(October 19, 2021). The year 2021–like 2020–has seen a relatively fast turnover at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Fifteen different new No. 1 songs, not including Mariah Carey’s perennially returning “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at the beginning of the year, have moved into the No. 1 position on the premier singles chart—a number that’s only happened twice before in the past 30 years (since Billboard converted to Nielsen MRC data to more accurately determine its charts).
But the brakes may have just been applied with what could be the 16th—and final—No. 1 song of 2021.
With Adele releasing her first new song in six years, and the record-breaking first-day streaming numbers it has racked up already, it’s not a question of if she’ll reach No. 1 on next week’s Billboard Hot 100 chart—earning her fifth chart-topper there—but how long she’ll be there.
“Easy On Me”—her wistfully sung ballad about a love affair not entered into wisely but finally coming to an end—apparently struck a collective nerve across the country (and the globe) upon its release. Judging by Spotify’s domestic numbers alone, which are one of several key metrics that feed the Billboard charts, Adele will have a mind-boggling number of points as “Easy” makes its leap to the top of the Hot 100 chart…with a lead so commanding, it would be hard to imagine any other song toppling it for the remainder of the year.
And if past is prologue, the British chanteuse’s track record certainly suggests she may be in for a lengthy stay at the top.
The last two albums Adele released were both kicked off with iconic debut singles. For her sophomore album 21, there was “Rolling In The Deep,” the Grammy-winning colossus that made her a superstar and which spent seven weeks atop the Hot 100 in 2011 (and won both Record and Song of the Year Grammys the following year).
Then, in 2015, she opened the album 25 with “Hello,” the power ballad that instantly replaced Lionel Richie’s similarly titled ‘80s classic as the quintessential pop music salutation. Adele entered the chart at No. 1 in November that year and stayed there for ten long weeks, not relinquishing the top spot until January 2016.
And now there’s “Easy On Me,” the song whose title most other artists will likely be invoking as they get slayed on the charts week after week. On Spotify alone, “Easy” has registered more than 13.7 million streams in the U.S. since Friday, October 15, which marks the beginning of the Billboard tracking period for next week’s charts. That compares to 5.27 million streams for the next highest streamed tune, Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby,” which this week became the year’s 15th new No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.
To claim this week’s top spot, “Industry Baby”—a collab with Kentucky rapper Jack Harlow—was the beneficiary of several last-minute promotional pushes by the label LNX shares with Adele, Columbia Records. This included newly released versions of “Baby” the previous Friday (October 8) and a heavily discounted price of 69 cents for all versions of the song at iTunes, both of which prompted spikes in streams and digital downloads. “Industry Baby” had otherwise languished at No. 2 and would almost certainly been there again (behind Justin Bieber’s now-No. 2 “Stay” with The Kid Laroi) had it not been for Columbia’s clever move.
Some might call that marketing ploy a bit of inside baseball by Columbia, who likely knew that LNX’s chances of reaching No. 1 post-Adele would be slim-to-none by, say, January 2022 when “Easy On Me” finally goes easy on the charts and begins its inevitable descent.
There is still a chance, however, that another song that is not on the chart today could displace “Easy” before the year is out. And it happens to be yet another Columbia release.
That would be Mariah Carey’s perennial No. 1 “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which if my calendar is right should be ready to begin its annual holiday onslaught in a few weeks.
Past clearly being prologue in Mariah’s case, “All I Want” should make its chart re-entry in about four weeks, right around the time Adele releases 30, and be a strong contender for No. 1 on the singles chart by mid-December.
Or, there’s also a chance that another long-awaited, yet-to-be-named second single from 30 could do it. Either way, the charts will likely belong to one of Columbia’s two formidable chanteuses for the remainder of 2021.
Get ready for another era of chart slayage by Queen Adele! What’s that (chart) body count again?
DJRob (he/him) 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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