When Billboard introduced weekly music charts in 1940, there were sales charts and there were airplay charts. These separate charts measuring the popularity of singles continued going their separate ways until Aug. 4, 1958, when Billboard introduced the first chart that blended sales and airplay data. Named the “Hot 100,” it has continued to this day, known around the world for being the definitive U.S. singles weekly report. As someone once said, “It ain’t No. 1 until it’s No. 1 in Billboard.”
In celebration of the 55th anniversary of the Hot 100 on Aug. 4, 2013, here is a list of the top 100 songs in the tally’s history, ranked in order of chart performance. This all-time chart was first compiled for the Hot 100’s 50th anniversary; in the five years that have passed, a dozen songs that charted between 2008-2013 have jumped onto the top 100. Come along as we reveal all the songs that made the list.
For the updated list of the all-time 100 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (as of 2021), head here.
The 55th anniversary edition of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs chart is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100, since the chart’s inception in August 1958 through the July 27, 2013, ranking. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the Hot 100’s 55 years (i.e., the inclusion of Nielsen Entertainment airplay monitoring and point-of-sales tracking and the recent inclusion of streaming data, among earlier modifications), certain eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods.