Reaching the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart has never been easy for artists. Many factors must align, like airplay, timing, and competition. Still, not hitting the very top doesn’t preclude a song from becoming a major hit.
To determine the biggest charting songs that never reached no. 1, we reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100. Songs were ranked based on an inverse scoring system – No. 1 for 100 points, No. 2 for 99 points, etc. Only non-No. 1 songs were included.
Even music legends like The Beatles, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder have big hits that failed to top the Hot 100. The same is true of modern hitmakers like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa. Sheeran himself has two No. 2 songs on the list. You might be surprised at some of the famous musicians who have never topped the Billboard Hot 100.
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.)
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