Bieber was a talentless, manufactured gimmick - get on youtube and take a look at the vids of him before he was discovered, as a little kid busking in his home town or singing at home. He is extremely talented. Hopefully he’ll become more independent as he enters adulthood, because he’s got massive potential.

    • Mark G says:

      02:56pm | 20/08/11


      Even if you admit that he has some talent, he is still a git and his songs only attract a very small part of the market. The screaming adolescent girl. He talks, acts and dresses like a git so the negative attention that he gets that impacts on his record sales is ligitimate and not due to a tall poppy syndrome. I personally think he can sing but I dont like what he sings or how he acts and as such would never buy his music.

    • gobsmack says:

      07:46am | 19/08/11

      Having made over $50 million last year, I’m sure JB couldn’t give a shit.
      I think the heading to this article (and the photo of the unhappy author) betray the point of this article - JB gets a lot of attention from girls and the author doesn’t.  Perhaps the author needs to take his cue from JB and get rid of that stupid fringe.

    • Tina says:

      08:04am | 19/08/11

      That is a bit harsh as I think the question why Bieber gets the level of attention he gets from 13 year old girls he does is reasonable. But its not a new question and not a Bieber-only thing.

      It is a sad fact that we prefer to see Biebers’ and Kardashians” on TV rather than some Nobel prize winner who would deserve the recognition and the millions.

    • theauthor says:

      11:46am | 19/08/11

      Actually the author gets a lot of attention from one girl, which he finds more than sufficient. He can also report that the fringe is gone.

    • gobsmack says:

      12:18pm | 19/08/11

      Lol, I’m glad to hear that.  Now get an up to date photo and don’t forget to smile.

    • AdamC says:

      02:01pm | 19/08/11

      Gobsmack, I agree. The weird pouty/smouldery expression makes Mr Auerbach look like a member of a 1990s boyband!

    • fairsfair says:

      03:00pm | 19/08/11

      I thought it was Vinnie from Home and Away circa 1999 at first. Keeping in mind, that isn’t a bad thing….

    • Joan says:

      07:54am | 19/08/11

      Justin Bieber laughing all the way to the bank, singing what he wants to sing, wearing his hair they way he wants raking in millions,.Bieber just has to be Bieber nobody else -  We are all number one in our own ways. The fickle nature of popular culture makes some tops and others don’t get a guernsey, some arre one hit wonders,  others become icons.

    • acotrel says:

      09:02am | 19/08/11

      There is one lesson we all must learn in life, if we are ever to be happy.
      It is:

    • Paul Murray says:

      10:43am | 19/08/11

      You honestly imagine that he is the one who decides how his hair is cut? That he sings what he chooses?

    • Shane says:

      08:30am | 19/08/11

      I couldn’t give a rats about Bieber being taken seriously or not.  What I DO like about him is his ability to run into glass doors over and over again.  Have a look on youtube if you need a laugh…

    • S.L says:

      08:56am | 19/08/11

      I only wish I was that unsuccessful…............

    • n_dude says:

      03:48pm | 19/08/11

      I’d be happy with half of that.

    • MarkS says:

      09:13am | 19/08/11

      The Bay City Rollers were big among the teenie girlie set once as well. But unlike Elvis, the Beatles or Michael Jackson, they were almost talentless, capable of being pretty & producing only sodapop pop.

      Bieber is like the Bay City Rollers, I respect his ability to turn a pretty face & a tiny talent into a large following & lots of cash. But comparing him to Elvis, the Beatles or Michael Jackson is very unfair, to him.

    • bella starkey says:

      11:56am | 19/08/11

      In Bieber’s defence, he wears a lot less tartan than the Bay City Rollers.

    • Jealous says:

      09:22am | 19/08/11

      After looking at Taylor’s profile pic, I’d have to say he’s jealous of Bieber.

    • FrauLeask says:

      12:07pm | 19/08/11

      I agree, he probably wishes he was Bieber - he even copied the Bieb’s hair! Kinda cute though wink

    • Mark G says:

      05:11pm | 20/08/11

      because everyone who dislikes Bieber really just wants to be him. SARCASM

    • AdamC says:

      09:39am | 19/08/11

      Doesn’t this show that the singles chart is becoming increasingly irrelevant as a barometer even of mainstream pop success?

      Bieber may be lacklustre - though, I must say I have never understood people who manage to be personally offended by the existence of teeny-bopper pop stars - but he is certainly a new media artist. I suspect many of his sub fifteen fans would barely know what a CD is. So, at the very least, Team Bieber is savvy in the channels they have chosen to market and monetise the phenomenon.

    • AFR says:

      09:47am | 19/08/11

      I’m sure that when JB goes to bed with Selena Gomez on their piles of money, he isn’t too concerned about not getting a #1 or winning a grammy.

    • gonzo says:

      10:30am | 19/08/11

      OR an article by Taylor auersh (or something like that… what was it? ah, nevermind), a “writer” with a photo worthy of… Justin Bieber.

    • Ben C says:

      10:32am | 19/08/11

      I didn’t think his mother allowed her to sleep over.

      *Crickets chirping*

    • Thomas Anderson says:

      09:50am | 19/08/11

      Know what, yeah, he’s a little twerp, but he is handling his success well, unlike most other child stars, gotta give him that.

    • Chris says:

      09:54am | 19/08/11

      Why has noone even come close to mentioning that Justin Bieber’s music is an abomination?

    • old fart says:

      10:11am | 19/08/11

      his music is an abomination

    • The righteous one says:

      10:09am | 19/08/11

      “So how is it that the biggest star of the millennium, with as many screaming female fans as The Beatles or Elvis, hasn’t scored a single US number one hit some seven singles into his career?”
      Oh I didnt realise he could actually sing or that his “songs” actually had lyrics rather than often repeated phrases.  I thought he was imitating Donald Trump’s comb around and over.

    • gobsmack says:

      11:32am | 19/08/11

      Beatles: “She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah.  She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah.  She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah, yeaaaah”.
      Elvis: “Oh baby, baby, babe -bah bah bah bah bah bah. Baby, baby, babe -bah bah bah bah bah bah .  Oh baby, baby, babe -bah bah bah bah bah bah .  Come back-ah baby I won’t to play house with you.”
      BTW, I’m a big fan of both the Beatles and Elvis.

    • Paul Murray says:

      10:41am | 19/08/11

      “Call it taste, call it jealousy but it seems modern music buyers are reluctant to fully endorse the younger generation of talent.”

      BWAHAHAHA! Talent? JB is a dancer. Not a singer, most certainly not a musician. A dancer - if that. The actual music (as opposed to the music video) is dreadful.

      Oh - Kilie Minogue also. ‘Except I’m not sure she was even a dancer. “Entertainer” might be the best word.

      Point is: people are not buying the music because the actual music itself is awful. JB (etc etc etc) are all about the wrappring-paper.

    • Liam says:

      03:37pm | 19/08/11

      Paul Murray you have absolutely no idea. Check out the videos on youtube from before he was signed and get ready for a shock, Mr Ignorant. Yes, he’s been manufactured to suit other people’s ideas now, but jesus the boy can sing. He is a natural musician. e.g.

    • Pork says:

      11:53am | 19/08/11

      As Dad of a 13 year old ‘Belieber’ (retch retch gag) I can tell you why he has no number one:  the music is dross.  The other album tracks are super weak.  The kid can sing but his songs make Milli Vannilli B sides look like profound songs.
      And I listen to all manner of dreadful music prevalant to that age group.  Bieber needs to get him some good song writers quickly or he’ll soon become a forgotten footnote.

    • dw says:

      12:14pm | 19/08/11

      only the test of time will judge which songs are classics and which songs merely made it to number 1 on billboard.

      Stairway to heaven, We are the champions, Like a rolling stone, Candle in the wind are all classics yet failed to reach number one.

      Hopefully for Justin Bieber - it’s about artistic expression without too much concern about moving product, sales figures or chart positions. Hopefully it is about making music.

      For Taylor Auerbach hopefully it is also about expression without concern for number of hits or comments…it is never a meaningful gauge of artistic success.

    • Static says:

      12:49pm | 19/08/11

      At the moment he is a teen idol,we dont know what direction his music will take as he gets older.I think that then we may be able to judge if he has more talent.Remember today you only have to look pretty and the computers can make an ok voice sound great. The late great Gary Moore was not a looker but seeing him live singing beatutfully and playing the guitar so wonderfully was a religious experience.The ability to perform live and sound live often sortd the wheat from the chaff

    • David says:

      02:53pm | 19/08/11


      How can you put Justin Bieber songs in the same category as songs like Stairway to Heaven, We are the Champions and Candle In the Wind?

      Not that I think Stairway to Heaven is much of a classic, its been ruined by becoming a crutch for untalented radio program directors.

    • dw says:

      09:43pm | 19/08/11

      I don’t personally put Justin Bieber’s tunes in the same category as the other tunes (aside from not being number 1,) but that doesn’t mean his songs won’t be considered classic from this era of pop music.

      I never rated Madonna in the 80s either - yet many consider her songs to be classics from that era. Go figure.

      I guess we’ll have to wait a few decades to see…

    • Dave says:

      12:55pm | 19/08/11

      Let me edit your last paragraph:

      “If Justin wants to climb to number one and match his fame with results on the charts he sadly needs to develop some talent”.

      There, thats better.

    • Kassandra says:

      12:57pm | 19/08/11

      My 11 yro daughter couldn’t give a rat’s if he got 100 number 1’s or none because she thinks he’s just so CUTE!

      Beibs could sing the words off the label of a Vegemite jar and she’d watch it all day on YouTube. His success has nothing to do with musical merit (although I have to admit the songs might be rubbish but the kid can sing).

    • dr deen says:

      01:46pm | 19/08/11


    • David says:

      03:12pm | 19/08/11

      You just have to look at some of the independent music being released today, and you realise that the major labels care not about talent. It’s all about an artist’s marketing potential. I can use Australian Hip Hop as an example of an independent scene that IS about the music, where few artists enjoy chart success, and most are not making enough money out of their music to quit their day jobs, but the music is great and fresh and original, and that’s why I enjoy listening to it.

    • CynicalGoatWA says:

      03:45pm | 19/08/11

      Anyone who is serious about music, finds the cupboard incredibly bare when running a ruler through the last 2 decades. Bieber couldn’t hold a note in a bucket, and he’s a precocious little bastard as well. Doesn’t help. And even if he ended up selling 20 quintillion billion records, he’s not fit to shine the King’s shoes, nor be mentioned in the same sentence as The Beatles.

    • Milez Sanchez says:

      04:54pm | 19/08/11

      How can you say the world haven’t heard of 112 and Juvenile?

    • Outraged says:

      05:21pm | 21/08/11

      Don’t fret…Justin Bieber will fade into obscurity as soon as his tween fans are old enough to shave their pits.

      Anyone remember Leif Garrett? Andy Gibb? Bobby Sherman? Shawn Cassiday?


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free newsletter