Skip to main content

Who’s the Biggest Pop Star Right Now Without a Hot 100 No. 1 Hit? (2017 Edition)

With Ed Sheeran now among the exclusive club of artists who've bested Billboard's Hot 100, the question invariably arises: Who's left? Let's look at a half-dozen of the biggest names in pop who've…

The returns are in: Ed Sheeran has 2017’s first debut atop the Billboard Hot 100, with his new single “Shape of You” hitting No. 1 in its first week. Not only is it the singer-songwriter’s first song to bow at pole position on the Hot 100, it’s his first song as an artist to top the chart at all — “Thinking Out Loud,” previously his highest-peaking hit on the chart, tapped out at No. 2 in early 2015. (“Love Yourself,” a song co-written by Sheeran but performed by Justin Bieber, was also a No. 1 hit, and finished 2016 as the No. 1 song on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100.)

With the U.K. star now among the exclusive club of artists who’ve bested Billboard’s marquee songs chart, the question invariably arises: Who’s left? Which current top 40 fixtures have yet to experience that magic moment of having the one single that towers above all the others? Let’s look at a half-dozen of the biggest names in 2017 pop who’ve still yet to score one of the 1,061 songs to reign supreme on the Hot 100.



Despite recently scoring her astounding 70th entry on the Hot 100 — tied with Taylor Swift for the second-most entries by a female solo artist on the Hot 100, behind only Aretha Franklin, with 73 — Nicki Minaj has still to grace the chart’s top spot, getting closest with the No. 2-peaking “Anaconda” in summer 2014. With a new album expected this year and another recent top 5 hit under her belt (as a featured artist on Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side”), though, she could very easily end up the first artist to cross their name off this list in 2017.


Speaking of Ariana Grande — though the No. 4 peak of “Side to Side” made it the star singer-songwriter’s eighth visit to the Hot 100’s top 10, she’s still never gotten to the tippy-top, with the No. 2 placement of her Iggy Azalea collab “Problem” in 2014 marking her best-charting effort to date. Grande will get at least one more crack at the top spot from 2016’s Dangerous Woman album, as she announced earlier this year that the album’s fourth single would be the Future-featuring “Everyday.”



Of course, it isn’t like Twenty One Pilots have been flying towards the Hot 100’s top tier for particularly long — before 2015, the Columbus alternative duo had never even ranked a hit on the chart at all. But in 2016, the pair became virtually inextricable from the top 10, spending the majority of the year there with one or more of its trio of megahits — “Stressed Out” (No. 2), “Ride” (No. 5) and “Heathens” (No. 2) — though elevating to No. 1 would still be a new altitude for the Pilots.


She seems to get closer with every album, and indeed, 2015’s Revival featured three top ten hits on the Hot 100 — “Good for You” (No. 5), “Same Old Love” (No. 5) and “Hands to Myself” (No. 7) — the first two of which tied for highest-charting single to date. But Selena Gomez, who’s been a regular on the Hot 100 since 2009, has still yet to truly threaten to reach that top spot — though she’s gotten closer than her former friend and Disney co-star Demi Lovato, whose best ranking to date remains No. 9, reached with 2008’s Joe Jonas duet “This Is Me.” She then scored two solo No. 10 hits: 2011’s “Skyscraper” and 2013’s ‘Heart Attack.”


Though he’s never exactly been a tremendous force on the charts as a solo artist, it still seems impossible that tastemaker-to-the-stars Diplo could have never even produced a Hot 100-topping single. But whether knob-twiddling on his own or with Major Lazer  — with whom he did hit No. 2, with the Justin Bieber and Mo-featuring “Cold Water,” in 2016 — Thomas Wesley Pentz has never notched himself a No. 1 on the chart, an improbability that seems unlikely to stand through too many more Bieber collaborations.


Though “Work From Home” was absolutely inescapable in 2016, and the group’s off-court drama dominated headlines for much of the year’s final months, Fifth Harmony never hit No. 1 in its original five-piece incarnation, with “Work” easily standing as the act’s closest shot, peaking at No. 4 last June. But with Camila Cabello now split from 5H, and her own Machine Gun Kelly collab “Bad Things” still hanging around the Hot 100’s top 10, will the solo star be able to pull a Zayn and beat her former group to the chart’s zenith? The race will certainly make for one of the most exciting chart subplots of 2017.