The 40 Worst No. 1 Singles Of All Time

Since the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart debuted in August of 1958, a number of horrible songs have topped the charts. We’re counting down the Top 40. Songs are listed in order of release date, not in order of awfulness. To avoid clogging up the list, entries are limited to one song per artist.

1. 1958-59 “The Chipmunk Song” (Four Weeks)

Starting on December 22 and somehow running into mid-January, Alvin and the Chipmunks topped the pop charts with their artificially high pitched singing. It was only the eighth song to top the newly formed Billboard Hot 100 Chart, and the first Holiday song to do so. It’s hard to believe “Volare” by Domenico Modugno topped the charts just a few months earlier.

2. 1960: “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” (One Week)

For one magical week in August of 1960, a novelty song about a girl wearing a bikini for the first time topped the charts. Brian Hyland managed to sneak a week atop the Billboard Hot 100 Chart between singles from Brenda Lee and Elvis.

3. 1962: The Monster Mash (Two Weeks)

Novelty songs were extremely popular in the 1960s, as shown by the two weeks at the top of the chart the silly but grating “Monster Mash” spent on top of the chart in October of 1962. Unlike the Chipmunks; however, Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers get a nice royalty check every Halloween, being one of the only Halloween themed pop songs, and by far the most popular.

4. 1962: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (Five Weeks)

Right before “Monster Mash”, The Four Seasons topped the charts with “Sherry”, their first hit single. They followed it up with another song sung mostly in falsetto, however one that lacked the charm of “Sherry”. Still, the song managed to top the charts for five weeks in November and December. It also inspired an even worse song from Fergie.

5. 1963: “Sugar Shack” (Five Weeks)

If you thought that song about stalking the woman who works at the coffee shop were a modern phenomenon, Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs have news for you. In 1963 they topped the charts with this song about the girl who works at a coffee shop.

6. 1965: “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” (One Week)

Herman’s Hermits had previously topped the charts with “Mrs. Brown You Have a Lovely Daughter”, which almost made this list but was bumped by this song. No, this isn’t just a song released for children, it was the No. 1 single in the United States for the week of August 7 in 1965. This song bumped “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones from the top spot and was replaced by “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher. It was followed by a string of classics, including “Help!”, “Eve of Destruction”, “Hang on Sloopy”, “Yesterday” and “Get Off of My Cloud”.

7. 1968: “Honey” (Five Weeks)

In the wake of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr, America was looking for a melancholy tune, and settled for Bobby Goldsboro’s drab single, which kept it atop the singles chart for five weeks. The song, about the singer’s dead ex-wife and the tree she planted, resonated with a grieving nation searching for meaning. Now it’s recognized as one of the worst song’s ever recorded (by CNN in 2006).

8. 1972: “My Ding-a-Ling” (Two Weeks)

Chuck Berry basically invented rock and roll (or stole it from Marty McFly, anyway). Still, his only Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single was a song about masturbation.

9. 1974: “(You’re) Having My Baby” (Three Weeks)

Perhaps one of the only No. 1 singles that explicitly mentions abortion, Paul Anka’s 1974 hit drew the ire from several women’s groups not just for the definitively pro-life message the song conveyed, but also because he used the term “My” instead of “our”. Also, the song was awful.

10. 1977: “Star Wars Theme / Cantina Song” (Two Weeks)

This Meco disco hit is the biggest-selling instrumental single in the history of recorded music.

11. 1978: “MacArthur Park” (Three Weeks)

In 1968 Richard Harris record the bloated, confounding “MacArthur Park” to success, but it peaked at No. 2 at the chart and was ineligible for this list. However, in 1978, Donna Summer chose to cover it, ensuring it’s position on this list. It took the unstoppable power of Neil Diamond and Barbara Streisand to knock this off the top position.

12. 1979: “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (Four Weeks)

The winter of 1979 must have been unbearable if, for four long weeks the people of America pondered the question of Rod Stewart’s sexiness. Meanwhile, Jorge Ben Jor pondered if Stewart had stolen parts of the song from his song “Taj Mahal.” On the bright side, Stewart donated all the profits from this song to UNICEF, so at least something good came out of it.

13. 1981: “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (Three Weeks)

The theme song from a Dudley Moore movie about a love-able alcoholic who finds love, Christopher Cross topped the charts with one of the worst songs ever to win Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.

14. 1982: “Ebony and Ivory” (Seven Weeks)

Had you put Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder together in the 1960s or the early 70s, the results could have been fantastic. Instead, they came together in the 1980s and the results were, well, “Ebony and Ivory”. While the song was a huge hit, it was almost immediately mocked, and is notable for creating one of the only occasions where people found Joe Piscopo funny.

15. 1985: “We Built This City” (Two Weeks)

Listen to the lyrics of this Starship song sometime. It references a city built on rock and roll while the song slowly destroys everything that rock and roll stands for. It juxtaposes lyrics about anti-commercialism with music that reeks of the worst aspects of the commercialization of rock and roll. Combine that with a band that is the most clear case of selling out in the history of rock and roll.

16. 1985: “Broken Wings” (Two Weeks)

One week after “We Built This City” left the charts, Mr. Mister attacked the charts with their newest single. 1985 was not a good year to have a radio.

17. 1988: “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car” (Two Weeks)

Not only is this Billy Ocean hit one of the worst No. 1 singles of all time, it’s one of the worst songs of all time, with a music video that successfully illustrates how awful and creepy the lyrics are.

18. 1988: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (Two Weeks)

This song was released in 1988, as tensions between the US and Iran were at their highest levels in years, the Democrats decided to nominate Michael Dukakis and Billy Ocean was driving around telling people to get into their cars. There were plenty of reasons to worry in 1988, so Bobby McFerrin’s single was decidedly out of place.

19. 1988: “Kokomo” (One Week)

Kokomo is a city in Indiana. Brian Wilson, the creative force behind the Beach Boys, is totally missing. And for some reason, John Stamos is here.

20. 1989: “Hangin’ Tough” (One Week)

The New Kids on the Block brought boy bands back into vogue. While not their biggest hit, the song would be ubiquitious enough to serve as the entry music for professional wrestler Brian Lawler.

21. 1989: “Blame It on the Rain” (Two Weeks)

Of the three “songs” released by “Milli Vanilli” before their infamous scandal hit, this one is the worst, and therefore gets included on this list. The musical crimes of Milli Vanilli aside, this song would still make any ‘worst singles’ list from the decade.

22. 1990: “Opposites Attract” (Three Weeks)

At one point in her career, Paula Abdul thought it would be a good idea to record and release a single with a cartoon cat. And, while Abdul’s career would survive the encounter, poor MC Skat Kat never took off, with his first album and television program bombing.

23. 1990: “Ice, Ice, Baby” (One Week)

There are very few things worse than hearing the first few bars of Queen and David Bowie’s classic “Under Pressure” in a crowded bar, only to then discover that it is actually Vanilla Ice’s lame 1990 hit.

24. 1991: “When a Man Loves a Woman” (One Week)

Michael. Fucking. Bolton.

25. 1992: “I’m Too Sexy” (Three Weeks)

Right Said Fred’s ode to male models managed to top the singles charts for three weeks, and the group actually had four Top 30 singles in the UK, though they are considered a one-hit wonder in the United States. Since the song is intended to be ironic, there’s not even a hipster way to enjoy this song.

26. 1996: “Macarena” (14 Weeks)

For fourteen long weeks in 1996 the Macarena was the number one song in America. From August to November, children, the elderly, parents, preachers and even Al Gore performed their own version of the dance from the song. Everyone amazed by the success of “Gangham Style” would be wise to remember this Los del Rio song, which no only set forth the path for Psy, but was far, far worse.

27. 1999: “Believe” (Four Weeks)

“Believe” by Cher is one of the best selling singles of all-time, selling over 11 million copies. It’s also responsible for the destruction of popular music as we know it, as it introduced the now infamous Auto-Tune to the world. Producer Mark Taylor was playing around with the new toy, when he turned the settings to the “extreme” and created what was then known as the “Cher Effect”. The record label asked them to remove it, but Cher stood her ground and pop music was changed forever.

28. 1999: “Wild Wild West” (One Week)

In the summer of 1999, Will Smith starred in a new movie and brought along Dru Hill and Kool Mo Dee. It also samples Stevie Wonder, and the result is an absolute mess of a song. At least it fit with the movie, which was also an unmitigated disaster. It also led to the (temporary) break up of Dru Hill and Sisqo’s solo career.

29. 2000: “With Arms Wide Open” (One Week)

The year 2000 saw the return of the power ballad in the big way, and Creed managed to top the chart for one week. It’s short reign on top of the Billboard Top 100 doesn’t speak to the ubiquitous nature of the song. When this song was on the charts, it was almost unavoidable, appearing on radio stations of several genres.

30. 2001: “Butterfly” (Two Weeks)

A perfectly good Red Hot Chili Peppers song was ruined to bring you this awful rap/rock hybrid that topped the charts for Crazy Town during two non-consecutive weeks in 2001.

31. 2001-02: “How You Remind Me” (Four Weeks)

Somehow, this is the only Nickelback single that ever topped the Billboard Top 100 (“Photograph” peaked a No. 2). That’s despite releasing basically the same song repeatedly for the next six to eight years. Still, no list of worst songs would be complete without an entry from Nickelback, so, by default, this is the one that makes it. Still, it’s a more than worthy addition.

32. 2003: “This is the Night” (Two Weeks)

Okay, Kelly Clarkson I get, but when American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken topped the charts with his debut single, it became clear that people were not even listening to the songs anymore.

33. 2006: “You’re Beautiful” (One Week)

This James Blunt song, later named one of the ten most annoying songs of all time by Rolling Stone was the first of several awful songs that topped the charts in 2006.

34. 2006: “Bad Day” (Five Weeks)

Daniel Powder’s punchline of a song managed tostay onto of the Hot 100 for five weeks during the Spring of 2006, proving that James Blunt wouldn’t have the most annoying earworm of a song of the year.

35. 2006: “Do I Make You Proud” (One Week)

By the fifth season of American Idol, you’d figure most of the undiscovered talent in America would have been found, and for the most part that was true. That became clear when Taylor Hicks won in 2006, and this single shot to the top of the charts, and then immediately crashed to the ground. Hicks has spent most of the rest of his time in relative obscurity, occasionally making public appearances at the most random times.

36. 2006: “London Bridge” (Three Weeks)

OH SNAP! A number of songs on this list ruined other songs. OH SNAP! However Fergie is the only so-called artist on this list who managed to ruin a nursery rhyme. OH SNAP!

37. 2007: “This is Why I’m Hot” (Two Weeks)

The words “This is Why” appear at least 45 times in this Mims song.

38. 2009: “Boom Boom Pow” (12 Weeks)

2009 were dark times. For over half the year, The Black Eyed Peas topped the charts. For 26 straight weeks the American people endured a constant onslaught of Black Eyed Peas songs on all forms of media. They were impossible to escape, like some sort of hiphop version of 1984. The overuse of autotune to almost comic levels on “Boom Boom Pow” puts it on this list over “I Gotta Feeling”

39. 2010: “We R Who We R” (One Week)

Do you see what you created, Cher? Ke$ha has never shied away from Auto Tune, but this song is a full embrace of the software, filling out Ke$ha’s thin vocals on the song.

40. 2012: “Sexy and I Know It” (Two Weeks)

For the record: Songs about how sexy another person is are always better than songs about how sexy you are. Just ask Rod Stewart or Right Said Fred. LMFAO’s second No. 1 single lacks the infectious energy of “Party Rocker’s Anthem”, and earns the final spot on this list.

What songs did we miss? What songs don’t belong on the list? Which of these songs is the worst? Sound off below.

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