Landing a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 has long been seen as an ultimate signifier of pop stardom. Here’s another sign that you’ve really arrived: when you get a name-check on another artist’s No. 1 Hot 100 hit. More than a dozen artists have achieved both of these feats.
Take a look at the following list, organized alphabetically — which doesn’t purport to be a comprehensive list, but is certainly a healthy sampling.
The Beatles: The GOAT pop-rock group landed 20 No. 1 hits, from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in 1964 to “The Long and Winding Road” in 1970. They’ve also been name-checked on at least two other No. 1 hits. Billy Joel included “British Beatlemania” in his 1989 opus “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” The Fab Four was also cited in the title of the 2016 Rae Sremmurd/Gucci Mane collab “Black Beatles,” which held the top spot for seven weeks — a tenure matched by just two Beatles singles. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who also both landed multiple solo No. 1s, are also name-checked on “Black Beatles.”
Beyoncé: While famously encouraging listeners to “shake it like a Polaroid picture” on hip-hop duo OutKast’s Hot 100-conquering 2003 smash “Hey Ya!,” rapper Andre 3000 also includes a call for “all Beyoncés and Lucy Lius” to “get on the floor.” Beyoncé had just scored her first two solo No. 1s (of six to date) earlier that year, with the Jay-Z featuring “Crazy in Love” and Sean Paul-assisted “Baby Boy,” after previously notching four as part of girl group Destiny’s Child.
Chubby Checker: Chubby, the early rocker behind Billboard’s reigning all-time No. 1 Hot 100 single “The Twist,” was one of the many historical figures namechecked in the itemized checklist of Cold War-era world history that was Billy Joel’s 1989 chart-topper “We Didn’t Start the Fire”: “Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo.”
Miley Cyrus: Pitbull paid tribute to one of his fellow rowdy turn-of-the-’10s hitmakers on his and Kesha’s 2014 No. 1 hit “Timber” with the lyric “Got ’em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off/ Twerkin’ in their bras and thongs.” Cyrus had previously topped the chart the year before with the power ballad “Wrecking Ball,” indeed appearing sans clothes in the song’s extremely viral music video.
Diddy: “Wake up in the morning feelin’ like P. Diddy” goes the first line to the first song to hit No. 1 in the 2010s: Kesha’s barnstorming dance-pop anthem “Tik Tok.” The line calls back to the rapper born Sean Combs, who — under a variety of evolving names — scored five No. 1s between 1997 and 2003.
Eminem: 50 Cent’s meteoric rise to superstardom in the early ’00s probably doesn’t happen without Eminem, who discovered the rapper in 2002, and gets name-checked in his first No. 1 hit “In da Club” (“When you sell like Eminem, and the h–s, they want to f–k”) while also appearing in the song’s video. Eminem has scored five Hot 100 No. 1s of his own, including 2009’s “Crack a Bottle,” with 50 as a co-star.
Fabo: Mid-’00s Atlanta rapper Fabo caught a likely unexpected namedrop in 2018, when Drake shouted out the snap-era star on the lyric “With your phone out, snappin’ like you Fabo” from “Nice For What,” one of three Hot 100 No. 1s for Drake as a lead artist that year. As part of the group D4L, Fabo reached the Hot 100’s apex in 2006 with the sparse banger “Laffy Taffy.”
Marvin Gaye: The Motown legend landed three No. 1 hits: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1968), “Let’s Get It On” (1973) and “Got to Give It Up (Pt. I)” (1977). In 2003, he was the first artist mentioned in the Twista/West/Foxx collab “Slow Jamz” — which also saluted Michael Jackson and at least seven other artists who have had No. 1 hits on the Hot 100: Ready for the World, Minnie Riperton, Biggie (The Notorious B.I.G.), Gladys Knight, Al Green, Isaac Hayes and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown: One of pop’s most successful (if combustible) power couples gets a shoutout in Lil Wayne’s verse on DJ Khaled’s No.1-debuting 2017 all-star single “I’m the One”: “She think we Clyde and Bonnie/ But it’s more like Whitney and Bobby.” Whitney Houston scored 11 No. 1s over her illustrious career, while Bobby Brown added one of his own with “My Prerogative” in 1989.
Michael Jackson: Jackson landed 13 No. 1 hits as a solo artist, from “Ben” in 1972 to “You Are Not Alone” in 1995. He has also been name-checked on at least four No. 1 hits: the Twista/Kanye West/Jamie Foxx collab “Slow Jamz” (2003), the West/Foxx collab “Gold Digger” (2005), the Post Malone/Ty Dolla $ign collab “Psycho” (2018) and Drake’s “Toosie Slide,” which entered the Hot 100 at No. 1 in April and asks on the post-chorus: “Don’t you wanna dance with me?/ I could dance like Michael Jackson.”
Mick Jagger: Jagger led The Rolling Stones to eight No. 1 hits, from 1965’s immortal “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” to 1978’s “Miss You.” In 2010, he got a name-check on Kesha’s “TiK ToK.” The following year, he got another name-check — in the title, yet — on the Maroon 5/Christina Aguilera collab “Moves Like Jagger.” The lyrics toast one of rock’s greatest showmen: “I’ll show you all the moves like Jagger.”
Bert Kaempfert: One of the less-likely No. 1 artist namechecks ever to be found on a fellow member of the No. 1 club came via a mention of this German orchestra leader on Barenaked Ladies’ alt-rap 1998 goof “One Week”: “Bert Kaempfert’s got the mad hits, you try to match wits…” Kaempfert did indeed have the mad hits in the early ’60s, including the three-week 1961 No. 1 “Wonderland by Night.” (Sting, frontman of Hot 100-toppers The Police, also catches a quick reference in the following verse.)
R. Kelly: One of the perhaps more regrettable No. 1-on-No. 1 namechecks was this ill-conceived lyric from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ 2013 cheap-fashion ode “Thrift Shop”: “Probably shoulda washed this, smells like R. Kelly sheets.” The R&B singer scored two Hot 100-toppers as a lead artist, with “Bump n’ Grind” in 1994 and Celine Dion duet “I’m Your Angel” in 1998.
Jennifer Lopez: J.Lo has had four No. 1 hits, from “If You Had My Love” in 1999 to “All I Have” in 2003. In 2005, she got a name-check on the West/Foxx collab “Gold Digger.” “My psychic told me she’ll have a a** like Serena /Trina, Jennifer Lopez, four kids.”
Jim Morrison: Morrison led The Doors to two No. 1 hits, “Light My Fire” (1967) and “Hello, I Love You” (1968). In 2017, he was name-checked on the Post Malone/21 Savage collab, “Rockstar.” “She ask me light a fire like I’m Morrison.”
Elvis Presley: They don’t call him The King for nothing. Presley landed seven No. 1 hits on the Hot 100, from “A Big Hunk o ‘ Love” in 1959 to “Suspicious Minds” in 1969. (He had even more No. 1 hits prior to the advent of the Hot 100.) In 1989, Presley was cited in Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” which also mentioned a few artists whose No. 1 hits pre-dated the Hot 100 era – Doris Day, Johnnie Ray and Buddy Holly.
Prince: The Purple One gets a quick mention towards the end of Kanye West’s third No. 1 hit, 2007’s “Stronger,” as the rapper answers his own “You know how long I’ve been on ya?” question with “Since Prince was on Apollonia.” The late Prince Rogers Nelson notched five Hot 100 No. 1s in his lifetime — the first two off the legendary eponymous soundtrack to 1984 film vehicle Purple Rain, which co-starred one Apollonia Kotero.
Frank Sinatra: Big Apple rap great Jay-Z has long been fond of comparing himself to one particular fellow tri-state musical legend, particularly on 2009’s New York ode “Empire State of Mind”: “I’m the new Sinatra/ And since I made it here, I can make it everywhere.” The Sinatra classic he’s referencing, “Theme From New York, New York,” topped out at No. 32 on the Hot 100, but Ol’ Blue Eyes did score two No. 1s on the listing (1966’s “Strangers in the Night” and 1967 duet with daughter Nancy “Somethin’ Stupid”), as well as several more chart-toppers in the pre-Hot 100 era. (The song also gives a quick shoutout to Jeezy, who was featured on Usher’s Hot 100-conquering “Love in This Club” a year earlier.)
Usher: Usher has had nine No. 1 hits, from “Nice & Slow” in 1998 to “OMG” in 2010. In 2005, he got a name-check on the West/Foxx collab “Gold Digger.” “My best friend said she used to f*** with Usher.”
Keith Caulfield and Gary Trust provided additional reporting.