Special Report

The Most Popular Songs That Peaked at No. 2

Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

When it comes to the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, landing anywhere in the top 40 is usually enough to garner general attention and bolster one’s music career. It’s then no surprise that many of history’s most iconic songs never reached No. 1, even if they sold in massive numbers and became more or less ubiquitous across the culture. Quick examples include everything from Drake’s “Hotline Bling” to Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” both of which peaked at #2. (And unlike them, here are some famous musicians who have never topped the Hot 100.)

To determine the biggest songs that peaked at No. 2, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Songs were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Only songs that peaked at the No. 2 position on the Billboard Hot 100 were considered. Chart data is current through the week of Nov. 19, 2022.

They’re not on this list, but one example of a mega-popular band that never reached the top is Creedence Clearwater Revival, which scored five No. 2 singles on the Hot 100 but never made the extra step up (though John Fogerty would eventually get there as a solo artist with “Centerfield”)? Another famed performer, Bruce Springsteen, has never topped the chart, despite cracking the top 10 on multiple occasions. (To Springsteen’s credit, he did pen Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s chart-topping cover version of “Blinded by the Light.”)

Click here to see the biggest songs that peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100

One must wonder: Do artists take it personally when they peak at second place without climbing any further? Given their competitive spirit and outsized egos, we imagine they do. But the silver lining is that plenty of these No. 2 singles enjoy lasting legacies of their own, occasionally outshining and even outselling the song or songs that initially bested them. Here’s to the runner-ups that have become champions over time. (Some songs even get a second shot at the top slot. Here are some classic songs that have returned to the Billboard Hot 100.)

Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

50. Brian McKnight, “Back at One”
> Entered Hot 100: August 28, 1999
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 8 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 37 weeks

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Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

49. Drake, “Hotline Bling”
> Entered Hot 100: August 22, 2015
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 5 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 36 weeks

Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

48. Hozier, “Take Me to Church”
> Entered Hot 100: August 30, 2014
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 3 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 41 weeks

Source: Peter Kramer / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

47. The Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes, “Don’t Cha”
> Entered Hot 100: May 7, 2005
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 3 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 40 weeks

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Source: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

46. Gwen Stefani featuring Akon, “The Sweet Escape”
> Entered Hot 100: December 30, 2006
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 40 weeks

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

45. Hoobastank, “The Reason”
> Entered Hot 100: March 20, 2004
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 38 weeks

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Source: WPA Pool / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

44. Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
> Entered Hot 100: January 3, 1976
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 44 weeks

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images

43. R. Kelly, “Ignition”
> Entered Hot 100: November 9, 2002
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 5 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 42 weeks

Source: Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images

42. Ciara featuring Missy Elliott, “1, 2 Step”
> Entered Hot 100: October 30, 2004
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 7 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 39 weeks

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Source: David Redfern / Redferns via Getty Images

41. Brenda Lee, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
> Entered Hot 100: December 12, 1960
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 5 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 44 weeks

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

40. Future featuring Drake, “Life Is Good”
> Entered Hot 100: January 25, 2020
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 8 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 38 weeks

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Source: Noam Galai / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

39. Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber, “I Don’t Care”
> Entered Hot 100: May 25, 2019
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 39 weeks

Source: Larry French / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

38. Keith Sweat, “Twisted”
> Entered Hot 100: June 22, 1996
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 38 weeks

Source: JMEnternational / Contributor / Getty Images

37. Mark Morrison, “Return of the Mack”
> Entered Hot 100: March 1, 1997
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 40 weeks

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Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

36. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
> Entered Hot 100: March 2, 2013
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 42 weeks

Source: Steve Eichner / Contributor / Getty Images

35. Donna Lewis, “I Love You Always Forever”
> Entered Hot 100: June 22, 1996
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 9 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 41 weeks

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Source: Frank Micelotta / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

34. Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz featuring Ying Yang Twins, “Get Low”
> Entered Hot 100: May 3, 2003
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 45 weeks

Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

33. twenty one pilots, “Heathens”
> Entered Hot 100: July 9, 2016
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 4 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 39 weeks

Source: Jason Kempin / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

32. Maroon 5, “Sugar”
> Entered Hot 100: January 31, 2015
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 4 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 42 weeks

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Source: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

31. Backstreet Boys, “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)”
> Entered Hot 100: June 28, 1997
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 43 weeks

Source: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

30. Maroon 5, “Memories”
> Entered Hot 100: October 5, 2019
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 41 weeks

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Source: Paras Griffin / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

29. Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby, “Levitating”
> Entered Hot 100: October 17, 2020
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 41 weeks

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

28. Jack Harlow featuring DaBaby, Tory Lanez & Lil Wayne, “Whats Poppin”
> Entered Hot 100: February 22, 2020
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 51 weeks

Source: Chris Jackson / Chris Jackson Collection via Getty Images

27. Ellie Goulding, “Lights”
> Entered Hot 100: August 20, 2011
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 57 weeks

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Source: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

26. Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone”
> Entered Hot 100: December 18, 2004
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 46 weeks

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

25. Shania Twain, “You’re Still the One”
> Entered Hot 100: February 14, 1998
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 9 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 42 weeks

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Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

24. twenty one pilots, “Stressed Out”
> Entered Hot 100: May 16, 2015
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 52 weeks

Source: Ian Gavan / Getty Images for MTV

23. Timbaland featuring OneRepublic, “Apologize”
> Entered Hot 100: April 21, 2007
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 4 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 47 weeks

Source: Avalon / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

22. Everything But the Girl, “Missing”
> Entered Hot 100: August 12, 1995
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 55 weeks

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Source: Tabatha Fireman / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

21. Post Malone, “Wow.”
> Entered Hot 100: January 5, 2019
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 3 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 44 weeks

Source: Des Willie / Redferns via Getty Images

20. The Tony Rich Project, “Nobody Knows”
> Entered Hot 100: December 16, 1995
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 47 weeks

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Source: Phillip Faraone / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

19. CeeLo Green, “Forget You”
> Entered Hot 100: September 11, 2010
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 4 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 48 weeks

Source: Jason Merritt/TERM / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

18. Taio Cruz, “Dynamite”
> Entered Hot 100: June 19, 2010
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 3 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 47 weeks

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

17. Usher, “You Make Me Wanna…”
> Entered Hot 100: August 23, 1997
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 7 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 47 weeks

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Source: Al Pereira / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

16. Tag Team, “Whoomp! (There It Is)”
> Entered Hot 100: May 29, 1993
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 7 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 45 weeks

Source: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

15. Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”
> Entered Hot 100: November 22, 2008
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 50 weeks

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Source: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

14. Juice WRLD, “Lucid Dreams”
> Entered Hot 100: May 26, 2018
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 48 weeks

Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

13. Faith Hill, “Breathe”
> Entered Hot 100: November 6, 1999
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 5 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 53 weeks

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

12. Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line, “Meant To Be”
> Entered Hot 100: November 11, 2017
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 3 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 51 weeks

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Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

11. Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”
> Entered Hot 100: April 19, 2014
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 54 weeks

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

10. Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now”
> Entered Hot 100: November 16, 2019
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 52 weeks

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Source: Kristian Dowling / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

9. Lifehouse, “Hanging by a Moment”
> Entered Hot 100: February 10, 2001
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 4 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 54 weeks

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

8. Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”
> Entered Hot 100: February 7, 2015
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 3 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 52 weeks

Source: WPA Pool / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

7. Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
> Entered Hot 100: October 25, 2014
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 8 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 58 weeks

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Source: Ian Gavan / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

6. Marshmello & Bastille, “Happier”
> Entered Hot 100: September 1, 2018
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 1 week
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 52 weeks

Source: Rick Diamond / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

5. Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
> Entered Hot 100: August 29, 2009
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 60 weeks

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Source: Ian Gavan / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

4. Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
> Entered Hot 100: July 10, 2021
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 56 weeks

Source: John Phillips / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

3. OneRepublic, “Counting Stars”
> Entered Hot 100: July 6, 2013
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 68 weeks

Source: Duane Prokop / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

2. Jewel, “Foolish Games/You Were Meant For Me”
> Entered Hot 100: November 30, 1996
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 2 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 65 weeks

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Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

1. LeAnn Rimes, “How Do I Live”
> Entered Hot 100: June 21, 1997
> Time spent at No. 2 on the Hot 100: 4 weeks
> Total time spent on the Hot 100: 69 weeks

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