Billboard published the first Hot 100 singles chart in its August 4, 1958 issue. The Hot 100 replaced the Top 100 (measuring sales, radio play and jukebox play) and the Most Played by Jockeys charts with a streamlined, cross-genre ranking that’s considered the standard measure of singles popularity in the United States. This blog looks at those records that managed to reach the #1 place on the Hot 100, their place in US pop culture and whether they’re worthy of their place at the top. Credit for the concept goes to Tom Ewing, who reviews all the UK #1 singles at Popular.


29 responses to “About

  1. Hi,

    I just found this blog. I think your understanding and observations of pop musical history match your writing skills quite well and they’re great. So keep exercising. Good stuff!


  2. Thanks! It’s always nice to know someone’s reading.

  3. Anonymous

    With due respect acknowledging I am writing under the anonymity, I’d like to comment and hope you don’t write off my remarks as simply rude. Obviously you are smart, educated and of high self esteem. However your writing suggests you see your self as the great communicator, judge and savior of aesthetics. I suggest however you lower your standards and enjoy life more. Perhaps try a drum, tambourine or cowbell. You get an A for your website, but that doesn’t earn you the position you claim. Good Luck.

  4. Thank you for your feedback. Are you familiar with Fred Bronson’s work? He may be more to your liking, as he covers the Hot 100 (and other pop charts) without a critical bent. His “The Billboard Book of Number One Hits” has been an invaluable reference for this blog.

    However, I would humbly like to rebut your assumption that I see myself as some type of Cultural Overlord. I am merely a music fan with a WordPress account. That’s one of the great innovations of the internet: music criticism is no longer restricted to a few designated arbiters of taste. People who would have never otherwise had an outlet (including me) can express how a song makes them feel or an artist makes them think. Given that art is subjective and pop music is inherently populist, having as many critical voices out there can only be a good thing. And as far as having high standards goes, I think that’s a positive! I’m certainly happier for surrounding myself with music I love rather than settling for the beige hum of mediocrity.

  5. secretagentkr

    sally! we are watching you on jepoardy right now and being a multi genere dj, i was soooo stoked to hear about your blog! amazing!
    you are our favorite contestant!

    kristy and holly (toronto, canada)

  6. Dear Ms. O’Rourke,

    I think it was only right that you made it to Jeopardy. Continued success. My own passion is for delineating the life stories of great adventurers, of which NYC has the lion’s share. I’ll explain if you wish to contact me.

    I wish you the best. I failed three times but Alex is one charming lad. Keep up the fine blog…you are a scholar after my own heart, truly. Perhaps we;ll meet over coffee one of these years.



    PS: Why does East Side, West Side come to mind, I wonder. Your delightful name perhaps, which (given name) was that of my late beloved Mom. A.

  7. Loved seeing you on JEOPARDY! Such a pretty face!

    Looked you up as a result of your appearance and mention of your blog. I plan to publish your link on a radio board I moderate called the New York Broadcasting History Board.


    Best wishes,


  8. Hi,

    if you are the person I think, I just heard you say this on Jeopardy! and I had to stop playback to come and see.
    As a teen I used to write down AT40 every week in a notebook. I’m guessing my brother and I are going to love this blog! (thanks for telling Alex!)

  9. That’s me! Thanks for finding me (and for watching Jeopardy!).

  10. Vincent

    Hi Sally,

    Loved your performance on Jeopardy! Thanks for mentioning your blog. I plan to enjoy it often!

    Happy New Year!


  11. I am having great fun reading this!
    Try as I might, I won’t get through in one sitting so you are now bookmarked. 🙂


  12. Jim Ochs


    If it hadn’t been for Jeopardy, I would never have found your blog. Wish you could’ve moved on to, at least, another day. Your blog concept is very near and dear to me as I have collected all the #1’s from Fred Bronson’s stated ‘Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, when Bill Haley and the Comets hit it big with Rock Around The Clock, to today. Wish I had thought of your idea. I will peruse your posts and maybe try something of my own along the same lines, but with true vinyl samples or versions as the difference. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Eddie George


    I truly enjoyed your appearances on Jeopardy !.

    You were a breath of fresh air.

    Thanks for mentioning your blog. Two of my favorite
    things; Jeopardy ! , and rock & roll music.

    Good luck in all of your endeavors. The world needs
    more people like you.

    Eddie George

  14. Eddie George

    OBTW, two of my favorite music writers/archivists
    are Joel Whitburn and Dave Marsh.

    Eddie George

  15. Eddie George


    I am ” tripping down memory lane ” with your blog.
    Of course, the songs that I am reading about, and
    listening to are all right in my ” wheelhouse “, the
    wonderful ’60’s. I loved them all.

    I really am amazed at your ” feel ” and insight into
    these songs. This was before you were even born.
    For me it is easy. I lived these songs. They were my
    everyday soul. But for someone like you to pick up
    on the nuances and feeling of these wonderful songs
    is truly remarkable.

    Keep up the good work.

    Eddie George

  16. SALLLY!!!!! you are AMAZING! ive been so inspired by the 50s and 60s for my next record! i’m learning so many songs on guitar and it’s so much fun! i LOOOOOOOOVE your blog.. how u explain and write everything. ur points of view and the videos! the information is so much fun and interesting to read! DONT STOP! i’ll be following and reading everything else you’ve written. xoox

  17. Kevin O'Leary


    Saw you on Jeopardy (Greg Kihn must be proud of you)!

    I share a few things with you….an Irish surname, life in Austin, and a longstanding love of the music charts. I still have many of the Top 40 surveys from the early to mid ’60s from Twin Cities’ radio stations, KDWB and WDGY. Also have spent many hours poring over old Billboard mags.

    I managed to accumulate the Billboard Top 100 records (MP3 format) for the years 1956 – 2000 and the Top 30 for the years 1947-1955.

    You’ve done a fabulous job describing the background and context of the #1’s….keep it up!!


  18. Sally —

    I ran across your blog while doing some research for my own music blog… while my scope is more focused on time and less focused on material than yours, I think we both generally have the same idea. This is a truly amazing project you have going, and the work you’re doing is really inspiring to me as a writer and thinker.

    I am subscribing immediately and you can be assured that you have a new dedicated follower!

    All the best,

  19. Brian, thanks for your kind words. What a fascinating idea for a blog! I look forward to following it through 2018.

  20. ukulefty

    Randomly stumbled across your blog while searching for the chord progressions for some 50’s hits. Love your writing and the concept is great! You’ve gained a new subscriber.

  21. Sally,
    I just heard about your blog from your mom, my wife (Katreena) and your mom were roommates in college. We had dinner with her recently at a really interesting fish restaurant in Baton Rouge. When she told us you did a blog on the Billboard top 100 I couldn’t wait to check it out. I have only had a chance to read a few of your reviews and I am impressed. Really quite a undertaking, but you do get to listen to a lot of really good music.

    I have been listening to music it seems like forever, It has always been a part of my life, from my first AM radio in the mid 50’s to my massive MP3 library today. I grew up in Southern California, started High School about the time the Beatles first started recording, so I remember all these songs from when they were first played on the radio.

    I still enjoy listening to all of them. I always have a song playing in my head – lately it has been Adele (she has a unique way of describing her anger, Set Fire to the Rain) usually listening to something else works, but it is still in there – possibly all the play she is getting on some of the music shows like The Voice.

    Can’t wait to get back to reading your reviews and keep them coming – you are just getting into my teenage years and my fondest memories of music. Also, I will be referencing your blog from one I am doing for my wife about her frog, Jeremiah.


  22. J.D. Buhl

    I too have found your blog from through your appearance on Jeopardy!, albeit a year later. This evening’s repeat of your return as champion included the mention and as a fellow music writer I went right to it after the final round. This looks fun. Thanks.

  23. Hi, from Brazil.
    You seem to make good, levelled coments on some great music.
    Me and my dog (…………….), we have decided you deserve to nknow that you
    ought check the left one great music of the XX century that you probably don´t know much about: Brazil´s little, huge one. Specially in the 1958-1980 era.
    Open your eye, and be advised every time it reaches your ear.

    Good vibrations from the lower side of the Continent America.


  24. GeorgeL

    Dear Ms. Rourke

    I am really enjoying your blog. You have some great things to say about music. I do have a general chart question that has me in a quandry.

    Please read on.

    I have a question (off topic). Perhaps you may know this or someone else. I notice that in 1974-75 – there was a period on the singles/albums charts where there was a string of records that hit the Number One spot for just a week. Were people’s attention spans shorter during this period or what? It is funny because I consider 1974 a horrible year for singles. I haven’t noticed this phenomenom during any other period. Did Billboard change the way they tabulated chart positions? Just curious. Thank you friends.

    Thank you very much,

    George L

  25. Greetings!
    I have browsed your blog with great interest. Having been obsessed with sixties music since childhood (a childhood which unfortunately did not take place in that Decade of Decades but in the musically more grim eighties and early nineties) it is a real pleasure to encounter the knowledge, research and first of all the excellent command of language and wonderful eye for detail that you have poured into this blog.
    Personally, I have always loved lists in all its forms and I think that people should never be afraid to try to pass a judgement on a piece of art. Grade those songs, by all means! Some songs are simply better than others, right? As a child I made Rolling Stones and Beatles Top 100 – lists like there was no tomorrow, and currently I am working on a list of the 400 Great Albums of 1965-1977, in my opinion the best period for the pop album. 1967 being the absolute killer with no less than 60 truly great albums.
    Apart from this, I play in a sixties-loving band, and I can truly say that your work renews our inspiration to write and record music which carries on those melodic “innocent” qualities so abundant on the Top100 back then – and so sadly absent now.
    A true fan,
    Søren Tiemroth of The New Investors

  26. Great stuff! Just discovered this. I had the good fortune to be old enough to comprehend the R&R revolution of the 50s and to fully participate in the reinvention of rock in the 60s. Have played music ever since. There’s no known cure for the boogie-woogie flu.

  27. S

    I recently heard The Association song “Cherish” and it kicked me back solidly into the 1960s. I looked up the song to try to figure out its roots and writing history.
    I randomly came across your article. As other people have said on this blog, and I agree, you have an excellent writing style and a very perceptive and thoughtful way of writing. I very much enjoyed it!

  28. I only just discovered your writing. You are an excellent writer. I am sorry to see that your rock journalism seems to have disappeared from the internet these past few years. Hope you are still writing–if not rock journalism, then in another genre.

  29. P.S. I see my original comment was linked to a defunct WordPress site. This comment should be linked to my current blog in case you’d like to get in touch.

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