Senior Editor and Researcher
If the Billboard Hot 100 charts and similar lists have taught us anything over the years, anyone can be a musical success.
It doesn’t take years of experience in the industry or the world’s longest song to attract listeners.
If you’re lucky enough to find the right beat, have incredible vocals, or just cash in on a changing trend, you can skyrocket to the top of the rankings almost instantly.
Some musicians are even lucky enough to reach the top of the podium multiple times.
If you’ve ever wondered whether an artist is “too young” to be a musical success, you’re in the right place.
Today, we will pay homage to some of the youngest stars to ever reach number 1.
13 of the Youngest Artists to Have a #1 Hit
Notably, for this list, we’re looking at artists to officially reach the top spot in the US Hot 100 Billboard and similar charts.
That means we won’t be covering younger artists who only made it to the top 10 (although there are many).
Let’s dive in.
1. Stevie Wonder
Easily one of the most popular and well-known soul artists of all time, Stevie Wonder is the youngest artist to ever appear at number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts.
His unforgettable song, “Fingertips,” soared to the top of the rankings in 1963, when Stevie was only 13 years old.
However, it’s worth noting the song was recorded a year earlier, in 1962.
After achieving instant success in the US, Wonder continued to produce highly successful tunes, becoming one of the best-selling music artists in the world.
He’s even honored in the Rhythm and Blues, Songwriter, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
2. Peggy March
Unlike Stevie, Peggy March was more of a one-hit wonder in the pop industry.
She rose to fame in 1963 with her song “I Will Follow Him.” This tune quickly reached the top of her Billboard charts and sold millions of copies worldwide.
This first single reached number 1 in Australia, South Africa, Scandinavia, Japan, and New Zealand.
Though March didn’t claim the top spot again after her success at the age of 15, she released many successful songs.
Tunes like “Hello Heartache, Goodbye Love” reached the top 30 in the US and UK.
3. Billie Piper
Now better known to most as a famous actor, Billie Piper released her debut single, “Because We Want to,” at the early age of 15.
This made her the youngest female artist to ever debut in the UK singles chart at the top.
Her next track, “Girlfriend,” also hit the top of the charts.
Unfortunately, Billie didn’t have much success outside of the UK.
After earning a record deal with her first smash hit, Piper stayed under the radar in the US until her album Honey to the Bee peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.
4. Dennis Seaton (Musical Youth)
At the young age of 15, Dennis Seaton of the British Jamaican band Musical Youth wrote his first ’80s reggae anthem.
“Pass the Dutchie,” one of the top songs on the album, quickly became a phenomenal hit worldwide, reaching number 1 on the UK Singles Chart.
The same tune rose to number one in at least five other countries, although it only peaked at number 10 in the US charts.
Despite less success in the American market, Musical Youth became a massive success, selling over five million copies of their album worldwide.
Lorde, otherwise known as Ella Marija Lani Yelick-O’Connor, rose to fame quickly in various parts of the world.
Her first chart-topping single, “Royals,” was released in 2013, when Lorde was only 16. This impressive song received widespread support from music critics.
It rose to the top of the charts in the US and stayed there for a full nine weeks.
The single also attained amazing success in Sweden, Spain, New Zealand, Italy, Ireland, Canada, Belgium, the UK, and Israel.
It was even certified as a diamond single by the Recording Industry Association of America, selling 10 million units worldwide.
Teen icon and popstar Tiffany (Tiffany Renee Darwish) spent two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart when she was only 16.
Her cover of the song “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James and the Shondells began Tiffany’s rise to fame.
Shortly after, she produced another number-one hit with “Could’ve Been.”
What’s more, both of these singles were included in Tiffany’s album, which also reached number 1 on the Billboard 200 charts in 1987.
7. Billie Eilish
Easily one of the most popular artists on this list today, Billie Eilish has taken a unique approach to her musical career.
Combining indie, pop, electronic music, and trap elements, Billie topped the Billboard 200 album charts at 17 with When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
The same year, the song “Bad Guy” topped the US Billboard Hot 100 charts and 16 other international charts, including those in the UK, Canada, and New Zealand.
The tune ended the record-breaking 19-week chart-topping run of “Old Town Road” by Little Nas X.
8. Britney Spears
Capturing the hearts of millions with her “schoolgirl next door” routine, Britney Spears is one of the most iconic female artists of the century.
She quickly earned the top position on the US Billboard charts in 1998 with her debut single “…Baby One More Time”.
The song also topped the charts in at least 22 countries and earned a triple-platinum certification in the UK.
The single was voted by Billboard to have the best music video of the 1990s.
Plus, Rolling Stone named the tune the greatest debut single of all time in 2020.
9. Pixie Lott
Another female chart-topper who got an early start on fame, Pixie Lott, achieved her first number 1 position on the UK Charts at 18.
She topped the rankings with her debut single “Mama Do” in 2009. This made Lott one of the youngest singers to achieve a UK number-one single after Britney Spears changed the world in 1999.
Although the song didn’t hit the number-one spot in the US, it helped Pixie to earn international acclaim.
Her follow-up album, Young Foolish Happy, in 2011, produced another number-one hit, “All About Tonight,” alongside two top 10 singles.
10. Ricky Nelson
Eric Hilliard Nelson, or Ricky Nelson, entered the glitz and glam of Hollywood earlier than most.
From the age of eight, he was already starring alongside his family in a television and radio series.
Over his career as a singer, Nelson entered 54 songs into the Billboard Hot 100.
One of Ricky’s songs, “Poor Little Fool,” released in 1958, was the first number one to appear on the newly created Hot 100 Chart by Billboard.
Nelson then recorded an additional 19 top 10 hits and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
11. Cliff Richard
Known for his popular Christmas songs, Cliff Richard has earned several accolades during his musical career.
He’s the third best-selling artist in UK Singles Chart history, falling behind The Beatles and Elvis Presley.
One of Richard’s first UK number 1 hits was “Living Doll,” released in 1959 when Richard was only 19 years old.
Over the years, Richard went on to produce another 13 UK Number 1 singles, and he’s the only singer in the country to have a number 1 in each of five consecutive decades.
12. Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)
Alex Turner, the songwriter behind the Arctic Monkey’s hit “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” was only 19 when the single breached the top of the UK Singles Chart.
The song was recorded three times with various producers and is one of the group’s best-known hits.
Outside of its success in the UK radio charts, the tune earned critical acclaim elsewhere. It was ranked number 7 on NME’s list of the top 500 greatest songs ever.
NME also listed the song as number 11 on its list of the 150 best tracks of the previous 15 years.
13. Kate Bush
In 1978, Kate Bush released the song “Wuthering Heights” through EMI Records, inspired by the Emily Bronte novel of the same name.
It peaked at number one on the UK Singles charts for four weeks.
It also reached the top of the charts in Australia, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and New Zealand. It was even named the fifth greatest song of the ’90s by Pitchfork Magazine.
Notably, Bush stood out as the first female artist in the UK to achieve a number-one single with a tune she wrote herself with, “Wuthering Heights.”
She went on to have several popular songs after, including “Running Up That Hill.”