Ask Billboard: Rating Rihanna
by Gary Trust | July 23, 2010 5:55 EDT
FOREVER HIS GIRL
In 1989, I was six years old and enthralled with Paula Abdul (like millions of others).
The generation behind me mainly only knows her as a television personality, which is a shame, what with her innovative videos and choreography, not to mention some classic pop songs. I’m familiar with her own individual chart stats, but I was wondering where she fits in statistically when compared to other female pop artists.
Los Angeles, California
Coincidentally, with her seventh Hot 100 No. 1 this week, Rihanna passes Abdul and Diana Ross, each with six Hot 100 leaders. As reported yesterday in Chart Beat, Rihanna owns the fifth-most No. 1s among women, with Abdul and Ross now tied for sixth place.
In her career before her run as judge on “American Idol” from 2002 through 2009, Abdul made several headlines on Billboard charts.
She spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with her debut album, “Forever Your Girl.” The set reached No. 1 for the first time the week of Oct. 7, 1989, in its 64th frame on the list. That week, then-Chart Beat author Paul Grein wrote that the album became the “slowest climbing No. 1 of the past 25 years, surpassing ‘Fleetwood Mac,’ which topped the chart in its 58th week in September 1976.”
Four singles from “Forever Your Girl” ruled the Hot 100: “Straight Up,” the title cut, “Cold Hearted” and “Opposites Attract,” making the album the first debut set by a solo female to generate four No. 1s. Only Mariah Carey has since repeated the feat.
Abdul returned in 1991 with her second Billboard 200 No. 1, “Spellbound.” The album produced two more Hot 100 champions: “Rush Rush” and “The Promise of a New Day.” She placed 13 titles on the Hot 100 from 1988 through 1995. In 2008, she reached No. 62 with “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow,” with former fellow “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson. Last year, her “I’m Just Here for the Music” peaked at No. 87.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified Abdul’s career album sales at 11.5 million, a sum that ties her on the RIAA’s list with artists including 50 Cent and Coldplay.
Among women, just above Abdul with sales of 12 million, according to the RIAA, are Anita Baker and Bette Midler. Female artists below Abdul each with 11 million units certified are Jennifer Lopez and Carrie Underwood.