Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs
In celebration of the chart’s 55th Anniversary, we’re counting down the 100 biggest Hot 100 hits ever.
When Billboard introduced weekly music charts in 1940, there were sales charts and there were airplay charts. These separate charts measuring the popularity of singles continued going their separate ways until Aug. 4, 1958, when Billboard introduced the first chart that blended sales and airplay data. Named the “Hot 100,” it has continued to this day, known around the world for being the definitive U.S. singles weekly report. As someone once said, “It ain’t No. 1 until it’s No. 1 in Billboard.”
In celebration of the 55th anniversary of the Hot 100, here is an updated list of the top 100 songs in the tally’s history, ranked in order of chart performance — which we are counting down, 10 per day, until the full list is uncovered. This all-time chart was first compiled for the Hot 100’s 50th anniversary; in the five years that have passed, a dozen songs that charted between 2008-2013 have jumped onto the top 100. Come along as we reveal all the songs that made the list.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to read how this list was formulated.
“You Make Me Wanna…” – Usher Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (1997)
His third single to appear on the Hot 100 and the first to reach the upper half of the chart. It peaked at No. 2 and was on the chart for 47 weeks, the longest run of any Usher single so far.
“We Are Young” – fun. feat. Janelle Monae Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (2012)
Billboard’s No. 3 Hot 100 song of 2012, behind first chart entries from Gotye and Cary Rae Jepsen. It was the first time in the tenure of the Hot 100 that the top three songs of the year were by new artists.
“Best of My Love” – Emotions Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1977)
When the Stax label shuttered in 1975, sisters Sheila, Wanda and Pam Hutchinson signed with Maurice White’s Kalimba Productions and made a new deal with Columbia Records. White co-wrote and produced “Best of My Love” for them, giving the trio its biggest hit.
“One More Night” – Maroon 5 Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (2012)
The third of Maroon 5’s three No. 1s and the one with the lengthiest run at the top: nine weeks. That was long enough to prevent PSY’s “Gangnam Style” from occupying the No. 1 position in the U.S.
“Another Day in Paradise” – Phil Collins Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1989)
Adding vocals to this song was one of Collins’ heroes, David Crosby. The two met at Atlantic’s 40th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden in 1988 and Collins asked if Crosby would add his voice to a couple of Collins’ songs.
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” – B.J. Thomas Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1970)
The night before he recorded the Burt Bacharch-Hal David song for the film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Thomas had laryngitis. Treated by his doctor, Thomas did five raspy takes for Bacharach and said if he had to do one more, he wouldn’t have had any voice. A few weeks later, all healed, Thomas recorded the crystal-clear version that would be released as a single.
“I’ll Be Missing You” – Puff Daddy & Faith Evans feat. 112 Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 11 weeks (1997)
After his friend Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G.) was killed, Sean “Puffy” Combs thought recording a tribute song would be cathartic, and it was. He sampled one of his favorite songs, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. “It always made me cry,” he says.
“Hurts So Good” – John Cougar Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (1982)
The fifth Hot 100 entry for Cougar, before he reclaimed his last name of Mellencamp. His first single to crack the top 10, it peaked at No. 2 and was followed by his only No. 1 hit, “Jack and Diane.”
“Killing Me Softly With His Song” – Roberta Flack Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1973)
Flack was listening to the inflight audio while traveling on TWA from Los Angeles to New York when she heard Lori Lieberman sing the original version, inspired by a Don McLean performance at the Troubadour. Flack felt this wasn’t what the definitive version could be and believed she could add something of her own.
“Are You Lonesome To-Night?” – Elvis Presley Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1960)
The song was written in 1926 and recorded by many artists over the decades, including Al Jolson and Jaye P. Morgan. Presley’s version was a follow-up to another ballad, “It’s Now or Never.”
The 55th anniversary edition of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs chart is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100, since the chart’s inception in August 1958 through the July 27, 2013, ranking. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the Hot 100’s 55 years (i.e., the inclusion of Nielsen Entertainment airplay monitoring and point-of-sales tracking and the recent inclusion of streaming data, among earlier modifications), certain eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods.
“Waiting for a Girl Like You” – Foreigner Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (1981)
The single was No. 2 for 10 weeks, unable to surpass Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” for nine weeks and Daryl Hall & John Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” for one. Among No. 2-peaking hits, its 10-week stay is matched only by Missy Elliott’s 2002 hit “Work It.”
“Family Affair” Mary J. Blige Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (2001)
The song was just a skeleton of an idea and was intended for rapper Rakim when Blige heard it and decided she wanted to write something to it. Blige didn’t usually look at the Billboard charts, but when the song was No. 1 for a sixth week she checked the chart for the first time and said, “Whoa, this is really real!”
“I Swear” – All-4-One Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 11 weeks (1994)
When Atlantic’s John Michael Montgomery took this song to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, the label’s chairman and CEO Doug Morris told the Nashville office he wanted to cut a pop version with a California quartet, All-4-One.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1990)
Manager Fachtna O’Ceallaigh suggested O’Connor cover this song, written by Prince and first recorded by the Family, a group formed by ex-members of the Time.
“All Night Long (All Night)” – Lionel Richie Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1983)
To make sure he was pronouncing the old Jamaican chant, “Tom bo li de say di moi ya, yeah jumbo jumbo” correctly, Richie called his wife’s Jamaican gynecologist, who replied, “I’m right in the middle of an appointment, can we talk later?”
“My Sharona” – The Knack Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1979)
Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Doug Fieger fell in love with a girl named Sharona and wrote a song about teenage sexual frustration that he married to a lick composed by guitarist Berton Averre.
“Say You, Say Me” – Lionel Richie Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1985)
Director Taylor Hackford asked Lionel Richie to write the title song for his 1985 film “White Nights.” Lionel couldn’t come up with a song called “White Nights” but wrote “Say You, Say Me” for the soundtrack and won an Oscar for Best Original Song.
“Play That Funky Music” – Wild Cherry Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1976)
Bob Parissi and his band wanted to play rock music but it was the disco era and all their bookings were in dance clubs. A backstage discussion about how to handle this dilemma led drummer Ron Beitle to tell Parissi, “Play that funky music, white boy,” and Parissi grabbed a bar order pad and wrote down those words.
“You’re So Vain” – Carly Simon Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1973)
Mick Jagger sings backing vocals, but that doesn’t mean the song is about him. Simon has ruled out former hubby James Taylor but has never publicly revealed who the subject is. She did tell her brother Peter, “I had three or four different people in mind…but the examples of what they did was a fantasy.”
“Billie Jean” – Michael Jackson Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1983)
Recorded in one take, “Billie Jean” was the first of Jackson’s two No. 1 singles from “Thriller” (The other was “Beat It”). Its seven-week reign is Jackson’s longest run at the top of the Hot 100 (tied with 1991’s “Black or White”).
“Abracadabra” – The Steve Miller Band Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1982)
As half of the Goldberg-Miller Blues Band, Steve Miller appeared on NBC’s “Hullabaloo” in 1966, along with the Supremes. Years later, he was inspired by Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” to write “Abracadabra.”
“Gangsta’s Paradise” – Coolio feat. L.V. Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1995)
Coolio and L.V. based their song for the film “Dangerous Minds” on Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” from his masterpiece, “Songs in the Key of Life.” But when they sent it to Wonder, he rejected it. “I had a few vulgarities…and he wasn’t with that,” says Coolio. “So I changed it. Once he heard it, he thought it was incredible.”
“Hot Stuff” – Donna Summer Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1979)
She was the reigning queen of disco, but Summer wanted to record a rock song. With Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on guitar, “Hot Stuff” was just the ticket. It was the first single from her double-LP “Bad Girls.”
“You’re Still the One” – Shania Twain Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (1998)
The sixth of her 18 Hot 100 entries and the first to rise higher than No. 25. Her highest-ranked single at No. 2 as well as her longest-running song, with 42 weeks on the chart.
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1968)
Gladys Knight and the Pips took the song to No. 2 in December 1967. Gaye’s version hit No. 1 one year later, but was recorded before the Knight single. He wasn’t the first Motown artist to record “Grapevine.” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles cut it first, followed by the Isley Brothers.
“Dilemma” – Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 10 weeks (2002)
“Dilemma” replaced Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” at No. 1, making him the fifth artist in Hot 100 history at the time to succeed himself in pole position, following the Beatles, Boyz II Men, Puff Daddy and Ja Rule.
“Just the Way You Are” – Bruno Mars Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (2010)
Billboard’s review of the single correctly predicted: “Mars has created a feel-good jam that should establish him as a solo contender in his own right.” This song marked Mars’ formal debut as a solo artist after charting as a featured guest on B.o.B’s No. 1 hit, “Nothin’ on You.”
“Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1969)
Don Kirshner, music supervisor of Filmation’s Saturday morning animated “The Archies,” asked Jeff Barry to produce songs for the show by a group of studio musicians fronted by vocalist Ron Dante with an assist from Toni Wine. Canadian singer Andy Kim was asked to co-write with Barry and the result was the third Archies single, “Sugar, Sugar,” Billboard’s No. 1 Hot 100 song of 1969.
“Upside Down” – Diana Ross Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1980)
When Ross heard the tracks produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, she felt like a guest vocalist on a Chic recording rather than the star of her own album. She insisted on a remix and the producers made slight changes and said if she still wasn’t happy, she should remix the tracks herself. With Motown’s Russ Terrana, she moved her vocals forward. “We had two different concepts of what her voice should sound like,” Rodgers later explained.
“That’s What Friends Are For” – Dionne and Friends Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1986)
Rod Stewart recorded the Burt Bacharach-Carole Bayer Sager song first, for the 1982 film “Night Shift.” In 1985, Sager asked Bacharach to play the song for Dionne Warwick, who suggested she record it with Stevie Wonder. They then decided to add Gladys Knight and Clive Davis suggested Elton John as the fourth vocalist. The song raised over $3 million for the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
“Rush Rush” – Paula Abdul Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1991)
Abdul told her label, “I don’t care what songs make it onto the album, I want ‘Rush Rush’ to be the first single.” Virgin execs told her to finish her second album and then decide. “But I’m really glad ‘Rush Rush’ was the first single,” she says. It became her longest-running No. 1.
“Ebony and Ivory” – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1982)
McCartney and Wonder recorded the duet together, on the island of Montserrat in the West Indies. But it’s only through the magic of editing that they appear to be in the video together, performing on the white and black keys of a piano.
“Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (2011)
“The Voice” judges Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera teamed up to give Maroon 5 its biggest hit to that date. It was Maroon 5’s first No. 1 in four years and Aguilera’s first No. 1 in 10 years.
“Whoomp! (There It Is)” – Tag Team Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (1993)
The title was already a catchphrase in the South when Steve (Roll’n) Gibson and Cecil (DC) Glenn recorded this bassline-heavy hip-hop track. Glenn was a cook and a DJ at Magic City in Atlanta and played the song in the club, creating the initial demand for the single.
“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” – the 5th Dimension Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1969)
When group member Billy Davis, Jr, left his wallet in a New York taxi, it was found by one of the producers of the Broadway musical “Hair.” A grateful Davis invited him to see the 5th Dimension live and the producer reciprocated by inviting the group to see “Hair.” Before they left the theater, they agreed they had to record “Aquarius.” Producer Bones Howe said it was “half a song” and suggested a medley with the show’s “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In).”
“I Love Rock ‘n Roll” – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1982)
Jake Hooker and Alan Merrill wrote the song to refute the Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It),” which they felt was a put-down. They recorded it with their group the Arrows in the U.K. and Jett saw them perform it on TV. She asked Hooker if she could record it, but couldn’t get her group the Runaways to cut the song. She finally recorded it as a solo artist, first as a B-side in Holland in 1979 and then again in 1981 with the Blackhearts.
“Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” – Stevie B Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1990)
Warren Allen Brooks wrote the song years before he met Stevie B. “Stevie heard me sing it…in 1985 and he would tell everybody, ‘Listen to Warren’s song – that could be a hit.'” Five years later, Stevie was proven right.
“The Boy Is Mine” – Brandy & Monica Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 13 weeks (1998)
Atlantic A&R staffer Paris Davis suggested to producers Rodney Jerkins and Dallas Austin that Brandy and Monica record a song called “The Boy Is Mine,” “like when Michael (Jackson) and Paul McCartney did ‘The Girl Is Mine.'” The duet gave both women their first Hot 100 No. 1.
“(Just Like) Starting Over” – John Lennon Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1980)
Lennon took a five-year recording hiatus while he raised his son Sean, then went back into the studio to record songs for the “Double Fantasy” album. This song was No. 6 on the Hot 100 when Lennon was assassinated on Dec. 8, 1980. The title had become a grim irony by the time it was a posthumous No. 1 the week of Dec. 27.
“Centerfold” – J. Geils Band Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1982)
Signed to Atlantic in 1969, the group moved to EMI-America in 1978. Their first 12 entries failed to crack the top 10 of the Hot 100 but the first single from their “Freeze-Frame” LP changed their chart fortunes when it became their first No. 1 hit.
“The Sign” – Ace of Base Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1994)
Arista A&R VP Richard Sweret was on a Stockholm bus with Jonas Berggren of Ace of Base when the musician played him a new demo intended for the group’s second album. Sweret loved “The Sign” and insisted the quartet record it immediately. He added it to the group’s first album for its U.S. release and changed the CD title from “Happy Nation” to “The Sign.”
“Apologize” – Timbaland feat. OneRepublic Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (2007)
While most people know this song is by OneRepublic, the artist credit is “Timbaland featuring OneRepublic” because the hip-hop artist signed the group to his Mosley imprint and remixed “Apologize” for his album “Timbaland Presents Shock Value.”
“Gold Digger” – Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 10 weeks (2005)
West wrote the song from a female point of view for rapper Shawna. When she didn’t record it, he rewrote it for himself, and enrolled Jamie Foxx as a featured artist. The result was West’s first No. 1 as a lead artist.
“I’m a Believer” – The Monkees Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1966)
Music publisher Don Kirshner asked his friend Jeff Barry to find an even bigger hit to follow “Last Train to Clarksville.” Barry was working with Neil Diamond and thought his song “I’m a Believer” would do the trick. The single had an advance order of 1,051,280 copies.
“Tik Tok” – Ke$ha Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (2010)
With nine weeks on top, this became the longest-running No. 1 debut single for any lead artist since Ashanti led the list for 10 weeks with “Foolish” in 2002.
“Lady” – Kenny Rogers Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1980)
Charting pop, R&B and country, “Lady” was the ultimate crossover hit and the first production work for Lionel Richie outside of the Commodores, resulting in Richie signing with Rogers’ manager, Ken Kragen, for his solo career.
“Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1978)
Robert Stigwood was expecting a song from the Bee Gees called “Saturday Night, Saturday Night,” so he was not happy to hear a demo titled “Stayin’ Alive.” Heard in a 30-second trailer played in theaters one week prior to the release of “Saturday Night Fever,” a demand for the song was created before the LP hit the street.
“Let Me Love You” – Mario Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (2005)
Kameron Houff, who wrote the song with Scott Storch and a then-unknown Ne-Yo, remembers when their tune hit the top of the Hot 100. “Every week, my wife would look online and come into the bedroom and say, ‘Baby, it’s No. 1.’ It was like ‘Groundhog Day.’ It was the greatest nine weeks of my life waking up and hearing her tell me every week it’s still No. 1.”
“Call Me” – Blondie Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six
Giorgio Moroder composed the music for the film “American Gigolo” and wanted Stevie Nicks to sing the title song. When she turned him down, Moroder asked Debbie Harry of Blondie to write the lyrics and record the movie’s theme. “Call Me” was Billboard’s No. 1 single of 1980.
“Boom Boom Pow” – The Black Eyed Peas Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 12 weeks (2009)
will.i.am told Billboard that this song was, “made for underground clubs. Like, if I would have thought it was going to be a radio song, I would have made it different.” Radio loved “Boom Boom Pow” just the way it was and the single became the Peas’ first No. 1 on the Hot 100.
“End of the Road” – Boyz II Men Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 13 weeks (1992)
Co-writer Babyface composed this song for the film “Boomerang” and was tempted to keep it for himself, but felt Boyz II Men “would take it further.” When the single spent 13 weeks at No. 1, it established a then-new longevity record atop the Hot 100.
“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (1992)
Producer David Foster wanted Houston to cover Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” for “The Bodyguard,” but when Paul Young sang that Motown classic in “Fried Green Tomatoes,” music supervisor Maureen Crowe had Foster listen to Linda Ronstadt’s version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Houston’s single returned to the Hot 100 after her death in February 2012.
“No One” – Alicia Keys Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (2007)
The third of her four No. 1s, all of which have been on top for five or six weeks, no more, no less. “No One” had a five-week reign, as did “Empire State of Mind.” “Fallin'” and “My Boo” each ruled for six weeks.
“Candle in the Wind 1997” / “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” – Elton John Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (1997)
Lady Sarah McCorqudale asked Elton John to sing at the funeral of her sister, Princess Diana. “Your Song” was considered and Elton thought about writing a new song. Through a misunderstanding, Bernie Taupin thought Elton wanted him to write new lyrics to their 1973 song “Candle in the Wind.” More than 2.5 billion people all over the globe watched Elton sing the song at Diana’s funeral. With worldwide sales of 33 million, “Candle in the Wind 1997” is the best-selling single of the rock era. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” first released in 1942, is reported to have sold 50 million copies worldwide.
“Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (2012)
Jepsen’s hook-laden pop hit ruled the Hot 100 for nine weeks. It is the biggest hit by any “Idol” finalist, as Jepsen finished third in the fifth season of “Canadian Idol.” She is the highest-ranking Canadian female on the all-time Hot 100.
“Shadow Dancing” – Andy Gibb Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1978)
While his older brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice were filming the movie “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in Hollywood, Andy joined them for a writing session. Within 10 minutes, they were singing the chorus to what became “Shadow Dancing.”
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” – The Beatles Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1964)
Despite selling millions of records in the U.K. for EMI, the company’s American label, Capitol, declined to release the Fab Four in the U.S. – until they heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” A Washington, D.C. DJ broke the song, forcing Capitol to move the release date from Jan. 13, 1964 to Dec. 26, 1963 and to increase the run from 200,000 copies to one million.
“It’s All in the Game” – Tommy Edwards Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1958)
The only No. 1 song written by a Vice President of the United States. Charles Dawes was a banker when he wrote the music in 1912; the lyrics were penned by Carl Sigman in 1951. Tommy Edwards recorded the song that year, but it was a 1958 re-recording in the new format called “stereo” that topped the Hot 100.
“Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” – Dawn feat. Tony Orlando Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1973)
Dawn was ready to disband at the end of 1972 after three consecutive singles failed to make the top 60 of the Hot 100. Then producers Hank Medress and Dave Appell asked Telma Hopkins and Joyce Wilson to meet them and Tony Orlando in the studio to record this song, based on a true story.
“How You Remind Me” – Nickelback Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (2001)
“I’d been living with a girl for a couple of years and the relationship was on its way down,” says Chad Kroeger. “…after I don’t know how many fights…(I) was going to give her the f*** you song and I wrote ‘How You Remind Me.'”
“Say, Say, Say” – Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1983)
When Jackson called McCartney on Christmas Day to suggest they collaborate, the former Beatle didn’t believe it was really Michael on the phone. The King of Pop wanted to visit Paul in the U.K. and write some songs together. First came “The Girl Is Mine” and later “Say, Say, Say.”
“Another One Bites the Dust” – Queen Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1980)
Freddie Mercury and Brian May wrote most of Queen’s hits, but not this one. Sole writing credit goes to bass guitarist John Deacon, who had composed the group’s 1976 hit, “You’re My Best Friend.”
“Night Fever” – The Bee Gees Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for eight weeks (1978)
Written before the film “Saturday Night Fever” had a title, the Bee Gees thought the movie should be named after this song, but Robert Stigwood rejected it as too pornographic. He preferred “Saturday Night,” and ultimately they compromised.
“Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1973)
While the song caused controversy for its explicit, sexual message, Gaye’s co-writer, Ed Townsend, says it began as an ode about overcoming addiction, based on his personal experience in an alcohol rehab center.
“Silly Love Songs” – Wings Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1976)
Paul McCartney wrote the song as a reaction to critics who called his music lightweight, telling journalists that he hated silly rhymes, but when they work they’re “the greatest.”
“Truly, Madly, Deeply” – Savage Garden Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for two weeks (1998)
Darren Hayes wrote a very personal song and named it after a 1990 British film he thought no one had seen, “Truly Madly Deeply.” “It was our first No. 1 and it opened the whole world to Savage Garden,” says Hayes. “Thank God for that song.”
“One Sweet Day” – Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 16 weeks (1995)
“It’s definitely a blessing and I’m very grateful for it,” says Mariah Carey of her record-setting 16 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100. But she says she didn’t focus on the chart achievement until the song’s final frame on top, as it wasn’t “the right vibe to have.”
“The Battle of New Orleans” – Johnny Horton Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1959)
After the final battle of the War of 1812, a folk tune played by fiddlers called “The Eighth of January” became popular across the United States. Lyrics weren’t written until 1955, by an Arkansas teacher named Jimmy Driftwood. He retitled it “The Battle of New Orleans,” and four years later it was recorded by Johnny Horton.
“Tossin’ and Turnin'” – Bobby Lewis Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1961)
During a gig at the Apollo, Lewis gave some encouragement to a nervous group of singers, the Fireflies. A few weeks later, Lewis signed to the Beltone label and discovered his labelmates were the Fireflies, who offered him a song they had written, “Tossin’ and Turnin’.”
“Rolling in the Deep” – Adele Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (2011)
The most successful single by a U.K. solo female since “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John 30 years earlier. The first of three No. 1s from the second best-selling album released in the 21st century, “21,” it led the Hot 100 for seven weeks. “Someone Like You” was on top for five weeks and “Set Fire to the Rain” triumphed for two weeks.
“Flashdance…What a Feeling,” – Irene Cara Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1983)
The synthesizer-based hit won the Academy Award for Best Song, defeating “Maniac” from the same film as well as “Over You” from “Tender Mercies” and “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel” from “Yentl.”
“Somebody That I Used to Know” – Gotye feat. Kimbra Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for eight weeks (2012)
Raised in Australia but born in Bruges, Gotye is only the second artist from Belgium to top the Hot 100. The first was the Singing Nun in 1963 with “Dominique.”
“Every Breath You Take” – The Police Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for eight weeks (1983)
Often mistaken for a sweet love song, Sting has described the song as “fairly nasty,” as it is about surveillance, ownership and jealousy.
“Too Close” – Next Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for five weeks (1998)
Producer Kay Gee told this Minneapolis trio they were going to write a song based on an early rap hit, Kurtis Blow’s “Christmas Rappin’.” But they didn’t sample the original. “We played it live and changed it around,” says Kay Gee. “I felt if we put the right lyrics on top of that beat, we could bring that same magic back in the ’90s.”
“I Just Want to Be Your Everything” – Andy Gibb Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for four weeks (1977)
Andy Gibb signed to the RSO label at Robert Stigwood’s home in Bermuda and immediately started writing songs with his brothers. On their first day of composing, Barry Gibb sequestered himself in one of the bedrooms on the estate and wrote this song by himself.
“Low” – Flo Rida feat. T-Pain Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 10 weeks (2008)
Flo Rida says when he first heard the track produced by DJ Montay, he felt it immediately. “It reminded me of the early bass records from artists like the 2 Live Crew.”
“We Found Love” – Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 10 weeks (2011)
The 11th of Rihanna’s 12 No. 1s on the Hot 100, and the only one with a double-digit reign, as it stayed on top for 10 weeks.
“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1982)
Sylvester Stallone was going to use Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” as his main theme for “Rocky III,” until label owner Tony Scotti, who years earlier had released a single by Sly’s brother Frank, played him an album by the Chicago-based band Survivor. Within 90 minutes of the group seeing a rough cut of the film, “Eye of the Tiger” was born.
“How Deep Is Your Love” – Bee Gees Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1977)
RSO label founder and Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood phoned the trio and told them he needed four songs for a film he was producing, “about a bunch of guys who live in New York.” The first song written after the call was “How Deep Is Your Love,” but it was intended for Yvonne Elliman. Stigwood heard it and was adamant the Bee Gees record it themselves.
“Le Freak” – Chic Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (1978)
Selling more than four million copies, “Le Freak” established the credentials of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, who went on to produce for Diana Ross, David Bowie, Carly Simon, Madonna, Sister Sledge, Duran Duran and Debbie Harry.
“The Theme from ‘A Summer Place'” – Percy Faith Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (1960)
Max Steiner composed the score for the 1959 film “A Summer Place,” and Toronto-born Faith covered the main theme, giving him the most successful instrumental of the rock era.
“I’ll Make Love to You” – Boyz II Men Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (1994)
Writer/producer Babyface says the song was to him, “imagining what would…follow ‘End of the Road’ but not be exactly the same, but familiar enough where you could touch some of the same ingredients, so they don’t make a total left turn from where they left off.”
“(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” – Bryan Adams Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for seven weeks (1991)
Michael Kamen composed the music for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and wanted Kate Bush or Annie Lennox to sing the title song. Then Lisa Stansfield was in the running, along with a pairing of Peter Cetera and Julia Fordham. Ultimately, Bryan Adams was asked to co-write and record the film’s main vocal song and it became his biggest hit. Adams is the highest-ranking Canadian artist on the all-time Hot 100.
“You Were Meant for Me / Foolish Games” – Jewel Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 / No. 7 (1997)
“You Were Meant for Me” peaked at No. 2 and was moving down the Hot 100 and would have fallen off the chart, except the B-side was “Foolish Games,” which was included in the “Batman & Robin” soundtrack. It became the A-side, as well as a radio hit of its own, and the single went back to No. 7 and remained on the Hot 100 for 65 weeks.
“Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” – Rod Stewart Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for eight weeks (1976)
Stewart tried to record his album “A Night on the Town” in Los Angeles but couldn’t hit a correct note, which he blamed on the smog. Then he went to Caribou Studios in Colorado, but couldn’t sing at 9,000 feet above sea level. So the vocals for this No. 1 hit were successfully recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami.
“Endless Love” – Diana Ross & Lionel Richie Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (1981)
During its chart run, the song became the most successful Motown single of all time, the most successful hit from a soundtrack, and the most successful duet, all thanks to its nine-week run at No. 1.
“Bette Davis Eyes” – Kim Carnes Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (1981)
Bette Davis was so flattered by the song, she wrote letters to songwriters Jackie DeShannon and Donna Weiss thanking them for making her “a part of modern times.” When the song won a Grammy, Davis sent the composers roses.
“Yeah!” – Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 12 weeks (2004)
The fourth of his nine No. 1s. He’s ruled the Hot 100 for a total of 47 weeks; 12 of those weeks were racked up by this song. It was immediately followed at No. 1 by another Usher single, “Burn,” which was on top for eight weeks, which in turn was succeeded by his “Confessions Part II.”
“Un-Break My Heart” – Toni Braxton Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 11 weeks (1996)
The demo of Diane Warren’s song was recorded in a low key and producer David Foster was going to have Braxton sing in a higher key until LaFace owner Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds protested. “That’s almost a man’s key,” Foster replied. Babyface insisted: “It’ll be really sexy.”
“We Belong Together” – Mariah Carey Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (2005)
Her 16th No. 1 (of 18 to date) proved to be the biggest hit of her career. It held pole position for 14 weeks, two weeks shy of the record-setting “One Sweet Day,” but it was on the chart for 43 weeks, by far her longest Hot 100 run.
“Hey Jude” – The Beatles Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (1968)
The first single released on the Beatles’ own Apple label, and the longest-running No. 1 (nine weeks) for the group on the Hot 100. It is also the longest No. 1 in terms of running time, at seven minutes and 11 seconds.
“You Light Up My Life” – Debby Boone Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 10 weeks (1977)
Years after it was a hit, Boone told Billboard: “Because the lyrics really lent themselves to how I felt about my relationship with the Lord, that’s the way I chose to sing it. I never thought anyone would know.”
“Physical” – Olivia Newton-John Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 10 weeks (1981)
Tame by today’s standards, in 1981 “Physical” was considered too risqué for airplay by some radio programmers. One music director told Billboard, “Once the words sank in, it caused an uncomfortableness among listeners.”
“Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” – Los Del Rio Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (1996)
The original version was recorded in 1993, entirely in Spanish. Miami’s Power 96 only played songs in English and asked Carlos De Yarza and Mike Triay, the Bayside Boys, to do a remix. Singer Patricia Alfaro recorded their new English lyrics and the song became a national phenomenon.
“I Gotta Feeling” – The Black Eyed Peas Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 14 weeks (2009)
The Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” was No. 1 for 12 weeks and was immediately succeeded by “I Gotta Feeling,” which ruled for 14 weeks. The combined 26-week reign is the longest for any artist in Hot 100 history.
“Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for six weeks (2011)
The song recorded by Motown founder Berry Gordy’s son (Redfoo, a.k.a. Stefan Kendal Gordy) and grandson (SkyBlu, a.k.a. Skyler Husten Gordy) became a bigger hit than any single released by Motown. (“Party” was released on Party Rock/will.i.am/Cherrytree/Interscope.) Born in Kent, England, Bennett is the highest-ranking British artist on the all-time Hot 100.
“How Do I Live” – LeAnn Rimes Hot 100 Peak: No. 2 (1997)
Diane Warren wrote the song for Rimes to sing in the film “Con Air,” but the producers preferred Trisha Yearwood for the soundtrack. Both versions were released as singles and both charted. Rimes’ single remained on the Hot 100 for 69 weeks, a record at the time.
“Mack the Knife” – Bobby Darin Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for nine weeks (1959)
Inspired by Louis Armstrong’s version of the song from “The Threepenny Opera,” Darin recorded “Mack the Knife” for his album “That’s All,” but didn’t want it released as a single. Atco issued it anyway and it became his biggest hit and signature song.
“Smooth” – Santana feat. Rob Thomas Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for 12 weeks (1999)
“Smooth” went to No. 1 30 years to the week after Santana’s debut on the Hot 100 with “Jingo.” It was the longest wait in history from chart debut to first No. 1.
“The Twist” – Chubby Checker Hot 100 Peak: No. 1 for three weeks (1960, 1962)
The only single to be No. 1 twice on the Hot 100, in two different chart runs. After topping the chart in 1960, the dance caught on with the older generation. Checker was invited to perform “The Twist” on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Oct. 22, 1961, prompting a re-release of the single and a full-page ad in Billboard that proclaimed, “‘The Twist’ dance rage explodes into the adult world!” The grown-ups bought enough copies to send the song back to No. 1 in early 1962.