Can You Guess The Top Song of 2015?

top music artists of 2015

As you sit back and reflect on 2015, what song accompanies your montage of memories?

Is it a catchy pop song that you could never get out of your head? An upbeat dance track that always lifted your mood? Or a slow, love song that pulled at your heartstrings?

Music impacts the way we act, feel, and move, and the songs we hear influence our emotions,  memories, and thoughts.

So, it’s pretty hard to pick one song that can capture an entire year. But we are going to try.

We looked at data from leading music platforms and media outlets to see if we could identify the number one top song of 2015. And, you might be surprised with what we found.  

Spotify’s Most Streamed Song

Spotify, a music service that allows users to pick and stream songs, released data on their most played songs in 2015. Their users listened to over 20 billion hours of music globally, and the song they listened to most was a catchy dance track.


Most Streamed Globally

  1. Lean On -- Major Lazer feat. MØ & DJ Snake
  2. Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix Radio Edit) -- OMI
  3. Uptown Funk -- Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  4. See You Again -- Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
  5. Love Me Like You Do (Fifty Shades of Grey) -- Ellie Goulding

Lean On is not just the most streamed song of the year, it is actually the most streamed song of all time (globally). It was streamed over 540 million times this year.

Things look a little different in the U.S., where Lean On only hit number five on the list. .

Most Streamed in the U.S.

  1. Trap Queen -- Fetty Wap
  2. The Hills -- The Weeknd
  3. Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey) -- The Weeknd
  4. Uptown Funk -- Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  5. Lean On -- Major Lazer feat. MØ & DJ Snake

On Spotify’s lists, Ellie Goulding was the only woman to make the most played list. But not all artists, like mega stars Taylor Swift and Adele, are on Spotify. So others songs may have made the list if they were available.  

On another interesting note, Justin Bieber won the title for Spotify’s most streams in a single day. Earlier this year, we published an article about Walmart employees who were frustrated at being forced to listen to Justin Beiber’s music on repeat. So this stat goes to show that the type of music that you play in your store does change depending on your target audience and employees.

iTunes’ Best Selling Songs

On Spotify’s list, we saw which songs were played for free, and on iTunes’ list, we saw which songs were purchased. Adele and Taylor, who were absent from Spotify’s list, did show up on the iTunes best of charts. Both women had one of the top five albums (25, Adele and 1989, Taylor Swift) along with If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake; Fifty Shades of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Various Artists; and Purpose, Justin Bieber.

But surprisingly Taylor Swift doesn’t appear on the top songs list.  

  1. Uptown Funk -- Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
  2. Thinking Out Loud -- Ed Sheeran
  3. See You Again -- Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
  4. Sugar -- Maroon 5
  5. Shut Up and Dance -- Walk the Moon
  6. Hello -- Adele
  7. Love Me Like You Do (Fifty Shades of Grey) -- Ellie Goulding
  8. Honey, I’m Good. -- Andy Grammar
  9. Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey) -- The Weekend
  10. Trap Queen -- Fetty Wap

Lean On, which is Spotify’s most streamed song in the world and fifth most streamed song in the U.S., didn’t make iTunes top ten best-selling songs list. The second most streamed song in the U.S., The Hills, also didn’t either. So there may be some disparity between what people want to listen to for free and what they want to pay for.

YouTube’s Most Played Music Videos

Another way to gauge the public’s interest in a song is to see how many times the video was viewed on YouTube. Forbes recapped the top ten most played music videos on YouTube. (Views were accurate at the time of writing this article.)  

  1. See You Again -- Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth
    1,166 million views
  2. Sugar -- Maroon 4
    872 million views
  3. Love Me Like You Do (Fifty Shades of Grey)
    Ellie Goulding: 809 million total views
  4. Lean On -- Major Lazer feat. MØ & DJ Snake
    794 million views
  5. Bad Blood -- Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar
    634 million views
  6. Hey Mama -- David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack
    458 million views
  7. Elastic Heart -- Sia
    450 million views
  8. Worth It -- Fifth Harmony feat. Kid Ink
    422 million views
  9. Hello -- Adele
    414 million views
  10. Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) -- Silentó
    410 million views


Music videos add another element to the interest level of listeners. The list shows how visually interesting or unique videos can increase attention.

Some songs appeared on this list but not on others such as Elastic Heart by Sia (which features a stunning and surprising dance performance from Shia Labeouf and Dance Moms Star Maddie Ziegler), Worth It by Fifth Harmony, and Hey Mama by David Guetta.

Billboard’s Number One Hits

Billboard combines a mix of elements to develop its list of weekly number one songs. They consider sales, airplay, and streaming data when determining which song is number one in the country. Billboard says the ratio of measurements varies but that it is usually calculated using: sales (35-45%), airplay (30-40%) and streaming (20-30%).

The songs that hit the top of Billboard in 2015 (50 of the year’s 52 weeks) included the following.

  1. Uptown Funk -- Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - 14 Weeks
  2. See You Again --- Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth-  12 Weeks
  3. The Hills -- The Weekend -  6 Weeks
  4. Hello -- Adele - 6 Weeks
  5. Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix Radio Edit) -- OMI - 6 Weeks
  6. Can’t Feel My Face -- The Weekend - 3 Weeks
  7. Blank Space -- Taylor Swift -  2 Weeks
  8. Bad Blood -- Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar - 1 Week

Using a mix of purchases, airtime, and streams, this seems like it should be the most authentic list of top songs. But one of the most popular artists of 2015 isn’t even on the list, or many of the others.

What About Drake?

In the lists above, Drake is only mentioned one time -- not as a top song, but as a top 5 album on iTunes. But opinion-based articles listing the best songs of 2015 consistently put Drake’s Hotline Bling in the running of the year’s top songs.

Rolling Stone listed it as the best song of 2015.

  1. Hotline Bling -- Drake
  2. Hello -- Adele
  3. Can’t Feel My Face -- The Weekend
  4. Alright -- Kendrick Lamar
  5. Shut Up and Dance -- Walk the Moon
  6. Trap Queen -- Fetty Wap
  7. Bad Blood -- Taylor Swift (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
  8. Lean On -- Major Lazer (feat. MØ & DJ Snake)
  9. What Do You Mean -- Justin Bieber
  10. See You Again -- Wiz Khalifa (feat. Charlie Puth)

Complex also listed it as the #1 song for 2015. Cosmo put it as #1 on their list (even though they said songs are in random order,) and it made the top of Bazaar’s page. It was #3 on Rolling Stong,  #4 on Vulture, #11 on Entertainment Weekly, and #12 on Spin.

With all of these mentions, it seems that Drake should have appeared more on the lists above. He was the number one streamed artists on Spotify for the year (his music was streamed over 1.8 billion times), but Hotline Bling still wasn’t a top song.  

So, What Is the Top Song of 2015?

All we can tell from this data is that certain songs have certain places where they do better.

Some songs sell better while other stream more consistently. Some songs get more airtime on visual platforms, some songs do better internationally than domestically, and music that drives one person crazy makes another push the repeat button.

Music is universal. But songs are not.

The songs that we like rely heavily on our personal preference, atmosphere, and current mood. You can’t play songs and appeal to everyone, and you always have to play to your audience and environment.

So when it comes to the top song of 2015, we don’t think there can be one for everyone. You tell us, “Which one is your favorite?”

Tags: overhead music

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