Chart Beat

Billboard's Top 100 Adult Contemporary Songs Ever: Elton John, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion & More

50 Years of AC: Vanilla Is Licking the Competition

50 Years of AC: Vanilla Is Licking the Competition

The truly biggest hits in the format's history.

On July 17, 2011, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, we counted down the top 100 songs in the entire history of one of Billboard's signature (and smoothest) surveys.

Some of the genre's earliest giants infuse the list, including Elton John, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder, while artists that continue to keep AC a top-rated radio format likewise appear, including Natasha Bedingfield, Enrique Iglesias and matchbox twenty.

Here's a recap of the chart's top 100 songs over its first 50 years.

100 CHARIOTS OF FIRE - TITLES Vangelis
99 ALL NIGHT LONG (ALL NIGHT) Lionel Richie
98 THIS IS THE TIME Billy Joel
97 THE CANDY MAN Sammy Davis, Jr. With The Mike Curb Congregation
96 YOUR WILDEST DREAMS The Moody Blues
95 YOU'RE THE INSPIRATION Chicago
94 YOU AND I Eddie Rabbitt & Crystal Gayle
93 WAITING FOR A STAR TO FALL Boy Meets Girl
92 JUST THE WAY YOU ARE Billy Joel
91 MOON RIVER Henry Mancini

90 MAGIC Olivia Newton-John
89 JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
88 LOVE IS FOREVER Billy Ocean
87 MUSKRAT LOVE Captain & Tennille
86 HELLO Lionel Richie
85 ISLANDS IN THE STREAM Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton
84 HEARTBREAKER Dionne Warwick
83 HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LIVE WITHOUT YOU Michael Bolton
82 WIND BENEATH MY WINGS Bette Midler
81 WORDS GET IN THE WAY Miami Sound Machine

80 IF YOU ASKED ME TO Celine Dion
79 (I'VE HAD) THE TIME OF MY LIFE Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
78 HEY, SOUL SISTER Train
77 BABY BABY Amy Grant
76 FOREVER AND FOR ALWAYS Shania Twain
75 DON'T WANNA LOSE YOU Gloria Estefan
74 LOST IN LOVE Air Supply
73 THE NEXT TIME I FALL Peter Cetera With Amy Grant
72 I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU Stevie Wonder
71 THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM (THE QUEST) Jack Jones

70 SEPARATE LIVES (THEME FROM WHITE NIGHTS) Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin
69 YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL James Blunt
68 AGAINST ALL ODDS (TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW) Phil Collins
67 MY CUP RUNNETH OVER Ed Ames
66 SAY YOU, SAY ME Lionel Richie
65 STUCK ON YOU Lionel Richie
64 THE WAY IT IS Bruce Hornsby & The Range
63 WOMAN IN LOVE Barbra Streisand
62 UNWRITTEN Natasha Bedingfield
61 RIGHT HERE WAITING Richard Marx

60 IF YOU DON'T KNOW ME BY NOW Simply Red
59 YOU'LL BE IN MY HEART Phil Collins
58 SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST Vanessa Williams
57 EVERYTIME YOU GO AWAY Paul Young
56 TWO HEARTS Phil Collins
55 THE ROSE Bette Midler
54 SOMETIMES LOVE JUST AIN'T ENOUGH Patty Smyth
53 THE ONE Elton John
52 RESTLESS HEART Peter Cetera
51 I DON'T HAVE THE HEART James Ingram

50 YOU'RE ONLY LONELY J.D.Souther
49 HOLD ON MY HEART Genesis
48 THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra And Chorus
47 MORNING DANCE Spyro Gyra
46 SHADOWS IN THE MOONLIGHT Anne Murray
45 ALWAYS ON MY MIND Willie Nelson
44 I HOPE YOU DANCE Lee Ann Womack
43 WHEN SHE CRIES Restless Heart
42 THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR Dionne & Friends
41 LOVE TAKES TIME Mariah Carey

40 FOREVER IN LOVE Kenny G
39 BREAKAWAY Kelly Clarkson
38 CAN'T WE TRY Dan Hill Duet With Vonda Shepard
37 IF EVER YOU'RE IN MY ARMS AGAIN Peabo Bryson
36 HARD TO SAY I'M SORRY Chicago
35 EVERGREEN (LOVE THEME FROM "A STAR IS BORN") Barbra Streisand
34 THE WAY WE WERE Barbra Streisand
33 WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME? Chicago
32 CRAZY LOVE Poco
31 RISE Herb Alpert

30 LET ME LOVE YOU TONIGHT Pure Prairie League
29 (EVERYTHING I DO) I DO IT FOR YOU Bryan Adams
28 YOU AND ME Lifehouse
27 SUPERMAN (IT'S NOT EASY) Five For Fighting
26 STRANGER ON THE SHORE Mr. Acker Bilk
25 IF YOU'RE GONE matchbox twenty
24 SECOND CHANCE Thirty Eight Special
23 CHERISH Kool & The Gang
22 DON'T KNOW MUCH Linda Ronstadt Featuring Aaron Neville
21 I KNEW I LOVED YOU Savage Garden

20 HOME Michael Buble
19 THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL Charlie Rich
18 SOMEWHERE OUT THERE (FROM "AN AMERICAN TAIL") Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
17 A WHOLE NEW WORLD Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
16 NEVER GONNA LET YOU GO Sergio Mendes
15 LOVE IS Vanessa Williams/Brian McKnight
14 AFTER THE LOVIN' Engelbert Humperdinck
13 HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE Bee Gees
12 BAD DAY Daniel Powter
11 LOVE IS BLUE Paul Mauriat

10 LONELY NO MORE Rob Thomas
9 HERO Enrique Iglesias
8 CHANGE THE WORLD Eric Clapton
7 YOU NEEDED ME Anne Murray
6 HELLO DOLLY! Louis Armstrong And The All Stars
5 BORN FREE Roger Williams
4 HEAVEN Los Lonely Boys
3 DRIFT AWAY Uncle Kracker Featuring Dobie Gray
2 LEAD ME ON Maxine Nightingale

1 TRULY MADLY DEEPLY Savage Garden

"I'm completely overwhelmed to be honest. I feel incredibly proud," said Darren Hayes, formerly one-half of pop duo Savage Garden, when the act claimed the honor of Billboard's top all-time Adult Contemporary title with its 1998 No. 1 "Truly Madly Deeply." The song spent 11 weeks at the summit and a staggering 123 weeks on the chart. Marveled Hayes, "That song changed my life and continues to do so."

The 50th anniversary Adult Contemporary songs chart is based on actual performance on the weekly Adult Contemporary chart over its first 50 years, from its inception in the July 17, 1961, issue of Billboard. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower rankings on the chart earning less. Due to various changes in chart rules, chart length and in methodology throughout the years – including the implementation in 1993 of monitored airplay data from Nielsen Music/MRC Data – songs had varying reigns at No. 1 and on the chart. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from all 50 years, earlier time frames were each weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those years.