How are the Billboard year end top 100 song charts calculated?

The way that Billboard determined the year end chart rankings can be divided into two eras: before 1992 and 1992 to present.

Before 1992, the year end charts were calculated by an inverse-point system based on a title's performance (for example a single appearing on the Billboard Hot 100 would be given one point for a week spent at position 100, two points for a week spent at position ninety-nine, and so forth, up to 100 points for each week spent at number one). Other factors including the total weeks a song spent on the chart and at its peak position were calculated into its year end total.

As of the week ending November 30, 1991, the method Billboard used to compile the weekly the Hot 100 chart changed dramatically. Sales data that had previously been collected by calling retail stores and asking employees how records were selling, was now collected by Nielsen SoundScan by bar code scanning at the point of purchase. Airplay data, previously collected by calling radio stations and asking how often they played a song, was now collected by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems that electronically monitored selected radio stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Hot 100 that is currently published every week by Billboard is a blended airplay-plus-sales-plus-music streams system. According to Billboard, the formula continues to weigh sales and airplay more heavily than streaming. But in a week where streaming activity is very high (like during a "Harlem Shake"–like phenomenon, or the release of a video on YouTube that gets a lot of buzz and massive views like Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball"), the streaming component can make up as much as 30% of the Hot 100's data.

Since 1984 the Billboard chart year runs from the first Billboard "week" of December to the final week in November, but because the Billboard week is dated in advance of publication, the last calendar week for which sales are counted is usually the third week in November. Prior to then the dates included in the chart year could vary. For example, in some years the Billboard chart year ran from November through October.

The year end charts are now calculated by a very straightforward cumulative total of yearlong US sales, US airplay, and US streaming points. This gives a more accurate picture of any given year's most popular titles, as an entry that hypothetically spent nine weeks at number one in the summer could possibly have earned fewer cumulative points than one spending six weeks at number three in the spring.

How can a song that hit number one not appear on the year end chart?

The simple answer is the song didn't receive enough points to be on the year end chart. Songs that had short chart runs and were popular during the year end cutoff were at a disadvantage because their points were split among two chart years. Short chart runs were most prevalent during the 1960s and 1970s.

As an example, in 1963 the average number one song spent 14 weeks in the top 100, 12 in the top 40, eight in the top 10, and six in the top 5. Compare that to 2013, when the average number one song spent 36 weeks in the top 100, 32 in the top 40, 17 in the top 10, and 13 in the top 5. The result is that songs with short chart runs were more negatively impacted if only even a few weeks of their time on the chart didn't count towards the year end total.

Below is a list of all the number one songs from 1956 on that did not appear on the year end charts. 1956 was selected as the start year because it is the first year end chart that listed 100 songs.

Peak Year Artist Title
19581959 Chipmunks The Chipmunk Song
1961 Marvelettes Please Mr. Postman
19611962 Tokens The Lion Sleeps Tonight
1962 Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers Monster Mash
1962 Crystals He's A Rebel
1962 Four Seasons Big Girls Don't Cry
19621963 Tornados Telstar
1963 Singing Nun Dominique
1964 Lorne Greene Ringo
1964 Bobby Vinton Mr. Lonely
19641965 Supremes Come See About Me
19641965 Beatles I Feel Fine
1965 Beatles Yesterday
1965 Rolling Stones Get Off Of My Cloud
1965 Supremes I Hear a Symphony
1965 Byrds Turn! Turn! Turn!
1965 Dave Clark Five Over And Over
19671968 Beatles Hello, Goodbye
1969 Steam Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
1969 Peter, Paul and Mary Leaving on a Jet Plane
1969 Supremes Someday We'll Be Together
1970 Partridge Family I Think I Love You
1970 Miracles The Tears Of A Clown
1971 Sly and The Family Stone Family Affair
1972 Helen Reddy I Am Woman
1973 Ringo Starr Photograph
1974 Barry White Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe
1974 Stevie Wonder You Haven't Done Nothin'
1974 John Lennon Whatever Gets You Thru The Night
1976 Steve Miller Band Rock'n Me
2004 Fantasia I Believe

"I Believe" by 2004 American Idol winner Fantasia is the only song on this list to not peak near the Billboard chart year cut off. In fact, it was number one in July. The song debuted at number one based on strong first week sales. However sales quickly dropped off and the song ended up spending only four weeks in the top 40. It did not earn enough airplay and sales cumulative points to rank on the 2004 year end chart.

"Do I Make You Proud" by 2006 American Idol champion Taylor Hicks almost suffered the same fate but ended up just making it onto the year end chart at number 99.

Can a song appear on multiple year end charts?

Yes, and in recent years it has been happening more frequently. This is due to the fact that many popular songs are experiencing long chart runs.

Below is a list of all the number one songs from 1956 on that appear on more than one year end chart. 1956 was selected as the start year because it is the first year end chart that listed 100 songs.

Peak Year Artist Title Year End 1 Year End 2
1956 Elvis Presley Love Me Tender 1956 #15 1957 #56
19561957 Guy Mitchell Singing the Blues 1956 #40 1957 #7
1959 Guy Mitchell Heartaches By The Number 1959 #88 1960 #93
1960 and 1962 Chubby Checker The Twist 1960 #10 1962 #9
1979 Herb Alpert Rise 1979 #80 1980 #54
1981 Christopher Cross Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) 1981 #64 1982 #98
1989 Milli Vanilli Blame It On The Rain 1989 #31 1990 #46
1990 Mariah Carey Love Takes Time 1990 #76 1991 #69
1992 Heights How Do You Talk to an Angel 1992 #59 1993 #80
1993 Meat Loaf I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) 1993 #36 1994 #38
1993 Janet Jackson Again 1993 #74 1994 #12
1994 Boyz II Men I'll Make Love to You 1994 #3 1995 #50
1994 Ini Kamoze Here Comes the Hotstepper 1994 #85 1995 #24
1995 Coolio Gangsta's Paradise 1995 #1 1996 #33
1995 Mariah Carey Fantasy 1995 #7 1996 #49
1996 Los Del Rio Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) 1996 #1 1997 #82
1996 Blackstreet No Diggity 1996 #42 1997 #23
19961997 Toni Braxton Un-Break My Heart 1996 #81 1997 #4
1997 Boyz II Men 4 Seasons of Loneliness 1997 #30 1998 #96
19971998 Elton John Candle In The Wind 1997 / Something About The Way You Look Tonight 1997 #1 1998 #8
19992000 Santana Smooth 1999 #19 2000 #2
2000 Creed With Arms Wide Open 2000 #36 2001 #39
20002001 Destiny's Child Independent Women Part 1 2000 #97 2001 #10
2001 Mary J. Blige Family Affair 2001 #31 2002 #17
20022003 Eminem Lose Yourself 2002 #63 2003 #28
2003 Beyonce feat. Sean Paul Baby Boy 2003 #12 2004 #69
2003 Ludacris feat. Shawna Stand Up 2003 #51 2004 #45
2004 Usher and Alicia Keys My Boo 2004 #24 2005 #54
2004 Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell Drop It Like It's Hot 2004 #75 2005 #23
2005 Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx Gold Digger 2005 #6 2006 #34
2005 Chris Brown Run It! 2005 #42 2006 #16
2006 Justin Timberlake SexyBack 2006 #9 2007 #63
2006 Ludacris feat. Pharrell Money Maker 2006 #35 2007 #92
2006 Justin Timberlake feat. T.I. My Love 2006 #61 2007 #26
2007 Fergie Big Girls Don't Cry 2007 #4 2008 #78
2007 Soulja Boy Crank That (Soulja Boy) 2007 #20 2008 #54
2007 Chris Brown feat. T-Pain Kiss Kiss 2007 #93 2008 #19
2007 Alicia Keys No One 2007 #76 2008 #3
2008 T.I. Whatever You Like 2008 #15 2009 #40
2008 Pink So What 2008 #24 2009 #45
2008 T.I. feat. Rihanna Live Your Life 2008 #37 2009 #18
2008 Britney Spears Womanizer 2008 #80 2009 #39
2009 Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling 2009 #4 2010 #29
2009 Jay Sean feat. Lil Wayne Down 2009 #20 2010 #41
2009 Britney Spears 3 2009 #87 2010 #69
2009 Owl City Fireflies 2009 #60 2010 #30
2009 Jason DeRulo Whatcha Say 2009 #34 2010 #43
2009 Jay-Z and Alicia Keys Empire State of Mind 2009 #62 2010 #21
2010 Bruno Mars Just The Way You Are 2010 #18 2011 #75
2010 Far East Movement feat. The Cataracs and Dev Like A G6 2010 #37 2011 #72
2010 Rihanna Only Girl (In The World) 2010 #47 2011 #40
2011 Adele Rolling In The Deep 2011 #1 2012 #71
2011 LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock Party Rock Anthem 2011 #2 2012 #29
2011 Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera Moves Like Jagger 2011 #9 2012 #36
2011 Adele Someone Like You 2011 #24 2012 #43
20112012 Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris We Found Love 2011 #69 2012 #8
2012 LMFAO Sexy and I Know It 2011 #57 2012 #13
2012 Maroon 5 One More Night 2012 #18 2013 #38
2012 Rihanna Diamonds 2012 #95 2013 #27
2013 Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell Blurred Lines 2013 #2 2014 #83
2013 Katy Perry Roar 2013 #10 2014 #46
2013 Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball 2013 #18 2014 #44
2013 Lorde Royals 2013 #15 2014 #20
2014 Taylor Swift Shake It Off 2014 #13 2015 #18
2014 Meghan Trainor All About That Bass 2014 #8 2015 #28
2015 Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth See You Again 2015 #3 2016 #99
2015 Weeknd Can't Feel My Face 2015 #12 2016 #72
2015 Justin Bieber What Do You Mean? 2015 #33 2016 #31
2015 Weeknd The Hills 2015 #10 2016 #32
20152016 Adele Hello 2015 #35 2016 #7

I know of a song that was really popular, so why didn't it appear on the year end chart?

There are a few reasons why a popular song would not appear on the year end chart.

  1. The song was popular around the time of the Billboard chart year cut off, and it was during the time that short chart runs were the norm. Read this answer for more details.
  2. Prior to December 5, 1998 Billboard had a rule that songs were not eligible to enter the Hot 100 unless they could be purchased as a single. During the 1990s, some record companies tried to boost album sales by promoting songs to radio without ever releasing them as singles. Many of these songs dominated the Hot 100 Airplay chart for extended periods of time. Some examples are shown below along with the number of weeks the song was number one on the Airplay chart:

    Peak Year Artist Title Airplay #1 Weeks
    1996 No Doubt Don't Speak 16
    1997 Sugar Ray feat. Super Cat Fly 6
    1997 Will Smith Men in Black 4
    1998 Natalie Imbruglia Torn 11
    1998 Goo Goo Dolls Iris 18
  3. Sometimes songs are very popular in one area of the county but they don't get much traction in other markets. The Billboard Hot 100 chart reflects how songs rank across the nation as a whole. For example the song "Stay In Time" by Off Broadway USA was popular enough on WLS in Chicago to hit number 11 on the "Big 89 of 1980" year end countdown, but it only peaked at 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1980.

I was listening to an old Casey Kasem American Top 40 year end countdown and the positions that he lists is different than what's on your site. How come?

Although American Top 40 used the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for their weekly shows, they did not always use the official year end chart from Billboard during the 25 years that they used their charts. Billboard's year end charts were used in 1970-1971, 1974-1976, 1978-1979, and 1985-1989. All other years the AT40 staff calculated the charts using data from the weekly Billboard charts. These charts were very close to Billboard's, but AT40 would go with a mid-December to early-December time period where Billboard's survey year varied from year to year. AT40 matched Billboard's number one song of the year every time except in 1977, 1984, 1990 and 1993.