101 Biggest Hits of 2015! #101-91

 

It’s that time of year again! The Hot 100 chart released by Billboard today was dated December 26, meaning that it represents the last new chart of 2015! For the next ten days, I’m going to reveal to you what my statistical research has deemed the 101 Biggest Hits of the year. First time checking out my rankings? Here’s a quick breakdown of how I do it:

To rank each year’s most popular songs objectively without any genre bias or favoritism towards the earlier months of the year, I devised a point system back in 2011 which grades and orders songs as fairly as possible. Here’s the rundown for how it works:

  • Every week, Billboard releases the Hot 100, cataloging the most popular songs based on airplay, digital sales, YouTube presence, and online streaming.
  • When the new chart comes out every Tuesday, I analyze the chart and update my running totals for each song that has charted in 2015.
  • A week at #1 on the chart gains a song 100 points, a week at #2 gets 99 points, and so on down to 1 point for a week at #100.

With Week 52 in the books, I can officially release to you the 101 Biggest Hits of 2015 according to my points-based calculations. Today I will reveal songs 101-91, with another 10 songs being unveiled each day. To allay any suspense about some of your favorite songs that sadly won’t appear on this countdown, here are the songs which reached the Top 10 this year but didn’t spend enough time on the charts (yet) and accrue enough points to make the list:

  • Hello by Adele (700 points)
  • Sorry by Justin Bieber (690 points)
  • Perfect by One Direction (562 points)
  • Focus by Ariana Grande (515 points)
  • Love Yourself by Justin Bieber (381 points)

One last tidbit before we dive into the countdown. Obviously there is a bit of difference between the way Billboard itself tabulates its Top 100 songs of the year and the calculations I make. Here’s a quick look at the songs Billboard included in its list that you won’t be seeing on my countdown. Each song’s placement on my own year-end rankings (which extend well beyond #100) will show up in parentheses.

  • #35: Hello by Adele (t127)
  • #77: Habits (Stay High) by Tove Lo (t127)
  • #78: The Hanging Tree by James Newton Howard & Jennifer Lawrence (#117)
  • #80: Bang Bang by Jessie J, Nicki Minaj & Ariana Grande (#113)
  • #82: Tuesday by I LOVE MAKONNEN f/Drake (#120)
  • #92: Don’t by Ed Sheeran (t139)
  • #95: Waves by Mr. Probz (#151)
  • #96: El Perdon by Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias (#119)
  • #98: Night Changes by One Direction (#105)

A new wrinkle I’m adding to the countdown last week is a comparison to Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100, so you can see which songs favor my rankings or Billboard’s. This information will show up in the general information section of each entry.

Without further ado, let’s begin the countdown with #101!

#101: Ghost by Ella Henderson
Peak: #21            2015 Weeks on Chart: 13         Points: 904
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 93

Let’s get things started with young Brit Ella Henderson. Released when she was still just 18 years old, “Ghost” shot to #1 in the UK over the summer of 2014 and took a few months to cross over to the States. Former X-Factor contestant Henderson has been able to recently parlay her global success into a feature on Kygo’s recent single “Here For You,” but it’s unclear at this early date whether or not she’ll be able to enjoy future success this side of the Atlantic.

#100: Chandelier by Sia
Peak: #20 (#8 in 2014)     2015 Weeks on Chart: 14         Points: 911
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 90

Aided in part by a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year, Sia’s anthemic summer hit from last year extended its reach into April of 2015. Following the success of “Chandelier,” Sia’s next single “Elastic Heart” performed well enough to appear later in this countdown, but it’s fairly clear that her biggest hits are likely now behind her, unless she’s able to score another A-grade feature credit like “Wild Ones” or “Titanium.”

#99: The Heart Wants What It Wants by Selena Gomez
Peak: #13 (#6 in 2014)      2015 Weeks on Chart: 14         Points: 912
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 62

Released as the promotional single for Gomez’s 2014 greatest hits album, “The Heart Wants What It Wants” debuted at #6 late last year. A step down tempo and theme-wise from her Stars Dance singles, this brooding pop-friendly ballad set the tone for the Gomez paradigm shift that this year’s album Revival brought. Its late-year release doomed it to the lower rankings of this countdown, but perfectly bridged the gap between Gomez’s two very different solo albums to date.

#98: Crash And Burn by Thomas Rhett
Peak: #36            2015 Weeks on Chart: 20         Points: 914
Billboard Year-End Ranking: Not Ranked

One of contemporary country music’s most consistent hitmakers, Thomas Rhett has uniquely positioned himself on the fringes of the genre, incorporating elements of other styles into most of singles. After the disco/R&B twinges of early-year single “Make Me Wanna,” Rhett channeled Motown (specifically Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang”) on “Crash And Burn,” his fourth consecutive #1 single on the Country Airplay chart. Current single “Die A Happy Man” did not log enough weeks to make this countdown, but the new ballad became his first #1 on the aggregate Hot Country Songs chart and has thus far peaked at #23, his highest Hot 100 ranking yet.

#97: Strip It Down by Luke Bryan
Peak: #30            2015 Weeks on Chart: 19         Points: 933
Billboard Year-End Ranking: Not Ranked

Crossing over with more success than any country artist save for early-2000s Tim McGraw or Toby Keith, Luke Bryan had another big year in 2015, earning at least two spots on this countdown for a third straight year. Living up to its title, “Strip It Down” removed the bang-and-twang of singles like “That’s My Kind Of Night” in favor of a more traditional country ballad. Bryan may not be the paragon of an objectively great musician or singer, but his undeniable genre-defining popularity figures to continue as long as he continues his album-a-year release cycle.

#95 (tie): Homegrown by Zac Brown Band
Peak: #35            2015 Weeks on Chart: 20         Points: 940
Billboard Year-End Ranking: Not Ranked

It’s been a few years since the critically-acclaimed Zac Brown Band had a big crossover hit. Although they achieved mainstream success with the R&B-tinged “Keep Me In Mind,” ZBB returned to its “Chicken Fried” roots on “Homegrown,” a traditional feelgood country anthem that set the tone for the “Jekyll” half of their vastly experimental Jekyll + Hyde album. The rest of the album has been a bit of a commercial disappointment, but it’s good to see the Zac Brown Band back on this countdown.

#95 (tie): Prayer In C by Lilly Wood And The Prick & Robin Schulz
Peak: #23            2015 Weeks on Chart: 18         Points: 940
Billboard Year-End Ranking: Not Ranked

Going uncredited for his work on speeding up last year’s “Waves”, Robin Schulz has since become a major player in the remixing game. Taking “Prayer In C,” a similarly dirge-like song with little mainstream sensibility and infusing it with an EDM backdrop and a speed-up of about 40 BPM, Schulz gave French duo Lilly Wood and the Prick their first (and likely only) success here in America.

#94: Sangria by Blake Shelton
Peak: #38            2015 Weeks on Chart: 20         Points: 942
Billboard Year-End Ranking: Not Ranked

Blake Shelton’s formidable streak of Country Airplay #1 singles reached an astonishing 15 in a row when “Sangria” topped the chart this summer. He’s gone from silly songs like “Boys Round Here” to ballads like “Lonely Tonight,” but The Voice coach’s star power is indisputable at this point. Shelton followed up the sultry “Sangria” with the more uptempo current single “Gonna,” which brought the streak to 16 straight Airplay #1s. He might not be able to equal the Hot 100 peaks of younger artists like Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett, but Blake Shelton has set up his home on the radio and continues to dominate.

#93: She Knows by Ne-Yo f/Juicy J
Peak: #19            2015 Weeks on Chart: 16         Points: 963
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 97

Ne-Yo has been relatively quiet since the end of his brief heyday in 2008. He hit the Top 10 three years ago with “Let Me Love You,” but had no songs reach the Hot 100 after that until “She Knows” reached the Top 40 over the winter. Utilizing a repetitive saxophone riff and a timely Juicy J sample, the midtempo R&B song helped paved the way for his much bigger duet with Pitbull that you’ll see a little later on in the countdown.

#92: Love Me Harder by Ariana Grande & The Weeknd
Peak: #7            2015 Weeks on Chart: 12         Points: 965
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 56

Obviously hindsight has enormous benefits, but there’s no way I could’ve known in January that The Weeknd would turn into the phenomenon he has become in 2015. I certainly recognized his mainstream sensibilities when he teamed up with Ariana Grande on “Love Me Harder,” but the memories of his independent mixtapes still lingered. Some people think that The Weeknd “sold out” this year with numerous spots on this countdown, but with uncompromising lines in “Love Me Harder” like “Can you feel the pressure between your hips?” (brilliantly referred to by Billboard as a “single entendre”), it’s clear that pop music made itself available to him, not the other way around.

#91: CoCo by O.T. Genasis
Peak: #20            2015 Weeks on Chart: 16         Points: 984
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 79

The first of several big hits this year that could rightfully be classified as “novelty songs,” this destined-to-be one-hit wonder romanticized cocaine in a way we wouldn’t see again until The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” nine months later. Pairing a maddeningly catchy beat with a Vine-ready vocal delivery, O.T. Genasis made “CoCo” the year’s first surprise hit, cracking the Top 20 over the winter. There wasn’t a specific dance involved like many of the viral hits you’ll see later on, but the jovial handling of the subject material was novel enough to make “CoCo” a huge (albeit brief) sensation.

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That’s all for today! The song will keep getting bigger and bigger as the subsequent parts of the countdown come around, so be sure to keep checking in over the next week or so. A big thanks to everyone for joining me for songs 101-91 of the 101 Biggest Hits of 2014, and I’ll see you here tomorrow for songs 90-81!

Until then,

Ryan

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