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100 Weeks of the Billboard Global Charts: 20th Century Hits in the ’20s

A look at songs from the 1960s, '70s, '80s & '90s that have scored renewed success this decade.

The latest Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts, dated Aug. 13, 2022, mark 100 weeks since the worldwide song lists launched in September 2020. This week, we’re celebrating the hits that topped, lingered on, and shaped the surveys throughout their first 100 weeks. Today, we arrive at throwback Thursday, highlighting the 20th century hits that are charting in the 2020s.

The Global 200 and Global Excl. U.S. rankings are Billboard‘s flagship international surveys but also stand out for their lack of a “recurrent” rule. On the U.S.-based Billboard Hot 100, for instance, descending songs are removed once below No. 25 after 52 weeks, or once below No. 50 after 20 weeks. (Catalog titles are eligible for the Hot 100 if ranking in the top 50, such as when decades-old holiday classics return to the tally each winter, or a song is revived due to a prominent media sync, but, for the most part, the Hot 100 reflects the success of relatively new hits.)

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Contemporary titles also make up the vast majority of content on the global charts, particularly toward the top of each ranking — but, absent a catalog rule on the surveys, songs from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s have demonstrated their global staying power with notable chart runs. Let’s take a look at the 20th century hits that have infiltrated the current global chart landscape. (We’ve excluded holiday titles and their annual chart bumps.)

 

The 1960s

The number of songs from the '60s impacting the global charts is small. Aside from a slew of Christmas standards, only two songs from the '60s have hit the tallies – one on the Global 200 and one on Global Excl. U.S.

As we are excluding holiday songs for the purposes of this post, we're specifically not counting the general Christmas/wintery/snowy holiday songs. Halloween, on the other hand, is fair game. For both Octobers since the global charts launched, a handful of spooky singles have crept onto the rankings, the oldest of which is "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (1962). It spent a week on the Global 200 at No. 89 on the Nov. 14, 2020-dated chart and re-appeared even higher, at No. 54, a year later. Halloween songs – and Christmas songs, while we're at it – have generally performed better on the Global 200 than on Global Excl. U.S. (with many of U.S. origin).

Over on the Global Excl. U.S. list is a song that one might automatically assume would perform stronger on the Global 200. Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)" (1969) has long been associated with baseball, becoming the unofficial anthem of the Boston Red Sox. But despite the song's American-focused history, it hit No. 167 on Global Excl. U.S. last July after being adopted as a sing-along during the 2021 Euro Cup soccer football tournament in the U.K.

 

The 1970s

Both in terms of volume and longevity, the '70s are where the classics really start to mix with the biggest hits of today. Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1975) has spent 96 weeks (and counting) on the Global 200 and Global Excl. U.S., reaching as high as No. 97 on the former. Adding to the decade's British invasion (the original British invasion of the '60s has yet to cause global chart impact), Fleetwood Mac's TikTok-bolstered "Dreams" (1977) rose as high as No. 10 on the Global 200, marking one of just two (non-holiday) songs from before 2017 to crack the top 10 of either chart. (As stranger things have happened, the other is also by a Brit that has currently run up the region.)

And while the Eagles' "Hotel California" (1976) spends its 84th week on the Global 200, it has yet to appear on Global Excl. U.S., indicating that the bulk of consumption for the song from the Southern California icons is domestic.

Sweden's ABBA and American-bred Earth, Wind & Fire have each had brief brushes with the global lists, with "Dancing Queen" (1976) and "September" (1978), respectively. The former made impact upon the act's 2021 comeback alongside three new songs (from Voyage, ABBA's first new album in 40 years) and the latter has charted over two runs, and perhaps will again next month around the 21st night of September.

 

The 1980s

The '80s boast the highest volume of global chart activity for songs released before the 2000s, with 20 charting acts representing the decade.

Quite notably, Kate Bush scored a No. 1 global hit this June-July with "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)," following the 1985 single's prominent recurring feature in Netflix's Stranger Things. (It places at No. 5 on the Aug. 13 tallies.) The series, set in the '80s, has also lifted Musical Youth's "Pass That Dutchie" (1982) and Metallica's "Master of Puppets" (1986), among others, to global chart glory.

Journey (from further up the California coast, San Francisco) follows the Eagles' playbook, crossing the 80-week mark on the Global 200 with "Don't Stop Believin' " (1981) without cracking Global Excl. U.S. Conversely, The Police and a-ha have logged lengthy runs on the latter list with "Every Breath You Take" (1983) and "Take on Me" (1985). (Those bands are of British and Norwegian descent, respectively.)

Michael Jackson has scored two '80s global hits, with "Billie Jean" and "Thriller" (both from 1982's Thriller), the former consistently on-and-off and the latter surging each Halloween, alongside Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" and Rockwell's (Jackson-assisted) "Somebody's Watching Me" (both 1984).

The decade's impact can generally be summed up by the combination of hard rock (Van Halen's "Jump," Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" [1986] and Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" [1987]) and new wave pop (Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" [1985], "Take On Me"), with a sprinkling of R&B via Jackson and "Just the Two of Us" by Grover Washington, Jr. with Bill Withers (1980).

Of note, Bush's "Hill" is both the (far and away) highest-charting '80s hit on the global surveys and the only one – and the only such song from the entire 20th century – by a solo woman.

 

The 1990s

While male-fronted acts likewise dominate the '90s, the proliferation of mainstream hip-hop introduces some genre diversity. In addition to alt-rock classics such as Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (1991) and Oasis' "Wonderwall" (1995), certain venerable rappers make a notable impact.

Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise," featuring L.V., has more than a year's worth of global chart activity, climbing to Nos. 99 and 102 on the Global 200 and Global Excl. U.S., respectively. The Grammy-winning hit was the No. 1 Hot 100 song of 1995 and, over a quarter-century later, has spent more weeks on the Global Excl. U.S. chart than any other '90s song.

Following his death last year, DMX sent five songs to the Global 200, led by 1998's "Ruff Ryders Anthem," reaching No. 27.

The 2022 Super Bowl halftime show was a spectacle of '90s hip-hop, headlined by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and, for more contemporary cred, Kendrick Lamar. While Blige and Eminem have scored global hits with early 2000s classics, Dr. Dre charted with songs ranging from 1992's "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" to 1999's "Still D.R.E.," featuring Snoop Dogg. The latter broke the top 20 of the Global 200, lasting for more than three months following the Super Bowl on both surveys.

And take a listen to the biggest global hits of the last 100 weeks below. We'll be updating the playlist throughout the week as we highlight more of the charts' most definitive hits.