This week, “Despacito,” the highly popular and infectious tune by Latino stars Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring pop’s current it-boy Justin Bieber, spends its 10th-straight week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, placing it in an élite club of only 35 songs that have spent at least 10 weeks at the top (out of nearly 1100 No. 1 songs overall(!).
That’s 35 songs in the nearly 60-year history of the nation’s premier singles chart that was inaugurated in August 1958, or a mere 3 percent of all the songs that have topped the chart over the past six decades.
Most of those 35 Number Ones have happened since November 1991, when the chart incorporated more accurate sales and airplay tracking information using Nielsen data. Only two – Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life” (1977) and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” (1982), with ten weeks each – occurred before that transition.
But after 1991, 33 songs have spent double-digit weeks at the chart’s pinnacle – an average of just over one per year – making the event more common and slightly less spectacular than when Boone and Newton-John did it, but still noteworthy nonetheless.
And while five blockbuster hits have accomplished the feat in just the past 18 months alone, including “Despacito,” Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You,” Chainsmokers’ “Closer,” Drake’s “One Dance” and Adele’s “Hello,” there’s a more elusive number that no one has attained in the 21 years since a ’90s superstar diva teamed with that era’s biggest boy-band crooners to come up with what is still the Hot 100’s longest-running No. 1 single to-date.
The number is 16 and the song is “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men. After its début in late 1995, when the tune entered the chart at the top, “One Sweet Day” spent its first 16 chart weeks at No. 1, giving the two artists lightning in a bottle and shattering the 14-week record that had been established by fellow diva Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love You”) and tied by Boyz II Men (“I’ll Make Love To You”) only a couple of years earlier.
Since Mariah’s and Boyz II Men’s juggernaut run in ’95-’96, several challengers have threatened to tie or break their record. In fact, seven more records have reached the 14-week point, including, most recently, “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars in 2015.
But none of the more than two dozen songs that have reached at least ten weeks since Mariah & Boyz’ “Sweet Day” have been able to even get to 15, much less 16 weeks at the top. A total of nine songs have spent 14 weeks dominating the Hot 100, while the other 26 have spent between ten and 13 weeks reigning over it.
Which brings me back to the latest tune to join the double-digit club, “Despacito.” Surely Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (plus Justin Bieber) would like to see their collaboration join the ranks of other 14-weekers, which includes the only other Spanish-language tune among these élite hits, “Macarena” by Los Del Rio (who, ironically, beat out “One Sweet Day” for 1996’s biggest hit because “Macarena” spent longer on the overall chart and racked up more points during its lengthier run).
An even sweeter outcome for Fonsi, Yankee and co. would be for “Despacito,” easily this year’s song of the summer, to move past 14 weeks and challenge “One Sweet Day,” but it would take six more weeks of doing what no one has been able to do since Carey & Co…hold on to its lead while newer, fresher contenders jostle for position to overtake it.
But the current leader’s chances look good.
“Despacito,” which is not only No. 1 on the overall Hot 100, but now leads all three of its contributing metrics (digital sales, radio airplay and streaming), has a huge points lead over the current No. 2 record by DJ Khaled (“Wild Thoughts” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller). It just this week became the most streamed music track of all time – recently averaging over 62 million clicks per week – and now totaling over 2.6 billion streams in just six months, according to Billboard.
“Despacito” is just now starting to show signs of a slow erosion in popularity, but with a nearly 2-to-1 points lead over its nearest competitor, the catchy dance tune is practically guaranteed an eleventh week at the top and possibly more, making it the latest threat to challenge the 16-week record.
Will it happen?
That’s anyone’s guess, of course. But chart analyzers will note that it will likely take a song that is not yet on the chart to displace “Despacito,” given its current enormous lead. “Wild Thoughts” is too far behind and is also already losing chart points. The tunes between Nos. 3 and 6 are all former No. 1 songs that have already had their peaks and are losing points as well. Thus, it would take a major collapse by “Despacito,” whose title translates to “slowly,” for “Thoughts” or any other song on the Hot 100 to overtake it.
So that bodes well for Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (and Bieber) to continue slowly giving “One Sweet Day” a run for its money. Barring a new blockbuster single that we haven’t yet heard going viral out of the box in the next five weeks, I’d say “Despacito” could be the one to do it.
The magic chart to watch for will be in the Billboard issue dated September 9, 2017, which will be revealed near the end of August.
Until then, the Hot 100 chart’s “Curse of Mimi” continues, and she and Boyz II Men can, for now at least, sit back and watch as “Despacito” slowly approaches their record… one painstaking week at a time.
My bets are on “Despacito.”