Welcome back everyone! Today the countdown concludes as I finally reveal the final 10 Biggest Hits of 2015! If this is your first time checking in on the countdown, please read this for the process by which I ranked the songs you are about to see! Time to bring this retrospective to an end, so let’s get it started with #10!
#10: Lean On by Major Lazer & DJ Snake f/MØ
Peak: #4 2015 Weeks on Chart: 36 Points: 2812
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 16
As EDM continues to become an increasingly larger part of the musical mainstream, we’re beginning to see bigger and bigger Hot 100 hits come from the once-confined genre. Last year, DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What” became the first (albeit intentionally pop-friendly) EDM song to make this countdown’s Top 10. There’s no genre confusion on “Lean On” however, which returned DJ Snake to the Top 10, introduced the world to Danish singer MØ, and gave all-star trio Major Lazer their first mainstream hit. Oh by the way, “Lean On” also became the most-streamed song in Spotify history, so the era of EDM is undoubtedly in full force.
#9: Where Are U Now by Skrillex & Diplo w/Justin Bieber
Peak: #8 2015 Weeks on Chart: 41 Points: 2845
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 19
Quick: Who’s the only artist with two songs in this countdown’s Top 10. Nope, it’s not Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd, or Fetty Wap. Surpise! It’s Diplo, the most famous member of Major Lazer. He teamed up with Skrillex early this year to make an album as a “superduo” dubbed Jack Ü. It’s hard to imagine now that Justin Bieber’s career is in full resurgence, but their inclusion of him on “Where Are U Now” was considered a surprising choice. Lo and behold though, it rocketed Bieber back into the limelight, gave Skrillex his first Top 40 hit ever, and scored another victory for bringing EDM into the public eye.
#8: See You Again by Wiz Khalifa f/Charlie Puth
Peak: #1 (for 12 weeks) 2015 Weeks on Chart: 40 Points: 3250
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 3
The hype and sorrow surrounding Furious 7 as it pertained to the death of Paul Walker gifted Wiz Khalifa the opportunity to secure the biggest hit of his career. He also did the Fast & Furious 6 theme “We Own It,” which briefly reached the Top 20, but the piano-driven “See You Again” spent a whopping 12 weeks at #1, tying for the longest reign ever for a rap single. That other 12-week leader? That would be Eminem’s own original soundtrack hit “Lose Yourself,” which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, an award for which “See You Again” will undoubtedly contend.
#7: Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae) by Silentó
Peak: #3 2015 Weeks on Chart: 42 Points: 3253
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 8
From “The Twist” to “The Hustle” to anything by Soulja Boy, songs with prescribed dances are an indisputable piece of pop music’s historical identity. Proving that two (or six) are better than one, teenager Silento combined the past decade’s biggest dance crazes into one record. “Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae)” was extremely polarizing, and many found it to be one of the year’s worst songs, but I have no doubt that you will find the viral hit on wedding and prom playlists for years to come.
#6: Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey) by The Weeknd
Peak: #3 2015 Weeks on Chart: 43 Points: 3292
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 9
The one that fully catapulted The Weeknd into pop stardom, “Earned It” was the biggest hit from the acclaimed Fifty Shades Of Grey soundtrack. Its run in the Top 10 far eclipsed the film’s run in theaters, and started one of the Hot 100’s most impressive streaks in history. Started with Earned It’s first week in the Top 10, The Weeknd has had at least one (and often two) song in the region, a streak which is active as of the chart dated January 2, 2016. Standing at 44 straight weeks, that streak is good for the fourth longest of all time, and if “The Hills” and current single “In The Night” can hang around the Top 10 for five more weeks, The Weeknd will take over second place, trailing only Katy Perry’s 69-week streak from 2010-11.
#5: Sugar by Maroon 5
Peak: #2 2015 Weeks on Chart: 42 Points: 3464
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 5
The most consistent group of the 21st century thus far, Maroon 5 has had nearly 20 appearances on this countdown since “Harder To Breathe” became their first hit in 2003. Despite narrowly missing out on a fourth #1 single, the band earned their third year-end Top 10 with “Sugar“, following “This Love” (#2 on my 2004 rankings) and “Payphone” (#10 on my 2012 rankings). With V yielding three Top 10 hits, it’s clear that Maroon 5 is not slowing down, as they’ve had eight countdown appearances in just the past three years alone.
#4: Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon
Peak: #4 2015 Weeks on Chart: 48 Points: 3550
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 6
Walk The Moon’s slow and steady ascent to the Top 5 with “Shut Up And Dance” made it one of a select few songs in Hot 100 history to spend more than 52 weeks on the chart. Not reaching its peak position until its 27th week, it took months of building up airplay in order to become a smash hit, and proved nearly impossible to remove from popularity. In fact, it took a new rule from Billboard this month, stating that songs spending 52 or more weeks must be removed from the chart after falling below #25, in order to finally take “Shut Up And Dance” off the chart. Had the old rules still applied, it might have become just the third song ever to spend all 52 weeks of a calendar year on the Hot 100.
#3: Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran
Peak: #2 2015 Weeks on Chart: 48 Points: 3959
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 2
After two big hits with uptempo singles “Sing” and “Don’t,” Ed Sheeran went back to the ballad route on “Thinking Out Loud,” an ode to ageless love which became his biggest hit yet. Held at bay from reaching #1 on the Hot 100 by the #1 song on this countdown, “Thinking Out Loud” became the most-streamed song in Spotify history until “Lean On” recently claimed the distinction. It also spent 45 weeks in the #2 spot on these rankings until it was passed up on the very last chart by a certain rapper.
#2: Trap Queen by Fetty Wap
Peak: #2 2015 Weeks on Chart: 47 Points: 3975
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 4
In addition to being the Hot 100’s undeniable Rookie Of The Year, Fetty Wap also owns perhaps 2015’s most quotable song. “Trap Queen” was the rare example of a rap love song imbued with authentic emotion. Managing to establish a wide variety of Fetty catchphrases in just one song (“1738” and “RGF” to name a few), “Trap Queen” was one of the best-performing debut singles of all time. It snuck into the #2 slot in the very last week, completing Fetty’s incredible year and becoming the first rap song to place this high on my year-end countdown since Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)” finished my 1993 rankings in the top spot.
#1: Uptown Funk! by Mark Ronson f/Bruno Mars
Peak: #1 (for 14 weeks) 2015 Weeks on Chart: 50 Points: 4478
Billboard Year-End Ranking: 1
Was there any doubt? Billboard and I are in absolute agreement here, as there’s no mistaking that “Uptown Funk” was the biggest hit of the year, probably the biggest hit of the decade, and quite possibly one of the most successful singles of all time. It spent 14 weeks at #1, the second-longest reign in history, and spent over 52 weeks on the chart before falling victim to Billboard’s new recurrence rule two weeks ago. It nearly became the third (or fourth if “Shut Up And Dance” had equaled the feat) to spend all 52 weeks of a year on the Hot 100, but takes solace in its incredible 4,478 point yield, the second-highest single-year total ever (behind Jewel’s 1997 run with “You Were Meant For Me”). Amidst all these historical accolades, “Uptown Funk” was also the year’s most unavoidable yet infectious hit, and ranked #1 on my 10 Best Songs Of 2014 list. Once my comprehensive Hot 100 research comes to a conclusion in a couple months, I will be able to generate an era-equalizing multiplier which will enable me to compare hit singles across the past 60 years. Where will “Uptown Funk” fit in amongst the biggest hits of all time? I have a hunch it will could make the all-time Top 10, and maybe that’s too conservative of an estimate. One thing’s for sure though: we bore witness this year to one of the most dominating performances in Hot 100 history.
A big thank you again to everybody for your continued readership and for helping me remember the year in music that was 2015! I look forward to keeping tabs on the Hot 100 again in 2016, and you can be sure that I’ll be sharing my results with you this time next year!