Now that we’ve given you our favorite albums and songs of 2015, it’s time to look back at all the songs that hit number one this year. We were blessed in 2015, in that there really wasn’t a horrible number one song. Some of that was a function of quantity: Only eight songs ascended to number one in 2015, marking the lowest turnover at the top since 2005. But quality was a huge factor too — 2015 had a ton of great music.
So here are all eight number one songs of 2015, ranked in order of awesomeness. Like Drake (who did not score a number one in 2015), we’re going to start at the bottom:
8. Bad Blood — Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar
After scoring two number ones in 2014, Swift’s pop-oriented 1989 album yielded a third number one when “Bad Blood” temporarily displaced “See You Again” from its throne. Swift’s song was adequate, but not spectacular; it’s not even the fifth best song on her album. But driven by an excellently slick, cameo-rich music video, as well as the “is this song about Katy Perry or not?” brouhaha, “Bad Blood” scored a single week at the summit. It was more a brilliant masterstroke of advertising than songwriting, but hey, if this is the worst number one song of the entire year, it wasn’t such a bad year.
7. What Do You Mean? — Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber was still a joke at the beginning of 2015. Reduced to the role of paparazzi clown, with his music career long since flushed down the toilet, Bieber’s participation in a Comedy Central roast in his “honor,” felt like the final nail in the coffin for this onetime teen heartthrob. But thanks to a crafty collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo on their “Where Are U Now,” and a redemptive performance at the Video Music Awards, Bieber was, inexplicably, hot property again. With a new album on the way, he dropped the lead single, “What Do You Mean?” in late August. The song is a flute-flourished, tropical-influenced jam, with subtle hints of EDM. It wasn’t exactly a knockout, but it became his first number one song, and made some of us Beliebers once again.
6. Cheerleader — OMI
Every year, around Memorial Day, a question hangs in the humid air: “What will be this year’s song of the summer?” In 2015, no song sizzled in the sun more than “Cheerleader,” by Jamaican newcomer, OMI. It opens with a slow, lazy trumpet before transforming into a slice of summer reggae heaven. German house producer, Felix Jaehn, remixed the song slightly, giving it a tropical bounce; the result was the perfect soundtrack to a lazy day at the beach. The song hit number one in July, and while OMI seems destined to be a one-hit-wonder, he ended up with this year’s definitive song of the summer.
5. See You Again — Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
When Paul Walker passed away in 2013, it cast a somber shadow on the Fast and the Furious franchise. How would this family of street racers choose to honor their friend? The answer was this excellently-crafted hip-hop ballad. The twinkling piano and Charlie Puth’s soaring falsetto added the poignant gravitas, while Wiz Khalifa added the hip-hop credibility. And unlike similar hip-hop tributes, like Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You,” “See You Again” had an air of optimism, of hope, about it. It was a beautiful homage to a fallen friend.
4. Can’t Feel My Face — The Weeknd
The Weeknd has been around for awhile, but he exploded into the collective pop unconsciousness in 2015. Following his well-received turn on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, he released this excellent masterpiece off his Beauty Behind the Madness album. With knowing nods to both Michael Jackson and cocaine-abuse, “Can’t Feel My Face” was the catchiest number one of the year, and helped propel The Weeknd to a new level of stardom. Also, that mashup video of President Obama “singing” the song was hilarious!
3. Uptown Funk — Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
Mark Ronson rang in 2015 by bringing “Uptown Funk” to the top early in the year. While Ronson had previously worked wonders for Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Adele, “Uptown Funk” was his first hit under his own name. The soulful song sounded familiar, like something Morris Day and the Time would toss out while waiting for Prince to show up. But the song also sounded funky and fresh, thanks to ace-up-the-sleeve (and frequent Ronson-collaborator) Bruno Mars. Its eventual ubiquity dulled some of its shine, as the song sound-tracked weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, funerals, store openings, etc. But with a commanding 14 weeks at the top and one billion Vevo views, it’s easy to see why this was Billboard’s number one song of the year.
2. Hello — Adele
You know the story by now: After taking time off to be a mother, Adele came roaring back, in October, with “Hello.” Excitement for new Adele material was so rampant that she could’ve sneezed into a trash bag and it would have been number one, but it helped that “Hello” was beautiful and epic, showing off the full, emotional range of her powerful voice. When “Hello” made history by becoming the first song to ever sell over a million copies in a single week, it was icing on the cake; she’s been at number one ever since.
And the most awesome number one song of 2015 is…
1. The Hills — The Weeknd
Those hypnotized by the pop-oriented, “Can’t Feel My Face” must have had a jarring awakening when they first heard this sinister offering from The Weeknd. “The Hills” sounded like descending into a rabbit hole of drugs, sex, and dark narcissism. But “The Hills” and its clandestine confessions like, “When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me,” added a refreshing realness to top 40 radio. Pop songs aren’t supposed to sound this deliciously menacing, yet it somehow crossed over and became a hit. When it peaked at number one in early October, it was the coronation of a dark, new king — The Weeknd was the only artist in 2015 to have more than one number one song.