Every Billboard Hot 100 #1 from 1958 to 2020

This is a weird one.

A thought popped in my head this evening I couldn’t shake. What would a music critic from the first year the Billboard Hot 100 launched think of the progression of pop music since? We live in the age where all the information you could want is at your finger tips so I decided to try and find out. Here’s what I did:

  • I went to Billboard’s website and got a list the #1 song from each year since its founding in 1958
  • I loaded up Audacity and configured it to capture audio from my computer
  • I searched Youtube for every single song on the list in chronological order and played a random short sample from each song, recording directly to an MP3
  • I saved that file, uploaded it here and is now available for your listening enjoyment (62 years of music in 16 minutes)

If you’re going to consume this silly experiment the way it was intended, I recommend putting on a pair of headphones, closing your eyes and pretending you are a music critic from the late 1950s. You’ve been told you will hear #1 hits from the future and you must attempt to find the throughline of themes and melodies for the next 60 years of music. Listening to this all at once proved to be an enlightening experience as the individual threads that make up the progress of modern pop music became ever more visible.

A few notes of trivia:

  • From 1958 to 2020 only one artist has has a #1 hit more than once. Can you guess who? Yep. The Beatles
  • Elton John gets an honorable mention though as he had a second bonus number one in 1997 for his tribute to Princess Diana
  • A few of the song clips go a little longer than others. That wasn’t intentional but rather I realized I was vibing to the music. I opted to leave those slightly longer clips in
Clips from every billboard hot 100 #1 from 1958 to 2020

The full list of songs is below:

YearSong TitleArtist
1958Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)Domenico Modugno
1959The Battle Of New OrleansJohnny Horton
1960Theme from ‘A Summer Place’Percy Faith
1961Tossin’ And Turnin’Bobby Lewis
1962Stranger On The ShoreMr. Acker Bilk
1963Sugar ShackJimmy Gilmer And The Fireballs
1964I Want To Hold Your HandThe Beatles
1965Wooly BullySam The Sham And The Pharaohs
1966The Ballad Of The Green BeretsSgt. Barry Sadler
1967To Sir With LoveLulu
1968Hey JudeThe Beatles
1969Sugar, SugarThe Archies
1970Bridge Over Troubled WaterSimon & Garfunkel
1971Joy To The WorldThree Dog Night
1972The First Time Ever I Saw Your FaceRoberta Flack
1973Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak TreeTony Orlando & Dawn
1974The Way We WereBarbra Streisand
1975Love Will Keep Us TogetherCaptain & Tennille
1976Silly Love SongsWings
1977Tonight’s The Night (Gonna Be Alright)Rod Stewart
1978Shadow DancingAndy Gibb
1979My SharonaThe Knack
1980Call MeBlondie
1981Bette Davis EyesKim Carnes
1982PhysicalOlivia Newton-John
1983Every Breath You TakeThe Police
1984When Doves CryPrince
1985Careless WhisperWham! Featuring George Michael
1986That’s What Friends Are For Dionne and Friends
1987Walk Like An EgyptianBangles
1988FaithGeorge Michael
1989Look AwayChicago
1990Hold OnWilson Phillips
1991Everything I Do (I Do It For You)Bryan Adams
1992End Of The RoadBoyz II Men
1993I Will Always Love YouWhitney Houston
1994The SignAce Of Base
1995Gangsta’s ParadiseCoolio Featuring L.V.
1996Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)Los Del Rio
1997Something About The Way You Look TonightElton John
1998Too CloseNext
2000BreatheFaith Hill
2001Hanging By A MomentLifehouse
2002How You Remind MeNickelback
2003In Da Club50 Cent
2005We Belong TogetherMariah Carey
2006Bad DayDaniel Powter
2008LowFlo Rida Featuring T-Pain
2009Boom Boom PowThe Black Eyed Peas
2010Tik TokKe$ha
2011Rolling In The DeepAdele
2012Somebody That I Used To KnowGotye Featuring Kimbra
2013Thrift ShopMacklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz
2014HappyPharrell Williams
2015Uptown Funk!Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars
2016Love YourselfJustin Bieber
2017Shape of YouEd Sheeran
2018God’s PlanDrake
2019Old Town RoadLil Nas X Ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
2020Blinding LightsThe Weeknd

Published without permission by the copyright owners under fair use. There are no ads on this site.


    • Carol Dyte on May 26, 2021 at 2:55 am
    • Reply

    Robbie, what a treat to hear 62 years of music . Thanks for reminding us of all the great tunes of the past.
    A pleasure to sit back and enjoy.

    • Polina Arapov on May 26, 2021 at 10:49 pm
    • Reply

    Some of those songs are still popular while others I haven’t heard at all.
    cool project, thank you for sharing.

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