Exploring Billboard's 50th Anniversary All-Time Hot 100 Top Songs (1958-2008)
How Does Billboard Choose The Hot 100, And How Did They Choose The 50th Anniversary Hot 100?
Some may think that choosing the Hot 100 songs is no big deal... "If people like a song more than most others, it should make the list; it's as simple as that!" Not quite. There is a lot that is involved in choosing the songs in the Billboard Charts, and I certainly applaud those who compile the data to choose the songs. Sure, not every song on our own favorite list is going to make the charts based on their criteria, but it still gives us a reliable & valid source to see what we the people have together decided to be the hottest music.
Billboard uses a system called Nielsen SoundScan... it tracks sales of albums, singles, videos and DVDs. It also registers sales when the product is purchased from a SoundScan-enabled store. In addition to this system, Billboard uses a system called Broadcast Data Systems (BDS) to track airplay on the radio. Just like a person getting fingerprinted, each song has an acoustic fingerprint which is detected when the song is played on a BDS capable radio station. The detections are added up every week among all radio stations to determine airplay points. Arbitron statistics are also factored in to give a level of weight to airplay based on the audience size and the time-of-day. As of 2005, Billboard allowed paid digital downloads from digital music stores such as Apple iTunes to chart with or without the help of radio airplay.
The 50th Anniversary Billboard Hot 100 Charts are historical charts from the Hot 100's first 50 years, August 1958 through July 2008. The songs in the 50th Anniversary charts had to appear on the Hot 100 in order to be counted. This has caused some confusion for certain music lovers. For example, many great country artists and songs are not on the 50th Anniversary chart because, while very popular on the country charts they didn't cross over to the Hot 100 charts that are compiled of all genres of music. Also, keep in mind the Hot 100 started in August 1958 so any prior songs are not listed, including some popular Elvis Presley songs.
The 50th Anniversary chart is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100. The artist chart utilizes the same methodology, with weighted points applied to all titles charted by each artist during that 50-year span. They are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at number one earning the greatest value and weeks at number one hundred earning the least.
Hot 100's 50th Anniversary award relative points for every week that a title was on the chart, regardless of rank. For the Hot 100's 50th Anniversary, Billboard's charts department ensured a more balanced representation of hits from all 50 years, by analyzing the length of chart runs in earlier decades, as well as the average weeks that titles spent in the top 10 and at number one. Weights for earlier spans were then formulated, to compensate for the shorter chart runs that titles experienced before the 1991 conversion to precise and objective sales and radio data from Nielsen Music.
Also concerning the choice of songs on the Hot 100 charts, consider that prior to December 1998, songs did not appear on the Billboard Hot 100 until a retail single became available (which, incidentally, is why hits like Led Zepplin's "Stairway To Heaven" and No Doubt's "Don't Speak" never appeared on the Hot 100). In earlier years, retail singles came to market fairly early in a song's life-usually shortly after, or even before, a song came to radio. On the flip side, during the 1990s, when labels would strategize number-one chart bows by significant hits, the retail release of some priority singles were withheld until radio audience reached maximum levels. Although some of these songs spent significant numbers of weeks at number one or in the top ten, the delay of the sales component ultimately shortened the spans these songs would spend on the chart. With the new methodology rewarding points for a song's entire chart run, rather than confining points to weeks spent in the top ten, the shorter chart lives recorded by the songs that debuted at number one impact their all-time standings.
Listed below are the Hot 100 Top Songs from August of 1958 through July of 2008. Each song has a link to a youtube video featuring the song that is listed. Please feel free to leave feedback of your favorites on the list or ideas of songs you think should be on the list. Also, if you notice any links that are no longer available at any point in time, please let me know so I may replace them with working links so you may listen to all of Billboard's 50th Anniversary Hot 100 Top Songs. Enjoy!
Billboard's All-Time Hot 100 Top Songs
- Chubby Checker - The Twist
- Santana f/Rob Thomas - Smooth
- Bobby Darin - Mack The Knife
- LeAnn Rimes - How Do I Live
- Los Del Rio - Macarena
- Olivia Newton-John - Physical
- Debby Boone - You Light Up My Life
- Beatles - Hey Jude
- Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
- Toni Braxton - Un-Break My Heart
- Usher f/Lil' Jon & Ludacris - Yeah!
- Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes
- Diana Ross & Lionel Richie - Endless Love
- Rod Stewart - Tonight's The Night
- Jewel - Foolish Games/You Were Meant For Me
- Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
- Boyz II Men - I'll Make Love To You
- Percy Faith - Theme From A Summer Place
- Chic - Le Freak
- Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love
- Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger
- Andy Gibb - I Just Want To Be Your Everything
- Flo Rida f/T-Pain - Low
- Next - Too Close
- The Police - Every Breath You Take
- Irene Cara - Flashdance... What A Feeling
- Bobby Lewis - Tossin' And Turnin'
- Johnny Horton - The Battle of New Orleans
- Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men - One Sweet Day
- Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply
- Wings - Silly Love Songs
- Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On
- Bee Gees - Night Fever
- Queen - Another One Bites The Dust
- Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson - Say Say Say
- Nickelback - How You Remind Me
- Tony Orlando & Dawn - Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree
- Tommy Edwards - It's All In The Game
- Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand
- Andy Gibb - Shadow Dancing
- Elton John - Candle In The Wind 1997/Something About The Way You Look Tonight
- Alicia Keys - No One
- Boyz II Men - End Of The Road
- Blondie - Call Me
- Mario - Let Me Love You
- Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive
- Kenny Rogers - Lady
- The Monkees - I'm A Believer
- Kanye West f/Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger
- Timbaland f/OneRepublic - Apologize
- Ace of Base - The Sign
- J. Geils Band - Centerfold
- John Lennon - (Just Like) Starting Over
- Brandy & Monica - The Boy Is Mine
- Stevie B - Because I Love You (The Postman Song)
- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - I Love Rock 'N Roll
- The 5th Dimension - Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
- Tag Team - Whoomp (There It Is)
- Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder - Ebony and Ivory
- Paula Abdul - Rush Rush
- Dionne & Friends - That's What Friends Are For
- Diana Ross - Upside Down
- The Archies - Sugar, Sugar
- Nelly f/Kelly Rowland - Dilemma
- Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
- Shania Twain - You're Still The One
- Donna Summer - Hot Stuff
- Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
- Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise
- Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra
- Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
- Carly Simon - You're So Vain
- Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music
- Lionel Richie - Say You, Say Me
- The Knack - My Sharona
- Lionel Richie - All Night Long (All Night)
- Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U
- All-4-One - I Swear
- Mary J. Blige - Family Affair
- Foreigner - Waiting For A Girl Like You
- Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome To-Night?
- Roberta Flack - Klling Me Softly With His Song
- John Mellencamp - Hurts So Good
- Puff Daddy & Faith Evans - I'll Be Missing You
- B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
- Phil Collins - Another Day In Paradise
- The Emotions - Best Of My Love
- Usher - You Make Me Wanna
- Fergie - Big Girls Don't Cry
- Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were
- Real McCoy - Another Night
- Elvis Presley - It's Now Or Never
- Captain & Tennille - Do That To Me One More Time
- Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band - A Fifth of Beethoven
- Madonna - Like A Virgin
- Santana f/Product G&B - Maria Maria
- Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive
- Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You
- Usher - You Got It Bad
- Three Dog Night - Joy To The World
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