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Looking for love on the Billboard Hot 100: 2016

Black artists are all over the year-end chart, but Rihanna and Drake were among the few black artists singing about love

Where did the love go? Specifically, what happened to popular black love songs?

The year-end Billboard Hot 100 charts are widely regarded as the best measure of America’s most popular songs. We compiled numbers from the Billboard charts for the last five years (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), and for 10-year intervals over the past 50 years (1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009). These charts show a decrease in love songs by black performers. (To see our story on the reasons behind the change, click here.)

How did we define a love song?

Love songs give voice to humanity’s most powerful emotion, that alchemy of need, companionship and commitment that can include, but also transcends, the physical. Songs that only talk about sex are not counted as love songs. Songs that talk about heartbreak, lost love, etc. are counted as love songs. Our definition of love songs includes those dealing with dysfunctional aspects of love: domestic and emotional abuse, cheating, and other unhealthy or harmful situations. We call these songs “tainted love.”

We recognize the subjective and malleable nature of “black music.” Is the salsa remake “I Like It” by Afro-Latino Cardi B an example of “black music”? What about work by Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny or the Colombian reggaeton artist J Balvin? Reasonable people can disagree … but Cardi B says “n—a” in the song, so that’s gotta be black music. We include Bruno Mars as making black music because he’s way too fonky.

Songs by white performers that “feature” black artists are not counted as work by black artists on our list. Nor are songs by white artists who perform in a black style (with the non-negotiable exception of Bobby Caldwell). We are analyzing black music. Nothing by Post Malone is black music, even if he has a black artist performing on that particular song. Same for Ariana Grande, Calvin Harris, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, etc. We do not count Eminem as producing black music because his fan base is overwhelmingly white. Don’t @ me.

Here are the receipts for 2016:

Guide to reading the chart: Black artists are in bold, love songs are all CAPS, and rap songs are in italics. On the year-end Billboard Hot 100 for 2016, there were:

41 songs by black artists.

Of that 41, there were 6 LOVE SONGS BY BLACK ARTISTS


  1. Love Yourself (Justin Bieber)
  2. Sorry (Justin Bieber)
  3. One Dance (Drake feat. WizKid & Kyla)
  4. WORK (Rihanna feat. Drake)
  5. Stressed Out (twenty one pilots)
  6. Panda (Desiigner)
  7. HELLO (Adele)

    Drake performs at the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on Sept. 23, 2016, in Las Vegas.

    Photo by Ethan Miller/WireImage

  8. Don’t Let Me Down (The Chainsmokers feat. Daya)
  9. Can’t Stop The Feeling! (Justin Timberlake)
  10. Closer (The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey)
  11. Cheap Thrills (Sia feat. Sean Paul)
  12. 7 Years (Lukas Graham)
  13. Needed Me (Rihanna)
  14. My House (Flo Rida)
  15. I Took A Pill in Ibiza (Mike Posner)
  16. Work From Home (Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
  17. This Is What You Came For Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna
  18. Cake By The Ocean (DNCE)
  19. Me, Myself & I (G Eazy & Bebe Rexha)
  20. Ride (twenty one pilots)
  21. Heathens (twenty one pilots)
  22. Pillowtalk (Zayn)
  23. STITCHES (Shawn Mendes)
  24. Hotline Bling (Drake)
  25. COLD WATER (Major Lazer feat. Justin Bieber & MØ)
  26. SEND MY LOVE (To Your New Lover) (Adele)
  27. Roses (The Chainsmokers feat. Rozes)
  28. Treat You Better (Sean Mendes)
  29. TOO GOOD (Drake feat. Rihanna)
  30. Low Life (Future feat. the Weeknd)
  31. What Do You Mean? (Justin Bieber)
  32. The Hills (The Weeknd)
  33. Just Like Fire (P!nk)
  34. Broccoli (D.R.A.M. feat. Lil Yachty)
  35. Don’t (Bryson Tiller)

    Jeremih performs during the Summer’s Over Tour at Aragon Ballroom on Nov. 29, 2016, in Chicago.

    Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns

  36. Dangerous Woman (Ariana Grande)
  37. Jumpman (Drake & Future)
  38. I HATE U I LOVE U (gnash feat. Olivia O’Brien)
  39. Here (Alessia Cara)
  40. SAME OLD LOVE (Selena Gomez)
  41. CONTROLLA (Drake)
  42. LIKE I’M GONNA LOSE YOU (Meghan Trainor feat. John Legend)
  43. ONE CALL AWAY (Charlie Puth)
  44. LET IT GO (James Bay)
  45. No (Meghan Trainor)
  46. NEVER FORGET YOU (Zara Larsson & MNEK)
  47. LET ME LOVE YOU (DJ Snake feat. Justin Bieber)
  48. Don’t Mind (Kent Jones)
  49. H.O.L.Y. (Florida Georgia Line)
  50. WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE (Charlie Puth feat. Selena Gomez)
  51. Into You (Ariana Grande)
  52. Gold (Kiiara)
  53. EXCHANGE (Bryson Tiller)
  54. 679 (Fetty Wap feat. Remy Boyz)
  55. OUI (Jeremih)
  56. Hands To Myself (Selena Gomez)
  57. 2 Phones (Kevin Gates)
  58. Starboy (The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk)
  59. For Free (DJ Khaled feat. Drake)
  60. NEVER BE LIKE YOU (Flume feat. Kai)
  61. In The Night (the Weeknd)
  62. Me Too (Meghan Trainor)
  63. Ex’s and Oh’s (Elle King)
  64. DIE A HAPPY MAN (Thomas Rhett)

    Singer Tory Lanez performs onstage during the 92.3 Real Show at The Forum on Nov. 5, 2016, in Inglewood, California.

    Photo by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic

  65. White Iverson (Post Malone)
  66. Close (Nick Jonas feat. Tove Lo)
  67. Unsteady (X Ambassadors)
  68. Sucker for Pain (Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons with Logic & Ty Dolla $ign feat. X Ambassadors)
  69. Down in the DM (Yo Gotti feat. Nicki Minaj)
  70. LUV (Tory Lanez)
  71. Sorry (Beyonce)
  72. Can’t Feel My Face (The Weeknd)
  73. HYMN FOR THE WEEKEND (Coldplay)
  74. Say It (Tory Lanez)
  75. Antidote (Travis Scott)
  76. Lost Boy (Ruth B)
  77. Side To Side (Ariana Grande feat. Nicki Minaj)
  78. Sit Still, Look Pretty (Daya)
  79. WILDEST DREAMS (Taylor Swift)
  80. MIDDLE (DJ Snake feat. Bipolar Sunshine)
  81. ON MY MIND (Ellie Goulding)
  82. Pop Style (Drake feat. The Throne)
  83. WHEN WE WERE YOUNG (Adele)
  84. Hide Away (Daya)
  85. LEAN ON (Major Lazer & Dj Snake feat. MØ)
  86. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello)
  87. All the Way Up (Fat Joe, Remy Ma & Jay-Z feat. French Montana and Infrared)
  88. Watch Me (Silentó)
  89. Back To Sleep (Chris Brown)
  90. No Limit (Usher feat. Young Thug)
  91. Cut It (O.T. Genasis feat. Young Dolph)
  92. Really Really (Kevin Gates)
  93. All In My Head (Flex) (Fifth Harmony feat. Fetty Wap)
  94. Starving (Hailee Steinfeld & Grey feat. Zedd)
  96. Humble and Kind (Tim McGraw)
  97. Wicked (Future)
  98. Tiimmy Turner (Desiigner)
  99. See You Again (Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth)
  100. Perfect (One Direction)

Jesse Washington is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. He still gets buckets.