Chart Beat

Maroon 5 Biggest Act On U.S. Radio in 2018, Ed Sheeran's 'Perfect' Year's Top Song

Maroon 5
Wex & Alex

Maroon 5

If it feels like you heard a lot of Maroon 5 on the radio in 2018, you’re right. The band finished 2018 as the biggest act on U.S. radio airwaves, according to Nielsen Music. The group’s catalog of songs collected 8.58 billion audience impressions across all monitored radio stations, from 1.95 million plays of their tunes.

Drake was the second most-heard act on the radio last year, with 8.15 billion in audience impressions, while Imagine Dragons (7.18 billion), Post Malone (7.14 billion) and Ed Sheeran (7.08 billion) rounded out the top five biggest radio acts of 2018.

As for the rest of the top 10 biggest radio acts of the year: Bruno Mars was the sixth-biggest (6.41 billion), followed by Camila Cabello (5.81 billion), Taylor Swift (5.52 billion), Shawn Mendes (5.38 billion) and Cardi B (5.14 billion).

“PERFECT” IS 2018’S BIGGEST RADIO HIT: For the second year in a row, Ed Sheeran had the most-heard song on the radio. “Perfect” was tops in 2018, with 3.99 billion audience impressions. In 2017, Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was the most-heard song, with 5.847 billion impressions. (See top 10 chart, below.)

“Perfect” spent nine weeks atop Billboard’s all-genre Radio Songs chart and reached No. 1 on the Pop Songs, Adult Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary airplay charts.

Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line’s crossover hit “Meant to Be” was radio’s No. 2 biggest song of 2018, with 3.53 billion in audience impressions. The song topped Billboard’s weekly all-genre Radio Songs airplay chart, as well as the Country Airplay and Adult Pop Songs airplay tallies. It also reached the top three on the Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary airplay charts.

Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey’s “The Middle” was the No. 3 radio tune of the year (3.5 billion in audience), followed by Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You,” featuring Cardi B (3.08 billion), and Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” (2.84 billion). The lattermost track broke the record for the most weeks ever on the Pop Songs airplay chart, spending a mighty 45 weeks on the tally (and ruling at No. 1 for four of those weeks).

Camila Cabello is the only act with two songs in the year-end top 10 radio tally, as “Havana,” featuring Young Thug, is No. 6 (2.81 billion) and “Never Be the Same” is No. 7 (2.75 billion). Drake’s “God’s Plan” is No. 8 (2.63 billion), MAX’s breakthrough hit “Lights Down Low,” featuring Gnash, is No. 9 (2.62 billion) and Taylor Swift’s “Delicate” is No. 10 (2.51 billion).

Nielsen Music’s 2018 tracking year ran from Dec. 29, 2017 through Jan. 3, 2019. Due to a quirk in the calendar, there were 53 weeks in 2018, instead of the usual 52. So, for 2018 volume comparisons to 2017, a corresponding 53-week period is used by Nielsen Music for 2017: Dec. 30, 2016 through Jan. 4, 2018. Numbers in this story are rounded. Audience impressions are measured by cross-referencing plays with Nielsen Audio audience data – i.e., a play on a top-rated New York station at 8 a.m. on a Monday has more listeners (audience) than an overnight weekend play in a smaller city.

RankArtist, TitleAudience Impressions
1Ed Sheeran, "Perfect"3.988 billion
2Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line, "Meant to Be"3.533 billion
3Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, "The Middle"3.505 billion
4Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B, "Girls Like You"3.079 billion
5Dua Lipa, "New Rules"2.841 billion
6Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug, "Havana"2.814 billion
7Camila Cabello, "Never Be the Same"2.747 billion
8Drake, "God's Plan"2.630 billion
9MAX, "Lights Down Low"2.616 billion
10Taylor Swift, "Delicate"2.509 billion
Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period Dec. 29, 2017 through Jan. 3, 2019.