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Looking for love on the Billboard Hot 100: 2018

Love is all over the year-end chart, but few of those songs are coming from black artists

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 2017:

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 2017, there were:

45 songs by black artists.

Of that 45, there were 8 LOVE SONGS BY BLACK ARTISTS

There were also 31 LOVE SONGS BY OTHER ARTISTS

  1. “God’s Plan” (Drake)
  2. “PERFECT” (Ed Sheeran)
  3. “MEANT TO BE” (Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line)
  4. “HAVANA” (Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug)
  5. “Rockstar” (Post Malone feat. 21 Savage)
  6. “Psycho” (Post Malone feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
  7. “I Like It” (Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin)
  8. “THE MIDDLE” (Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey)
  9. “In My Feelings” (Drake)

    Ella Mai performs at 2018 BET Experience Staples Center Concert, sponsored by Coca-Cola, on June 22, 2018, in Los Angeles.

    Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for BET

  10. “Girls Like You” (Maroon 5 feat. Cardi B)
  11. “Nice for What” (Drake)
  12. “LUCID DREAMS” (Juice Wrld)
  13. “BETTER NOW” (Post Malone)
  14. “Finesse” (Bruno Mars & Cardi B)
  15. “BOO’D UP” (Ella Mai)
  16. “NEW RULES” (Dua Lipa)
  17. “SAD!” (XXXtentacion)
  18. “NEVER BE THE SAME” (Camila Cabello)
  19. “LOVE LIES” (Khalid & Normani)
  20. “No Tears Left to Cry” (Ariana Grande)
  21. “MINE” (Bazzi)
  22. “Thunder” (Imagine Dragons)
  23. “Look Alive” (Blocboy JB feat. Drake)
  24. “DELICATE” (Taylor Swift)
  25. “Yes Indeed” (Lil Baby & Drake)
  26. “FRIENDS” (Marshmello & Anne-Marie)
  27. “BAD AT LOVE” (Halsey)
  28. “Taste” (Tyga feat. Offset)
  29. “Let You Down” (NF)
  30. “No Limit” (G-Eazy feat. A$AP Rocky & Cardi B)
  31. “Fefe” (6ix9ine feat. Nicki Minaj & Murda Beatz)
  32. “TEQUILA” (Dan + Shay)
  33. “Feel It Still” (Portugal. The Man)
  34. “MotorSport” (Migos, Nicki Minaj & Cardi B)
  35. “I LIKE ME BETTER” (Lauv)
  36. “YOUNGBLOOD” (5 Seconds of Summer)
  37. “Whatever It Takes” (Imagine Dragons)

    Juice Wrld performs during the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Aug. 20, 2018, in New York.

    Photo by Dia Dipasupil/VMN18/Getty Images for MTV

  38. “Ric Flair Drip” (21 Savage, Offset & Metro Boomin)
  39. “I FALL APART” (Post Malone)
  40. “Pray for Me” (The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar)
  41. “BACK TO YOU” (Selena Gomez)
  42. “Sicko Mode” (Travis Scott)
  43. “Walk It Talk It” (Migos)
  44. “Gucci Gang” (Lil Pump)
  45. “Him and I (G-Eazy & Halsey)
  46. “In My Blood” (Shawn Mendes)
  47. “All the Stars” (Kendrick Lamar & Sza)
  48. “Stir Fry” (Migos)
  49. “TOO GOOD AT GOODBYES” (Sam Smith)
  50. “LOVE.” (Kendrick Lamar feat. Zacari)
  51. “This is America” (Childish Gambino)
  52. “Nonstop” (Drake)
  53. “Heaven” (Kane Brown)
  54. “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” (Cardi B)
  55. “Freaky Friday” (Lil Dicky feat. Chris Brown)
  56. “Gummo” (6ix9ine)
  57. “Plug Walk” (Rich the Kid)
  58. “WAIT” (Maroon 5)
  59. “BE CAREFUL” (Cardi B)
  60. “WOLVES” (Selena Gomez & Marshmello)
  61. “Bartier Cardi” (Cardi B feat. 21 Savage)
  62. “God Is a Woman” (Ariana Grande)
  63. “Big Bank” (YG feat. 2 Chainz, Big Sean & Nicki Minaj)
  64. “Sorry Not Sorry” (Demi Lovato)
  65. “HOW LONG” (Charlie Puth)
  66. “LIGHTS DOWN LOW” (MAX)
  67. “Young Dumb and Broke” (Khalid)
  68. “ONE KISS” (Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa)
  69. “Natural” (Imagine Dragons)
  70. “YOU MAKE IT EASY” (Jason Aldean)
  71. “Shape of You” (Ed Sheeran)
  72. “I Get the Bag” (Gucci Mane feat. Migos)
  73. “No Brainer” (DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper & Quavo)
  74. “Plain Jane” (A$AP Ferg feat. Nicki Minaj)
  75. “Sky Walker” (Miguel feat. Travis Scott)
  76. MARRY ME” (Thomas Rhett)
  77. “EASTSIDE” (benny blanco, Halsey & Khalid)
  78. “CALL OUT MY NAME” (The Weeknd)

    Khalid (left) and Normani (right) perform during the 2018 Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden Dec. 7, 2018, in New York.

    Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

  79. “King’s Dead” (Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake)
  80. “HAPPIER” (Marshmello & Bastille)
  81. “Te Boté” (Carpar Magico, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Ozuna & Bad Bunny)
  82. “SIMPLE” (Florida Georgia Line)
  83. “Lemon” (N.E.R.D & Rihanna)
  84. “1-800-273-8255” (Logic feat. Alessia Cara & Khalid)
  85. “Say Something” (Justin Timberlake feat. Chris Stapleton)
  86. “I’m Upset” (Drake)
  87. “Get Along” (Kenny Chesney)
  88. “Moonlight” (XXXTentacion)
  89. “WHAT LOVERS DO” (Maroon 5 feat. SZA)
  90. “x” (Nicky Jam & J Balvin)
  91. “Outside Today” (YoungBoy Never Broke Again)
  92. “Trip” (Ella Mai)
  93. “Dura” (Daddy Yankee)
  94. “CHANGES” (XXXTentacion)
  95. “MERCY” (Brett Young)
  96. “ONE NUMBER AWAY” (Luke Combs)
  97. “Powerglide” (Rae Sremmurd & Juicy J)
  98. “idgaf” (Dua Lipa)
  99. “Mi Gente” (J Balvin & Willy William feat. Beyoncé)
  100. “Believer” (Imagine Dragons)

Liner Notes

Source: Chart ranking by Billboard. Categorization by race and subject matter by Jesse Washington and Taylor Thomas for The Undefeated.

Jesse Washington is a senior writer for The Undefeated. You can find him giving dudes the bizness on a basketball court near you.