Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Songs of All Time

No, this isn’t what “soft rock” means.

Adult Contemporary, 1961-2021:

Top 100 Songs

This post originated in 2011 when Billboard magazine celebrated the 50th anniversary of their adult contemporary charts with a list of “The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Songs Ever.” They weighted the list so that the last decade’s trend toward longer stays at #1 (and longer stays on the chart) didn’t completely dominate the list. I posted a new ranking on my Facebook page that showed the biggest AC hits based solely on weeks at #1.

Still not satisfied, I went to my music database and sorted all songs to hit #1 on the adult contemporary charts. Then I sorted those songs based on total points in Dave’s Music Database. The results made for what I consider the most balanced of the three lists and acknowledging some bonafide classics which may not have had longevity at #1 or on the charts, but have had long-lasting impact.

One last thing – the pics are for the top-ten ranked AC acts according to Billboard. Click on the photos for the acts DMDB music makers encyclopedia entries.

Click here to see other genre-specific song lists.

1. Whitney Houston “I Will Always Love You” (1992)
2. Simon & Garfunkel “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (1970)
3. Bryan Adams “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (1991)
4. Don McLean “American Pie” (1971)
5. Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” (1997)
6. The Beatles “Let It Be” (1970)
7. The Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody” (1965)
8. Adele “Rolling in the Deep” (2010)
9. Ed Sheeran “Shape of You” (2017)
10. Gotye with Kimbra “Somebody That I Used to Know” (2011)

Elton John

11. Lionel Richie & Diana Ross “Endless Love” (1981)
12. Pharrell Williams “Happy” (2013)
13. U.S.A. for Africa “We Are the World” (1985)
14. Ray CharlesI Can’t Stop Loving You” (1962)
15. Adele “Hello” (2015)
16. Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love to You” (1994)
17. Whitney Houston “I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me” (1987)
18. Bee Gees “How Deep Is Your Love” (1977)
19. Jason Mraz “I’m Yours” (2008)
20. Ed Sheeran “Thinking Out Loud” (2014)

Neil Diamond

21. Coldplay “Viva La Vida” (2008)
22. Roberta Flack “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (1969)
23. Ed Sheeran with Beyoncé “Perfect” (2017)
24. Debby Boone “You Light Up My Life” (1977)
25. Taylor Swift “Shake It Off” (2014)
26. Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are (Amazing)” (2010)
27. Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (1961)
28. Celine Dion “Because You Loved Me” (1996)
29. John Legend “All of Me” (2013)
30. Leona Lewis “Bleeding Love” (2007)

Barbra Streisand

31. Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men “One Sweet Day” (1995)
32. Kenny Rogers “Lady” (1980)
33. Tony Orlando & Dawn “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” (1973)
34. Henry Mancini with Audrey Hepburn “Moon River” (1961)
35. Justin Bieber “Love Yourself” (2015)
36. Stevie Wonder “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (1984)
37. Barbra Streisand “The Way We Were” (1973)
38. Lionel Richie “All Night Long (All Night)” (1983)
39. Terry Jacks “Seasons in the Sun” (1974)
40. Shania Twain “You’re Still the One” 1998)

Barry Manilow

41. Commodores “Three Times a Lady” (1978)
42. Adele “Someone Like You (2011)
43. George Michael “Careless Whisper” (1984)
44. Katy Perry “Firework” (2010)
45. Daniel Powter “Bad Day” (2005)
46. Katy Perry “Roar” (2013)
47. Justin Timberlake “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (2016)
48. Eric Clapton “Tears in Heaven” (1992)
49. Maroon 5 with Cardi B “Girls Like You” (2017)
50. The Fifth Dimension “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (1969)

Kenny Rogers

51. Lady Antebellum “Need You Now” (2009)
52. James Blunt “You’re Beautiful” (2005)
53. Harry Nilsson “Without You” (1971)
54. Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” (1987)
55. Seal “Kiss from a Rose” (1994)
56. Taylor Swift “Blank Space” (2014)
57. Carly Simon “You’re So Vain” (1972)
58. Olivia Newton-John “I Honestly Love You” (1974)
59. Taylor Swift “Love Story” (2008)
60. Captain & Tennille “Love Will Keep Us Together” (1975)


61. Cyndi Lauper “Time After Time” (1983)
62. Toni Braxton “Un-Break My Heart” (1996)
63. Sam Smith “Stay with Me” (2014)
64. The Weeknd “Blinding Lights” (2019)
65. Carole King “It’s Too Late” (1971)
66. One Republic “Counting Stars” (2013)
67. Stevie Wonder “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” (1973)
68. Gilbert O’Sullivan “Alone Again (Naturally)” (1972)
69. Magic! “Rude” (2013)
70. Savage Garden “Truly Madly Deeply” (1997)

Billy Joel

71. Billy Joel “Just the Way You Are” (1977)
72. Frank Sinatra “Strangers in the Night” (1966)
73. Dionne Warwick & Friends “That's What Friends Are For” (1985)
74. Fergie “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)
75. Phil Collins “Another Day in Paradise” (1989)
76. Lee Ann Womack with Sons of the Desert “I Hope You Dance” (2000)
77. B.J. Thomas “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (1969)
78. Elton John & Kiki Dee “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (1976)
79. Train “Hey, Soul Sister” (2009)
80. Louis Armstrong “Hello, Dolly!” (1964)


81. Taylor Swift “You Belong with Me” (2008)
82. Glen Campbell “Rhinestone Cowboy” (1975)
83. The Lumineers “Ho Hey” (2012)
84. Sheryl Crow “All I Wanna Do” (1994)
85. Snow Patrol “Chasing Cars” (2006)
86. Mariah Carey “Vision of Love” (1990)
87. Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up” (1987)
88. Roger Miller “King of the Road” (1965)
89. The Chainsmokers with Coldplay “Something Just Like This” (2017)
90. Dolly Parton “9 to 5” (1980)

Lionel Richie

91. Lionel Richie “Say You, Say Me” (1985)
92. Carpenters “They Long to Be Close to You” (1970)
93. Stan Getz with Joao & Astrud Gilberto “The Girl from Ipanema” (1964)
94. Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton “Islands in the Stream” (1983)
95. Jimmy Dean “Big Bad John” (1961)
96. Chicago “If You Leave Me Now” (1976)
97. Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder “Ebony and Ivory” (1982)
98. Glen Campbell “Wichita Lineman” (1968)
99. Lionel Richie “Hello” (1984)
100. Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle “A Whole New World” (1992)

Anne Murray

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 7/22/2011; last updated 5/8/2021.


  1. This is a long list of contemporary music. I am a music lover and I have over 500 songs saved in my phone. I am not that choosy when it comes to music genres. Without music, I would not be living here!

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  3. Your site is what I want to do if I grow up; looking at your pics though, it appears I am the older one. Saved your music books to my Amazon Wish List as soon as I am back among the employed.

    Featured this list in a filtered version on my site. Have bookmarked several other lists and columns to feature.

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  5. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. top 100 songs