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Maroon 5 Top Artist, Santana’s ‘Smooth’ Top Song of Adult Pop Songs Chart’s First 20 Years

Billboard has ranked the top performers since the radio airplay chart's 1996 launch.

Maroon 5 is the top artist of the first 20 years of Billboard‘s Adult Pop Songs radio airplay chart, while Santana‘s “Smooth,” featuring Rob Thomas, is the ranking’s top all-time track.

The Nielsen Music-based Adult Pop Songs chart, measuring songs’ weekly plays on adult top 40, or hot AC, radio in the U.S., premiered in the Billboard magazine dated March 16, 1996. (Justin Bieber‘s “Love Yourself” just became his first No. 1, on the latest list.)


Greatest of All Time: Adult Pop Songs Artists

(Quick explanation: the top all-time Adult Pop Songs titles and artists rankings are based on actual performance on the weekly Adult Pop Songs chart, from its launch through the survey dated March 12, 2016. Titles are 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 are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods. Artists are ranked based on the combined point totals, as outlined above, of all their Adult Pop Songs chart entries.)

With a record 11 No. 1s and 19 top 10s, as well as a record-tying 22 chart visits, Maroon 5 boasts the most impressive resume on Adult Pop Songs over the chart’s first 20 years. The Adam Levine-led band first reached the chart on April 5, 2003, with the eventual No. 15-peaking “Harder to Breathe.” The group would follow with its first two No. 1s, “This Love” and “She Will Be Loved,” each of which ruled for 13 weeks in 2004. Maroon 5 most recently reigned with “Sugar,” for three weeks in 2015. The group also sports the most cumulative weeks at No. 1, via its 11 leaders: 63. Matchbox Twenty follows with 54 total weeks on top.

Greatest of All Time: Adult Pop Songs

Speaking of Matchbox Twenty, the Rob Thomas-fronted band ranks as the No. 2 act of the Adult Pop Songs chart’s first 20 years (while, separately, as a soloist, Thomas places at No. 13). Since 1997, the group has tallied 13 top 10s and four No. 1s, including the 18-week leader “Unwell” in 2003.

Train claims the No. 3 spot on the all-time Adult Pop Songs top artists chart, also powered by 13 top 10s and four No. 1s. Rounding out the top five: Nickelback, at No. 4, and P!nk, the chart’s top female artist, at No. 5. John Mayer is the top male, ranking at No. 12 (a spot above Thomas).

Meanwhile, Santana’s smash “Smooth,” featuring Thomas, is the Adult Pop Songs chart’s top title, thanks largely to its record 25 weeks at No. 1 in 1999-2000. (The song placed as the second-biggest title of the Billboard Hot 100‘s first 57 years, as ranked in November 2015. Chubby Checker‘s iconic “The Twist” took the top spot.)

Pop/rock bands, in fact, monopolize the all-time Adult Pop Songs top five: Train’s “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” is No. 2 (14 weeks at No. 1 in 2001), followed by The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go” at No. 3 (23 weeks at No. 1, 2001-02); The Fray‘s “How to Save a Life” at No. 4 (15 weeks at No. 1, 2006-07); and OneRepublic‘s “Counting Stars” at No. 5 (seven weeks at No. 1, 2013-14).

Twenty Years of Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs Chart: ‘It’s Top 40 For People Over 25’

Jason Mraz‘s “I’m Yours” is the top Adult Pop Songs hit by a solo male, at No. 7 (nine weeks at No. 1 in 2008) (below matchbox twenty’s “Unwell” at No. 6), while Colbie Caillat‘s “Bubbly” is the top title by a female soloist, at No. 12 (13 weeks at No. 1 in 2007-08).

In all, these stars and songs have fueled the two-decades-and-counting success of the highly-rated adult pop radio format. “We’re a melting pot of hits for adults,” says KHMX Houston vp of programming Charese Fruge. “After Train, John Mayer, Maroon 5 and so many more, newer artists like Andra Day, Ben Rector and Lukas Graham, who are just now getting mass exposure, are going to keep the format viable.”


The top 10 artists on the Adult Pop Songs Artists Greatest of All Time chart are:
1, Maroon 5
2, Matchbox Twenty
3, Train
4, Nickelback
5, P!nk
6, Kelly Clarkson
7, Katy Perry
8, Goo Goo Dolls
9, Daughtry
10, Taylor Swift

Click here for the full chart

And, the top 10 songs on the Adult Pop Songs Greatest of All Time chart are:
1, “Smooth,” Santana featuring Rob Thomas
2, “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me),” Train
3, “Wherever You Will Go,” The Calling
4, “How to Save A Life,” The Fray
5, “Counting Stars,” OneRepublic
6, “Unwell,” Matchbox Twenty
7, “I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz
8, “You And Me,” Lifehouse
?9, “All For You,” Sister Hazel
10, “Hanging By A Moment,” Lifehouse

Click here for the full chart.


Billboard Greatest of All Time