Special Report

The Biggest Hits That Were Never No. 1

Handout / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

It’s never been easy for an artist to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. So many things have to go right for a performer to reach the summit, such as airplay, timing of the song’s release, and what the competition is like. 

Even though a single does not reach the Billboard apex, though, that doesn’t mean that it is not a hit. To determine the biggest songs that never went No. 1, 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 never reached the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 were considered. Chart data is current through the week of Nov. 19, 2022.

All of pop music’s greatest classic performers – The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, and Stevie Wonder, to name just a few – recorded singles that failed to top the Hot 100. The same holds true for more contemporary performers. On the 24/7 Tempo list of biggest songs that never went to No. 1, hitmakers such as Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Dua Lipa are all represented – though 19 of these songs got to No. 2, including two by Sheeran. You might be surprised at some of the famous musicians who have never topped the Billboard Hot 100.

Click here to see the biggest songs that were never No. 1

Every song on the list had staying power, however, spending at least 45 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, and the majority were on that Billboard chart for 50 weeks or longer. The Imagine Dragons’ song “Radioactive,” which peaked at No. 3, was on the Billboard Hot 100 for 87 weeks. (These are the most dominant reigns in Billboard history.)

Source: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

50. CeeLo Green, “Forget You”
> Entered Hot 100: Sept. 11, 2010
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 48

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

49. Taio Cruz, “Dynamite”
> Entered Hot 100: June 19, 2010
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 47

Source: Steve Granitz / WireImage via Getty Images

48. Usher, “You Make Me Wanna…”
> Entered Hot 100: Aug. 23, 1997
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 7 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 47

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

47. Chris Brown featuring Drake, “No Guidance”
> Entered Hot 100: June 22, 2019
> Peak position on Hot 100: #5 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 46

Source: Brenda Chase / Getty Images

46. Faith Hill, “The Way You Love Me”
> Entered Hot 100: March 11, 2000
> Peak position on Hot 100: #6 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 56

Source: Al Pereira / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

45. Tag Team, “Whoomp! (There It Is)”
> Entered Hot 100: May 29, 1993
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 7 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 45

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

44. Silento, “Watch Me”
> Entered Hot 100: March 14, 2015
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 51

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images

43. Panic! At The Disco, “High Hopes”
> Entered Hot 100: June 9, 2018
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

42. Shawn Mendes, “Stitches”
> Entered Hot 100: June 13, 2015
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Scott Gries / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

41. 3 Doors Down, “Here Without You”
> Entered Hot 100: Aug. 30, 2003
> Peak position on Hot 100: #5 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 51

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

40. fun., “Some Nights”
> Entered Hot 100: March 10, 2012
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 56

Source: Phillip Faraone / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

39. Elton John & Dua Lipa, “Cold Heart (PNAU Remix)”
> Entered Hot 100: Aug. 28, 2021
> Peak position on Hot 100: #7 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: David Becker / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

38. Imagine Dragons, “Believer”
> Entered Hot 100: Feb. 25, 2017
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 51

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

37. Train, “Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)”
> Entered Hot 100: March 17, 2001
> Peak position on Hot 100: #5 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 53

Source: Chris Weeks / Hulton Archive via Getty Images

36. 3 Doors Down, “Kryptonite”
> Entered Hot 100: April 8, 2000
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 53

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

35. Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly, “Cruise”
> Entered Hot 100: Sept. 1, 2012
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 54

Source: Pool / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

34. Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”
> Entered Hot 100: Nov. 22, 2008
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 50

Source: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

33. Justin Bieber, “Ghost”
> Entered Hot 100: April 3, 2021
> Peak position on Hot 100: #5 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

32. AWOLNATION, “Sail”
> Entered Hot 100: Sept. 3, 2011
> Peak position on Hot 100: #17 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 79

Source: Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

31. Juice WRLD, “Lucid Dreams”
> Entered Hot 100: May 26, 2018
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 48

30. Taylor Swift, “Love Story”
> Entered Hot 100: Sept. 27, 2008
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 49

Source: Rich Fury / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

29. Harry Styles, “Adore You”
> Entered Hot 100: Dec. 21, 2019
> Peak position on Hot 100: #6 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 50

Source: Bryan Steffy / Getty Images

28. benny blanco, Halsey & Khalid, “Eastside”
> Entered Hot 100: July 28, 2018
> Peak position on Hot 100: #9 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Bill Tompkins / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

27. Paula Cole, “I Don’t Want To Wait”
> Entered Hot 100: Nov. 1, 1997
> Peak position on Hot 100: #11 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 56

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

26. Train, “Hey, Soul Sister”
> Entered Hot 100: Oct. 17, 2009
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 54

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

25. The Chainsmokers featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
> Entered Hot 100: Feb. 27, 2016
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Janette Pellegrini / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

24. matchbox twenty, “Unwell”
> Entered Hot 100: March 22, 2003
> Peak position on Hot 100: #5 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 54

Source: Paul Natkin / Archive Photos via Getty Images

23. Faith Hill, “Breathe”
> Entered Hot 100: Nov. 6, 1999
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 5 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 53

Source: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

22. Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line, “Meant To Be”
> Entered Hot 100: Nov. 11, 2017
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 51

Source: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

21. Lifehouse, “You And Me”
> Entered Hot 100: Feb. 12, 2005
> Peak position on Hot 100: #5 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 62

Source: Chelsea Lauren / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

20. Sam Smith, “Stay With Me”
> Entered Hot 100: April 19, 2014
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 54

Source: Michael Tullberg / Stringer / Getty Images Entertainment

19. Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now”
> Entered Hot 100: Nov. 16, 2019
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

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

18. Chris Brown & Young Thug, “Go Crazy”
> Entered Hot 100: May 23, 2020
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Mike Lawrie / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

17. Avicii, “Wake Me Up!”
> Entered Hot 100: July 13, 2013
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 6 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 54

Source: Gabe Palacio / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

16. Lifehouse, “Hanging By A Moment”
> Entered Hot 100: Feb. 10, 2001
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 54

Source: Bennett Raglin / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

15. Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”
> Entered Hot 100: Feb. 7, 2015
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 3 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

14. Ed Sheeran, “Shivers”
> Entered Hot 100: Sept. 25, 2021
> Peak position on Hot 100: #4 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

13. The Lumineers, “Ho Hey”
> Entered Hot 100: June 23, 2012
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 5 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 62

Source: Rich Fury / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

12. Post Malone, “Better Now”
> Entered Hot 100: May 12, 2018
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

11. Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”
> Entered Hot 100: Oct. 25, 2014
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 8 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 58

Source: Dave J Hogan / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

10. Marshmello & Bastille, “Happier”
> Entered Hot 100: Sept. 1, 2018
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 52

9. Carrie Underwood, “Before He Cheats”
> Entered Hot 100: Sept. 16, 2006
> Peak position on Hot 100: #8 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 64

Source: Kevin Winter/ACM2009 / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

8. Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
> Entered Hot 100: Aug. 29, 2009
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 60

Source: Jason Kempin / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

7. Gabby Barrett featuring Charlie Puth, “I Hope”
> Entered Hot 100: Jan. 11, 2020
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 62

Source: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

6. Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
> Entered Hot 100: July 10, 2021
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 56

Source: Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Clear Channel

5. OneRepublic, “Counting Stars”
> Entered Hot 100: July 6, 2013
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 68

4. Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours”
> Entered Hot 100: May 3, 2008
> Peak position on Hot 100: #6 (for 1 week)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 76

Source: Paul Natkin / Archive Photos via Getty Images

3. Jewel, “Foolish Games/You Were Meant for Me”
> Entered Hot 100: Nov. 30, 1996
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 2 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 65

Source: Beth Gwinn / Getty Images

2. LeAnn Rimes, “How Do I Live”
> Entered Hot 100: June 21, 1997
> Peak position on Hot 100: #2 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 69

Source: Jonathan Leibson / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

1. Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
> Entered Hot 100: Aug. 18, 2012
> Peak position on Hot 100: #3 (for 4 weeks)
> Total weeks on Hot 100: 87

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