Adult Top 40

The Adult Pop Airplay (formerly known as Adult Pop Songs and Adult Top 40) chart is published weekly by Billboard magazine and ranks "the most popular adult top 40 as based on radio airplay detections measured by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems."

It is a format in which the genre is geared more towards an adult audience who are not into hard rock, hip hop, or adult contemporary fare. The main genres within this format are alternative rock and mainstream pop that is more adult-oriented. It is not to be confused with adult contemporary where rather lesser-known and more ballad-driven songs are played. The current number-one song on the chart is "Cruel Summer" by Taylor Swift.


The chart was first published in the March 16, 1996, issue of Billboard; however, historically, the chart's introduction was in October 1995, when it began as a test chart.

The Adult Top 40 chart was formed following a split of the "Hot Adult Contemporary" chart due to the growing emergence of Adult Top 40 radio stations in the 1990s. These stations played a wider variety of artists and saw a faster turnover of songs compared to traditional adult contemporary radio. Songs by modern rock, dance, and R&B artists were mixed in with acts more closely associated with adult contemporary. According to Billboard, splitting the chart "better reflect[s] the music being played on adult contemporary and adult/top 40 stations."

The first number-one song on the Adult Top 40, from the test chart of October 7, 1995, was "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal. The first number-one song on the Adult Top 40, from the published chart of March 16, 1996, was "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men.

Chart criteria

There are 40 positions on this chart. Songs are ranked based on its total number of spins per week. This is calculated by electronically monitoring Adult Top 40 radio stations across the U.S. 24 hours a day, seven days a week by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.

Songs receiving the greatest growth receive a "bullet", although there are tracks that also get bullets if the loss in detections doesn't exceed the percentage of downtime from a monitored station. "Airpower" awards are issued to songs that appear on the top 20 of both the airplay and audience chart for the first time, while the "greatest gainer" award is given to song with the largest increase in detections. A song with six or more spins in its first week is awarded an "airplay add". If two songs are tied in spins in the same week, the one with the biggest increase that week ranks higher.

Recurrent rules

Issue Date Criteria Ref
March 16, 1996 – Jun 29, 2002 Records below the top 20 are removed from the chart after 26 weeks.
July 6, 2002 – November 26, 2005 Records below the top 15 are removed from the chart after 26 weeks.
December 3, 2005 – April 18, 2009 Songs are removed from the chart if they have been on the chart for
  • more than 20 weeks and rank below No. 15, or
  • more than 52 weeks and rank below No. 10
April 25, 2009 – Present Descending songs are removed from the chart if they have been on the chart for
  • more than 20 weeks and rank below No. 15, or
  • more than 26 weeks and rank below No. 10, or
  • more than 52 weeks and rank below No. 5

All-time achievements

In 2016, for the 20th anniversary of the chart, Billboard compiled a ranking of the 50 best-performing songs and artists on the chart over the 20 years. "Smooth" by Santana featuring Rob Thomas was ranked as the #1 song, while Maroon 5 was ranked as the #1 artist. Listed below are the top 10 songs and the top 10 artists.

Top 10 Greatest of All Time Adult Pop Songs (1996–2016)

Rank Single Year released Artist(s) Peak and duration
Santana featuring Rob Thomas #1 for 25 weeks
"Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)"
Train #1 for 14 weeks
"Wherever You Will Go"
The Calling #1 for 23 weeks
"How to Save a Life"
The Fray #1 for 15 weeks
"Counting Stars"
OneRepublic #1 for 7 weeks
Matchbox Twenty #1 for 18 weeks
"I'm Yours"
Jason Mraz #1 for 9 weeks
"You and Me"
Lifehouse #1 for 9 weeks
"All for You"
Sister Hazel #1 for 7 weeks
"Hanging by a Moment"
Lifehouse #1 for 5 weeks


Top 10 Greatest of All Time Adult Pop Songs Artists (1996–2016)

Rank Artist
Maroon 5
Matchbox Twenty
Kelly Clarkson
Katy Perry
Goo Goo Dolls
Taylor Swift


Records and achievements

Most weeks at number one

25 weeks

23 weeks

20 weeks

18 weeks

17 weeks

16 weeks

15 weeks

14 weeks


Artists with the most number-one songs

Number Artist Source
Maroon 5
Taylor Swift
8 Katy Perry
Ed Sheeran
6 Adele
Shawn Mendes
5 Nickelback
Justin Bieber

Artists with the most cumulative weeks at number one

Weeks Artist Source
101 Maroon 5
54 Matchbox Twenty
52 Taylor Swift
51 Ed Sheeran
47 Santana
45 Adele
40 Rob Thomas
38 Pink
35 Nickelback
34 Katy Perry
27 Train
Kelly Clarkson

Artists with the most top-ten songs

Number Artist Source
29 Taylor Swift
27 Maroon 5
20 Pink
17 Kelly Clarkson
16 Katy Perry
Ed Sheeran
14 Goo Goo Dolls
Justin Bieber
13 Matchbox Twenty

Longest break between number ones

  • Coldplay – eight years and eight months
  • Train – six years, four months and one week
  • Maroon 5 – five years, 10 months and one week

Additional achievements

  • Shawn Mendes is the first artist to have four songs hit number one on the chart before age 20.

See also

This page was last updated at 2023-11-25 00:36 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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