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Exploring Billboard's 50th Anniversary All-Time Hot 100 Top Songs (1958-2008)

Updated on December 26, 2009

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.

50th Anniversary Hot 100 (1958-2008)
50th Anniversary Hot 100 (1958-2008)

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

  1. Chubby Checker - The Twist
  2. Santana f/Rob Thomas - Smooth
  3. Bobby Darin - Mack The Knife
  4. LeAnn Rimes - How Do I Live
  5. Los Del Rio - Macarena
  6. Olivia Newton-John - Physical
  7. Debby Boone - You Light Up My Life
  8. Beatles - Hey Jude
  9. Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
  10. Toni Braxton - Un-Break My Heart
  11. Usher f/Lil' Jon & Ludacris - Yeah!
  12. Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes
  13. Diana Ross & Lionel Richie - Endless Love
  14. Rod Stewart - Tonight's The Night
  15. Jewel - Foolish Games/You Were Meant For Me
  16. Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
  17. Boyz II Men - I'll Make Love To You
  18. Percy Faith - Theme From A Summer Place
  19. Chic - Le Freak
  20. Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love
  21. Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger
  22. Andy Gibb - I Just Want To Be Your Everything
  23. Flo Rida f/T-Pain - Low
  24. Next - Too Close
  25. The Police - Every Breath You Take
  26. Irene Cara - Flashdance... What A Feeling
  27. Bobby Lewis - Tossin' And Turnin'
  28. Johnny Horton - The Battle of New Orleans
  29. Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men - One Sweet Day
  30. Savage Garden - Truly Madly Deeply
  31. Wings - Silly Love Songs
  32. Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On
  33. Bee Gees - Night Fever
  34. Queen - Another One Bites The Dust
  35. Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson - Say Say Say
  36. Nickelback - How You Remind Me
  37. Tony Orlando & Dawn - Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree
  38. Tommy Edwards - It's All In The Game
  39. Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand
  40. Andy Gibb - Shadow Dancing
  41. Elton John - Candle In The Wind 1997/Something About The Way You Look Tonight
  42. Alicia Keys - No One
  43. Boyz II Men - End Of The Road
  44. Blondie - Call Me
  45. Mario - Let Me Love You
  46. Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive
  47. Kenny Rogers - Lady
  48. The Monkees - I'm A Believer
  49. Kanye West f/Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger
  50. Timbaland f/OneRepublic - Apologize
  51. Ace of Base - The Sign
  52. J. Geils Band - Centerfold
  53. John Lennon - (Just Like) Starting Over
  54. Brandy & Monica - The Boy Is Mine
  55. Stevie B - Because I Love You (The Postman Song)
  56. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - I Love Rock 'N Roll
  57. The 5th Dimension - Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
  58. Tag Team - Whoomp (There It Is)
  59. Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder - Ebony and Ivory
  60. Paula Abdul - Rush Rush
  61. Dionne & Friends - That's What Friends Are For
  62. Diana Ross - Upside Down
  63. The Archies - Sugar, Sugar
  64. Nelly f/Kelly Rowland - Dilemma
  65. Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
  66. Shania Twain - You're Still The One
  67. Donna Summer - Hot Stuff
  68. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
  69. Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise
  70. Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra
  71. Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
  72. Carly Simon - You're So Vain
  73. Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music
  74. Lionel Richie - Say You, Say Me
  75. The Knack - My Sharona
  76. Lionel Richie - All Night Long (All Night)
  77. Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U
  78. All-4-One - I Swear
  79. Mary J. Blige - Family Affair
  80. Foreigner - Waiting For A Girl Like You
  81. Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome To-Night?
  82. Roberta Flack - Klling Me Softly With His Song
  83. John Mellencamp - Hurts So Good
  84. Puff Daddy & Faith Evans - I'll Be Missing You
  85. B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
  86. Phil Collins - Another Day In Paradise
  87. The Emotions - Best Of My Love
  88. Usher - You Make Me Wanna
  89. Fergie - Big Girls Don't Cry
  90. Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were
  91. Real McCoy - Another Night
  92. Elvis Presley - It's Now Or Never
  93. Captain & Tennille - Do That To Me One More Time
  94. Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band - A Fifth of Beethoven
  95. Madonna - Like A Virgin
  96. Santana f/Product G&B - Maria Maria
  97. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive
  98. Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You
  99. Usher - You Got It Bad
  100. Three Dog Night - Joy To The World

Leave Some GRAFFITI :)

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      7 years ago

      Michael Jackson should not be that low on the billboard and he should have more than one song on it.


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