As if the fact that it didn’t leave your head from April to August wasn’t proof enough, the data backs it up: “Old Town Road” was, by our count, the most massive song of 2019. Lil Nas X’s breakout hit rides to Number One on the inaugural year-end Rolling Stone Top 100 Songs Chart, which uses data from Alpha Data to rank the most popular songs of 2019 in the U.S. by a combination of streams and sales.
“Old Town Road,” a disruptor of a song that took any lingering genre divisions and squashed them under its Gucci cowboy boot, pulled in 8.7 million total song units last year. No song came close, with the Number Two song, Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower,” pulling in 6.3 million units. Thanks in part to a string of remixes featuring the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus, Lizzo, and Young Thug, “Old Town Road” wasn’t just a massive hit but also was a particularly sticky one — spending 17 weeks as the Number One song in the U.S., according to Alpha Data — thanks to a string of remixes featuring the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus, Lizzo, and Young Thug.
The Rolling Stone Top 100 chart tracks the most popular songs in the United States. Songs are ranked by song units, a number that combines audio streams and song sales using a custom weighting system. The chart does not include passive listening like terrestrial radio or digital radio. The year-end Rolling Stone Top 100 chart covers streams and sales from January 4th, 2019, through January 2nd, 2020.
“Old Town Road” wasn’t the only 2019 hit that challenged our notions of what is, can be, or should be popular: Many of the year’s heaviest hitters came from some not-so-usual suspects, like a grizzly-bearded guy from Texas who became the unlikely yet indestructible force in hip-hop, a teenager whose voice rarely rose above a whisper, and an outsider who rose to pop stardom with a song originally released in 2017.
It was Post Malone, the aforementioned grizzly-bearded guy, who had the most hits in the year-end RS 100, with eight. “Sunflower,” his sing-songy collaboration with Swae Lee, takes the second spot, with “Wow.” in third. Fellow Hollywood’s Bleeding singles “Circles” and “Goodbyes (feat. Young Thug)” and “Circles” followed at Number 22 and 30, while four songs off his 2018 release Beerbongs & Bentleys stuck around: “Better Now” (38), “Rockstar” (73), “I Fall Apart” (84), and “Psycho” (100).
Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” comes in fourth with 4.9 million units. It’s the first of three songs off her enormous fifth studio album, Thank U, Next, to make the chart. “Thank U, Next” pulled in 2.9 million units for an 18th place finish, while “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” came in at Number 29 with 2.6 million units.
Coming in at Number Five is Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” a song that foregoes the big-voiced styles of pop divas of the past for a completely whispered vocal delivery. It’s one of five songs by Eilish on the chart after the release of her explosive debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? which topped the year-end RS 200.
“Truth Hurts,” Lizzo’s self-love anthem that was originally released in 2017, comes in at Number Six with 4.5 million units. “Good as Hell,” another song off her third studio album, Cuz I Love You, takes 51st.
J. Cole’s “Middle Child” follows at Number Seven, followed by Halsey’s “Without Me” and Meek Mill’s “Going Bad (feat. Drake)” at Number Nine. Khalid’s “Talk” rounds out the top 10 with 3.5 million total song units. Khalid tied Eilish with five songs in the top 100. Also making strong showings were Lil Baby with four songs and country singer Luke Combs with three.
While Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album, Lover, finished third on the year-end RS 200 — largely on the strength of sales — songs off the album failed to crack the top 40. “You Need To Calm Down” comes in at Number 47, with “ME!” three spots behind. New York rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie also sees two songs with “Swervin (feat. 6ix9ine)” (24) and “Look Back at It” (34).
See the full list of Top 100 Songs of 2019 here.