In addition to all of the money, fame and power that comes along with being a famous musician, there's also the opportunity to score incredible feats. Whether certified by the Recording Industry Academy of America, Billboard or the Guinness Book of World Records, these 21 singers have broken all different types of records.
Flip through the gallery below for a look at some of the most interesting world records held by these artists, from being the first to broadcast a live concert in space to being the male singer with the most followers on Instagram — and everything in between.
Born Abel Tesfaye in Toronto, Ontario, the artist who’s know globally known as The Weeknd has seen both sides of what it means to be a record-breaker. After the 2016 release of his album "Starboy," The Weeknd broke the single-day streaming record on Spotify and has still one of the most streamed songs of the platform. In 2017, though, the artist became associated with the largest drop for a No. 1 single in Billboard history with his song “Heartless,” which fell to No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Having broken or set 11 different Guinness World Records in his multi-decade rap career, Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) may have scored his latest record from the organization in early 2020 with his new song “Godzilla.” It could be the fastest rap verse in history, with Mathers rapping a staggering 224 words in 31 seconds. He also holds World Records for the most words used in a hit single, among other records related to chart performance and record sales.
Many of Beatles co-founder Paul McCartney’s records relate to major “firsts.” In 2005, a live McCartney performance became the first live concert broadcast into space. McCartney also holds a slew of records in the United States and the United Kingdom for his best-selling tunes, both as a solo artist and in recognition of his work with The Beatles.
Every time U.K. born singer Adele releases a new album, she breaks a record. In 2015, she broke the single-week album sales record in the United States. Two years later, her album "25" became the longest-charting album by a woman on the Billboard 200. She also holds three Guinness World Records.
Even after his tragic death in 2016, R&B icon Prince continued to break records. A month after his passing, his albums took up a history-making 19 slots on the Billboard 200 chart at the same time, breaking The Beatles’ previous record of 13 albums. While he was alive, Prince set countless records on the Billboard charts, ultimately selling more than 100 million albums.
Long before her Super Bowl halftime show performance broke the internet, Colombian artist Shakira was breaking Guinness World Records. In addition to records for the most Latin Grammys wins as a female artist, Shakira has also had incredible success on social media — she’s the first person to ever get 100 million likes on Facebook, and in 2015 she was the most-liked musician on the platform.
This record-shattering quartet, fronted by singer Bono, holds a slew of titles, including more Grammy wins than any other rock band in history. U2 also set a number of records that have since been broken by newer artists, including the highest-grossing tour in music history.
From the release of her self-titled debut album in 1985, Whitney Houston has been shattering records. She became the first female artist to score three No. 1 hits on the same album and went on to break her own record with a fourth No. 1 a few years later. And then there’s the juggernaut success of “I Will Always Love You,” a song that has since earned triple-platinum certification.
When Beyonce Knowles-Carter announced that she was pregnant with twins in 2017, it literally broke the internet. The “Formation” singer’s Instagram post announcing the impending birth of Rumi and Sir racked up more than 6.3 million likes, making it the platform’s most liked post. Knowles-Carter also shares the Guinness World Record for highest-earning couple in entertainment with her husband, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.
Selling more than 40 million copies, Shania Twain’s 1997 album "Come On Over" broke a slew of records and still maintains some of them more than 20 years after its release. It’s the all-time best-selling country album and the best-selling album recorded by a Canadian artist, and it sat at the top of the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for a record 50 weeks.
Still considered the best-selling song since the inception of the singles chart in the 1950s, Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana, “Candle In The Wind 1997,” has sold more than 33 million copies across the globe. It’s also the best-selling CD single of all time, and John has set multiple attendance records at concert venues across the globe as a performer.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Elvis Presley is still the best-selling artist in music history with more than 1 billion album and song sales worldwide. He’s also still breaking records from beyond the grave. In 2016, Presley broke Madonna’s world record for the most No. 1 albums in the United Kingdom recorded by a solo artist.
Certified by the Recording Industry Academy of America as the best-selling solo artist of all time, ‘90s country icon Garth Brooks holds a ton of records by any measure. He’s also sold more than 134 million records and is the only artist to ever record seven albums that earned Diamond certification. In 2007, his “More Than A Memory” was the first song in history to enter the U.S. Country charts at No. 1 in its first week, and he continues to hold the record for most Entertainer of the Year wins at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
A New Yorker through and through, Billy Joel holds the Guinness World Record for the most ever performances at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, with more than 100 shows at the venue. He also holds the distinction of being the first non-classical composer to be inducted into NYC’s Steinway Hall.
Mariah Carey can thank her iconic 1994 Christmas hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You” for helping her set multiple Guinness World Records, including the record for the highest-charting holiday song on the Billboard Hot 100 and most-streamed track on Spotify in 24 hours. In 2020, the song also became the first in history to drop completely off the Billboard Hot 100 after charting at No. 1 around the 2019 Christmas holiday.
In 2010, Taylor Swift’s "Speak Now" was the fastest-selling digital album recorded by a female artist in the United States, and she has a Guinness World Record to prove it. Swift also holds the world record for highest annual earnings for a music artist at an estimated $170 million, among armfuls of other accolades.
With more than 335 million albums sold across the globe, Madonna is considered by multiple organizations to be the best-selling female artist in music history. She’s also scored the most No. 1 music videos, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and she holds the bizarre distinction of being the actress with the most costume changes — 85! — in a film for her role in 1996’s Evita.
In 2011, Cher became the only artist in history to score No. 1 hits in each of the last six decades, which is the kind of accomplishment that only an artist as versatile and successful as Cher can achieve. Throughout that 60-plus-year career, Cher has continued to break down barriers, including earning a Guinness World Record for being the oldest female solo artist to notch a No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2016, Dolly Parton was recognized as the female artist with the most hits, and the most decades with a top 20 hit, on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart. She also has the distinction of being the namesake for Dolly, the sheep that was the world’s first cloned animal.
At present, Lady Gaga holds three Guinness World Records — one for being the most downloaded artist in a single year, awarded in 2009, and another for her song “Poker Face,” which spent a record-breaking 83 weeks at No. 1 on the U.S. Hot Digital Songs chart.
Now with more than 127 million Instagram followers, Justin Bieber has been shattering records since he began his career as a crooning 13-year-old recording covers on YouTube. He’s the first artist to score more than 50 million subscribers on YouTube, and his videos have racked up more than 2 billion views.
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