We’re well into the 21st century and the music industry continues to evolve at breakneck speed. New platforms and media, along with the technology that puts creative tools at the fingertips of emerging artists, are creating opportunities for legions of aspiring singer-songwriters and performers. Along with that has been the trends of blending genres and of artists pairing with other performers to create hits. (Track the evolution of pop music over the decades with this list of the most popular song every year since 1970.)
To determine the 20 biggest pop hits of the last 20 years, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 song charts. Songs were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Chart data is current through the week of August 20, 2022.
Eight of the top singles over the last 20 years have been duets or collaborations. Among the more notable were the pairings of Canadian R&B singer-turned-pop-star The Weeknd with pop diva Arianda Grande on “Save Your Tears” and of Maroon 5 with Cardi B for “Girls Like You.” (These are the top musical collaborations that have hit No. 1.)
American acts were represented (sometimes in partnership) on 12 of the biggest pop hits of the past 20 years. As you might expect, the talent flowing from the United Kingdom to this country has continued. Ed Sheeran has three songs among the list’s greatest hits, and Adele and Glass Animals are heard from as well. All of the singles on this list were certified platinum, multi-platinum, or diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America.
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