Every year, there’s a summer song that takes over radios, streaming services, and the minds of listeners around the world. To celebrate this phenomena, the Billboard Hot 100 began ranking the season’s top hits in 1958. Since then, listeners have seen songs like “Old Town Road” hold the No. 1 spot for as long as 19 weeks. Here are the top songs of the summer from the past 25 years.
1. “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans featuring 112 // 1997
Sean Combs (known Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, and Diddy at various points in his career) began producing music in the early ’90s, but didn’t record his own music until 1997; “I’ll Be Missing You” was his second single. The tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. quickly topped charts across the world, captivating listeners in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Denmark, and Germany.
2. “The Boy is Mine” by Brandy and Monica // 1998
“The Boy is Mine” appeared on both Brandy and Monica’s second studio albums in 1998. It largely received positive feedback—and it went on to spend 13 weeks on the U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100. People assumed the tune was about a fight over a boy between the two singers, but there was no such rivalry—though Monica later revealed the song itself caused a divide between the singers' fans.
3. “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera // 1999
“Genie in a Bottle”—originally titled “If You Wanna Be With Me”—appeared on Christina Aguilera’s self-titled album in 1999. It became the singer’s first hit song, holding the No. 1 position for five consecutive weeks.
4. “Bent” by Matchbox Twenty // 2000
Matchbox Twenty’s biggest hit appeared when the band released “Bent” in 2000. Rob Thomas reportedly claimed this was his first love song.
5. “U Remind Me” by Usher // 2001
This bop topped the charts around the world, and ultimately won Usher his first Grammy award.
6. “Hot in Herre” by Nelly // 2002
“Hot in Herre” was released as the first single from Nelly’s second album, Nellyville. The song quickly rose to the top of the charts, where it held the No. 1 position for seven consecutive weeks. Activists have since used the tune as a sort of climate change anthem.
7. “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z // 2003
Beyoncé had already made a name for herself as part of Destiny's Child before branching out on her own. “Crazy in Love” was Beyoncé’s first single as a solo artist. It became the first No. 1 hit on the Billboard’s inaugural Hot Dance Airplay Chart, which first appeared in 2003.
8. “Confessions Part II” by Usher // 2004
“Confessions Part II” came out on Usher’s fourth album. It's about a man impregnating his mistress, and is a follow-up to “Confessions Part I,” which details a man's affair. Although critics gave it mixed reviews, it held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard’s Top 100 for two weeks.
9. “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey // 2005
From 2001 to 2004, Mariah Carey fans worried that she was stepping away from music. But “We Belong Together” was quickly seen as her comeback song. It was released on her 10th album, The Emancipation of Mimi.
10. “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland // 2006
“Promiscuous” premiered on MTV in May of 2006. It spent 21 days in the countdown, ultimately reaching the No. 1 spot. This song—which Nelly Furtado referred to as a “verbal Ping-Pong game”— signaled a new era for the artist when it came out on her third album.
11. “Umbrella” by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z // 2007
“Umbrella” was released in March of 2007 and was an instant success. After quickly climbing the charts, this Good Girl Gone Bad song hit No. 1 on June 9. The song could have sounded completely different: It was first offered to Britney Spears, then Mary J. Blige, before landing with Rihanna.
12. “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry // 2008
“I Kissed a Girl” was Katy Perry’s debut single from her second studio album. Perry later revealed that Marvel star Scarlett Johansson inspired the bop. The song put her on the Billboard Hot 100 list for the first time; today, she has had nine top 10 hits.
13. “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas // 2009
“I Gotta Feeling” held the No. 1 position on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 list for 14 consecutive weeks. It was the longest-running top single of 2009—and was ultimately a Grammy winner, too. The song sparked the idea for 30 Rock's iconic “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.”
14. “California Gurls” by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg // 2010
“California Gurls” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard’s Top 100 chart on June 19, 2010. It was Perry’s second No. 1 hit. Perry wrote her West Coast anthem as a response to New York-centric “Empire State of Mind.”
15. “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock // 2011
“Party Rock Anthem” became a no. 1 hit late in the summer of 2011. This song topped charts in countries like Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Denmark, Canada, and Brazil. The “shuffling” the song refers to is a popular Australian club dance.
16. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen // 2012
“Call Me Maybe” was the best-selling digital single of 2012 and became the seventh-best digital single of all time. After just the first few months of this song’s release, its YouTube video had over 108 million views.
17. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell // 2013
“Blurred Lines” was released in the summer of 2013, and though controversial, saw immediate success. This song hit No. 1 in at least 25 different countries. Marvin Gaye wasn't thrilled with its success, or existence: The “Got to Give It Up” singer sued the artists for copyright infringement.
18. “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX // 2014
19. “Cheerleader” by OMI // 2015
“Cheerleader” was Omi’s breakout hit. The Jamaican singer’s debut hit held the No. 1 spot for more than a month and charted in 20 countries.
20. “One Dance” by Drake featuring WizKid and Kyla // 2016
21. “Despacito (Remix)” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber // 2017
“Despacito” was recorded in 2016; the remix came out a year later. In the U.S. alone, the song held the No. 1 spot for 16 weeks.
22. “In My Feelings” by Drake // 2018
“In My Feelings” had more than 116 million streams in one week [PDF]. Despite its monumental success, it remains in the shadows of “One Dance.”
23. “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus // 2019
This song topped the charts beginning in April of 2019. It was one of the shortest songs to reach that coveted No. 1 status, and it held the position for 17 weeks. Lil Nas X initially tried to reach out to Billy Ray Cyrus via Twitter; the country star later agreed to collaborate after listening to the song. “I’m so glad that this song came into my life. It’s been a ride like no other. It’s like a magic horse, and it just kept running, man,” Cyrus said.
24. “Rockstar” by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch // 2020
“Rockstar” was DaBaby’s first chart-topping hit. This song held the No. 1 position for eight weeks, and was ultimately knocked down by Ed Sheeran.
25. “Butter” by BTS // 2021
South Korean boy band BTS has taken the music world by storm in recent years, and their 2021 song of the summer was no exception, beating out Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” to take the top spot. We have COVID-19 to thank for the song: “We never actually expected that we were going to release another single, but the virus is getting longer and longer so we thought we need another summer song,” band member RM said.
Bonus: 2022 Contenders
The top song of the summer is nominated at the tail end of the season, after the warmest months have passed. It’s a little early to determine which song will claim the honor in 2022. But so far, “As It Was” by Harry Styles has held the no. 1 spot for the longest amount of time, and current runner ups include titles like Jack Harlow’s “First Class," Future’s “Wait for U,” and Lizzo’s “About Damn Time.”