Welcome back to the 101 Biggest Hits of 2016! The last week and a half has all boiled down to this, the final ten songs of the countdown! Here are links to all previous installments, in case you’ve missed any:
- Songs 101-91
- Songs 90-81
- Songs 80-71
- Songs 70-61
- Songs 60-51
- Songs 50-41
- Songs 40-31
- Songs 30-21
- Songs 20-11
There are sure to be some surprises, so let’s get started with song #10!
#10: Cake By The Ocean by DNCE
Peak: #9 2016 Weeks on Chart: 38 Points: 2901
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 18
Remember how random it was when Nick Jonas had his big comeback in 2014? Well, multiply that feeling by two and you might have an approximation of this year’s “Cake By The Ocean” phenomenon. On its steady rise to the Top 10, DNCE’s debut single wound up outscoring any song in Nick’s or the Jonas Brothers’ discography. By virtue of his time with his brothers as well as his solo appearance on the Camp Rock soundtrack, Joe Jonas joined Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings) and Paul Carrack (Ace, Mike + The Mechanics) as the only artists in Hot 100 history to reach the Top 10 as a solo act and with two other groups.
#9: I Took A Pill In Ibiza by Mike Posner
Peak: #4 2016 Weeks on Chart: 37 Points: 2935
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 15
Over 5 years since his last appearance to the Top 40, Mike Posner scored 2016’s most unlikely hit with “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.” His original recording of the song is an acoustic ballad, far too slow for commercial success. However, thanks to an infectious remix-ex-machina from Norwegian producers Seeb, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” became a massive hit, setting new career highs for Posner in both peak position, weeks on the Hot 100, and year-end ranking. The song was also nominated for Song of the Year at the upcoming 2017 Grammy Awards, cementing Posner’s whirlwind of a comeback.
#8: Work by Rihanna f/Drake
Peak: #1 (for 9 weeks) 2016 Weeks on Chart: 36 Points: 3058
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 4
Old friends Rihanna and Drake scored two more hits by pairing up this year. While “Too Good” was unable to reach the Top 10, the ubiquitous “Work” spent a full two months atop the Hot 100. Impressively, “Work” is only half of both artists’ representation in the Top 10 of my countdown. The last time an artist had two songs in my year-end Top 10 was 2013, when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis did so with “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us.” Much rarer is two artists doing so in the same year, which hasn’t happened since 2009, when Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift each turned the trick.
#7: Panda by Desiigner
Peak: #1 (for 2 weeks) 2016 Weeks on Chart: 40 Points: 3132
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 6
Born in 1997, Desiigner (née Sidney Selby) became the most recently-born owner of a Hot 100 Number One single, surpassing Lorde. With a hook featured in Kanye West’s “Pt. 2,” “Panda” became a viral sensation, rocketing to the top of the charts in remarkable fashion for a debut effort. Despite “I got broads in Atlanta” becoming the year’s most quotable rap line, Desiigner was snubbed when the nominees for the Best New Artist Grammy award were announced.
#6: One Dance by Drake f/WizKid & Kyla
Peak: #1 (for 10 weeks) 2016 Weeks on Chart: 36 Points: 3193
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 3
When “Hotline Bling” stalled at #2 on the charts this winter, there was plenty of speculation as to whether Drake had blown his best chance of hitting Number One when he delayed posting the viral video to YouTube. Any thoughts of such a fate quickly dissipated with the release of “One Dance.” Spending ten weeks at the summit, Drake’s Latin-infused hit checked off yet another milestone for the Canadian as he continues to rewrite the record books.
#5: Love Yourself by Justin Bieber
Peak: #1 (for 2 weeks) 2016 Weeks on Chart: 37 Points: 3198
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 1
Thanks in part to its spending the entirety of December in the Top Five, Billboard declared “Love Yourself” the biggest hit of 2016. It certainly was one of the most unavoidable songs of the year and spent over 25 weeks this year atop my rankings, but ultimately Bieber’s third consecutive Number One hit failed to spend enough weeks on the chart to win my countdown. At #5, this is the lowest I’ve placed a Billboard year-end Number One since I ranked Kesha’s “Tik Tok” #10 in 2010.
#4: Cheap Thrills by Sia f/Sean Paul
Peak: #1 (for 4 weeks) 2016 Weeks on Chart: 44 Points: 3244
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 11
If “most unlikely hit of 2016” extends to featured artists, who had Sean Paul hitting Number One when this year began? The mid-2000s icon hadn’t even hit the Top 10 since the beginning of 2010 (featured on Jay Sean’s “Do You Remember”), but the tropical revival in pop music suddenly made Sean Paul a coveted commodity again. After several massive hits, Sia finally earned her first Number One single with “Cheap Thrills,” making her (at 41 years old) the oldest artist to earn their first chart-topper since Carlos Santana (52) changed the world forever with “Smooth” in 1999.
#3: Needed Me by Rihanna
Peak: #7 2016 Weeks on Chart: 45 Points: 3259
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 13
“Needed Me” serves as the best representation of the difference between my chart analysis methods compared to those of Billboard. Though Rihanna’s DJ Mustard production was much less omnipresent than “Work,” it spent two more months on the chart. And as you’ve no doubt learned, consistency and longevity are the hallmarks of my research. No song spent more weeks on the Hot 100 in 2016 than “Needed Me,” and its reward is Rihanna’s highest-ever placement on my year-end rankings. It’s also Rihanna’s 39th entry in my countdowns since her first appearance in 2005 with “Pon De Replay,” moving her out of a tie with Drake and Lil Wayne for the most all-time.
#2: Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots
Peak: #2 2016 Weeks on Chart: 40 Points: 3376
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 5
Twenty One Pilots very nearly won the coveted title of Biggest Hit of 2016. Their breakout hit “Stressed Out” passed “Love Yourself” in Week 38 of my analysis and held onto the top spot for 12 weeks. There is no fate crueler in my research than losing the Number One spot in December, but such was the fate of “Stressed Out.” It seems utterly poetic that in a year defined by successful duos, Twenty One Pilots were nudged out by the only duo that could claim to challenge their level of success this year…
#1: Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers f/Daya
Peak: #3 2016 Weeks on Chart: 44 Points: 3595
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 8
“Don’t Let Me Down” is the biggest hit of 2016. This is bound to surprise many people, as many wouldn’t even consider it the biggest Chainsmokers hit of the year. Indeed, “Closer” has a good shot at eventually surpassing the points total of “Don’t Let Me Down” as it works through the second half of its run. But with its February release date, “Don’t Let Me Down” was perfectly poised to take advantage of the entirety of the 2016 calendar.
Billboard disagreed with me that a song peaking at #3 could be the year-end champion, and ranked “Don’t Let Me Down” 8th in their own rankings. That’s the lowest Billboard has placed my year-end winner since 1999, when 702’s “Where My Girls At?” checked in at #11 on Billboard’s rankings. While the song that finished Number One might be surprising, it’s no shock at all that 2016 belonged to The Chainsmokers.
With that, the 101 Biggest Hits of 2016 have come to a close! Special congratulations go out to Daya, who at 18 years old already has her first year-end title. For the 59th straight year my countdown had a first-time winner, as no artist has ever won multiple titles. Will that change next year? The only way to find out is to continue following the Hot 100, and you can bet that I’ll have the answers waiting for you. Thanks to everyone for reading this year’s installment of the 101 Biggest Hits countdown, and here’s to an equally interesting 2017!