To help you connect with your musical cohort, however belatedly — and also as an illustration of how much our national musical tastes have changed over the decades — 24/7 Tempo has assembled a list revealing the most popular song in America for every year since 1958, the earliest year for which this data is available. (For a different list dating even further back, here is the most famous musician born every year since 1930.)
Among the 60-plus songs on this list, you’ll find old-school rock-and-roll (like Chubby Checker’s classic ‘The Twist”), instrumentals (“Harlem Nocturne”), pop (“I Just Want to Be Your Everything”), reggae fusion (“Red, Red Wine”), novelty songs (“The Macarena”), and country (“If I Die Young”), among other musical idioms, before the likes of Post Malone (“Sunflower,” “Circles”) and The Weeknd (“Blinding Lights”) make an appearance.
Some of the songs here, listened to today, might inspire you to reach for the mute button; others are timeless classics that merit hearing again and again, no matter when they — or you — were born. (Speaking of classics, these are the 50 absolute best songs in history.)
To identify each year’s most popular song, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Billboard Hot 100 to learn which single remained on the chart for the longest period during every 12-month period beginning in 1958, the first year the publication compiled this data. Total number of weeks and each song’s peak on the chart are also drawn from the Hot 100. According to Billboard, the Hot 100 “is ranked by radio airplay audience impressions as measured by Nielsen BDS, sales data compiled by Nielsen Soundscan (both at retail and digitally) and streaming activity provided by online music sources.”
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