(February 18, 2021). The Weeknd’s fans were hoping that the pop superstar’s post-Super Bowl halftime show boost was going to be enough to carry his long-running chart single back to the No. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where – at nine and a half months – it would have broken a record for longest gap between No. 1 rankings by a song during the same release cycle.
But alas, it wasn’t to be. “Blinding Lights” did experience a streaming and sales bump, but not enough to overcome the No. 1 juggernaut that is “Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo and the debut of “Up” by Cardi B at No. 2 (Cardi’s revelation that the refrain “up and stuck” is about being constipated may have been both a blessing and a curse for that song’s No. 1 chances, but I digress).
The Weeknd’s biggest hit sits at No. 3 behind the two women topping the latest chart. That is a position it has occupied on-and-off for twelve non-consecutive chart frames dating back to last May when it first took up residence there after its four-week No. 1 run ended. The twelve times it has placed in the third slot are now tied for the most that “Blinding Lights” has spent in any one position on the Hot 100. It has also spent 12 weeks at No. 4 throughout its record-extending 49-week top-ten run (and 40th in the top five).
To put that in perspective, apart from the No. 1 slot, no other position on the Hot 100 has been held – consecutively or non-consecutively – for as many as twelve weeks by any other song in the chart’s 62-year history. The fact that “Blinding Lights” has done that with two positions – No. 3 and No. 4 – is an amazing accomplishment and surely a testament to the enduring and unprecedented popularity of the 2019 tune. The song has placed at either No. 3 or No. 4 each week since it reentered the chart seven weeks ago following a brief Christmas week hiatus.
Before this year, the longest time a song had spent in any non-No. 1 position – regardless of its peak – was eleven weeks. Two different singles spent eleven weeks at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots on the Hot 100 – and both occurred in the mid 1990s in the early days of the Nielsen/MRC Data era (beginning November 1991).
First, the group Real McCoy spent eleven non-consecutive weeks at No. 3 between November 1994 and February 1995 with the huge eurodance hit “Another Night.” Before this year, that song held the record for longest time spent by one song at any other Hot 100 chart position besides No. 1 or No. 2. It still holds the record for a tune spending eleven or more weeks at a peak other than the Number One spot.
Later in November 1995, Whitney Houston’s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (from the motion picture Waiting to Exhale) debuted at No. 1 and then after one week fell to No. 2. It spent eleven consecutive weeks in the runner-up slot in 1995-96 behind the No. 1 juggernaut that was “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men.
“Exhale” has held the record for most weeks spent at No. 2 (regardless of its peak) for 25 years, although several other songs have spent ten weeks at No. 2, including two that ultimately peaked at that position.
Famously, Foreigner’s rock ballad “Waiting For A Girl Like You” was the first song to spend ten weeks in the runner-up slot (where it peaked) from Nov. 1981 – Jan. 82. Then, almost exactly 21 years later, Missy Elliott’s “Work It” matched that feat by spending ten weeks at its No. 2 peak between Nov. 2002 – Jan. 2003.
It’s an interesting coincidence that all four of the above examples – Foreigner’s “Waiting,” Real McCoy’s “Another Night,” Whitney’s “Exhale” and Missy’s “Work It” – each reached their peaks in November of their respective release years.
In 2019, Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” spent ten weeks at No. 2 between June and August, but managed to squeeze in a week at No. 1 in the midst of that chart run. Similarly, Bruno Mars’ 2017 smash “That’s What I Like” spent ten non-consecutive weeks at No. 2 between April and June that year but also got in a brief one-week whiff of the No. 1 spot in the middle of its lengthy chart stay.
For those wondering, The Weeknd’s smash “Blinding Lights” has illuminated every position in the top ten during its record-breaking 49-week stay in the chart’s upper echelon. In addition to its twelve weeks each at the No. 3 and No. 4 slots, it’s spent four weeks each at Nos. 1, 2 and 7, eight weeks at No. 5, two weeks at No. 6, and one week each at Nos. 8, 9 and 10. The last song to touch each position in the top ten was “Circles” by Post Malone, which accomplished the feat in 2019 and 2020 before completing its phenomenal second-longest top-10 run last July.
So where will “Blinding Lights” land next? No one knows, but it’s a safe bet that the ubiquitous tune will still be in the chart’s upper decile again next week – for its 50th top-10 frame – and perhaps for several more weeks after that!
DJRob is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.
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