Here we will look back on the top songs of the last 50 years and see which ones people were vibing with. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we travel through the last five decades exploring the number one song from each year!
2021: Levitating by Dua Lipa
"Levitating" by Dua Lipa was the number-one song of 2021 according to the Billboard Top 100 list. This song will keep you dancing well into the night, and it is no wonder that it remained at the top of the charts at the end of the year.
It was on our workout playlist, party playlist, and relaxing playlist so we may have had a role in getting it to number one. It’s a banger and still one we listen to regularly.
2020: Blinding Lights by The Weekend
Narrowly beating out “Circles” by Post Malone, “Blinding Lights” by The Weekend took the top spot in “Billboard’s 2020 Year-End Hot 100 Chart. This song was so popular that you couldn’t even go to the dentist without hearing it on repeat.
The popularity also landed The Weekend the headlining act at Superbowl LV’s halftime show. The show was great although the lights were so blinding we needed our sunglasses to watch the whole performance.
2019: “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
This song was stuck in our heads for ages, and years later, we still can still hear that catchy tune playing. What started as a TikTok trend, a song everyone used as the background music in their videos, quickly blew up and became a mainstream hit.
It was too catchy to not sing along with, and we hate how much we enjoyed it. To be honest it’s still one of our guilty pleasures and we will sing it to the top of our lungs in our car.
2018: “God’s Plan” by Drake
This hit spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard; which, so far, is the longest a Drake song has spent in the number one spot. The Canadian rapper was proud of his accomplishment as it became his fourth song that topped the charts and his second as the lead artist.
The song also won him a Grammy for Best Rap Song and got him three other Grammy Nominations that year too.
2017: “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran
England has produced some of the best musicians the world has seen and Ed Sheeran is no exception. His hit “Shape of You” ended the year as the number one song in 2016 and can still be heard on the radio today.
The song also holds the spot for best-selling song of 2017 and accumulated over 2 billion streams on Spotify. Not bad for a redhead from West Yorkshire.
2016: “Love Yourself” by Justin Beiber
It seems like Justin Beiber has been in the public eye for ages, and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. In 2016, his song “Love Yourself” topped the Year-End charts and helped us and millions of people worldwide deal with our breakups.
Yes, we scarffed down lots of pints of Blue Bell ice cream, sniffled into Klinexes, and played this song played on repeat, but we also felt a lot better after, so thank you Justin for helping us process our heartbreak.
2015: “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
While Bruno Mars only features on this song, he does have the most 'singalongable' line in it. “Uptown Funk” still makes us want to get up and dance each time we hear the banger.
The song has an infectious rhythm that you can’t help but want to move your hips. It went 11-time platinum and spent 14 weeks in the number one slot. Not bad for a song before TikTok.
2014: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Probably helped by its appearance in “Discpicalble Me,” Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” spent 10 weeks atop the charts and took home the honor of number one song at the end of the year.
You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing this song, and we do have to admit, it did make us happy when we heard it. It’s just a catchy song and deserves the number-one spot of 2014.
2013: “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
This song, alone, saved millions of thrift stores across the world after it was released back in 2013. Everyone wanted to get their own tiger-stripped fur jacket and be like Macklemore. We were most upset that we had to settle for a zebra jacket instead of the tiger style he wore.
We guess that’s the price to pay for going with the fads. Anyways, “Thrift Shop” Ended the year atop the Billboard charts and won two Grammy’s for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.
2012: “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra
If you were to go back to watch this music video today, feel free to skip to minute 1:30. Otherwise, you will be greeted with a Quienten Tarrintino-esque foot shot in the first few seconds.
Nothing wrong with liking feet, we just don’t want to see them first thing in the morning. Despite that opening, the song did end the year at number one and become a global sensation from the New Zealand artist.
2011: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
Adele was rolling in the money after this song hit the airwaves across the world. It not only reached the top spot in the UK and US Billboard top 100 but also reached the number in 10 other countries as well.
The song would go on to win three Grammy’s for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video and sell over 20 million copies as of 2019. This has by far been her biggest hit yet.
2010: “Tik Tok” by Kesha
We also woke up in the morning feeling like P Diddy when we saw this song on the list. “Tik Tok” was a banger and we remember dancing to this song all the time, since it was played everywhere.
Did we date ourselves with that reference? yes, but we are still proud to have said it. Anyways, this song was Kesha’s debut single and spend 9 weeks in the number-one spot. Too bad the song lasted longer than her career.
2009: “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas
The number one food-based band hit number one on the Year-End Top 100 list back in 2009 with their song “Boom Boom Pow.” This was their first song that topped the charts that year; they also had another hit, “I Gotta Feeling,” from the same album.
Although “I Gotta Feeling” spent more time as the number one song, it still failed to get the end-of-the-year spot, which shows just because something lasts longer doesn’t mean it’s better.
2008: “Low” by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
We were getting low low low to this song when it first came out and we will still get low low low when the DJ throws on this track right now. This hit from Flo Rida spent 10 weeks atop the Billboard Top 100 list back in 2008 and was featured in “Step Up 2: The Streets.”
The song has over seven million downloads and was the most downloaded song of the 2000s decade. Pretty good for a singer named after a state.
2007: “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce
This song could never be replaced, and maybe that’s why Beyonce named the song that. This was her fourth number-one hit, but the only one to top the charts at the end of the year.
She has come close with a few songs after, but none match the hype this one received when it came out. It’s now certified double platinum and one that we could go back and listen to all day.
2006: “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter
We remember this song most when it was the swan song on “American Idol” back in the day. When a contestant was inevitably voted off the show, you could hear Daniel Powter’s voice singing as they played a montage over his voice.
Was it supposed to be sad? Yes. Was it? No, and that’s what made watching the show so funny. That was until they voted off Simon, and everything went downhill from there.
2005: “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey
The United States of America was in its feels in the mid-2000s with all of these sad songs topping the charts, and it started with “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey. This was Mariah’s 16th number-one hit and it stayed there for 14 weeks.
That tied four other songs that share 3rd place and still hold that today. It seems like we were in our feelings while these artists were in their money.
2004: “Yeah!” by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris
Honestly, this was one of our favorite songs back in the day. We remember blaring this in our cars and shouting it out while jumping on our beds. While the chorus only has one word, “Yeah!,” it still gets a visceral reaction out of us today.
It’s no wonder it can be heard at every wedding you go to right after “September” by Earth Wind and Fire and “Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid.
2003: “In Da Club” by 50 Cent
While some of us were not old enough to get into the club when this song first came out, that didn’t stop us from singing along. Our parents were probably mortified when we sang, “Mama, I got what you need, If you need to feel the buzz, I'm into havin' stuff, I ain't into makin' love, So come give me a hug, if you into gettin' rubbed”.
Now looking back it’s even funnier because we had no idea what we were saying and it was wildly inappropriate for middle schoolers to be singing.
2002: “How You Remind Me” by Nickelback
For all the hate that Nickelback gets, people forget how popular they were. They just like to pretend it never happened because the internet said it wasn’t cool to like Nickelback anymore. Well, they still are pretty good and their number-one hit back in 2002 permanently etched their names amongst the greats.
That will never be taken away from them no matter how much people would like to see that happen.
2001: “Hanging by a Moment” by Life House.
The alt-rock classic “Hanging by a Moment” was actually released in September 2000, but didn't reach number one until 2001. It would go on to reach double platinum and top the charts in New Zealand, the UK, Australia, The USA, and the Netherlands.
This is definitely the group's most recognized song, and it still slaps to this day. You go 2001.
2000: “Beathe” by Faith Hill
This one surprised us. We all saw “Breathe” topping the charts at the end of 2000 despite not reaching number one the entire year. While this country song is still great, it beat “Smooth” by Santana and “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child which we find more enjoyable.
However, the song's 53 weeks in the charts gave it enough overall points to edge out her competitors.
1999: “Believe” by Cher
“Believe” by Cher will go down as a timeless classic. We still listen to this as we are getting pumped to go to the gym, and it never gets old. The song is one of the best-selling songs of all time with 11 million copies sold worldwide and standing atop the chars for four weeks.
This gave her a Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female artist to have a number-one hit at the age of 53 and also set the record for the longest gap between number-one hits.
1998: “Too Close” by Next
The R&B group Next brought the heat with their song “Too Close.” We got flustered listening to this song again, and we recommend it for your next date playlist. Their vocals are as smooth as butter, and like butter, they will also make you melt.
This was the group’s most popular song, and they still are performing to this day. You might have to check your local paper to see if they are playing in a town near you, but if they are you should definitely go see them live.
1997: “Candle in the Wind/Something About The Way You Look Tonight” by Elton John
This duo song is similar to Queen’s “We Will Rock You/ We Are the Champions”; two songs for the price of one. What a great deal! The song spent 14 weeks at the top of the Top 100 with 12 of those being in 1997 and two being in 1998.
Both tracks were dedicated to Princess Diana of Wales who died around the same time, and you can feel the energy in every verse Elton sings.
1996: “Macarena” by Los del Rio
Maybe one of the most recognizable songs of all time, “The Macarena” stands on top of Mt Olympus with “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “The Chicken Dance.” The moves were so easy to pick up that the Macarena swept across the world in a matter of days.
We don’t think you can go to a middle school dance without seeing the kids dance to it today. We still love dancing to it too so no shame if you indulge as well.
1995: “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio featuring L.V.
This is by far Coolio’s most famous song, although his other work is great too! “Gangsta’s Paradise” was an Interpolation of Stevie Wonder’s "Pastime Paradise." Coolio would eventually perform the single with Stevie at the 1995 Grammy Awards Show.
This was the first time a Rap/Hip Hop song topped the charts at the end of the year, but as you have seen already it was not the last time.
1994: “The Sign” by Ace of Base
Swedish groups seem to do very well in America, and The Group Ace of Base is no exception. Their song “The Sign” reached number one for 6 nonconsecutive weeks back in 1994 and went on to sell over one million copies in the United States and become platinum in Australia, Germany, and New Zealand.
This song perked us up when we listened to it, and we have to say even though it is old, the tune still holds up.
1993: “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
Ahh, Whitney, you were taken way too early. Your vocals were amazing as is evident from your track “I Will Always Love You.” No one will ever be able to match your range and vocal prowess (Even though we still continue to try in our shower).
This song is amazing to listen to and can still be heard everywhere today. We will always love it. We mean You.
1992: “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men
Boys II Men’s voices were as smooth as silk, so it is no wonder their song “End of the Road” topped the charts in 1992. We just want to curl up with a blanket and cuddle near a fire with all five members while we listen to their tracks.
This song specifically, spent 13 weeks in the number one spot, only to be broken by “I Will Always Love You” the next year. Pretty impressive, but maybe even more impressive are the 2 Grammy’s they won for this song.
1991: “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” by Bryan Adams
People must have loved “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” to get “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” to the number one spot at the end of the year. Granted, this song can stand on its own merits, but the movie probably helped a little.
The power ballad reached the hearts of millions across the world, selling 15 million copies worldwide. Since its release, the song has been covered hundreds of times, but none have gotten that same feeling as the original gives.
1990: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips
Honestly, we had not heard of this song before writing this article, but we have become a fan of the group over the 3-minute 40-second run time listening to it. The song has a dramatic and fun early 90’s pop energy about it and if you are like us and haven't listened to it, add it to your Spotify queue immediately.
This will give you strong nostalgic vibes and it might make you forget that 1990 was almost four decades ago. It’s ok, we just hope we age as well as this song has.
1989: “Look Away” by Chicago
Sticking with power ballads, American rock band, Chicago topped the charts with “Look Away” in 1989. The song also peaked at number one in the Adult Contemporary chart too, but it never reached the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.
However, it was consistently high throughout the year, and like “Breathe” by Faith Hill, it took home the number one spot in 1989. Sometimes it is better to finish second many times than first only a few times.
1988: “Faith” by George Michael
“Faith” comes from George Michael’s debut solo album in 1987, and it’s one of our favorite songs when we need a mood booster to get us through the day (seeing George shake his hips like Elvis doesn’t hurt either). Anyways, the song topped the charts for four consecutive weeks and went on to take home the title of number one song of 1988.
It also topped the charts in Australia and Canada and is number 322 of the best Songs of the Century by RIAA/NEA.
1987: “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles
Fun fact, Egyptians didn’t actually walk like that; they actually walked like normal people. A common misconception is perpetuated by The Bengals. Regardless of the misinformation, the group is putting out there, the song was the number one hit of 1987 and spent four weeks at the top of the Hot 100 list in America.
This song also comes from their Album “Different Light” which has “Manic Monday” on it. Also, a lie because not all Mondays are manic, some Mondays are just depressive.
1986: “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick and Friends
That harmonica gets us each time we listen to this song. Paired with Dionne’s beautiful voice, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder, it’s no wonder why this song reached the pinnacle of songs in 1986. The song has a heartfelt message reminding us why we have friends and gives us “Lean On Me Vibes.”
Nothing wrong with that because the song did win two Grammys for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Song of the Year. It also raised 3 million dollars for AIDS research and prevention.
1985: “Careless Whisper” by Wham!
Honestly, if you use a saxophone riff in your song it is a recipe for a number-one hit. Those notes just hit something deep in our souls and the millions of people who bought the “Careless Whisper” by Wham! worldwide would agree.
The song went platinum in 9 different countries making it one of the most successful songs ever. It can still be heard on the 80s- on-8 on Sirius Satelite and your local late-night radio station. It pairs with late-night driving as well.
1984: “When Doves Cry” by Prince
If you don’t recognize this song from the name, you will once it starts playing. It reins from Prince’s “Purple Rain” Album and was a certified hit from the start. It lasted 5 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 and was the top-selling song of 1984.
“When Doves Cry” is also the last single to go platinum before the criteria for going platinum were lowered in 1989. No wonder so many artists have platinum songs and albums nowadays.
1983: “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
If you want to impress your partner with a song, this one should be high on your list. It is a classic and will definitely help the embers smolder between you and your lover. The song itself went on to win two Grammy’s for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
That same year it took home the title of a number-one pop song in the USA. It still holds up today and has been a pivotal song for couples over the years.
1982: “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
Some Americans may be surprised to hear this, but the late Olivia Newton-John was in fact Australian. She began her career as a musician before diving into films where she would go on to star in the classic film, “Grease.”
Even after her time on the silver screen, she continued to be involved in music, but her biggest height was her song “Physical.” The song spent 10 weeks atop the charts and also went platinum.
1981: “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes
Few may know, but “Bette Davis Eyes” was first recorded in 1974 by DeShannon. However, it wasn’t until Kim Carnes's version in 1981 that the song blew up.
The single spent 9 non-consecutive weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 list and won two Grammy’s for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Pretty impressive for a cover to reach such heights.
1980: “Call Me” by Blondie
If you are looking for a song that you can rock out to and feel empowered, look no further than “Call Me” by Blondie. It hit the perfect balance of rock and punk and makes us want to get up and dance.
The U.S. also agreed because after its release the song quickly rose to the charts and stayed at number 1 for 6 weeks in 1980. It would go on to be the group’s most famous song and is number 57 on the US Billboard Hot 100 of songs between 1958-2018.
1979: “My Sharona” by The Knack
Sometimes you get things right the first time you try something. Well, that was the case for The Knack because in their debut album “Get the Knack” they released “My Sharona” which would go on to be the band’s biggest hit.
It lasted 6 weeks as the number-one song in America and has since gone on to sell over 10 million copies. While they were never able to repeat their performance, we are glad they were able to deliver “My Sharona.”
1978: “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
Disco was still thriving in the 70s as is obvious with Andy Gibb’s disco hit “Shadow Dancing reaching the number one song of 1978. The English songwriter hit gold with this song in his second Album also named “Shadow Dancing.”
It stayed in the top spot for 7 weeks and people were boogieing all over the US. While he never reached the heights that “Shadow Dancing” reached Andy would go on to have 3 more Top 10 Hits in America.
1977: “Tonight’s The Night” by Rod Steward
If you want to see Rod Steward in a mullet go watch “Tonight’s The Night” official music video on YouTube. If you don’t, then avoid that last statement.
Rod’s song would go on to be his second number-one hit and stayed at number one for 8 weeks between 1976 and 1977. At the time, it was the longest US single at number 1 since “Hey Jude” by the Beatles in 1968.
1976: “Silly Love Songs” by Wings
Paul McCartney wanted to spite his critics who said he only wrote “sentimental slush” so his partner Linda, set out to silence them and ended up co-writing “Silly Love Songs.” It was the “Blank Space” before “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift even existed.
The funniest thing is that his satire song went on to become an instant classic and Paul’s 27th number-one hit as a songwriter which is the most number-one hit by one person of all time.
1975: “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille
There are a few times the sequel is actually better than the original: “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”, and “Love Will Keep Us Together.” The original was first recorded by Sedaka but finally found prominence when Captain & Tennille covered it in 1975.
The song was a worldwide hit and ended the year as the number-one song in America. Apparently, the UK didn’t like it as much because it was only 32 on their charts at the end of the year.
1974: “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand
There isn’t much Barbra Steisand can’t do. She is one of the few artists to ever receive the coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) during her career and has a number-one song with “The Way We Were.” The song garnered her two Academy Awards and went on to be certified platinum by the RIAA.
Several renditions of the song have been performed since her original release, but none catch the same magic as hers did in 1973.
1973: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”
Just because a song is popular at the time doesn’t mean it will be the most popular one today. That honor probably goes to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”, however, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” is a great song itself.
If you haven’t heard it before go back and listen to it. You won’t be disappointed. The song was a worldwide hit for a reason and topped the charts in 10 countries.
1972: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
Originally written in 1957, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” finally rose to fame in 1972 when Roberta Flack performed it. Roberta would go on to win the Grammy’s for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1972 along with her hit being ranked as number one of the Hot 100 songs of that year.
The song even has the honor of waking up the Apollo 17 astronauts on flight day 9 on their last day in the Lunar Orbit around the moon. This would also be the last time humans explored the Moon.