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Five Burning Questions: The Year-End Hot 100

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December means more for the Billboard charts than just the coming onslaught of Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé — it also means it’s year-end season. Today, Billboard revealed its many year-end charts for 2022, including the Year-End Hot 100.


The chart is led by Glass Animals‘ “Heat Waves” — hardly a shock, given that it set the all-time Hot 100 record for longest stay on the chart this October — followed by Harry Styles’ “As It Was” and The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber’s “Stay.” Bad Bunny and Doja Cat tie for the most entries on the chart with seven each, while Bieber is the lone artist with multiple top 10 entries, also landing at No. 8 with “Ghost.”

How relevant do these top songs and artists feel to the year that was? And what lessons can we take from the chart on the whole? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.

1. So, “Heat Waves”: Seem about right for a 2022 Year-End No. 1? If not, which song from the top 10 would you have picked to define the musical year? 

Rania Aniftos: Seeing this year-end chart reminds me how long a year really is. I thought for sure that Harry Styles’ “As It Was” had the No. 1 spot in the bag, but I completely forgot about how “Heat Waves” just dominated the music space at the beginning of 2022. Given how quickly the song beat The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” as the longest charting song in Hot 100 history, it’s not surprising that “Heat Waves” has the top spot this year.

Stephen Daw: At first, I was a bit surprised to see “Heat Waves” at the top of the chart — but upon reflection, this is the right song for the No. 1 spot. With such a record-breaking run up to the No. 1 spot, and a healthy domination of TikTok, radio and streaming services, “Heat Waves” was unstoppable hit of 2022. Sure, a chart-smasher like “As It Was” dominating that top spot for 15 weeks is worthy of recognition — but the crossover success of “Heat Waves,” despite the odds, is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime moment that deserves its flowers.

Josh Glicksman: To be honest, it doesn’t! That’s not to say “Heat Waves” isn’t worthy of the accomplishment — its No. 1 status and record-breaking 91 weeks on the Hot 100 would surely indicate otherwise — but given that it debuted on the chart in January 2021, it feels more definitive of last year than this one. Instead, I’d pick its runner-up, Harry Styles’ “As It Was,” as more apt for 2022: a year often highlighted by megahits from music’s biggest superstars. And with Styles setting the record for the longest-running No. 1 by a solo act in Hot 100 history this year (15 weeks), it’s a bit surprising to not see it finish atop the list.

Jason Lipshutz: It makes sense on paper when compared to the year-end No. 2 single, “As It Was,” since “Heat Waves” had a four-month head start on Harry Styles’ smash, which was released in early April. Yet the fact that “As It Was” spent 15 nonconsecutive weeks atop the Hot 100 in 2022 — months-long ubiquity, resulting in the longest-leading No. 1 single by a solo artist in the chart’s history — makes the Styles single feel more year-defining than Glass Animals’ unstoppable hit. Hard to argue with “Heat Waves,” especially after it set the Hot 100 longevity record with 91 weeks on the chart, but I’ll remember 2022 as the year of “As It Was.”

Andrew Unterberger: It’s a ranking that certainly owes more to quirks of timing and Billboard chart math than an undeniable cultural dominance — especially considering many of us reached our fill point with the song in 2021, if not all the way back in 2020. But as for if “Heat Waves” feels like 2022… yeah, sorta. It’s a vibey, melancholy, genre-less song that has long since eclipsed its makers, went viral on TikTok several times without ever going viral viral, and is probably still getting played on dozens of radio stations across the country as we speak. If that’s not a description of a hit song in 2022 I don’t know what would be.

2. While Bad Bunny, with his Year-End Billboard 200-topping Un Verano Sin Ti album, is a predictable artist to appear on this Year-End Hot 100 with seven entries, it’s a little less obvious that Doja Cat — who didn’t even release an album this year — would be right alongside him with seven songs of her own. Does her volume of entries surprise you? Does she seem like a fair representative for the year in chart pop? 

Rania Aniftos: To me, it does and it doesn’t at the same time. It’s surprising only because, compared to 2021, Doja Cat’s presence seemed less prominent this year. However, with that being said, Doja’s also the queen of low-key relevance. By that, I mean that whether or not she’s actively promoting her music, it’s always used on TikTok, it’s always playing on the radio and it’s always on various Spotify playlists. I find that I’m often listening to her music whether I intend to or not, so it makes sense that she was a pop chart staple of the year. 

Stephen Daw: Despite her “retirement” announcement, Doja still managed to be inescapable throughout the year. Whether it was with a reimagined, Elvis-inspired smash in “Vegas,” the Afrobeats-tinged “Woman,” or a featured slot on Post Malone’s “I Like You (A Happier Song),” Doja practically never left the Hot 100 in 2022, and did so with a cadre of hits that felt truly varied and different — much like pop music itself.

Josh Glicksman: Not at all surprising to me. Doja Cat is a perfect representation for the year in chart pop: she’s more than capable of providing a down-the-middle in the genre, but at a moment’s notice, she can switch over to R&B, hip-hop, or some combination of all three. At a time when popular music is more genre-agnostic than ever, she blurs the lines as well as anyone else out there. Plus, she dominates at multiple formats — Doja Cat has eight top 10s on both Billboard’s Radio Songs and Streaming Songs charts since 2020.

Jason Lipshutz: Not a surprise at all: Doja Cat has become one of the most reliable hitmakers in modern pop, and the long-tail commercial viability of her last two albums is arguably even more impressive than their immediate success. Plenty of artists are notching hits with the early singles to their full-lengths, as Doja did with Hot Pink’s “Say So” and Planet Her’s “Kiss Me More”; very few are spinning off top 20 entries with their fifth singles, as she did with “Streets” and “Get Into You (Yuh).” Her ability to dig deep into her projects and mine new hits allows her to pop up seven times on the year-end Hot 100 without breaking a sweat.

Andrew Unterberger: I mean, it’s no secret that Doja has remained ubiquitous in the year post-Planet Her, so in theory this shouldn’t be that surprising. But that number: seven. Any pop star worth their glitter can luck into two or three enduring hits off-cycle, and it’s certainly not unheard of for the great ones to find their way to four or five. But seven? That’s just silly, and shows that Amala’s golden touch in pop right now should really not be underestimated.

3. What song from outside the chart’s top 10 would you have either expected to appear higher, or feel was more significant for the year than its ranking suggests?

Rania Aniftos: “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno!” Those songs were everywhere! No shade intended here, but how did Gayle’s “abcdefu” rank higher? 

Stephen Daw: Considering his absolute dominance of streaming as well the album charts, I thought Bad Bunny might eke out a year-end top 10 in “Tití Me Preguntó.” The track may not have made it to the No. 1 spot, but Benito’s Un Verano Sin Ti was the most unavoidable smash-hit album of 2022, no questions asked. The significance that has for the industry at large when talking about Latin music’s crossover into become one of the most popular genres of the day is massive, and Bad Bunny’s role in making that crossover happen cannot be understated. 

Josh Glicksman: “About Damn Time.” Sure, its release date coming in April narrows its window, but it felt like for a span of a few months, Lizzo’s Special lead single was just about everywhere — be it TikTok (more than 2 million videos on the platform have been created using the song as its backing track) or the radio (No. 1 on Radio Songs for nine weeks). Its runner-up finish on Billboard’s 2022 Songs of the Summer chart encapsulates as much, but I would’ve expected that to translate to a top 10 placement as well.

Jason Lipshutz: Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” never reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 and only spent a few months in and around the top 10 of the chart, so it’s not shocking that it finishes as low as No. 23 on the year-end chart… but the fact that a song from 1985 climbed that high, wholly thanks to its use in one television show (albeit a pop culture-commanding one), is still wildly impressive, and will have reverberations within the mainstream for years to come. “Running Up That Hill” represents a tipping point for older songs being revived into new hits, and in this era of TikTok resurrections, songs like this will feel less like lightning-in-a-bottle moments and appear more often on the year-end charts.

Andrew Unterberger: Remember how for the first three months of this year, it seemed like “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was basically the only hit song in existence? Encantomania in general feels a decade old at this point, and obviously the song’s relative lack of radio support means it doesn’t have the long tail songs need to really threaten the top of the Year-End charts. But man, after all that, for the song to only finish at No. 24 — 10 lower than the third-biggest single from Lil Nas X’s Montero — feels more than a little underwhelming for the Disney Hot 100 GOAT.

4. Keeping in mind that there’s almost always a little carry-over between Billboard‘s year-end charts — which song from this year’s top 100 would you expect to have the endurance to still make a strong showing on next year’s top 100 as well? 

Rania Aniftos: Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy.” While it’s at No. 98 right now, to even rank on the list given it was just released in September is pretty impressive, and I think we’ve only just started to see the lasting power of that song.   

Stephen Daw: It’s gotta be “As It Was.” Part of what made the song so huge was that it kept coming back — after an album release, after massive tour dates, after headline-making semi-controversies around Harry’s film Don’t Worry Darling, “As It Was” refused to fall off the charts. The song even had the momentum to get Lil Nas X sweating about his record as the longest-running Hot 100 hit. There is not a world in which “As It Was” doesn’t make an appearance higher than we would intuitively expect on the 2023 Year-End chart.

Josh Glicksman: This might be a loophole of an answer, but I’d go with Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Given its track record since first reaching No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 2019, the holiday classic’s placement on the year-end list feels like nothing short of a lock until further notice. Still, that feels like dodging the question, so if pressed on something from this year, I’d go with Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy.” Its late release in 2022 — combined with the hit’s staying power — should give it plenty of momentum into 2023 and boost it higher than this year’s No. 98 finish.

Jason Lipshutz: Way down at No. 98 on the year-end Hot 100 is Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy” — a single that has already hit the top of the Hot 100, stays still at No. 3 this week, and has a lot of juice left to push into 2023 (when Smith will also release their new album, Gloria, in late January). Maybe “Unholy” never makes it back to the top of the Hot 100, but I could see it hanging around the top 10 for the opening few months of 2023 and making a stronger showing on the next year-end chart.

Andrew Unterberger: “Unholy” is the safe bet, but I”ll go a little bolder and say that Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange” (No. 39) hangs around long enough — especially if country radio ever fully kicks in for it — to make it to the 2023 Year-End Hot 100 as well. (By the way, worth noting that Taylor Swift only has one song on this year’s chart, and none from Midnights. Imagine that will not be the case next year!)

5. Zooming out to look at the Year-End Hot 100 in its entirety, what do you think it suggests was the most consequential trend impacting 2022 popular music?

Rania Aniftos: There are two trends I’ve seen the most since the beginning of the year, and they’re polar opposites. The first is really raw, emotional songs about deep topics like heartbreak and mental health, like “Fingers Crossed” by Lauren Spencer-Smith and Adele’s “Easy on Me.” The second is what I like to call “baddie songs,” a.k.a songs you listen to while getting ready to go out to feel confident, or songs that you post a thirst trap to on Instagram. We’ve proven to be quite complex as a society and as music listeners, if these two trends are any indication.

Stephen Daw: That there is no formulaic path to “success” in this inudstry (I understand that this sounds like a cop-out — I promise it’s not). “Heat Waves” being at No. 1 on this chart is unlikely-yet-understandable given the song’s massive appeal across platforms; “As It Was” became synonymous with pop radio; “Stay” was an absolute streaming monster; “abcdefu” was a viral sensation on TikTok. Whenever someone comes forward with their idea of the “definitive way to ‘make it’ in the music industry,” I roll my eyes, because this chart shows that there isn’t a set way to achieve success on the charts. There are a lot of different avenues to take today (and you probably need to be on more than one if not all of them) to earn that chart-smashing hit.

Josh Glicksman: It’s hard not to immediately be struck by all of the songs impacted by viral moments on TikTok. Particularly for artists that may be visiting the year-end Hot 100 songs chart for the first time, the platform has been a staple in yielding breakthrough hits.

Jason Lipshutz: If you asked 100 people to name the five defining pop artists of 2022, I doubt many of them would name Justin Bieber… but there he is with two songs in the year-end top 10, “Stay” with The Kid LAROI and “Ghost,” both holdovers from 2021 that just refused to disappear after months of radio play and millions of streams. Pretty surprising to see them up so high… but if the Biebs comes back with a gargantuan 2023, those two tracks could be considered harbingers to his sustained success.

Andrew Unterberger: The biggest thing for me is rap taking a very clear backseat to pop — no rap songs at all in the chart’s top five, hybrid rappers like Lil Nas X and Doja Cat outperforming any core hip-hop radio artists, and the two best-performing rap songs (Jack Harlow’s “First Class” and Latto’s “Big Energy”) both being built around enormous pop samples. Not shocking given recent popular music trends (and the inherently pop-skewing nature of the Hot 100), but still a little stark compared to the chart landscape of a half-decade ago.

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