Pop stars ruled iHeartRadio's charts this year, but Post Malone was the top artist of 2019

Pop stars ruled iHeartRadio's charts this year, but Post Malone was the top artist of 2019
Video most famous pop star 2019
  • 2019 was a year of both comebacks and meteoric rises in music, and new artists as well as old favorites showed up in iHeartRadio’s year-end review.
  • Post Malone took the top place for artists in 2019, according to iHeartRadio data shared with Business Insider, and breakout stars like Billie Eilish and Lizzo secured spots on the list of the year’s top songs.
  • iHeartRadio Chief Programming Officer Tom Poleman said pop music dominated the charts this year, but influences from other genres could become more prevalent in 2020.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With 2019 coming to a close and Spotify Wrapped posts flooding social media, iHeartRadio took a look at the top songs and artists of the year based on radio and streaming data from stations across the US.

Artists like Post Malone, Ariana Grande, and Shawn Mendes dominated iHeartRadio’s year-end review, according to an interactive map of the data shared exclusively with Business Insider. The radio giant reaches 275 million US listeners a month across more than 850 stations and is also one of the country’s largest podcast producers.

Post Malone claimed the top artist spot, with 3.85 billion total audience spins and streams across iHeartMedia platforms, followed by a roster of pop singers like Ariana Grande and the Jonas Brothers, who clocked in at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.

Other top artists include, in order:

  • Khalid
  • Panic! At the Disco
  • Maroon 5
  • Halsey
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Taylor Swift
  • Shawn Mendes

Billie Eilish and Lizzo are both notably absent, although Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” was No. 6 on iHeartRadio’s top songs list and Eilish’s “bad guy” clocked in at No. 9.

  How Saquon Barkley built the legs the Giants look to carry their offense upon

Here are the top national songs of 2019, according to iHeartRadio:

  1. “Sucker,” Jonas Brothers
  2. “Talk,” Khalid
  3. “Dancing with a Stranger,” Sam Smith and Normani
  4. “I Don’t Care,” Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber
  5. “Wow.,” Post Malone
  6. “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo
  7. “7 rings,” Ariana Grande
  8. “Señorita,” Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
  9. “bad guy,” Billie Eilish
  10. “If I Can’t Have You,” Shawn Mendes

Pop music came back with a bang this year, but rap and alternative influences also defined the 2019 music scene

The heavy presence of pop stars like Taylor Swift and the strong showing by rap singers like Post Malone and Lizzo was not entirely surprising to Tom Poleman, iHeartMedia’s chief programming officer, who has studied music trends for much of his career.

“It’s like watching fashion cycles,” Poleman said. “What was big 20 years ago comes back into the mainstream 20 years later.”

Pop music is usually prevalent on top charts, but the genre reclaimed the top spot this year after being rivaled by hip-hop over the course of the decade, Poleman said.

While hip-hop and edgy alternative music have risen to popularity, Poleman said, with the return of the Jonas Brothers and the release of Taylor Swift’s “Lover,” pop singers found increasing success in 2019.

While the Jonas Brothers couldn’t compete with Post Malone’s overall success, their March release of “Sucker” carried the song into summer popularity. It racked up 1.8 billion total audience spins on iHeartMedia, Poleman said, including on the iHeartRadio app and radio stations.

US pop listeners also discovered new genre influences this year thanks to the likes of Lizzo (who combines pop, rap, and R&B to achieve her sound) and Billie Eilish (who leans toward alternative in her musical and personal styles).

  Saquon Barkley And Daniel Jones Are Finally Making The Giants Look Good

“Anything can step into the mass world at any moment and thrive because of uniqueness,” Poleman said.

Streaming activity mirrors airplay, and vice versa

IHeartRadio created its data map by gathering a list of all songs played on all stations over the past year, then multiplying those spins by the number of people listening to each station when the song was played, Poleman said.

This creates similar data to that provided by streaming services, which can more easily calculate how many times a song is played because they know exactly who listened to it.

Post Malone was also the top artist on Spotify this year, with over 6.5 billion streams internationally, and “Señorita,” “bad guy,” and “7 rings” were among the top five most-streamed songs on the platform.

IHeartRadio uses streaming statistics when programming its radio stations, Poleman said, and also monitors the impact airplay has on the streaming success of a song. If iHeartRadio tests a new song on a handful of local stations and finds it becomes subsequently popular on streaming services, then iHeart will play the song on more stations.

“It’s a good way for us scientifically to spread the story of emerging songs from market to market,” Poleman said.

IHeartMedia also uses radio to drive traffic to other forms of emerging media, such as podcasts. While music and radio serve as the backbone of iHeartMedia, the company is placing increasing emphasis on podcasting, Poleman said.

For more on iHeartMedia’s podcast strategy, check out these Business Insider Prime posts:

  • An iHeartMedia exec says podcasts are ‘the new script’ for Hollywood and breaks down the audio giant’s TV and movie deals: Conal Byrne, the president of iHeartMedia’s podcast network, bets that in only about two years, a quarter of new film and TV content might start as a podcast. His network has already optioned several of its podcasts to major movie producers like Blumhouse, including “Atlanta Monster,” “Cabinet of Curiosities,” and “Committed.”
  • Podcast companies are using new tech to make more money from host-read ads, but some worry about overwhelming their most loyal listeners: iHeartMedia is one of the largest podcast publishers in the industry and relies on podcast advertisements as a major revenue stream. The average ad skip rate for a podcast is about 10% to 12%, according to Byrne.
  • A top podcast host and producer for iHeartRadio and HowStuffWorks gives her advice for success in audio, including embracing your vocal quirks: Holly Frey, who hosts the podcast “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” broke down tips for other hosts and opened up about her unorthodox introduction to podcasting at HowStuffWorks before it was acquired by iHeartMedia.
  Saquon Barkley Workout