Top 10 Most Underwhelming Billboard Year-End #1 Hits
Number one song in 1989: Chicago has been in a pretty sad decline since the mid-70s, and the 80s might have been their worst era. Even then, Look Away isn't abysmal, but it's so unessential and generic that it's driven entirely by its predictability, making it boring. That, in itself, is disappointing. Here's a fun fact, though: despite topping the Hot 100, this song didn't peak at #1 in its respective year. It only peaked in late 1988, creating a weird situation where a #1 hit doesn't actually peak in its own year - something I don't think has happened before.
Number one song of 1975: I know I said I exaggerated about this one on my worst of 1975 list and my worst of the 1970s list, but again, am I supposed to believe this song was more iconic in its respective year than Elton John's Philadelphia Freedom, David Bowie's Fame, Barry White's You're the First, the Last, My Everything, or the legendary Born to Run, which only peaked at 21 and didn't even end up on the year-end list? Man, the days of AM radio in the 70s were dark. No wonder the 70s are remembered in a different way.
Number one song of 1965: I guess this one is more confusing than underwhelming, but at the same time, it's such a bizarre song that it's quite amazing to believe it was the biggest song in a year where classics like (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Help, and Mr. Tambourine Man were all over the radio, especially considering it only peaked at #2 and is also not in the top 600 on Billboard's biggest songs of all time. Billboard has already made fixed lists for both 1963 and 1966, whose first year-end hits also didn't peak at #1, so don't be surprised if someday they re-release the year-end list of 1965, considering how forgotten this track has become.
This is probably the most forgotten year-end number-one hit.
Number one song of 2016: I will say this - in such a bad year, a song like this being number one is both underwhelming and fitting (I plan to make the opposite of this list, by the way). But the more I think about it, this song is so boring that even in a year as awful for the charts as 2016, it's still underwhelming. At least songs like Tonight's the Night and Macarena are disappointing compared to their other peers, but this one is just a snorefest to listen to. At least it's not terrible like the average song of 2016. That's something.
Number one song of 1977: When you think of 1977, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Fleetwood Mac, or ABBA, or ELO, or the Eagles (despite how polarizing the latter have become). 1977 is one of the most acclaimed and popular years in the history of music. So what if I told you that in such a varied year full of classics, a song made by a 32-year-old Rod Stewart, sounding completely constipated, is singing the most awkward love song ever? Especially considering the video features a pretty young girl alongside him, whom we can assume is his lover based on the lyrical content? Yeah, I think I wasn't hard enough on this one when I tackled it previously.
Number one song of 1960: Wait... 1960? The year of The Twist? The biggest song in Billboard's history for 60 years? The legendary #1 of 1960 that left the Hot 100 and came back once again in 1962 to be a #1 again? And it wasn't the biggest song of its year? Maybe the fact that the #1 song sounds like something that could have come out of a Disney movie or be played ironically at a disaster scene makes this fact more depressing. Also, The Twist wasn't even the biggest song of 1962. It was Acker Bilk's Stranger on the Shore, and you can count it as an unofficial tie with this one.
Number one song of 1996: Now, it's only this low considering it was #1 for 14 weeks straight, and if you were alive during that era, it was inescapable. That said, the fact that the original song is only mid-tier with some awkward lyrical content is already disappointing. You know what else this piece of audio needed? A woman yelling uncontrollably about how she's going to cheat on her boyfriend for 4 minutes straight, set to a techno beat sampling a Flamenco song - a #1 hit for 14 weeks, bigger than One Sweet Day, Because I Love You, Ironic, California Love, and Don't Speak, which I'm still triggered about not being eligible despite being the only song that year to rival this one in terms of popularity.
I think "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men should've sold more and reached #1 on that year-end chart, rather than that song here. That song was more of a record than this one.
Number one song of 1999: Now, I also admit I went too hard on this one, and it's pretty remarkable that Cher got such a big song in an era where she was borderline irrelevant. But at the same time, 1999 was such a wild year for music and the Hot 100 that it's kind of disappointing that this, of all the songs, was the biggest.
Number one song of 1986: Even with such star power from Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Elton John, it's extremely disappointing that the quality of this song is so subpar. Even if it isn't the worst of all the songs here, having a mediocre charity event song be this big is unremarkable and disappointing. Even We Are the World wasn't that big, despite being more remembered than this one. It also doesn't help that 1986 might be arguably the worst year in Billboard's terms for the 80s.