An astonishing 741 weeks on the Billboard albums chart. More than 65 million copies sold. Career album and single sales of more than 300 million.
Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson and the Beatles have scaled the heights of the music world with high-water marks that seem untouchable. But when it comes to golden standards, American swimming star Michael Phelps set the kind of career mark Tuesday night that isn’t likely to be eclipsed in our lifetime.
With his stellar anchor leg of the men’s 4×200 relay, the lanky water strider led the American men to a gold medal and himself to the title of most-decorated Olympian ever. Breaking a record set by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina that stood for 48 years, Phelps’ 19 medals (15 of which are gold) led to instant debates about whether he is the greatest Olympic champion of all time.
That got us thinking: Which music stars of today are putting up numbers so gaudy that our children, or maybe our children’s children, might look at them 48 years from now and say, “Man, I never thought anyone could do that”?
Eminem: Just this week, Slim Shady set the all-time mark for the most Facebook “likes” ever by a living person with 60.1 million. Rihanna is hot on his trail, but considering that he’s picking up new Facebook friends at a clip of nearly 27,000 a day, Em could hold that one for a good long time. Did we mention he’s also the best-selling rapper of all time?
Katy Perry: Along with four nominations at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards , Perry recently notched her ninth #1 single on the Billboard top 40 chart this week with “Wide Awake.” That tied her with Rihanna for nine #1′s. She already set a record last summer when “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” topped the Billboard Hot 100, tying her with Jackson for five #1 singles from an album.
Justin Bieber: The Canadian sensation crushed YouTube in May when “Boyfriend” racked up 8 million views in its first 24 hours and more than 17 million streams in its first week. He also still holds the top spot for the most-viewed video of all time with his breakthrough hit “Baby,” which has more than 764 million clicks, besting #2 Jennifer Lopez’s “On the Floor” by nearly 200 million.
Madonna: Among the many mountains Madonna has scaled, perhaps the highest is her singular place atop the list of most MTV Video Music Awards wins ever. With 20 Moonmen for the likes of “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Vogue,” “Like a Prayer” and “Ray of Light,” she leads Lady Gaga by seven wins — for now.
Lady Gaga: The pop queen of social media has a lock on the #1 spot when it comes to Twitter followers with 27.8 million, just edging out Bieber and Perry.
Rihanna: How’s this sound? Best-selling digital download artist of all time with more than 50 million downloads — that’s the crown Rihanna took earlier this year thanks to her unbelievable string of hit singles.
Mariah Carey: In these attention-deficit times, it’s hard enough to stay atop the singles chart for one week, not to mention 16. But the newest “American Idol” judge did just that in 1995-96 with her Boyz II Men collabo “One Sweet Day.” Only two songs this millennium have even come close so far, the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” (which hit 14 weeks in 2009) and Carey’s own “We Belong Together” (which notched 14 in 2005).
Adele: Famous in an era when singles rule over albums, the British songbird has somehow found a way to keep selling copies of her near diamond-status 21 long after other #1 albums have faded from the top 200. In fact, 21 has logged an incredible 24 non-consecutive weeks at #1 so far, tying it with the “Purple Rain” and “Saturday Night Fever” soundtracks . The all-time record is 54 weeks for the “West Side Story” soundtrack, but of all the albums in the 20-plus week category, Adele’s is the only one in the past 20 years to achieve that status.
Forget the Olympics: Vote now in MTV’s Summer Jam Games! Polls are open and will close at midnight ET Sunday (August 5). Guide your favorites to golden glory, and help spread the word via Twitter, using the hashtag #SummerJamGames.