If you’re a Beatles fan and read the news today, oh boy … you probably felt like the headlines were baiting you. “Drake shatters Beatles record with ‘Money in the Grave,'” crowed the New York Post. “Drake breezes by The Beatles for second-most top-10 hits,” the Daily News chimed in.
Over at GoldDerby, the first half of the headline crossed into the provocative: “Drake is bigger than The Beatles.” (Sure, a qualification followed that bit, but could you see it on your mobile device?)
Even on this site, a post asking if “rapper Drake” was “officially more famous than The Beatles” saw the light of day. (If you have to explain what Drake does for a living, wouldn’t that answer the question?)
Drake has had a lot of success in his career, but to pretend like he’s had the sort of success The Beatles had is simply preposterous. Just glance at the list of No. 1 singles (sorry, what’s a top 10?) to end the conversation. But the No. 1 album tally gets even worse for the Toronto rapper.
Drake has 6 No. 1 singles compared to 20 by The Beatles.
A top-10 single is a great milestone for an artist, and the news this week was that Drake has more of them (35) than anyone besides Madonna (38). However, if we’re discussing Drake in the same conversation as The Beatles, we’d do ourselves by starting with the big one — the No. 1 hits.
On that front, The Beatles have more than three times as many No. 1 singles (20) as Drake (6). We should probably point out that Drake (over eight years) has already been releasing albums longer than the Fab Four (six years, three months), but that’s for another conversation.
Here, we’ll only discuss the tale of the tape, and Drake trails The Beatles’ mark for hit singles by a country mile or two. Meanwhile, on two of Drake’s six No. 1s, the artist is listed as “Rihanna featuring Drake.” Would he have topped the charts without her? We’ll never know.
We do know The Beatles didn’t have anyone else helping them to No. 1. Later, Paul McCartney scored a bunch of chart-toppers with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, but that will only inflate the totals against Drake.
The Beatles have 19 No. 1 albums to Drake’s 8.
Since The Beatles didn’t release albums in the streaming era, you also have to pay close attention to the albums. Singles generally promoted albums, unless they were special one-offs like “Hey Jude” or “The Ballad of John and Yoko.
More importantly, fans bought the albums to enjoy a band’s music. They didn’t press a button on their phones. And they couldn’t buy half an album. So The Beatles have absolutely crushed Drake in terms of album sales (183 million) and No. 1 records (19).
Compared to those all-time U.S. records, Drake checks in with 16.5 million record sales and eight chart-topping albums. While we’re talking about top-10 albums, we’ll also point the Beatles’ massive tally (32) compared to Drake’s (10).
So we’re talking about apples and oranges in some ways, but no matter how folks want to compare them, there is no comparing Drake and The Beatles — and that’s without getting into their artistry.