1984 Top100

Charcrush’s Top100 songs based on data from Billboard magazine’s weekly Hot100 charts

wdt_ID Rank Artist - Title Peak Wks@Pk Weeks Wks10
401 1 Prince - When Doves Cry 1 5 21 11
402 2 Van Halen - Jump 1 5 21 10
403 3 Tina Turner - What's Love Got to Do with It 1 3 28 10
404 4 Phil Collins - Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) 1 3 24 10
405 5 Kenny Loggins - Footloose 1 3 23 11
406 6 Lionel Richie - Hello 1 2 24 10
407 7 Yes - Owner of a Lonely Heart 1 2 23 10
408 8 Culture Club - Karma Chameleon 1 3 22 9
409 9 Stevie Wonder - I Just Called to Say I Love You 1 3 26 10
410 10 Ray Parker Jr. - Ghostbusters 1 3 21 10

1984 Chart Runs

This interactive visualization shows the Billboard Hot100 chart runs for the top ten songs of the year according to our Chartcrush ranking. Here you can see when songs charted during the year, for how long, and the strength of each song’s chart run relative to the other songs in the yearly top ten.

Hover over the legend to highlight a song in the plot area. Hover over a line in the plot area to see the song title and weekly rank.

1984 episode graphic

1984 Podcast

1984 episode graphic

1984 Top Ten Pop Countdown Podcast

The “visual sizzle” of music video defines the look and sound of the ’80s, soundtracks yield multiple hits, veteran acts relaunch and Prince floods the zone.

Listen to Episode on Spotify

::start transcript::

Welcome to the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show, I’m your host, Christopher Verdesi. Every week on Chartcrush, we do a deep dive into a year in pop music and count down the top ten songs according to our recap of the weekly pop charts published at the time in the music industry’s top trade publication and chart authority, Billboard magazine. This week on Chartcrush, we’re turning the clock back to 1984, the year that “the 80s” really started to look and feel like “the 80s.”

The year 1980 had been a clean break from Disco on the charts. ’70s Prog Rock faded circa 1978 and veteran Rock acts were trying to figure out their next moves, and it wasn’t Disco Rock. Just ask Kiss, Rod Stewart and others that learned that the hard way! In ’81 MTV launched and in ’82, video arcades swept in, the first big MTV New Wave hits like The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” topped the charts and Michael Jackson’s Thriller came out at the end of the year, making ’83 the year of Michael Jackson (he was everywhere!), but also the year that MTV and video music eclipsed radio and even touring as music’s driving force and all the major labels created music video divisions.

But it wasn’t just music. At the end of ’84, Billboard observed how utterly and completely the “visual sizzle” of music video had transformed American pop culture—from movies and TV (even children’s programming) to advertising and merchandising. “Madison Avenue shelved last year’s celebrities and yesterday’s fashions to create commercials applying the flash and flair of rock video to automobiles, cosmetics, cereal and toys.” The cop show Miami Vice premiered in the Fall of ’84, brainstormed by NBC’s Brandon Tartikoff in a memo that said, simply, “MTV cops.”

By 1984, the “’80s” weren’t just coming into focus, they’d arrived. And that was pretty exciting for a society exhausted from years of ’70s so-called “malaise:” energy crisis, Watergate, urban decay, high inflation and interest rates. It wasn’t too much of a stretch in the ’70s into the early ’80s to see 1984 shaping up as some version of the gray, totalitarian nightmare depicted in George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel 1984. But as it approached, it was turning out to be not that way at all. Apple, the computer company, put an exclamation point on that in its now-legendary Super Bowl ad that launched the Macintosh by Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, that showed said gray Orwellian dystopia being shattered, literally, with a sledgehammer hurled by a colorfully dressed woman athlete at Big Brother’s dreary visage on the big screen. Then later in the year, President Reagan’s re-election campaign sealed the deal with its famous “Morning in America” ad that helped sweep the President to his 49-state landslide victory over former Carter Veep, Walter Mondale.

#10 Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters

At #10, diving into our countdown, since ’84 was the year of the music video, no surprise that movie soundtracks loomed large on the charts. There were ten (count ’em ten) platinum-certified soundtrack albums in 1984. 1978 had five including Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Then there were four in 1980 including Urban Cowboy and Xanadu. But the ten in ’84 was more than both those two previous best years for soundtrack albums combined. And on the Hot100 singles chart, seven soundtrack songs got to #1 in ’84, five of which we’re gonna hear this hour on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown. And the first of them is at #10. It’s Ray Parker, Jr’s “Ghostbusters!”

The theme song of the top grossing movie of 1984, the comedy starring Saturday Night Live’s Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd and SCTV’s Harold Ramis as parapsychologists who run a ghost-hunting business out of an old fire house. Ray Parker, Jr’s “Ghostbusters!” #10 on our 1984 edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show.

Parker, a session guitarist since the late ’60s, with a string of hits starting in 1978 with his group Raydio (spelled with a “y”), and then as a solo act in the ’80s, hired by the producers to write the Ghostbusters theme in just three days after dozens of submissions had already been rejected. They were having trouble finding the right song because they’d been using Huey Lewis & The News’s current hit “I Want a New Drug,” as a placeholder in the film’s rough cut, but couldn’t get Lewis to do a new soundalike song because he was already locked in on another sci-fi comedy project, Back to the Future. That was 1985’s top grossing movie, and Huey Lewis’s song, “The Power of Love” is our #11 song of 1985.

So while agonizing over the tight deadline, Ray Parker, Jr. sees a pest-control commercial in the middle of the night on TV. Aha! So he quickly writes the “who you gonna call” lyrics to something similar to “I Want a New Drug,” and makes the deadline. Unfortunately though, the music is a little too similar to “I Want a New Drug,” so Huey’s people sue, and eventually settle, but according to Rolling Stone, Parker’s royalty situation remained “a mess.”

For the 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters II, Run-DMC turned in a Hip-Hop version of the song. Rock bands Walk the Moon and Fall Out Boy both did new versions for the 2016 female Ghostbusters reboot, Fall Out Boy’s version featuring rapper Missy Elliott. And then Ray Parker Jr’s original re-appeared in the end credits of the 2021 sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

#9 Stevie Wonder – I Just Called to Say I Love You

At #9, the return of an act who’d scored Hot100 hits in every year from 1963 to 1982: 20 consecutive years, starting with his live harmonica jam “Fingertips” in ’63, which made him the youngest act ever to score a #1 hit at just 13 and was the #7 song of the year on both Billboard’s year-end chart for ’63 and our Chartcrush ranking. From there to ’82: five more #1s, but he broke his 20 year streak in ’83 when he shelved the album he was working on, working title: People Work, Human Play, even after debuting two songs from it on Saturday Night Live.

Music was changing fast in ’83 with Michael Jackson and MTV, so maybe he needed to retrench and figure things out before making his next move. Which came in ’84: a soundtrack album for a romantic comedy starring Gene Wilder—and as breezy and down-the-middle a song as he’d ever done. It wound up the best-selling single of his whole career. Now, it’s just #25 on Billboard’s year-end chart for 1984 because its final 12 weeks were in their 1985 chart year that began with their November 24th issue, but counting its entire chart run, as we do for every song here on Chartcrush, it comes out #9. From The Woman in Red soundtrack, it’s Stevie Wonder’s, “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”

Stevie Wonder, “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” #1 for three weeks in October and #9 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown of the biggest hits of 1984. It also topped Billboard’s R&B and Adult Contemporary charts and won Best Original Song at the 57th Oscars, which, by the way, was the only Oscars ever in which all of the nominated songs were #1 hits. Stevie’s harmonica also appears on Elton John’s biggest hit in ’84, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” and Chaka Khan’s groundbreaking “I Feel for You.” And then in ’85 he resumed work on his aborted 1983 album, released it as In Square Circle, and topped the charts again with “Part-Time Lover,” his final #1.

#8 Culture ClubKarma Chameleon

OK, I have an ethnic joke for you, ready? What do you call a band with a Black bassist, a Jewish drummer, and a blond White guitarist fronted by an androgynous Gay Irishman? Actually it’s not a joke; that’s the origin story of our next act out of London’s Post-Punk New Romantic scene headquartered at the Blitz Club in Covent Garden. They named themselves for their diversity. Once the video for their reggae-tinged debut, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” hit MTV in ’82, they were on their way. Other hits followed and in ’84 they scored their biggest, and their only #1, “Karma Chameleon.” It’s Culture Club.

“Karma Chameleon,” #8 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1984. Culture Club’s first six charting singles all went top ten, and that was the fifth. Front man songwriter Boy George summed up the song’s message as karma justice if you don’t stay true to who you are. But turns out it’s a confessional song too—owning up to his failings in his strained relationship with Culture Club drummer, John Moss.

In its Rock recap article Billboard observed in ’84 that so-called “new music” was no longer dangerous; it was just new. And to drive home the point, cited Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, and yes, Culture Club. In ’86, Boy George guest starred as himself in an episode of NBC’s action series The A-Team that climaxes with Culture Club playing “Karma Chameleon” in a redneck bar!

#7 YesOwner of a Lonely Heart

So ’84 was a big year for soundtracks. It was also a big year for totally unexpected comebacks. Our #7 song is by one of the groups that pioneered and epitomized British Prog Rock in the late ’60s and ’70s who’d tried to continue making Prog Rock records but broke up in 1980, with the two remaining members eventually forming the Arena Rock supergroup Asia. The re-formed group in ’83 didn’t include either of those members and wasn’t even originally intended as a reunion. But it worked out that way as things started to gel in the studio and additional members including the group’s original lead singer got involved. I could spell all this out for you, but delineating the complicated family trees of ’70s British Prog Rock bands? That’s way beyond the scope of this program! At #7, here’s Yes, “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

Yes, representing legacy rock on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1984 with “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Right up to just months before its release, intended as the lead single from the debut album of a completely new group called Cinema featuring three former members of Yes. As soon as original Yes singer Jon Anderson got involved late in the game, though, everyone knew it had to be a Yes record. And it wasn’t just their first #1 single, it was their first single since an edited version of “Roundabout” off their album Fragile in 1971 to even make more than a blip on the Pop charts.

Probably the best example there is of a ’70s Prog Rock band re-tooling for the ’80s, with most of the credit for that going to producer and Synthpop trailblazer Trevor Horn, who’d actually been in Yes for their 1980 album Drama after Anderson’s departure, and whose song as half of New Wave duo The Buggles was the very first video played on MTV: “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

#6 Lionel Richie – Hello

Now if you rank Billboard’s Hot100 charts by artist, summing up all their chart action in the year, you get what Billboard presents in its year-end issue as the year’s Top Singles Artist. 1984’s Top Singles Artist is our act at #6, with five songs in the top ten during the year. And the biggest of them had two weeks at #1 in May. He began writing it for his first solo album in ’82 but thought it was too corny. Which is really saying something! Not just because the ’80s were a golden age of corny love ballads, but because he’s one of the main reasons this side of Paul McCartney that it was—going all the way back to the ’70s when his ballads like “Easy” and “Three Times a Lady” put his Funk group The Commodores right alongside Barry Manilow and Anne Murray on Adult Contemporary radio. He thought the song was too corny, but his wife loved it, his producer encouraged him to finish it, and it was his top single, the year he was the top singles artist. It’s Lionel Richie’s “Hello.”

Lionel Richie at #6 as we count down the top hits of 1984 on this week’s Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. The R&B recap in Billboard’s year-end “Talent in Action” section made the obvious but still stunning observation that “in between the frightening sales of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the multimedia deluge of Prince’s Purple Rain, Black music’s biggest star was good old Lionel Richie.” When Richie’s second solo album Can’t Slow Down dropped in late ’83, its first two singles were the upbeat hits “All Night Long” and “Running with the Night.” So when “Hello” hit the airwaves, it was Richie’s first ballad in six months, and connected immediately. You’d think that Can’t Slow Down would’ve been the #1 album of the year too, but nope! It was #2 behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which was #1 for the second year in a row: the only album ever to repeat at #1 on the year.

#5 Kenny LogginsFootloose

Well as I mentioned, ’84, the biggest year for soundtrack albums, and our #5 song was the biggest hit off the biggest of 1984’s soundtracks. Seven of the album’s songs were released as singles and four were top 20 hits, with two going all the way to #1, including the title track, by a veteran Singer-Songwriter who did a lot of soundtrack work in the ’80s, starting with the theme from Caddyshack, “I’m Alright,” a #7 hit in 1980, but this was his biggest hit. From the film starring Kevin Bacon about a big city kid who moves to a small town where dancing’s not allowed. At #5, Kenny Loggins, “Footloose”

Fun fact about Footloose: dancing bans in America weren’t just a product of Bible-thumping preachers like actor John Lithgow’s Rev. Shaw Moore in the film. At the tail end of World War Two, Congress singled out establishments that allowed dancing with a crushing 40% federal cabaret tax and that’s when the “no dancing” signs went up across the land! It was ostensibly a War funding measure but wasn’t repealed until the mid-’60s.

Kenny Loggins had two songs on the Footloose soundtrack: the title song we just heard at #5 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 1984, plus “I’m Free (Heaven Helps the Man),” which peaked at #22. Also on the album, the top 20 hits “Dancing in the Sheets” by Shalamar, and a duet by Heart’s Ann Wilson and Loverboy front man Mike Reno, the power-ballad “Almost Paradise,” as well as the other #1 Footloose hit, Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” Later in the ’80s, Kenny Loggins scored with the soundtrack hits “Danger Zone” from Top Gun, “Nobody’s Fool” from Caddyshack 2, and “Meet Me Half Way,” from the Sly Stallone arm wrestling movie, Over the Top.

#4 Phil CollinsAgainst All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)

At #4, yet another soundtrack hit. And also the first in a string of seven #1 solo hits for this Prog Rock drummer who assumed lead vocal duties in his group Genesis in 1975 when front man and group co-founder Peter Gabriel left. In ’81, the now drummer and singer in Genesis did a solo album himself, but unlike Gabriel, he stayed in the group. His distinctive vocals and the trademark gate reverb effect on the drums on his records, though?  Integral to both his solo work and his stuff with Genesis in the ’80s, so even fans sometimes have trouble telling what’s what! His first #1 hit either as a solo artist or in Genesis: right on the heels of Genesis’s first top ten hit, “That’s All” earlier in the year, it’s Phil Collins, “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).”

Phil Collins, “Against All Odds,” #4 as we count down the top ten from 1984 here on this week’s edition of Chartcrush: the title theme for the film of the same name starring Rachel Ward, Jeff Bridges and James Woods: a remake of the 1947 film noir classic Out of the Past. It got mixed reviews and played in less than 1,000 theaters, but the song gave it a boost at the box office.

Until Collins’s Hits compilation came out in the late ’90s, “Against All Odds” was only available as a single. And of course on the soundtrack. But it was one of those soundtrack albums with mostly score music and just a handful of songs by various artists, not the kind that’s loaded with hits and sells millions like Footloose.  So people bought the single and drove the song to #1 on the Hot100 for three weeks in the Spring.

#3 Tina TurnerWhat’s Love Got to Do with It

At #3, another astonishing comeback, by a female singer in her mid-40s who’d been recording and touring constantly in small venues, basically as a cabaret act, since her last charting hits in the early ’70s. She generated some buzz doing a stint at New York’s Ritz Rock club in ’83 and Capitol Records put out her cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” as a single, which did well, so she recorded an album for Capitolin just two weeks in the Spring, and by September its leadoff single was #1 and she was on tour opening for Lionel Richie. At the time she was the oldest female singer ever to top the Hot100. The comeback leadoff single from the album Private Dancer, by Tina Turner: the #3 song of 1984 and Record of the Year at the Grammys “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

“What’s Love Got to Do with It,” 1984’s #3 song, Tina Turner. Two more top ten hits from the Private Dancer album followed in ’85, “Better Be Good to Me” and the title track, “Private Dancer” while she played a 177-date world tour and starred opposite Mel Gibson in the third Mad Max film, Beyond Thunderdome.

#2 Van Halen – Jump

Since the ’80s, MTV’s Video Music Awards, or VMAs, are of the year’s biggest music awards shows, held every year in late August or early September. Well, 1984 saw the very first MTV Video Music Awards show, hosted by Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler at Radio City in New York. “Video of the Year” went to the lead single off The Cars blockbuster 1984 album Heartbeat City, “You Might Think,” and other winners included David Bowie’s “China Girl,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” ZZ Top’s “Legs,” Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” and our #2 song, which was the only major VMA winner that was among the top ten chart hits in the year. They won for Best Stage Performance in a Video. It’s Van Halen: the lead single from their blockbuster 1984 album, entitled 1984: “Jump.”

Van Halen won the VMA for “Best Stage Performance in a Music Video” thanks to front man David Lee Roth’s onstage martial arts antics in the video for “Jump,” our #2 song of 1984. The synth riff in “Jump:” the first prominent synth in a Van Halen song, and pretty controversial with the group’s devoted hard rock fan base who’d been with them since their first album in 1978. Rock fans, very leery of “New Wavey” keyboards in those years, perhaps foreshadowing the epic microgenre splintering of Rock’s audience in the ’90s and beyond. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen first came up with the riff in ’81, but it stayed on the shelf until other groups, notably Canadian Arena Rock trio Rush, made it safe for a Hard Rock group to add modern keyboards into the mix.

#1 PrinceWhen Doves Cry

And that brings us to the #1 song in our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show for 1984. The album it was on came out right in the middle of the year, but wasn’t just any album release. Besides records, tapes and CDs, it was tied in with a blockbuster biopic in movie theaters, home video, merchandizing and even the artist’s live shows in a sustained, coordinated multimedia brand assault the likes of which hadn’t been seen for a pop culture commodity since Beatlemania. And it was all timed to hit just as the well of singles from the artist’s 1982 breakthrough album ran dry and the album itself, 1999, dipped into the lower half of the Top 200 Album chart from its peak in the top ten in mid ’83. At #1, the artist? Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Prince. The album, movie and tour, Purple Rain. And its single: the #1 of 1984: “When Doves Cry.”

Prince, “When Doves Cry:” the #1 song of 1984. Now in a year of huge soundtrack hits, it’s easy to forget that Prince’s Purple Rain was a soundtrack album too—to the semi-autobiographical movie Purple Rain, which grossed $72 million, ten times what it cost to make. One of the most prolific Pop artists of the ’80s and ’90s, he managed to integrate almost every style of music into what critics called the Minneapolis sound. But it’s really The Prince sound, since he was closely involved with almost all the other acts that came under that banner: The Time, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Morris Day, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, Sheila E., The Family.

Three more singles from Purple Rain were top ten hits in 1984: the title track, “I Would Die 4 U” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” which was also a #1 hit. And he didn’t just top the Billboard charts: an album cut off Purple Rain topped the debut “Filthy Fifteen” chart released by Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center in ’84. “Darling Nikki” details Prince’s adventure with a woman he finds masturbating in a hotel lobby. But things were about to go from bad to worse for parents concerned about x-rated themes in Pop songs: at the end of ’84, Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” came out—not a deep album cut, a #1 single. Egads! In 1990, after Senate hearings and a heated debate over censorship, the Recording Industry Association of America introduced the “Parental Advisory—Explicit Lyrics” label to identify music with mature themes.

For his part, Prince was just getting started in 1984. He stayed hot on the charts all the way into the mid-90s even after changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol in ’93. When being a one-name superstar gets old, there’s always unpronounceable symbols!

Well that’s our countdown! Now some years there are big differences between our Chartcrush top ten and the top ten on Billboard’s published year-end Hot100 chart. Not so 1984. The point system Billboard used to rank the songs in ’84? Very similar to the system we apply consistently to every year at Chartcrush.

Only one song from Billboard’s year-end top ten not in our countdown, and that’s Paul McCartney’s duet with Michael Jackson, “Say Say Say.” But not because it lacked ranking points; four of its six weeks at #1 were at the end of calendar 1983, so we have it as the #3 song of 1983. As they do every year, Billboard had a cut off issue for the 1983 chart year to give themselves time to prepare the charts and get the year-end issue printed and mailed by New Years. For ’83, that was their October 29th issue, so “Say Say Say” got kicked into ’84.

And that’s going to have to do it for our 1984 edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. I’ve been your host, Christopher Verdesi. Check out our website, chartcrush.com, for written transcripts and streaming links for this and other Chartcrush countdown shows, plus chart run line graphs and other bitchin’ extras. We count down a different year every week from the beginning ofthe charts in the ’40s all the way up to the present, so tune in again next week, same station, same time, for another edition of Chartcrush.

::end transcript::

1984

The “visual sizzle” of music video defines the look—and sound—of the ’80s, Miami Vice premieres and a record ten Platinum movie soundtracks yield multiple chart hits. Veteran Rock and Soul icons re-tool and relaunch, MTV unveils its Video Music Awards and Prince floods the zone with Purple Rain.

#1 Song of the Year   

  • Prince – When Doves Cry

Artists of the Year   

  1. Lionel Richie
  2. Cyndi Lauper
  3. Huey Lewis & The News

Artist with Most Charting Songs   

  • Rick Springfield (5)

Average #1 Artist Age   

  • 31.6 years

#1 Songs   

  1. Yes – Owner of a Lonely Heart (January, 2 wks)
  2. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon (February, 3 wks)
  3. Van Halen – Jump (February, 5 wks)
  4. Kenny Loggins – Footloose (March, 3 wks)
  5. Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) (April, 3 wks)
  6. Lionel Richie – Hello (May, 2 wks)
  7. Deniece Williams – Let’s Hear It for the Boy (May, 2 wks)
  8. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time (June, 2 wks)
  9. Duran Duran – The Reflex (June, 2 wks)
  10. Prince – When Doves Cry (July, 5 wks)
  11. Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters (August, 3 wks)
  12. Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do with It (September, 3 wks)
  13. John Waite – Missing You (September, 1 wk)
  14. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy (September, 2 wks)
  15. Stevie Wonder – I Just Called to Say I Love You (October, 3 wks)
  16. Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) (November, 2 wks)
  17. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (November, 3 wks)
  18. Hall & Oates – Out of Touch (December, 2 wks)

2002 Chart Runs

This interactive visualization shows the chart runs for the top ten songs of the year according to our Chartcrush ranking. Here you can see when songs charted during the year, for how long, and the strength of each song’s chart run relative to the other songs in the yearly top ten.

Hover over the legend to highlight a song in the plot area. Hover over a line in the plot area to see the song title and weekly rank.

2002 episode graphic

2002 Podcast

Chartcrush 2002 Episode Graphic

2002 Top Ten Pop Countdown Podcast

The ’00s take shape after 9/11 as Emo and Bling Rap conquer the charts, Avril and Nelly emerge, Eminem goes mainstream and the ’00s biggest Rock bands debut.

Listen to Episode on Spotify

::start transcript::

Welcome! I’m Christopher Verdesi, and this is The Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. Every week, we take a look back at a different year in pop music history and count down the top ten hits according to our recap of the weekly pop charts published at the time by the music industry’s leading trade publication and chart authority, Billboard magazine. This week on Chartcrush, we’ll be counting down 2002, the first year of the ’00s decade. And I mean that in a cultural sense, of course.

With some decades it’s hard to pinpoint when things changed. Not so the ’00s. Everything changed on 9/11/2001: the Al Qaeda terrorist attack that brought down the Twin Towers in New York, left the Pentagon broken and smoldering in Washington, and United flight 93 vaporized on impact in Pennsylvania. 9/11 was the deadliest act of terror in world history, and the trigger for America’s War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Before 9/11, from the start of the decade on the calendar, not much had changed. Which was weird! 50 years of science fiction had made dates starting with twos instead of ones seem like, well, science fiction! And then Prince in 1982 in his breakthrough hit, “1999:” “2000 zero zero, party over, oops, out of time.” But then people woke up after partying like it was 1999, and lights still on, stuff on TV, money still in the bank. No Y2K computer bug apocalypse. But no Moon colony, jetpacks or robot maids either. Just another day. And then on a sunny Fall Tuesday in September, 9/11.

Some of the distinguishing features of the ’00s emerged right away: a new skyline in New York, crazy security at airports, the Office of Homeland Security, the color coded terror alert level and, of course, war. And other features were already emerging: school security tightening after the Columbine shooting, cell phones doubling to nearly 40 million in the U.S. from ’99 to 2000. And then texting took off 2000 to 2001. Digital cameras were flying off the shelves. Survivor sparked a cascade of reality shows when it was a hit for CBS in 2000. Sony’s Playstation 2, which could also play DVDs, so before long VHS tapes and VCRs started showing up in thrift shops. Friendster and Myspace didn’t launch until ’03, but platforms like Geocities, SixDegrees and of course America Online with its chat rooms were already scratching that itch on the internet.

As for music, never bigger after a decade of explosive growth in the ’90s, but between ’99 and 2015 when music streaming took hold finally, revenue only saw a single growth year and by the end of that 15-plus year slide, the music biz had shrunk to just a third of its size at the end of the ’90s thanks to online filesharing. Courts shut down the original mp3 platform, Napster, in ’01, but the proverbial genie was out of the bottle and the industry spent the rest of the decade playing legal whack-a-mole vs. peer-to-peer services, and then users of those platforms. Once broadband internet became affordable, download times for songs went from minutes to seconds and by mid-decade literally billions of digital song files were changing hands every year, and labels weren’t getting a dime.

None of that frenzied, legally dubious music collecting showed up on the charts either: a huge blind spot. And all because labels had spent the ’90s pushing people to buy $16 albums on CD. Derailing that gravy train by offering individual song downloads? Yeah, no. We don’t think so! So the unthinkable happened: they lost control. But the industry’s revenue free-fall had only just begun.

#10 Avril LavigneComplicated

At #10 as we kick off our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2002, an 18 year-old Canadian newcomer who was pitched to the world as the anti-Britney. The anti-Christina too, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera having dominated the female side of Millennial Teen Pop since ’99.

Now one of the factors that’d made Millennial Pop so successful was that after a decade of jarring Gen-X Nu Metal, Grunge and Gangsta Rap, Millennials’ Baby Boomer parents liked a lot of the stuff their kids were into. It was accessible: “inside the box” of what Boomers thought of as Pop and Rock music. And now that Britney and Christina were 20-somethings and the kiddos had a new teen sensation, parents liked her even better, especially this song: a #2 hit on the Hot100 in the top ten for 16 weeks, but #1 for 16 consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart, it’s Avril Lavigne, “Complicated.”

In a 2002 Entertainment Weekly piece, writer Chris Willman noted that the girls of America were no longer lowering their necklines in homage to Britney and Christina but, instead, learning how to knot a necktie like Lavigne. “Butt cheeks, dance beats, and gleeful artifice are suddenly out, while tank tops, rock, and ‘real’ are unexpectedly back in.”

Two big new things in Pop in ’02, Emo and Sk8ter Punk, both represented by the #10 song in our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2002 by 18 year-old Avril Lavigne. “Complicated,” her first and biggest hit until ’07’s “Girlfriend.” Emo: Rock, usually with a Punk edge, that features personal and emotional lyrics. The very first top ten Emo hit? Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle,” which preceded “Complicated” on the charts by seven weeks.

#9 Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule & Cadillac TahAin’t It Funny (Murder remix)

So in 2001, our next act at #9 pulled a fast one on the charts, releasing a completely new song, but with the same title as a cut on her album, labeling it a “remix,” and thereby combining airplay and sales points for both songs into a single chart position according to Billboard’s policy for remixes. The title “I’m Real” sat atop the Hot100 for five weeks and was our Chartcrush #4 song of 2001. But was it the Hip-Hop song, or the completely different Dance Pop song on the album? Well, that depended on what radio station you were listening to!

Either way, “I’m Real” was a hit. So in ’02, they did it again! Why not? Same crew, same scam: Jennifer Lopez and Epic Records, helmed by Mariah Carey’s ex, Tommy Mottola, bringing in New York’s “it” rapper of ’01 and ’02, Ja Rule, to write a whole new song, but with the same title as the one they’d chosen as the next single off Lopez’s J. Lo album, Lopez adding her vocals and Epic releasing it as the “Murder remix” after Ja Rule’s label, Murder, Inc. And it worked again! Another #1 hit, this time for six weeks, and our #9 song of 2002: “Ain’t It Funny.”

Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule and Cadillac Tah, the so-called “Murder remix” of “Ain’t It Funny.” Completely different song from the Latin Dance Pop cut with the same title that Adult Top 40 stations played once Epic Records released the single, but the two songs combined into one chart position, and “Ain’t It Funny” is #9 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show for 2002.

When the supposed “remix” dropped, Billboard’s reviewer groused in print that J. Lo’s label “Sony has got to be kidding,” called the ploy “a disturbing trend,” and soon Billboard, not wanting to find out what could happen if an artist released three, or five, or ten different songs with the same title, changed its rule to only allow remixes with the same melody to combine for chart positions.

#8 Vanessa CarltonA Thousand Miles

Next at #8, a one-hit wonder. And the singer-songwriter herself told Elle in 2017 that she loves that expression because she wonders all the time how she ever had a hit. First heard on the big screen blaring out of a sorority house in the Reese Witherspoon flick Legally Blonde, once out as a single, it peaked at #5 and its 41 week run on the Hot100 was the third longest of ’02. Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.”

Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles,” #8 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2002. Two years after it was a hit, the Wayans brothers comedy White Chicks came out, in which Shawn and Marlon play FBI agents disguised as White Chicks to foil a kidnapping plot. In one scene they nearly blow their cover after “A Thousand Miles” comes on and sparks a singalong with a carful of White chicks, and, being African-American men, Shawn and Marlon don’t know the words. Awkward! You see, White chicks in the mid-’00s were supposed to know every syllable of that song, don’t you know.

#7 CallingWherever You Will Go

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, several hit songs were directly inspired by the attack and the war: Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye’s patriotic march “Remember Pearl Harbor,” musical comedian Spike Jones’s Hitler-mocking “Der Fuhrer’s Face,” and, most successful of all, Kay Kyser’s “Praise the Lord, and Pass the Ammunition.”

9/11’s ripple on the charts, though: much more subtle, and it mainly took the form of existing records finding new resonance. Whitney Houston’s 1991 Super Bowl performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” immediately re-entered the Hot100 for 16 weeks and got all the way to #6. But our song at #7, which had only scraped the Mainstream Rock chart after its release in May of 2001, began a slow, four-month crawl up the Hot100 after 9/11. It peaked at #5 and stayed on the chart until September ’02. Its 45 week run included 11 weeks in the top ten, making it our #7 song. It’s The Calling, “Wherever You Will Go.”

Inspired, according to songwriter Aaron Kamin, by a relative widowed after 50 years of marriage, but it took on a whole new meaning after 9/11. The Calling, #7 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2002. Like Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” it also topped the Adult Top 40 chart for an insanely long time—23 weeks—and was Billboard’s #1 year-end song of ’02 on that chart. Five for Fighting’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” another pre-9/11 song that assumed a new identity after the attacks.

#6 NellyHot In Herre

Next up, the first cut by the only act with two songs in our ’02 top ten countdown. It’s a rapper, which underscores how pivotal a year ’02 was for Hip-Hop. After pushing at the ramparts of Mainstream Pop for over 15 years, influencing a generation of R&B and Pop acts and occasionally breaking through with a hit on its own terms, Hip-Hop now was Mainstream Pop. So it’s fitting that our act at #6, who spent an amazing 17 combined weeks at #1, was also the first to perform in a Superbowl halftime show—Superbowl 35 in ’01 along with Britney Spears, Aerosmith, NSYNC and Mary J. Blige.

His first album Country Grammar came out in 2000 and was on the album chart for 104 weeks: an album of Pop-accessible Hip-Hop party anthems, two of which were top ten hits. If one album marked the start of Hip-Hop’s so-called “Bling Era” in the ’00s, that was it. And then his second album dropped at the end of June ’02 and this song was everywhere in the Summer: #1 from the end of June all the way to the middle of August, seven weeks. It’s Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.”

The Band-Aid rapper, Nelly at #6 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2002, “Hot in Herre,” from—of all places—St. Louis, which didn’t even have a Hip-Hop scene. Nelly says his style had universal appeal because he took aspects from every region, but his Midwestern twang was something new and unique, and he leaned into it. Heck, it’s right in the title: the word “here” spelled H-E double R E, pronounced “herre”).

Incidentally, Nelly’s trademark facial Band-Aid? A tribute to his former collaborator Lavell Webb, a.k.a. City Spud, serving ten years in a Missouri jail for armed robbery and assault.

#5 UsherU Got It Bad

At #5 we’re gonna hear from the ’90s teen star mentored by moguls L.A. Reid and P. Diddy, who, after a couple of false starts, came to occupy a sweet spot on the male pop R&B sexiness spectrum midway between Michael Jackson’s too-goodness, and Bobby Brown’s too-badness, as songwriter Manuel Seal put it.

As he was just turning 20 he hooked up with Atlanta producer Jermaine Dupri and scored a trio of top tens in ’97 and ’98 that updated the male R&B sound with Dupri’s Southern Hip-Hop production and beats. But not only that, his Hip-Hop-derived singing style—clustering syllables together like a rapper—set him up to be one of the biggest chart acts and heartthrobs of the ’00s after a second trio of top ten hits in ’01 and ’02 whose titles all begin with the word “you” abbreviated with the letter “U:” “U Remind Me,” “U Don’t Have to Call,” and the biggest, our #5 song, “U Got It Bad.” It’s Usher.

“U Got It Bad,” Usher: #5 on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show for 2002. Producer Jermaine Dupri wrote the song after Usher couldn’t stop obsessing over a girl he’d brought with him to the studio. He says he knew right away that he was updating Usher’s first smoldering slow-jam hit, “Nice & Slow,” from 1998. The girl may or may not’ve been TLC’s Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas.

#4 NickelbackHow You Remind Me

At #4, the song that gets the prize for chart longevity in ’02: 45 weeks, including four at #1, which made it Billboard’s #1 song of the year. But on chart points, the top four are a tight cluster, and the three songs that edge it out in our Chartcrush ranking all had many more weeks in the #1 spot.

It’s more apparent looking at the top ten on Billboard’s year-end chart than ours, but ’02 was a really big year for Rock on the Pop charts: the strongest since the late ’80s. Billboard had four Rock cuts among its top ten for the year, and two of them make the cut in our Chartcrush ranking. We already heard The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go” at #7; here’s Nickelback’s chart debut, “How You Remind Me.”

Canadian Rockers Nickelback, the #4 song on our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown for 2002, “How You Remind Me.” #1 for four weeks in January, and it stayed in the top ten for 23 weeks. The most played song on radio in the entire ’00s decade.

In the years since 2002, and especially after their Diamond-certified fifth album All the Right Reasons in 2005, Nickelback became Rock’s scapegoats and whipping boys: “the one band that virtually everyone is happy to mock relentlessly,” as Stereogum’s Tom Breihan put it. Why? Well, their success, of course. Also, there was a sameyness to the style and sound of the Post-Grunge bands that dominated Rock radio in the early ’00s, and that contributed. But even beyond that, nowhere was the fracturing of Pop into a gazillion genres and micro-genres more pronounced than in Rock, so the idea of a band getting as big as Nickelback got was kind of an anachronism.

#3 Ashanti – Foolish

Now as I touched upon when we heard Ja Rule’s “Murder remix” of J. Lo’s “Ain’t It Funny” at #9, Irv and Chris Gotti’s Murder Inc. Records was the hottest Hip-Hop label in New York in ’02, and our act at #3 had gotten in on the ground floor, writing and singing hooks and background vocals, including on the J. Lo tracks, and featuring on Hip-Hop releases by the label’s roster of rappers. Those included Ja Rule’s biggest hit “Always on Time,” which catapulted her to instant stardom when it was in the top ten for 16 weeks starting in December ’01. Then, in February, her feature on Fat Joe’s “What’s Luv?” and her first solo single debuted simultaneously. With Billboard’s April 20 Hot100 chart, she became the first female ever to occupy the top two spots the same week. “What’s Luv?” was #2 for seven weeks and at #1 for five of those weeks? Our #3 song: it’s Ashanti’s “Foolish.”

That repeating piano figure in our #3 song, Ashanti’s “Foolish:” sampled from an album cut by 80’s R&B group DeBarge, but it had also been in rapper The Notorious B.I.G.’s biggest hit while he was alive. Biggie, gone just five years in ’02, so Ashanti protested when Murder, Inc. boss Irv Gotti gave it to her to write a song around. But Gotti said he knew what he was doing, and the sample, instantly familiar to Ashanti’s intended audience, helped “Foolish” shoot to the top of the charts, where it stayed ten weeks.

#2 Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland – Dilemma

We’re counting down the top hits of 2002 on this week’s edition of Chartcrush, and at #2 we have another rapper-singer duet, but unlike J. Lo and Ja Rule’s “Ain’t It Funny,” on this one the rapper is singing too. Not too many singing rappers before Drake emerged late in the decade.

And it’s also the first #1 hit for a member of early ’00s R&B uber-trio Destiny’s Child. Nope, not that member! Beyonce’s first #1 hit was “Crazy in Love” (with Jay-Z) in 2003; our #2 song features Kelly Rowland, and as for the rapper, we heard his “Hot in Herre” at #6, so this is the second of his two hits in our countdown: the only act with two. It’s Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland, “Dilemma.”

#1 for seven weeks, August and September, knocked down to #2 for two weeks, and then it returned to the top spot for another three weeks, October into November, Nelly and Kelly Rowland’s “Dilemma,” the #2 song of the year according to our Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show ranking.

In the video, Kelly is shown doing something that was pretty cutting-edge in ’02: texting. Except she’s doing it on an Excel spreadsheet, not a texting app. Maybe she needed more than 160 characters? By the way, the song that bumped “Dilemma” to #2 in October? American Idol Season One winner Kelly Clarkson’s coronation single, “A Moment like This.”

#1 Eminem – Lose Yourself

And that gets us down to the #1 song in our countdown. In a year of very long runs at the top of the Hot100, this was the longest: 12 weeks. But don’t look for it in the top ten or even the top 20 of any Billboard year-end chart, because Billboard only counted activity up to its November 30 cutoff issue for ’02. Everything after that? Kicked into ’03. This song was #1 from November 9 to January 25 ’03, so in Billboard, it’s #63 for ’02 and #28 for ’03.

Well that’s not right! In fact, there’s a long list of year-straddling hits throughout chart history that’ve fallen through the cracks like that. So here at Chartcrush, what we do is count every song’s entire chart run, and then rank it in the year it earned the majority of its points. Which makes this the #1 song of 2002. Are you ready? It’s a monster! Vanilla Ice was a distant memory and The Beastie Boys had thrown in with alt-rock; was the world ready for another White rapper? Capping off the year that Hip-Hop found its mojo at the top of the Pop charts, squarely in the mainstream of American Pop, from 8 Mile, the semiautobiographical film that made him a superstar, it’s Eminem “Lose Yourself.”

Eminem, out of Detroit, Michigan, “Lose Yourself.” #1 for 12 weeks on the Hot100 and #1 in our exclusive Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show ranking of the biggest hits of 2002. Eminem came into ’02 already a big star since The Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers LPs, in ’99 and 2000, respectively, and his top ten hit, “The Real Slim Shady” in 2000. But 8 Mile and “Lose Yourself” expanded his appeal way beyond Hip-Hop. His album The Eminem Show topped Billboard’s year-end album chart in ’02, and “Lose Yourself” won Best Original Song at the 75th Oscars.

Bonus

So our #1 song, “Lose Yourself,” one of the three cuts in our Chartcrush Top Ten for 2002 that were absent from the top ten on Billboard’s year-end Hot100. J. Lo and Ja Rule’s “Ain’t It Funny” and Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” the others at numbers 13 and 11 respectively on Billboard’s ranking.

So what songs from Billboard year-end top ten got bumped out of ours? Well as I said earlier, ’02 was a big year for Rock, which is better reflected on Billboard’s year-end top ten than ours.

Puddle of Mudd’s nihilistic Emo-Grunge song “Blurry” was #10.

“Blurry” was #15 on our Chartcrush ranking.

Unlike Kansas City’s Puddle of Mudd, Agora Hills, California’s Linkin Park continued charting top ten hits through the decade.

“In the End,” Linkin Park’s breakthrough, Billboard’s #7 song of ’02 and the second most played Rock song of the Aughts, behind Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me.” It just misses our Chartcrush top ten at #11.

And finally, Billboard’s #8 song was the other song in Ashanti’s two-fer at the top of the charts in April and May.

“What’s Luv?,” Fat Joe featuring Ashanti, missing our top ten at #13.

Well that’s the show! Thanks for listening to our 2002 edition of the Chartcrush Top Ten Countdown Show. I’ve been your host, Christopher Verdesi. On our website, chartcrush.com, you can get a written transcript and a link to stream this and other Chartcrush countdown shows on Spotify, plus chart run line graphs and other tight extras. Every week, we count down a different year from the beginning of the charts in the ’40s all the way up to the present, so tune again—same station, same time—for another edition of Chartcrush.

::end transcript::

2002 Top100

Charcrush’s Top100 songs based on data from Billboard magazine’s weekly Hot100 charts

wdt_ID Rank Artist - Title Peak Wks@Pk Weeks Wks10
601 1 Eminem - Lose Yourself 1 12 23 16
602 2 Nelly - Dilemma 1 10 29 19
603 3 Ashanti - Foolish 1 10 32 17
604 4 Nickelback - How You Remind Me 1 4 49 23
605 5 Usher - U Got It Bad 1 6 32 20
606 6 Nelly - Hot in Herre 1 7 26 18
607 7 Calling - Wherever You Will Go 5 2 45 11
608 8 Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles 5 3 41 15
609 9 Jennifer Lopez - Ain't It Funny 1 6 27 15
610 10 Avril Lavigne - Complicated 2 2 31 16

2002

The ’00s begin to take shape after 9/11 as Emo and Bling Rap conquer the charts, Avril Lavigne emerges as the “anti-Britney” and Nelly notches two of the year’s top hits. But Eminem goes mainstream with 8 Mile and the decade’s biggest Rock bands, Nickelback and Linkin Park, score their first hits.

#1 Song of the Year   

  • Eminem – Lose Yourself

Artists of the Year   

  1. Nelly
  2. Ashanti
  3. P!nk

Artist with Most Charting Songs   

  • 16-WAY TIE: Jennifer Lopez • Ashanti • No Doubt • P!nk • Eminem • Fat Joe • Ludacris • Ja Rule • Shakira • George Strait • Toby Keith • Alan Jackson • Tim McGraw • B2K • Brooks & Dunn • System of a Down (3)

Average #1 Artist Age   

  • 26.6 years

#1 Songs   

  1. Usher – U Got It Bad (December ’01, 6 wks)
  2. Nickelback – How You Remind Me (December ’01, 4 wks)
  3. Ja Rule feat. Ashanti – Always on Time (February, 2 wks)
  4. Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule – Ain’t It Funny (March, 6 wks)
  5. Ashanti – Foolish (April, 10 wks)
  6. Nelly – Hot in Herre (June, 7 wks)
  7. Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland – Dilemma (August, 10 wks)
  8. Kelly Clarkson – A Moment like This (October, 2 wks)
  9. Eminem – Lose Yourself (November, 12 wks)

1958 Chart Runs

This interactive visualization shows the chart runs for the top ten songs of 1958 according to our Chartcrush ranking (including three ties, for a total of 13 songs). Here you can see when songs charted during the year, for how long, and the strength of each song’s chart run relative to the other songs in the yearly top ten.

For 1958, our ranking uses the Hot100 chart from August 4 onward. Before August 4, chart positions are based on our combined pre-Hot100 chart derived from the weekly 50-position Best Sellers and 25-position DJ charts (giving equal weight to both). For calendar 1958 (up to August 4), this combined/derived weekly chart has an average of 62 positions, which accounts for the observed differences in debut/fall-off positions in the chart runs graph pre- vs. post-August 4/Hot100 debut.

Note: Chartcrush’s ranking algorithm only considers positions in the top 50 for all years, pre- and post-Hot100. Therefore, post-August 4/Hot100 songs in our ranking for 1958 do not get an advantage over pre-August 4/Hot100 songs from having appeared on a 100-position chart (i.e. the Hot100).

Hover over the legend to highlight a song in the plot area. Hover over a line in the plot area to see the song title and weekly rank.

1958 Top100

Charcrush’s Top100 songs based on data from our combined chart derived from Billboard magazine’s weekly Best Sellers in Stores and Most Played by Disk Jockeys charts prior to August 4, and Hot100 from August 4 onward.

1958 Chartcrush Top 100

wdt_ID Rank Artist - Title Peak Wks@Pk Weeks Wks10
701 1 Tommy Edwards - It's All in the Game 1 6 22 6
702 2 Everly Brothers - All I Have to Do Is Dream 1 6 16 6
703 3 Danny & The Juniors - At the Hop 1 5 19 5
704 4 Teddy Bears - To Know Him Is to Love Him 1 3 23 3
705 5 Domenico Modugno - Volare 1 5 16 5
706 6 Kingston Trio - Tom Dooley 1 1 21 1
707 7 Elvis Presley - Don't 1 5 17 5
708 8 David Seville - Witch Doctor 1 3 16 3
709 9 Sheb Wooley - The Purple People Eater 1 6 13 6
710 10 McGuire Sisters - Sugartime 2 1 21 1
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