The Top 10 “Top of the Hour” Songs

posted in: by Sean Ross | 3

There were at least 300 songs nominated.

There were many more votes, reader comments, and songs thumbed-up.

And two weeks after listeners first chimed in, the top 10 “top-of-the-hour songs of all time” are…


I knew when I first broached this topic that somebody would feel the need to point out that top-of-the-hour songs are something that radio people care more about than anybody else. That happened within the first few comments, and continued after my original article was published.

“The mighty top-of-the-hour production pieces from back in the day are memories, not strategy. We remember them as ubiquitous, but it doesn’t mean they were important,” wrote one reader. “Of course, as a programmer, I did it, too, but I was wrong to care about it. A sweeper is a sweeper in 2018.”

Yes, and?

If it’s an article about an issue of immediate concern to broadcasters that you want, I’m hoping you’ll check out this one from last week. Meanwhile, I’m of the oft-stated belief that little details can be made to matter to listeners, if only subliminally. You can view the top-of-the-hour as an act of self-absorption, especially now, or as the sort of thing PDs are no longer detail-oriented enough to make work.

I understand the opposing arguments. But even as you read this, some of the people now shaping the digital future are taking a pause to play Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat in the break room. It’s okay to have some throwback fun.

That fun can be however you define it. I love “Bette Davis Eyes,” but when I schedule Classic Hits stations, I wonder if that intro stands up to any hot sweeper. But that and many similar songs were on readers’ lists. Easily the most cited song of the ‘90s is Santana’s “Smooth.” That is a hot intro, although the song became so turgid to me so quickly, it caught me off-guard that so many people still viewed it that way.

The top, top, top-of-the-hour songs are based on your votes, your comments, and your likes in the original Facebook discussion that spurred this column. I might have shaped them just a little bit to make a great list, just like a Top 300 or Year-End Countdown. You’ve done that, right?

So now, ladies and gentlemen, the top 10 best top-of-the-hour songs of all-time, based (mostly) on your votes, are:

1 – Raspberries, “Go All The Way”

2 – Doobie Brothers, “China Grove”

3 – Jackson 5, “I Want You Back” – Also, for many people, a serious candidate for greatest single of all time altogether

4 – Prince, “1999”

5 – Philip Bailey & Phil Collins, “Easy Lover”

6 – Huey Lewis & the News, “The Power of Love” – “Huey always brought the ‘bam!’” one reader observed. Most of his hits, including the otherwise mellow “Jacob’s Ladder” received votes.

7 – Emotions, “Best of My Love”

8 – Doors, “Light My Fire”

9 – KC & the Sunshine Band, “Get Down Tonight”

10 – Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run”


Because those songs tend to be late ‘60s/’70s/’80s titles that you might still hear on Classic Hits or Classic Rock radio (some more than others), I also made a few separate piles:


Other ‘60s That Weren’t Quite Top-of-Mind Enough To Make The Bigger List


1 – J.J. Jackson, “But It’s Alright” (not surprisingly remade by Huey Lewis & the News)

2 – Flirtations, “Nothin’ But A Heartache” (a perennial winner on Rich Appel’s “I.R.S.” countdown of songs that missed the top 10; voting is open through March 21)

3 – Spiral Starecase, “More Today Than Yesterday”

4 – Outsiders, “Time Won’t Let Me”

5 – Supremes, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”


The ‘90s

1 – Santana, “Smooth”

2 – Aerosmith, “Love In An Elevator” (by now, artists and producers had figured out the hottest intro at :00 was often no intro)

3 – Black Box, “Strike It Up”

4 – Haddaway, “What Is Love”

5 – C&C Music Factory, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”


2000s And Today

1 – Katy Perry, “Teenage Dream”

2 – Beyoncé, “Crazy In Love”

3 – Katy Perry, “Roar”

4 – Pharrell Williams, “Happy”

5 – Icona Pop, “I Love It”

3 Responses

  1. Alan Michaels

    One of the best Top of the Hour songs we played at COOL 92.9 Tucson was Surfin’ USA By the Beach Boys…also Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers…and there are sooo many others that just killed it after the Top of the hour Jingle/ID.

  2. Ken Barlow

    OMG….give me 10 hours with my live ramp over a hot jingle into each one of those Top 10! Heaven!

  3. Bill Conway

    Rockin’ Pneumonia and The Boogie Woogie Flu. By Johnny Rivers too

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