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Madonna, The Beatles, Elton John among most popular artists of all time

Madonna, The Beatles and Elton John
(Image credit: Gie Knaeps/Getty Images, Michael Webb/Getty Images, David Redfern/Redferns)

According to Liberty Games, Madonna is the most popular artist of all time. This isn't just some daring statement made by an overly-enthusiastic Madonna mega fan though, this result was conceived from hard analysis. 

From analysing over 6,500 songs from the top 100 Billboard charts, starting from 1959 all the way to the present day, the games retailer produced a list ranking the most successful performers in history. Their popularity was ranked by how many times they appeared in the chart, with Madonna holding the highest amount on a total of 34 times.

Coming in at a close second was The Beatles, who made their mark on the Billboard chart on 30 occasions. In joint third place was Mariah Carey and Elton John with 26 appearances.

Unfortunately, aside from The Beatles and Elton John, rock music doesn't hold much weight on the list, with the majority of the spots filled by pop artists, including Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Elvis Presley did manage to make an appearance however, coming in at the joint 6th position, alongside Janet Jackson and Rihanna. 

Of her releases, Madonna had a total of 12 number one hits on the Billboard chart, including 1984's Like a Virgin, 1985's Crazy for You, 1986's Open Your Heart, 1989's Like A Prayer and 1990's Vogue, among others. 

Liberty Games have also conducted a study analysing the most popular songs throughout the decades and of all of time. Their popularity was measured via a music scoring algorithm which ranked songs based on features such as danceability, energy and even screechiness. According to their findings, Lewis Capaldi's 2019 song Before You Go is the greatest, which makes us believe that their algorithm isn't actually totally up to scratch.

From the 70s through to the 80s, rock took centre stage, and took up the highest spots with bands such as The Beatles, The Police, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Kiss and the Eagles.

Later eras, such as the 90s, continued the rock wave and saw R.E.M and Red Hot Chili Peppers take the lead. Songs from the 2000s onwards saw mostly pop songs take top positions by artists such as Ed Sheeran, Olivia Rodrigo. Thankfully, there was one exception to the pop dominion, which was Maneskin, who was responsible for one of the five most popular songs of this decade, with their track Beggin'.

1. Madonna: 34
2. The Beatles: 30
3. Mariah Carey: 26
3. Elton John: 26
4. Taylor Swift: 24
4. Stevie Wonder: 24
5. Michael Jackson: 22
6. Rihanna: 21
6. Janet Jackson: 21
6. Elvis Presley: 21
7. Whitney Houston: 19
7. Pink: 19
7. Drake: 19
8. The Beach Boys: 18
9. Kelly Clarkson: 17
10. Britney Spears: 16

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music. '10 bands that rip off Black Sabbath but get away with it' is her favourite article she's written with Louder so far. When not writing, Liz enjoys various creative endeavours such as graphic design, as well as reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.