What songs topped the charts during election years

A throwback to the nation’s biggest hits from past presidential election years.

Nina Raemont, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

It feels like this election year — and this year in general — is one that we’re all trying desperately to escape from. And there’s no better way of escaping your current reality than with a little bit of nostalgia.

A&E took a look at top songs from past and current elections to give you a dose of nostalgia right as we gear up for another presidential election.


In 2012, President Obama ran for re-election against Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The year was characterized by Honey Boo Boo, “The Hunger Games,” and some pretty interesting tunes.

“Gangnam Style” by PSY blasts from the speakers at middle school dances and football stadiums alike. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” plagues American eardrums everywhere. And to top it off, Billboard’s year-end chart puts “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye at the top of the list.


It’s 2016. Business man and television personality Donald Trump is running for president against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. According to polls, Clinton is a shoo-in for the election. Many are writing in “Harambe” on their presidential voting ballots. The internet has a collective crush on a man named Daniel, an internet sensation beloved for his white Vans. And as Pokémon Go expeditiously sweeps the nation, so do the songs.

This week four years ago, “Closer” by the Chainsmokers was topping the Hot 100 charts. It’s important to note that 2016 was also the last year that Rihanna released an album, and we’re all patiently waiting for a new release from the artist who gave us 2016 bops like “Needed Me” and “Work” featuring Drake.

On Billboard’s year-end top songs chart for 2016, “Love Yourself” and “Sorry” by Justin Bieber come in at #1 and #2. It’s almost as if the nation was apologizing to itself for things to come through Bieber’s catchy tune.


And now, we’re here. This year will be characterized by Tiger Kings, WAPs, and … hmm is there anything else I’m forgetting? Oh yeah, a global pandemic and an international reckoning of racial injustices.

You don’t need me to tell you that this year, and this election, is like none other in recent memory, and the charts reflect the current moment. As President Trump and former Vice President Biden are in the throes of a unique election year, these songs have been playing in the background.

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac is back on the Billboard Charts after a TikTok of a man blissfully skateboarding and lip syncing to the song with a bottle of cranberry juice in hand went viral.

“WAP” by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B is #3 on Hot 100, remaining high on the list for nine consecutive weeks. BTS, the Internet’s favorite K-pop group, is also #2 on this week’s Hot 100 with their song “Dynamite.”

And lastly, it only feels right to include that Billboard’s #5 song for this week’s Hot 100 Chart is “Laugh Now Cry Later” by Drake featuring Lil Durk, which feels like the appropriate way to confront the absurdity of 2020.