The top song from each year was determined by analysing Billboard’s year-end No. 1 songs since 1940.
The list also include Whitney Houston, Adele, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Prince, and more.
1940: “I’ll Never Smile Again” — Tommy Dorsey
Insider looked into the singles that remained at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for the longest for songs released before 1946, when Billboard does not have a year-end list.
The Tommy Dorsey song “I’ll Never Smile Again,” which also includes backup vocals by Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers, spent 12 weeks at the top of the Billboard singles list.
1941: “Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy)” — Jimmy Dorsey
Dorsey’s well-known rendition of the song, which was originally composed by Spanish-American composer José Maria Lacalle Garcia, spent 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts.
“Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller came in second. On the Billboard singles chart, it remained at the top for nine weeks.
1942: “White Christmas” — Bing Crosby
Since 2012, Crosby’s rendition of the Irving Berlin song, which was heard in the movie “White Christmas,” has held the title of best-selling single.
The Christmas favourite reportedly sold 50 million copies, according to Guinness World Records.
1943: “I’ve Heard That Song Before” — Harry James
It was nominated for an Oscar for best original song because it was included in the 1942 movie “Youth on Parade.” “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby triumphed over it.
1944: “Swinging on a Star” — Bing Crosby
The 1944 film “Going My Way” featured “Swinging on a Star,” which was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song.
1945: “‘Till the End of Time” — Perry Como
On the Billboard charts, the song remained at the top for nine weeks. The song “Sentimental Journey” by Les Brown and Doris Day also lasted the same number of weeks at No. 1.
1946: “The Gypsy” — The Ink Spots
Billboard may have chosen Perry Como’s “Prisoner of Love” as the year’s top single at the end, but the publication selected “The Gypsy” as the year’s best song.
1947: “Near You” — Francis Craig
According to Billboard, the Francis Craig song was the best DJ record of the year.
1948: “Buttons and Bows” — Dinah Shore
Despite Dinah Shore’s “Buttons and Bows” being No. 1 on “the honour roll of hits” and the top “disc in the nation’s jukeboxes,” Pee Wee Hunt’s “Twelfth Street Rag” was the year’s No. 1 Billboard single.
Another one that deserves consideration is “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover.”
1949: “Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend)” — Vaughn Monroe
Over the years, artists including Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and even Sesame Street have recorded the country-western song numerous times.
1950: “Goodnight, Irene” — Gordon Jenkins and The Weavers
The Weavers’ version is a cover of the original track. The song was initially performed by Lead Belly, who passed just a year after its release.
1951: “Too Young” — Nat King Cole
Sidney Lippman and Sylvia Dee wrote the song’s original lyrics.
1952: “Blue Tango” — Leroy Anderson
The best-selling song and instrumental track of the year according to Billboard was Anderson’s.
1953: “The Song From Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)” — Percy Faith
The song was the No. 1 record on the Billboard charts for 10 weeks in 1952 and was used in the Zsa Zsa Gabor-starring film “Moulin Rouge.”
1954: “Little Things Mean A Lot” — Kitty Kallen
The most well-known version of the song is Kallen’s take on the 1953 classic. According to Billboard, it was the best song of the year.
1955: “Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)”— Pérez Prado
The song’s original version was created by Prado in 1950.
1956: “Heartbreak Hotel” — Elvis Presley
Presley’s songs “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” both spent 11 weeks at No. 1—three weeks longer than “Heartbreak Hotel”—despite the fact that “Heartbreak Hotel” was the year’s top single.
1957: “All Shook Up” — Elvis Presley
Due to the song’s immense popularity, both Billy Joel and the Beatles have recorded their own versions of “All Shook Up.”
1958: “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” — Domenico Modugno
At the inaugural Grammy Awards in 1959, the song from Italy known as “Volare” won for song of the year and record of the year.
1959: “The Battle of New Orleans” — Johnny Horton
The song was the year’s top pop and country single. Sadly, Horton passed away in a car accident a year later.
1960: “Theme From a Summer Place” — Percy Faith
Richard Egan, Dorothy McGuire, Troy Donahue, and Sandra Dee starred in the 1959 picture “A Summer Place,” which also featured the instrumental music.
1961: “Tossin’ and Turnin'” — Bobby Lewis
The song spent several weeks at No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B chart.
1962: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” — Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
During the holiday season, the song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks.
1963: “Surfin’ U.S.A.” — The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys’ summertime tune was selected as the best song of the year by Billboard.
1964: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” — The Beatles
The beautiful song debuted at number one in the US, UK, Australia, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
1965: “I Can’t Help Myself” — Four Tops
The Supremes, Donnie Elbert, and other artists have all covered the song.
1966: “The Ballad of the Green Berets” — Staff Sergeant Barry Allen Sadler
The patriotic song, which was composed and performed by Vietnam War veteran Barry Sadler, topped the charts in the US for five weeks in 1966.
1967: “Respect” — Aretha Franklin
Before becoming a hit for Franklin, the song was first made popular by Otis Redding in a different rendition. In 1968, she won two Grammys for the song “Respect.”
1968: “Hey Jude” — The Beatles
During his parent’s divorce, Paul McCartney initially composed the song “Hey Jules” for John Lennon’s son. It ultimately evolved into “Hey Jude.”
It is ranked as the seventh best song of all time by Rolling Stone.
1969: “Sugar, Sugar” — The Archies
The song first appeared in the “The Archie Show,” a cartoon featuring well-known comic book characters. In the end, it remained at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 list for four weeks.
1970: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — Simon & Garfunkel
Several Grammy Awards, including those for record and song of the year, went to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
1971: “Joy to the World” — Three Dog Night
The track was included on “Naturally,” the group’s fourth studio album from 1970. The Big Chill’s soundtrack from 1983 contains a sample of it.
1972: “Let’s Stay Together” — Al Green
The song has been featured in several films and television programmes, including “Pulp Fiction” and “Parks and Recreation.”
1973: “Let’s Get It On” — Marvin Gaye
One of Marvin Gaye’s most well-known tracks, the song contributed to his status as a sex icon.
1974: “The Way We Were” — Barbra Streisand
In 1974, the song won the Golden Globe for best original song, and the Grammy Award for song of the year the following year.
1975: “Love Will Keep Us Together” — Captain & Tennille
At the 1976 Grammy Awards, “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Dragon and Tennille was named record of the year.
1976: “Silly Love Songs” — Wings
After McCartney was accused of just creating love songs, the former Beatle penned “Silly Love Songs.”
According to McCartney, “the song intended, in a way, to counter people who merely accuse me of being soppy.”
1977: “Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)” — Rod Stewart
Stewart’s 1976 album “A Night on the Town” included the single “Tonight’s the Night.” Many performers, including Janet Jackson, have covered it.
1978: “Shadow Dancing” — Andy Gibb
In 1978, the song spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was Gibb’s last strike.
1979: “My Sharona” — The Knack
The Knack’s first single was the gold-certified tune. Since then, it has appeared in both the film “Super 8” and the video game “Rock Band.”
1980: “Call Me” — Blondie
The theme music for the 1980 crime drama “American Gigolo” was “Call Me.”
1981: “Bette Davis Eyes” — Kim Carnes
Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love,” which also climbed to the top of the Billboard charts, was edged out by “Bette Davis Eyes.” Grammy Awards for record and song of the year went to Carnes’ popular cover song.
1982: “Physical” — Olivia Newton-John
Newton-12th John’s album’s first single, “Physical,” was made public. Dua Lipa recently used a sample of it in her song of the same name.
1983: “Every Breath You Take” — The Police
The song by Sting from the album “Synchronicity” from 1983 became popular in both the US and the UK.
The same-year song “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye merits a special mention as well.
1984: “When Doves Cry” — Prince
As the first single from Prince’s legendary album “Purple Rain,” the song was released.
1985: “Careless Whisper” — George Michael
Michael’s debut solo hit was the song.
1986: “That’s What Friends Are For” — Dionne Warwick featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder
At the 29th annual awards ceremony, Warwick, Wonder, and Knight received the Grammy for best pop group performance along with composer Elton John. The song of the year award went to “That’s What Friends Are For.”
1987: “Walk Like An Egyptian” — The Bangles
The track was the third single from the “Different Light” album by The Bangles. It is reportedly one of the group’s least favourite tunes.
1988: “Faith” — George Michael
Michael’s first solo album included the song.
1989: “Look Away” — Chicago
The song was Chicago’s best-selling single.
1990: “Hold On” — Wilson Phillips
The track received the 1990 Hot 100 Single of the Year Billboard Music Award.
1991: “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” — Bryan Adams
The song, which was featured on “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves'” soundtrack, went viral around the world. It was awarded the Grammy for best song composed for a film or television.
1992: “End Of The Road” — Boyz II Men
In 1993, the song took home the award for greatest R&B performance by a duet or group at the 35th Grammy Awards.
1993: “I Will Always Love You” — Whitney Houston
For her film “The Bodyguard,” Whitney Houston covered the Dolly Parton classic on her own. The record of the year Grammy award for 1994 went to the song. It is regarded as the most successful single ever released by a female artist.
1994: “The Sign” — Ace of Base
The Swedish band’s 1993 album of the same name featured three singles, “The Sign” being one of them.
1995: “Gangsta’s Paradise” — Coolio featuring L.V.
The song was included on the soundtrack for the 1995 film “Dangerous Minds,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
1996: “Macarena” — Los del Rio
The omnipresent ’90s dance music is a staple for events including weddings and parties.
1997: “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” — Elton John
In 1997, “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” and “Candle in the Wind” were released as a double A-side single.
The following year, after John gave a new rendition of his 1973 hit song at Princess Diana’s burial, the song “Candlelight in the Wind” shot to the top of the charts. Both of these were named the top pop songs of the year by Billboard.
1998: “Too Close” — Next
One of the best one-hit wonders of the 1990s was “Too Close.” It was the number-one song on Billboard’s 1998 year-end list and was on the soundtrack for “Save the Last Dance.”
1999: “Believe” — Cher
The dance-pop song served as Cher’s 22nd album’s lead single. Episodes of “Friends,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” have all featured it.
2000: “Breathe” — Faith Hill
Despite never reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100, the song was recognised as the year’s top single in 2000.
2001: “Hanging By A Moment” — Lifehouse
The track featured as the album’s lead single for the alternative group.
2002: “How You Remind Me” — Nickelback
The song was the most played song on US radio in the 2000s, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
2003: “In Da Club” — 50 Cent
The rapper’s debut No. 1 single was the tune. The song’s music video won best rap video at 2003’s MTV Video Music Awards.
2004: “Yeah!” — Usher featuring Lil’ Jon and Ludacris
Only Usher’s subsequent single, “Burn,” managed to unseat “Yeah!” from the top of the Billboard list.
2005: “We Belong Together” — Mariah Carey
When the song was released, some commentators believed that Carey’s career was about to expire. “We Belong Together” won best R&B song and best female R&B vocal performance at the 48th annual Grammys.
2006: “Bad Day” — Daniel Powter
Ads and TV shows frequently parody and use “Bad Day” as a plot device. Powter claimed that because it has been used so frequently since its debut and is virtually in the public domain, he felt “separated from the song.”
2007: “Irreplaceable” — Beyoncé
Insider ranked the song as the third-best breakup song of the twenty-first century when it was released as the third single from Beyoncé’s second solo album, “B’Day.”
2008: “Low” — Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
The soundtrack for the 2008 movie “Step Up 2: The Streets” included the song “Low.”
2009: “Boom Boom Pow” — The Black Eyed Peas
The song earned the trio their first US No. 1 single and the Grammy for best short form music video.
2010: “Tik Tok” — Kesha
Weird Al mocked Kesha’s debut track, which also made an appearance on a “The Simpsons” episode.
2011: “Rolling In The Deep” — Adele
One of the few music videos with more than one billion views is “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.
2012: “Somebody That I Used To Know” — Gotye featuring Kimbra
At the 2013 Grammy Awards, the one-hit wonder won for best pop duo/group performance and record of the year.
2013: “Thrift Shop” — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
At the 2014 Grammy Awards, Macklemore’s novelty hit took home the best rap song and performance awards.
2014: “Happy” — Pharrell Williams
In 2014, Pharrell produced the ideal feel-good tune of the season. It was recorded for the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack and wound up being the year’s biggest hit.
2015: “See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
The song spent 12 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 list and was written as a tribute to Paul Walker for the “Furious 7” soundtrack. With almost three billion views for a number of years, it held the record for YouTube’s most popular music video.
Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” was a huge smash in 2015 and peaked at number one on the Billboard pop chart.
2016: “Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber
The third track from Justin Bieber’s fourth album, “Purpose,” was made public. It was one of the songs with the highest sales in 2016, and the YouTube music video has had over 1.2 billion views.
2017: “Despacito” — Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber
Despite the fact that Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was the number-one Billboard single of 2017, Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s catchy club song (boosted by Justin Bieber) holds the record for the longest run at the top of the chart with 16 straight weeks over the summer of 2017. That is more time than Sheeran spent on “Shape of You” (11 weeks).
The first music video in history to surpass five billion views on YouTube was the original “Despacito” clip without Justin Bieber.
2018: “God’s Plan” — Drake
The year’s top hit according to Billboard for 2018 was Drake’s “God’s Plan.” The year before, the rapper’s song “In My Feelings,” which became a meme, had another massive smash.
2019: “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
With 19 weeks at No. 1, “Old Town Road” holds the record for the longest run at the top. It also achieved diamond certification the quickest in music history.
2020: “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd
Less than a year after “Blinding Lights” was declared the best song of 2020 by Billboard, it was named the greatest song to ever appear on the Billboard Hot 100.
The mega single by The Weeknd spent 90 weeks on the Hot 100, 86 weeks in the top 40, and 43 weeks in the top five of the chart.
2021: “Levitating” by Dua Lipa
The fifth song from Dua Lipa’s sophomore album, “Future Nostalgia,” “Levitating,” was first made available in March 2020.
It was promoted as the album’s fifth single and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 2021, eventually becoming the longest-charting song by a female artist, spending a total of 77 weeks on the chart.
2022: “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals
“Heat Waves” finished an incredible 59-week ascent to No. 1 in March 2022.
The single, which was written completely by Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley, topped the charts for five weeks in a row and was Billboard’s best-performing song of the year at its conclusion.
The Hot 100’s 64-year history’s longest-charting hit is currently “Heat Waves.” It stayed on the charts for 91 weeks, beating The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” record.
Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” which peaked at number two on Billboard in 2022, deserves a special note. A new record for a solo performer was set with “Harry’s Houselead “‘s single, which spent 15 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
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