Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Hits of All Time

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

First posted 7/22/2011; updated 4/15/2020.

Adult Contemporary, 1961-2020:

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.

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. Adele “Rolling in the Deep” (2010)
5. Don McLean “American Pie” (1971)
6. Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” (1997)
7. Ed Sheeran “Shape of You” (2017)
8. The Beatles “Let It Be” (1970)
9. The Righteous Brothers “Unchained Melody” (1965)
10. Gotye with Kimbra “Somebody That I Used to Know” (2011)

Elton John

11. Adele “Hello” (2015)
12. Pharrell Williams “Happy” (2013)
13. Lionel Richie & Diana Ross “Endless Love” (1981)
14. U.S.A. for Africa “We Are the World” (1985)
15. Ray CharlesI Can’t Stop Loving You” (1962)
16. Ed Sheeran with Beyoncé “Perfect” (2017)
17. Debby Boone “You Light Up My Life” (1977)
18. Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love to You” (1994)
19. Taylor Swift…Shake It Off (2014)
20. Bruno Mars…Just the Way You Are (Amazing) (2010)

Neil Diamond

21. Ed Sheeran “Thinking Out Loud” (2014)
22. Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men “One Sweet Day” (1995)
23. Coldplay “Viva La Vida” (2008)
24. Kenny Rogers “Lady” (1980)
25. Adele “Someone Like You (2011)
26. Leona Lewis “Bleeding Love” (2007)
27. Maroon 5 with Cardi B “Girls Like You” (2017)
28. Barbra Streisand “The Way We Were” (1973)
29. Katy Perry “Roar” (2013)
30. John Legend “All of Me” (2013)

Barbra Streisand

31. Roberta Flack “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (1972)
32. Tony Orlando & Dawn “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” (1973)
33. Katy Perry “Firework” (2010)
34. Whitney Houston “I Wanna Dance with Somebody Who Loves Me” (1987)
35. George Michael “Careless Whisper” (1984)
36. Bee Gees “How Deep Is Your Love” (1977)
37. Jason Mraz “I’m Yours” (2008)
38. Justin Bieber “Love Yourself” (2015)
39. The Fifth Dimension “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (1969)
40. James Blunt “You’re Beautiful” (2005)

Barry Manilow

41. Stevie Wonder “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (1984)
42. Taylor Swift “Blank Space” (2014)
43. Justin Timberlake “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” (2016)
44. Sam Smith “Stay with Me” (2014)
45. Lady Antebellum “Need You Now” (2009)
46. One Republic “Counting Stars” (2013)
47. Toni Braxton “Un-Break My Heart” (1996)
48. Celine Dion “Because You Loved Me” (1996)
49. Harry Nilsson “Without You” (1971)
50. Daniel Powter “Bad Day” (2005)

Kenny Rogers

51. Henry Mancini with Audrey Hepburn “Moon River” (1961)
52. Elvis Presley “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (1961)
53. Terry Jacks “Seasons in the Sun” (1974)
54. Seal “Kiss from a Rose” (1994)
55. Lionel Richie “All Night Long (All Night)” (1983)
56. Eric Clapton “Tears in Heaven” (1992)
57. Shania Twain “You’re Still the One” 1998)
58. Dionne Warwick & Friends “That's What Friends Are For” (1985)
59. Phil Collins “Another Day in Paradise” (1989)
60. Commodores “Three Times a Lady” (1978)


61. Carole King “It’s Too Late” (1971)
62. Captain & Tennille “Love Will Keep Us Together” (1975)
63. Carly Simon “You’re So Vain” (1972)
64. Magic! “Rude” (2013)
65. Fergie “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)
66. Taylor Swift “You Belong with Me” (2008)
67. The Chainsmokers with Coldplay “Something Just Like This” (2017)
68. Taylor Swift “Love Story” (2008)
69. Gilbert O’Sullivan “Alone Again (Naturally)” (1972)
70. Frank Sinatra “Strangers in the Night” (1966)

Billy Joel

71. Stevie Wonder “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” (1973)
72. B.J. Thomas “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (1969)
73. Billy Joel “Just the Way You Are” (1977)
74. Cyndi Lauper “Time after Time” (1983)
75. Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up” (1987)
76. Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” (1987)
77. Carpenters “They Long to Be Close to You” (1970)
78. Dolly Parton “9 to 5” (1980)
79. Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder “Ebony and Ivory” (1982)
80. Elton John & Kiki Dee “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” (1976)


81. Olivia Newton-John “I Honestly Love You” (1974)
82. Passenger “Let Her Go” (2012)
83. Sheryl Crow “All I Wanna Do” (1994)
84. Snow Patrol “Chasing Cars” (2006)
85. Train “Hey, Soul Sister” (2009)
86. Mariah Carey “Vision of Love” (1990)
87. Lionel Richie “Say You, Say Me” (1985)
88. Madonna “Take a Bow” (1994)
89. Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton “Islands in the Stream” (1983)
90. Jimmy Dean “Big Bad John” (1961)

Lionel Richie

91. Lee Ann Womack “I Hope You Dance” (2000)
92. Lionel Richie “Hello” (1984)
93. Glen Campbell “Rhinestone Cowboy” (1975)
94. Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle “A Whole New World” (1992)
95. Chicago “If You Leae Me Now” (1976)
96. Enrique Iglesias “Hero” (2001)
97. Louis Armstrong “Hello, Dolly!” (1964)
98. James Taylor “You’ve Got a Friend” (1971)
99. Vanessa Williams “Save the Best for Last” (1992)
100. Roger Miller “King of the Road” (1965)

Anne Murray

Resources and Related Links:


  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!

  2. Being an ardent fan of Pop and Adult Contemporary music, Sunny 107.9 is always my first choice for non-stop entertainment. Whether in my car or at home I’m always tuned in and kept entertained by the stations great music. Stream online at or tune in live.

  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.

  4. I am a big fan of Adult Contemporary music and the only radio station that plays a wide range of this music is 97.9 WRMF. I am also kept updated on the station’s latest promotions and community events. Visit their website for live streaming at .

  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