The '80s countdown, tabulated by Billboard, is based on songs' performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart, with titles ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower spots earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras (including within the '80s) are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods.
The '90s countdown, also tabulated by Billboard, is based on a blend of Hot 100 performance (see methodology above) and, for songs that did not appear on the Hot 100 at all or for the bulk of their runs, the Radio Songs (then-called Hot 100 Airplay) chart. The decade is unique in that many hits were not released as stand-alone commercially available singles (on cassette or CD) and, per chart rules at the time, were not eligible to appear on the Hot 100. Why were various hit songs not made available for purchase on their own? Record labels in the '90s began withholding commercial physical single releases to instead entice consumers to purchase full, and more expensive, albums.
Now, for the first time, Billboard has included the biggest of those songs in a Hot 100-focused ranking, presenting the most encompassing recap of the top hits of the '90s.
"Smooth" led the weekly Hot 100 for 12 weeks, beginning in October 1999, marking Santana's first No. 1 a record 30 years after the Carlos Santana-fronted act's first appearance on the chart.
The track rules Billboard's Top Songs of the '90s tally over LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live," at No. 2. Rounding out the top five, from Nos. 3 through 5, respectively, are Los Del Rio's "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)," Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" and Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me." All five songs are from the latter half of the '90s; Bryan Adams' 1991 smash "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" follows at No. 6.
Among Radio Songs hits that were not released at the time as commercially available singles -- and, thus, never appeared on the Hot 100, as noted above -- that place on the '90s recap are No Doubt's "Don't Speak" (a 16-week Radio Songs No. 1 in 1996-97), Smash Mouth's "Walkin' on the Sun" and The Cardigans' "Lovefool."
Click here for the full 500-position Billboard's Top Songs of the '90s chart. And, click here for the full 500-position Billboard's Top Songs of the '80s chart.