Top 100 Songs Listed by Year

Have you ever wondered where song lists come from? Here's a short yet comprehensive explanation of what makes a song "popular".

What is today called the Billboard Hot 100 existed for nearly fifty years as numerous charts that tracked and ranked the most popular singles of the day in several areas.

During the 1940s and 1950s, popular singles were ranked in three areas:

1. Best Sellers In Stores - ranked the biggest selling singles in retail stores (as reported by merchants surveyed throughout the United States)

2. Most Played By Disc Jockeys - on United States radio stations (reported by radio disc jockeys and radio stations)

3. Most Played In Jukeboxes - across the United States. This was one of the main outlets of measuring song popularity with the younger generation of music listeners, as many radio stations resisted adding rock 'n roll music to their playlists for many years.

Although officially all three charts had equal weight in terms of their importance, many chart historians refer to the Best Sellers In Stores chart when referencing a song's performance prior to the creation of The Hot 100.

Billboard eventually created a fourth singles popularity chart that combined all aspects of a single's performance (sales, airplay and jukebox activity), based on a point system that typically gave purchases more weight than radio airplay.

In November of 1955, Billboard published The Top 100 for the first time. The Best Sellers In Stores, Most Played By Jockeys and Most Played In Jukeboxes charts continued to be published concurrently with the new Top 100 chart

In June of 1957, Billboard discontinued the Most Played In Jukeboxes chart, as radio stations incorporated more and more rock-oriented music into their playlists.

In August of 1958, Billboard premiered one main all-genre singles chart: the Hot 100.

Although similar to the Top 100, the first Hot 100 chart reset all songs' "weeks on chart" status to "1". The Hot 100 quickly became the industry standard and Billboard discontinued the Best Sellers In Stores chart in October of 1958.

Billboard produces the Hot 100 to this day and it is still the standard by which a song's popularity is measured in the United States. The Hot 100 is still compiled by combining a song's radio airplay points and sales points.

There are several component charts that contribute:

1. Hot 100 Airplay - approximately 1,000 radio stations that are digitally monitored. This chart tracks:

Adult Contemporary
R & B

2. Number of gross audience impressions, computed by cross-referencing exact times of radio airplay with Arbitron listener data.

3. Hot 100 Singles Sales - compiled from a national sample of retail store, mass merchant and internet sales reports collected, compiled, and provided by Nielsen Sound Scan.

4. Hot Digital Songs - Digital sales are tracked by Nielsen SoundScan and are included as part of a title's sales points.

Today, songs are ranked by not only Sales and Air Play, but are also based on what we call:

ADD'S are based on a radio station's playlist and where the individual radio station ranks a particular song. If you Add a song to a top 100 play list one has to go.

Sound Scan is a satellite tracking system. Every song now has a digital code imbedded inside itself. The human ear can't detect it- but the Nielsen satellite can. Whenever a song is aired on any radio station anywhere in the U.S., the Nielsen satellite tracking system "hears" it and documents that play.

So every day, the Nielsen satellite compiles a list of every song, played everywhere and decides which songs are most popular based on how many times each song was played.

And that is where these lists come from...

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San Diego DJ Services and Master of Ceremonies for Weddings, Mitzvahs, Corporate Parties, School Dances, and more! What song do you want to hear?

Check out the list on the left side of this page.

This page contains links to the Top 100 Songs of every year going all the way back to 1950! That's a LOT of music... If a song that you want to hear is not on ANY of these lists don't worry, we have over 30,000 songs in our music library.

Billboard - Experience the Buzz

Arbitron Radio Ratings and Media Research

Nielsen | SoundScan - Broadcast Data System

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