Sixteen songs made it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019. Below, I’ve ranked ’em all, except for Ariana Grande’s "Thank U, Next," which first topped the charts in 2018 and I wrote about last year.
The good news is: I don’t really hate any of these songs. The bad news is: I don’t really love too many of them. But enough preparatory blabbing—let’s count ’em down.
15. Travis Scott, "Highest in the Room"
The tickety-tack of a trap beat conveys an Auto-Tuned voice forward as ad libs (“It’s lit!”) leap out like goons startling you in a haunted house—when you distill a Travis Scott song to its essential components it sounds pretty damn inessential, doesn’t it? Nice Pink Floyd noises at the end though.
14. The Weeknd, "Heartless"
He’s a bad man, and he’s haunted by his sins, and he won’t share his drugs with you anymore if you even suggest that he stop bewailing the perils of too much pussy and loot in that macho Michael Jackson keen of his.
13. Jonas Brothers, "Sucker"
If you think your elders’ nostalgia is tough to handle, just wait till people younger than you start exhuming their teen idols. Disney-soul vocals, pop-funk chops, and ingratiating bounce undiminished yet unimproved, the bros split the difference between Portugal. The Man and One Direction—if there is indeed any to be split.
12. Selena Gomez, "Lose You to Love Me"
Like too much pop these days, this perfectly adequate finding-myself-after-the-breakup ballad has been filtered through celebrity autobiography, so we have to hear it as a “personal statement” about Justin Bieber. I’m more of a “Bad Liar” and “Hands to Myself” guy anyway.
11. Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, "Señorita"
As (possibly arranged) celeb couples go, they’re silly, cute kids, but you wouldn’t know that from this (yes) lithe but (still) forced duet. It is to “sultry” as a rented prom tux is to “style,” perfect for soundtracking smooch sessions when you still haven’t learned there’s such a thing as too much tongue—which I hope Shawn and Camila never do.
10. Ariana Grande, "7 Rings"
There have been times when a lyric like “Whoever said money can't solve your problems/Must not have had enough money to solve 'em” might serve up a welcome dose of materialist realism. There have been singers who could wring ambiguity from that sentiment or bowl you over with new-money giddiness. Ari ain’t the singer, though, and this really ain’t the time.
10. Halsey, "Without Me"
Not quite nasty enough for a ballad about how G-Eazy sucks, even with Halsey Auto-Tuned to a pixelated timbre of menacing heartbreak.
8. Post Malone, "Circles"
Over a track no Future Islands fan can credibly claim to hate, the increasingly tolerable tat-faced galoot rhymes “you thought that it was special” with “it was just the sex though” with such forlorn mushmouthery I finally feel a little sorry for the mope.
7. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, "Shallow"
I’m more of an “Old Ways” fella myself, but credit where it’s due: No matter how overfamiliar you are with this instant karaoke standard, you can still hear, every time, Gaga convey the process of transforming into a star before your very ears.
6. Post Malone and Swae Lee, "Sunflower"
Swae’s glide and Post’s rumble complement each other nicely, and I have happy memories of Miles Morales trying to sing along every time I listen.
5. Lewis Capaldi, "Someone You Loved"
[whispered in the whisperiest wisp of a whisper, for fear of being heard] Maybe someday Harry Styles will record a ballad this good.
4. Mariah Carey, "All I Want for Christmas Is You"
A quarter-century after it debuted, this modern standard became a No. 1 hit thanks to Billboard’s increasingly baroque chart math. I’m more of a Bing and Darlene fella myself, but the effortless way this modernized pop Christmas tradition was, and is, something of a miracle.
3. Lizzo, "Truth Hurts"
“Juice” was sweet but lacked pulp, but this woozy 2017 bedspin of a track lets Lizzo be Lizzo, hurling catchphrases invented and (tsk tsk) borrowed at worthless men while lining up their replacements.
2. Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus, "Old Town Road (Remix)"
I don’t queue it up much anymore, but I can still hear what a weird fluke of commerce and joy and charm this was when I do.
1. Billie Eilish, "Bad Guy"