Chart Beat

Who's the Biggest Pop Star Right Now Without a Hot 100 No. 1 Hit? (2020 Edition)

J. Cole
Wesley Mann

J. Cole photographed on Aug. 16, 2018 at The Silo in Houston.

This May, one of the biggest stars of the 2010s finally saw her name come off the board of the biggest pop stars without a No. 1 hit, thanks to the ascent of Doja Cat's "Say So" -- which saw guest star Nicki Minaj finally hitting No. 1 for the first time, with her 109th Hot 100 entry.

Later that month, rising rap superstar Megan Thee Stallion joined the club as well, reaching the apex with her Beyoncé-assisted "Savage." Then this summer, DaBaby also notched his first No. 1 with the Roddy Ricch-featuring "Rockstar," and he was followed there by Harry Styles with his solo smash "Watermelon Sugar."

Still, even without those marquee names, the pool of major pop artists without a Hot 100-topper remains a crowded one. Here is a brief rundown of ten artists currently in the debate for the distinction of being "next" on the ranking of the biggest stars without a No. 1 on their resume.

J. Cole

Cole is one of music's most reliable LP-sellers at this point, having now topped the Billboard 200 albums chart with all five of his studio albums to date, each with first-week numbers well into the multiple hundreds of thousands. But his success on the Hot 100 has been more tempered: Aside from debuting three songs in the top 10 during the release week of most recent LP KOD in 2018 ("ATM," No. 6; "Kevin's Heart," No. 8; "KOD," No. 10), 2016's "Deja Vu" (No. 7) and 2019's "Middle Child" (a career-best No. 4) remain the North Carolina MC's only other visits to the chart's top 10. Given Cole's lack of a consistent pop radio presence over most of the last half-decade, however, his presence on this list may be less surprising than some others.


While the practically post-genre Khalid has found stardom scoring hits alongside everyone from Billie Eilish to Kane Brown to Marshmello to Normani, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter has yet to take any of his 28 Billboard Hot 100 hits to the top of the chart. He came two spots away alongside Logic and Alessia Cara on the No. 3-peaking "1-800-273-8255" in 2017, a peak which he matched last summer with his own solo single, "Talk."

Dua Lipa

Any concern that Dua Lipa would be a one-album wonder for her 2017 self-titled debut -- which spawned the top 10 smash "New Rules," as well as several other international chartbusters -- were allayed by the rise of Future Nostalgia single "Don't Start Now," which took over radio and climbed to her highest Hot 100 position yet. But the song topped out one spot short of the chart's apex -- held off by Roddy Ricch's "The Box," in the midst of its 11 week run on top -- meaning there's still pop worlds left for the London-born star to conquer.

Twenty One Pilots

The duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun were absolutely unavoidable on the Hot 100 in 2016, with their "Stressed Out" and "Heathens" smashes taking them all the way to No. 2 on the chart, and in-between single "Ride" pulling up not far behind at No. 5. Though second album Trench, released in October 2018, didn't generate the same kind of Hot 100 success -- abrasive lead single "Jumpsuit" has scored the highest ranking on the chart from the set to date, with a modest No. 50 peak -- this year's poppier "Level of Concern" seems to be reversing their momentum, as the new quarantine-themed single debuted at No. 23 in April.


Similar to Cole, the rapper born Nayvadius Wilburn has been a Billboard 200 conqueror (six No. 1 albums, including with his self-titled effort and Hendrxx in consecutive weeks in March 2017) and Hot 100 fixture (98 entries total) without ever really threatening the top spot on the latter. The 2017 No. 5-peaking solo smash "Mask Off" had brought him closest, until Drake collab "Life Is Good" took him all the way to No. 2 earlier this year -- where it spent eight weeks, also unable to unseat "The Box."

Lil Baby

Since his "Yes Indeed" first debuted in the top 10 in 2018 (thanks in large part to a valuable Drake assist), few artists have been as unmissable on the Hot 100 as Lil Baby. In 2020 alone, Lil Baby has blanketed the chart with well over two dozen separate entries, most coming from his Billboard 200-topping LP My Turn and its subsequent deluxe edition. But the closest he's gotten to the top spot so far is a No. 3 debut for "The Bigger Picture," his protest track recorded in response to George Floyd's killing and the subsequent worldwide protests.


With BTS finally scoring their historic first No. 1 in late August with "Dynamite," the torch has been passed to girl group Blackpink as the biggest Korean pop act to still be in the hunt for their first Hot 100 No. 1. So far, they haven't gotten closer than No. 33 -- the peak they reached both with "How You Like That" and "Sour Candy" earlier in 2020, the latter alongside pop superstar Lady Gaga. But their singles keep getting bigger and better, as do their teamups, as evidenced by the recent release of stellar Selena Gomez collab "Ice Cream."


As dance producers have all but vanished from the charts in recent years, the masked Marshmello continues to become more and more omnipresent, with his collab-heavy, cross-genre dominance resulting in him becoming the only artist to ever top each of Billboard's Hot Rock Songs, Hot Country Songs and Hot Dance Songs charts. But one chart he's still yet to top is the Hot 100 -- though he's reached the runner-up spot twice, along with Bastille on "Happier" in 2019, and with the late Juice WRLD on "Come & Go" this July.

Imagine Dragons

In an era where rock crossovers to the Hot 100 are an increasingly rare phenomenon, Imagine Dragons keep scoring top 10 hits like it was still the height of '80s arena rock. "Thunder" (No. 4) and "Believer" (No. 4) both brought the Las Vegas quartet back to the chart's top five in 2017 -- which they'd previously visited in 2013, with "Radioactive" (No. 3), their highest-charting smash to date -- and they challenged the chart's top tier twice in 2018, with third Evolve single "Whatever It Takes" (No. 12) and follow-up set Origins' lead single "Natural" (No. 13).

Florida Georgia Line

You probably wouldn't have thought to include the country duo on a list like this before 2018, since despite their continued consistent success on the country charts, they hadn't visited the top 10 of the Hot 100 in a half-decade, since the Nelly-featuring "Cruise" (No. 4, 2013). But they made a triumphant return to the chart's highest tier that year, even bettering their old peak by climbing to No. 2 with their Bebe Rexha collab "Meant to Be" -- leaving open the possibility that FGL could be the first country act to top the Hot 100 since Taylor Swift still registered as a country artist. ("I Love My Country," the group's most recent single, climbed to No. 48.)