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Nielsen Music’s Mid-Year 2018 Charts: Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’ Reigns at Radio as AC, Latin, R&B/Hip-Hop Surge

A look at the top trending radio formats & most-heard songs in the first half of 2018.

Adult contemporary, Latin and R&B/hip-hop radio scored a strong first half of 2018, while Ed Sheeran‘s “Perfect” was the most-heard song on all radio formats in the year’s first six months, according to Nielsen Music.

Here’s a look at some of radio’s highlights over the first six months of 2018.

Adult entertainment: In the 50 biggest markets by population, adult contemporary ranked as the most-listened-to music format overall in the first half of 2018, after only news/talk, with country in third place.

Nationally, across all markets, country was the top-ranked format, leading even news/talk in total share of listening.


Latin leaps: Latin music has benefited from the “Despacito” boom of 2017 (as Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s juggernaut, featuring Justin Bieber, spent a record-tying 16 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 last year). Latin earned a 15 percent gain in share of total audience between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2018.

R&B/hip-hop’s continued climb: With rap songs having led the Hot 100 for a record-extending 23 weeks and counting (through the chart dated July 7), R&B/hip-hop is likewise rising at radio. Among persons aged 18 to 49, the average quarter-hour audience share of R&B/hip-hop stations has increased by 15 percent in the past four years.

‘Perfect’ for radio: As for the top songs among all radio formats in the first half of 2018, Sheeran’s “Perfect” ruled with a massive 2.86 billion in cumulative overall audience impressions. The song led the Hot 100 for six weeks and this week notches its 20th week at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart, making Sheeran the first artist in the tally’s 57-year history with two songs that have led for at least 20 weeks each (following the 24-week command of “Shape of You” in 2017).


Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line‘s pop/country crossover hit “Meant to Be” ranked second in radio audience in the first half of 2018, followed by Bruno Mars and Cardi B‘s “Finesse.”

Rank, Title, Artist, Audience
1, “Perfect,” Ed Sheeran, 2,861,250,000 
2, “Meant to Be,” Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line, 2,294,858,000
3, “Finesse,” Bruno Mars & Cardi B, 2,148,973,000
4, “Havana,” Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug, 2,126,814,000
5, “The Middle,” Zedd, Maren Morris, & Grey, 2,040,210,000
6, “God’s Plan,” Drake, 2,025,720,000
7, “New Rules,” Dua Lipa, 2,023,348,000
8, “Lights Down Low,” MAX feat. gnash, 1,746,318,000
9, “Never Be the Same,” Camila Cabello, 1,677,640,000
10, “Bad at Love,” Halsey, 1,502,420,000

Source: Nielsen Music, for the tracking period of Dec. 29, 2017-June 28, 2018