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The 100 Best Pop Songs Never to Hit the Hot 100: Staff List

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Last week at Billboard, we spent three days counting down the 500 best pop songs to ever hit the Billboard Hot 100, in honor of the chart’s 65th anniversary. And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg: With well over 30,000 songs reaching the Hot 100 across its six and a half decades of existence, we could have easily gone another 500 deep — maybe even 5,000 deep — and still kept coming up with more beloved pop classics. That’s just how rich pop history since 1958 has been, and how thoroughly the Hot 100 has tracked its best and brightest songs over that timespan.

But what about the pop songs that never made the Hot 100? As comprehensive as the Hot 100 has been — and as thoroughly as our charts department has continued tinkering with its formula to keep it updated over the years, through countless evolutions in technology and consumption — inevitably, some great pop songs end up missing its rankings altogether. That’s what we’re cataloguing here: our staff picks for the 100 best songs to never chart on the Hot 100, all of which were released during the 65-year (and counting) lifespan of the listing.

Why did they miss? Well, we’ll get into the specific reasons for each entry below. But generally, some of them were too ahead of their time. Some of them were a little too late. Some of them made their impact just below the surface of the mainstream. Some of them wouldn’t make their biggest impact until decades after their release. Some of them were just a little too challenging — or a little too bawdy — for a true pop embrace. Some of them just weren’t what top 40 audiences wanted to hear at that time (or at least, not what top 40 programmers thought they wanted to hear). And some of them were simply never released as singles, despite being better-known today than a lot of songs by those artists that were.

Nonetheless, even though none of them leave a Hot 100 legacy like the songs on our top 500 list from last week, they’re all worth keeping company with those chart-enshrined pop classics. Here our 100 pop favorites from that group — the Long-Simmering 100, if you will — and be sure to check out the rest of last week’s all-time pop song content here.

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