Special Report

Most Popular Hit Singles of the 21st Century

Popular music is ever evolving. Looking back on the decades of the 20th century, each one has a standout popular musical genre, from big band swing in the ‘40s to British invasion rock in the ‘60s, disco in the ‘70s, and alternative/grunge in the ‘90s. (For music history buffs, these are the 40 best pop albums ever made.)

Although we’ve just entered the third decade of the 21st century, a clear trend is emerging, and it’s plain to see that the popular music of the modern age is decidedly not rock and roll. 24/7 Tempo has compiled the most popular hit singles of the 21st century, which mostly span the genres of rap, R&B, soul, dance, and electropop. No matter the genre, one thing almost all of these hits have in common is a danceable electronic beat.

Click here to see the most popular hit singles of the 21st century

To identify the most popular hit singles of the 21st Century, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the singles with the highest certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Artist and release date information also came from the RIAA.

Of all the most popular songs, four are from pop singer Bruno Mars, with three each from Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, and rapper Eminem. An outlier on the list is the children’s song “Baby Shark” released under the name Pinkfong, a Korean educational brand for kids. 

Two country songs made the cut — one released by the duo Florida Georgia Line and another by Bebe Rexha, featuring that same duo. Some would add a third song in the country category, the crossover megahit “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, even though Billboard pulled it from its country charts. These are the 50 most popular country music stars right now.

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