Started by Joel Whitburn's Record Research company, this is a series that focuses on Pop Singles (that charted on the Billboard Hot 100) ranked, year-by-year, by chart popularity. The song with the most weeks at #1 for that year (with tiebreakers) was the #1 song that year. It would go from positions #1 to #100 (if applicable). Every song that peaked that year was included in the ranking. Every edition started with the year 1955, the year Whitburn always cites as "the beginning of the rock era". Research for Billboard's Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart was added in the 2012 edition. Like other Record Research books, each book got bigger and was expanded with new features. However, the last two editions eliminated several features.
This format was adopted in some other Record Research books, including Country Annual and Pop Hits 1940-1954.