CHART WATCH: A Look Back at the No. 1 Songs of 2010

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Seventeen songs topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2010. Ke$ha had the longest running No. 1, “TiK ToK”, which remained No. 1 for nine weeks, while six different songs were only able to claim the top spot for a single week. Rihanna spent the most time at No. 1 – 14 weeks – between her four chart toppers. What’s the most amazing is the fact that Katy Perry convinced so many Americans, even Celtics fans, to like “California Gurls” [sic]. So here it is, the good, the bad, the really bad, and the ugly. These are the No. 1 hits of 2010.


“TiK ToK”

No. 1 the week of Jan. 2

Spent nine consecutive weeks at No. 1

Ke$ha’s first No. 1 single

Ke$ha kick started the decade with the drunken auto-tuned party anthem, “TiK ToK”. The song benefited from the post-holiday rush as consumers flocked to digital retailers to fill their new iPods and use their iTunes gift cards. “TiK ToK” sold 610,000 downloads the first week of the year, breaking the record for most downloads in a single week by a female artist, a record set this same week in 2009 by Lady Gaga whose “Just Dance” sold 419,000. To date, the song has sold over five million downloads and ends the year as the biggest pop song of 2010 according to Billboard.

The Black Eyed Peas

“Imma Be”

No. 1 the week of March 6

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

The Black Eyed Peas’ third No. 1 single

The Black Eyed Peas shattered chart records and dominated the Hot 100 in 2009, spending six consecutive months on top of the chart with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling”. Despite their success, it was surprising to see “Imma Be” go No. 1 this year considering The E.N.D. was a nine month old album at that point. It was the first time since 1991 that an act landed three No. 1s from an album, but not the last time that would happen in 2010.

Taio Cruz

“Break Your Heart” feat. Ludacris

No. 1 the week of March 20

Spent one week at No. 1

Taio Cruz’s first No. 1 single, Ludacris’ fifth No. 1 single

“Break Your Heart” was nearly half a year old when it topped the charts in the U.S. The song was a U.K. No. 1 last March, but to break Taio Cruz in the States, Island Records slapped on a rap verse by Ludacris and priced the song at 99 cents.When iTunes retooled their pricing structure in early 2009, labels opted to hike up the prices for the biggest hits to $1.29. A few weeks earlier, Timbaland’s under performing “Carry Out” featuring Justin Timberlake dropped its price to 99 cents, allowing the track to peak at No. 11 and showing that saving consumers 30 cents can help a song’s chart placing. Island’s loss leader strategy worked even better for “Break Your Heart”. Although the song wasn’t doing too hot on radio, it sold enough 99 cent downloads to leap 53-1 in a single week, a debut single record. In true capitalist form, after hitting No. 1, Island repriced the song for $1.29.


“Rude Boy”

No. 1 the week of March 27

Spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1

Rihanna’s sixth No. 1 single

Rihanna’s playful dance music has always done well in the spring. Her first No. 1, “S.O.S.”, topped the chart in May 2006, followed by “Umbrella” in early June 2007, and “Take A Bow” in May 2008. But spring 2010 wasn’t looking like it would produce any bubbly chart toppers considering how dark her Rated R album was. “Rude Boy” provided a course correction after harder, more serious songs failed to generate much interest. When “Rude Boy” went No. 1, Rihanna tied Paula Abdul and Diana Ross for fifth place among female artists for most No. 1 hits. Little did we know, Rihanna was only warming up for what was to be a banner year for her on the Hot 100.


“Nothin’ on You” feat. Bruno Mars

No. 1 the week of May 1

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

B.o.B’s first No. 1 single, Bruno Mars first No. 1 single

When B.o.B took “Nothin’ On You” to No. 1, it became the third debut single to go No. 1 in 2010 following “TiK ToK” and “Break Your Heart”. But the Atlanta rapper made an even splashier debut than Ke$ha or Taio Cruz did as he immediately scored a second Top 40 hit with “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams which debuted at No. 12 the week “Nothin’ On You” topped the chart. Ironically, “Airplanes” which peaked at No. 2, ended up outperforming “Nothin’ On You” in the long haul. “Airplanes” places sixth on Billboard’s list of 2010′s biggest pop songs while “Nothin’ On You” is No. 11.


“OMG” feat.

No. 1 the week of May 15

Spent four non-consecutive weeks at No. 1

Usher’s ninth No. 1 single,’s first solo No. 1 single

With “OMG”, Usher became only the fifth artist in chart history after Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Janet Jackson to have at least one No. 1 single in three consecutive decades. Usher’s first chart topper was 1998′s “Nice and Slow” and he followed that with three No. 1s in 2001, four in 2004, and one in 2008.  “OMG” benefited from’s songwriting and producing, giving Usher an R&B to pop cross over he hasn’t seen since “Yeah!”.


“Not Afraid”

No. 1 the week of May 22

Spent one week at No. 1

Eminem’s third No. 1 single

Eminem might have mocked millennial teen pop during its turn of the century heyday, but his chart record has a lot more in common with Britney Spears than he’d be willing to admit. Both artists had an early career No. 1, “Lose Yourself” and “…Baby One More Time” respectively, followed by a dry spell of chart toppers despite remaining ubiquitous music makers. Their second No. 1s didn’t come for nearly a decade, but both followed a similar pattern of debuting low on the charts and pole vaulting to the top. Britney’s “Womanizer” jumped 96-1 October 2008 and then in February 2009, Eminem leapt 78-1 with “Crack A Bottle”. Britney’s third No. 1, the appropriately titled but completely inappropriate “3″, accomplished the rare feat of debuting at No. 1, the first song to do so in three years. Eminem followed suit with “Not Afraid” which became the 16th song in chart history to debut at No. 1

Katy Perry

“California Gurls”  feat. Snoop Dogg

No. 1 the week of June 19

Spent six consecutive weeks at No. 1

Katy Perry’s second No. 1 single, Snoop Dogg’s third No. 1 single

“California Gurls” is a mindless throwaway song, something Katy Perry herself acknowledges, but that didn’t stop her from trying to make it more legitimate by calling it a West Coast response to Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind” (and that was after she used Wikipedia to find a California rapper to collaborate with). Although comparing the two songs was an asinine thing to do, the two tracks do have some interesting similarities. “Empire State of Mind” went No. 1 after a team everyone loves to hate, the New York Yankees, won their 27th World Series. Somehow, the power of pop music and Alicia Key’s anthemic hook overcame rivalry and regionalism. This year, another hated team, the Los Angeles Lakers were two wins away from clinching their 17th NBA championship when “California Gurls” took the top spot. The song was even receiving heavy airplay in the last place that should be cheering for anything Californian at the time, Boston.


“Love The Way You Lie” feat. Rihanna

No. 1 the week of July 31

Spent seven consecutive weeks at No. 1

Eminem’s fourth No. 1 single, Rihanna’s seventh No. 1 single

As soon as Recovery was released, consumers handpicked the Rihanna duet, “Love The Way You Lie”, as its second single by downloading 338,000 copies of it in its first week. It wasn’t much of a surprise that the song was such a blockbuster considering how “Not Afraid” had crossed over to pop radio in a way no other Eminem song had. Releasing a song with Rihanna could only be chart gold. “Love The Way You Lie” debuted at No. 2 and stalled there for three weeks until radio airplay caught up enough to take the song to No. 1.

Katy Perry

“Teenage Dream”

No. 1 the week of Sept. 18

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

Katy Perry’s third No. 1 single

Katy Perry’s third No. 1 was her first not to be awful. Perry might be well into her twenties, but she used teenage love to describe the universal desire to be young forever and fall madly in love. Despite the massive teen fan base popular music has had ever since Billboard began tracking America’s favorite songs, “Teenage Dream” is only the second chart topper to feature the ‘teen’ in its title, the first being Mark Dinning’s 1960 controversial (at the time) “Teen Angel”.

Bruno Mars

“Just The Way You Are”

No. 1 the week of Oct. 2

Spent four consecutive weeks at No. 1

Bruno Mars’ second No. 1 single

It’s never good to be in jail, but having the No. 1 song in the country sure can make things better. That’s the position Bruno Mars found himself in after being charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in Las Vegas. “Just The Way You Are” was enjoying its two week run at No. 1 when police allegedly found Mars in a bathroom stall in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with 2.6 grams of narcotics. Mars could face one to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. With co-writing credits on three No. 1 singles as well as Travis McCoy’s “Billionaire” and Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You!”, I don’t think the fine would be too much of a problem, but it’s hard to sustain a recording career living behind bars.

Far East Movement

“Like A G6″ feat. The Cataracs and Dev

No. 1 the week of Oct. 30

Spent three non-consecutive weeks at No. 1

Far East Movement’s first No. 1 single, The Cataracs first No. 1 single, Dev’s first No. 1 single

Sure, the song is simple enough, but after reading the words ‘”Like A G6″ by Far East Movement featuring the Cataracs and Dev, it’s easy to be a little confused. Here are some definitions to help you understand. G6 = A plane, a really fly plane. Far East Movement = An Asian-American hip-hop group. The Cataracs = The West Coast version of 3Oh!3. Dev= The brunette Ke$ha. Mix it all together and you get one of the dumbest but still catchy No. 1s of the year. The song samples Dev’s opus, “Booty Bounce” and spent three non-consecutive weeks at No. 1.


“We R Who We R”

No. 1 the week of Oct. 30

Spent one week at No. 1

Ke$ha’s second No. 1 single

Ke$ha followed Lady Gaga’s lead by following up her debut album with an EP. Although “We R Who We R” isn’t anywhere near as good as “Bad Romance”, it did what “Bad Romance” couldn’t do — it went No. 1. Ke$ha also followed Katy Perry’s lead by trying to make a song more legitimate than it really was, not by comparing it to another song, but by saying that it was an anti-hate anthem. The song debuted at No. 1, the second song after “Not Afraid” to do so in 2010, and it started a six week stretch of six different songs occupying the No. 1 spot, a turnover rate not seen in nearly two decades.


“What’s My Name?” feat. Drake

No. 1 the week of Nov. 13

Spent one week at No. 1

Rihanna’s eighth No. 1 single, Drake’s first No. 1 single

Rihanna scored her third No. 1 of the year with a collaboration featuring her rumored former fling, Canadian rapper Drake. It marked the first time since 2008 that an artist had managed three No. 1s in a calendar year, and that artist just so happened to be Rihanna who sent “Take A Bow,” “Disturbia,” and “Live Your Life” with T.I. all to the penthouse that year. All three of Rihanna’s 2010 No. 1s were from different albums. “Rude Boy” from her 2009 Hard, “Love The Way You Lie” from Eminem’s Recovery, and “What’s My Name?” from her new album Loud. But “What’s My Name?” wasn’t even Loud‘s first single. Interestingly enough, the album’s first single, the danceable, more immediate, and seemingly more likely chart topper, “Only Girl (In The World)” peaked at No. 3. But Rihanna wasn’t done yet.


“Only Girl (In The World)”

No. 1 the week of Dec. 4

Spent one week at No. 1

Rihanna’s ninth No. 1 single

Rihanna and Drake only spent a single week in the penthouse with “What’s My Name?” before “Like A G6″ reclaimed the top spot for a third and final non-consecutive week. By all accounts, Rihanna had a remarkable year, and the sheer number of hit singles under her belt put her among some of the great female artists of the rock era. But the good girl gone bad still had one more home run up her sleeve before the year was over. “Only Girl (In The World)” knocked Far East Movement from No. 1 the following week, which marked the first time that the first single from an album went No. 1 after the second one had. In addition, it was the fifth time that an artist had scored more than three No. 1s in a single year. The Beatles had six in 1964 followed by four in 1965, the Jackson 5 had four in 1970, and the most recent was Usher who had four in 2004. Considering her batting average, it’s only a matter of time before Rihanna lands her tenth No. 1 which would put her in a tie for eighth for artists with the most No. 1s in Billboard history.


“Raise Your Glass”

No. 1 the week of Dec. 11

Spent one week at No. 1

Pink’s third No. 1 single

“Raise Your Glass” became Pink’s third No. 1 and, following “We R Who We R”, it cemented the notion of “It Gets Better Pop” — pop music that was anti-hate, pro-gay, and reiterated the message of the It Gets Better campaign targeted to alienated and bullied gay youth. But whether this was a true pop music movement or a convenient bandwagon to jump onto has yet to be seen.

Katy Perry


No. 1 the week of Dec. 18

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

Katy Perry’s fourth No. 1 single

“You’re great just the way you are!” lyrics? Check. Guys making out in the music video? Check. It Gets Better pop went three-for-three with Katy Perry’s “Firework” as Perry herself went three-for-three with singles off of Teenage Dream. It would have been a more exciting achievement if Rihanna had not just racked up her fourth No. 1 of the year two weeks before, but “Firework” does have the distinction of being the first No. 1 to stay there for a second week after a month and a half of turnover.


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