(November 25, 2023).  Is it safe to say there’s a new “Queen of Rock”?

And that her name is… Dolly Parton?

Well, there’s a Billboard chart development unfolding right now that just might make the case for that unlikely crowning — at least temporarily — and it’s all because country music’s most prolific and longest charting female legend decided to “validate” her recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction by releasing a rock album, after nearly 60 years of faithfully doing nothin’ but good ol’ toe-tappin’, boot-scootin’ bluegrass and country music.

And now Nashville’s self-proclaimed Backwoods Barbie, who along with fellow 77-year-old Cher owns the two top albums on iTunes for the past week, is also poised to get her first No. 1 LP on the Billboard 200 with Rockstar, an album of 30 songs including some originals plus covers of pop/rock classics like “Purple Rain,” “Every Breath You Take,” “Magic Man,” “Baby, I Love Your Way,” “Night Moves,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Stairway to Heaven,” and many others.

Based on late-week projections, Parton’s Rockstar was leading a tight three-way race for No. 1 with superstar Canadian rapper Drake, who released a surprise six-song EP called Scary Hours 3, the deluxe accompaniment to his recent No. 1 album For All The Dogs, on the same day as Parton’s Rockstar, and world beater Taylor Swift, whose 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is still going strong after being supplanted by a different Rock-Star album last week (more on that further below).

The album cover for Dolly Parton’s new album Rockstar, which is projected to top the next Billboard 200.

If Parton maintains her lead and pulls off the unthinkable — beating the two biggest music stars on the continent on next week’s Billboard 200 — it will be the “Hard Candy Christmas” singer’s first No. 1 album on the all-inclusive chart in a career that spans seven different decades (1960s-2020s). (Of note: she’s had eight toppers during that time on Billboard’s genre-specific country list.)

The fact that Dolly and Cher, both of whom were born in 1946, are sitting at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on the iTunes chart with new releases in 2023 is both impressive and ironic, especially considering how both are the subject of countless memes for their “ageless” qualities at this stage of their incredible lives and careers.

That the two of them — whose earliest chart heydays predate not only the births of Drake and Taylor Swift but also the emergence of even the compact disc — are ranked atop the millennial friendly iTunes list above such acts as Jung Kook, Chris Stapleton, 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes and, of course, Drake and Swift, seems otherworldly.

Cher’s new album Christmas — released in late October — is firmly entrenched behind Parton’s Rockstar at No. 2 on iTunes and peaked earlier at No. 32 on the Billboard 200 chart (it’s now at No. 185 and will likely rebound as the holiday draws nearer).

Cher is thus not a threat to top Billboard’s marquee list, at least not yet.  But for Parton to parlay her success into a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 creates a whole different ballgame altogether.

Regular readers of this blog as well as anyone who follows today’s music trends know that topping iTunes is nice and all, but it alone is not nearly as big a deal in the streaming era as it was maybe a dozen years ago. 

Dolly’s Rockstar has the benefit of physical sales to go with her iTunes purchases. The full-length set is projected to sell more than 130,000 traditional units, through a combination of iTunes downloads of whole albums plus physical sales (in vinyl and CD form), which is not shabby in any era, much less during the digital age.

Then there’s the boost Dolly likely got in streaming numbers from her Thanksgiving Day halftime show at the Dallas Cowboys game (vs. the hapless Washington Commanders).  

For her performance, the timeless treasure donned a Cowboys cheerleaders outfit while singing two of her classics (“Jolene” and “9 to 5”) plus a cover of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” (a medley from her Rockstar album).  Although only a few hours remained in the tracking period (which ended Thursday night at 11:59pm EST) following her performance, any additional streaming that day should only improve her chances at topping the Billboard 200.

Listen to Parton’s Rockstar on Spotify.

Rockstar reaching No. 1 would be a great capper to an amazing story of how one’s humility — Parton only recorded it because she believed she wasn’t worthy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction she received in 2022 — can really pay off in the end.

There’d also be something uniquely satisfying about Dolly besting Drake, who is projected to be No. 2 behind Rockstar with his EP-enhanced project, especially since the rapper — clearly a Billboard chart watcher — elevated himself to the King of Pop’s level by tying Michael Jackson’s No. 1 Hot 100 singles record for solo males with the song “First Person Shooter” (ironically, the same song in which Drake drew the comparison to MJ).

And now, on one of the new EP’s tracks, Drake made an admission that simultaneously served as both a concession and a boast about his chart standings. 

On the song “Red Button,” Drake bragged that Swift was the only artist he ever “rated” and that the “Cruel Summer” singer was the “only one that could make (him) drop the album a little later,” apparently referring to his one-week delay of last year’s Her Loss (with 21 Savage), allegedly to allow the mania around Taylor’s Midnights album to subside, thereby increasing his album’s chances of a No. 1 debut, which it ultimately achieved.

A year later, however, it’s Dolly Parton — not Taylor Swift — who poses the bigger threat to Drake returning to No. 1, despite the once-again carefully timed release of his Scary Hours 3 edition of For All The Dogs — after most of the fervor around 1989 (Taylor’s Version) died down.

Can Dolly make history?

Even if she only reaches No. 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5), Rockstar would be Parton’s biggest album to date. But if she pulls off No. 1, there are so many storylines her accomplishment would unlock.

First, she’d become the oldest woman ever to get her first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200.  She would also likely be the oldest woman ever to reach the top, period, at 77 years, 10 months and two weeks of age.

Secondly, she would achieve this No. 1 after 56 years and three weeks of charting in Billboard.  Her first album, Hello, I’m Dolly, debuted on the country charts on November 11, 1967.  She’s topped the country rankings eight times since then but never climbed higher than No. 6 on the all-genre Billboard 200.

With Cher (“Believe,” 1999) still holding the record for oldest female to top the singles chart — the Billboard Hot 100 — and Dolly’s ascension to the top of the Billboard 200, those two simultaneously pacing this week’s iTunes chart becomes even more poetic.

Then there’s this: Dolly would join “fellow” rock legends and RRHOF inductees Pat Benatar and Stevie Nicks as having one solo No. 1 album each (with both Nicks’ and Benatar’s chart toppers happening waaaay back in… 1981!).  Parton duets with both her rock-and-roll sisters on the new album: Nicks on the song “What Has Rock and Roll Ever Done For You” and Benatar on a remake of her classic “Heartbreaker.” 

And, finally, by displacing The Stray Kids’ similarly titled album Rock-Star from the top, it would make for some interesting trivia as being the only time in memory that two different albums of the same name ruled the Billboard 200 in consecutive weeks (notwithstanding the hyphen in the Kids’ version).

This Rock-Star by Korean pop group The Stray Kids was this past week’s No. 1 album.

I’m sure some chart trivia buffs will want to confirm all of this but hold off until at least Sunday (Nov. 26), when next week’s chart is revealed.  

Until then, we can all keep our fingers crossed that Parton will pull off the unimaginable in a storyline that just two weeks ago no one could’ve seen coming!

Not this blogger, not Billboard, not Dolly…

Not even Drake.


DJRob (he/him/his), music chart trivia geek, is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop, rock and (sometimes) country genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @djrobblog and on Meta’s Threads.

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2 thoughts on “These 77-Year-Old Icons Topped This Week’s iTunes, and One is Poised for Billboard 200 History!”
  1. Mind. Blown. So many amazing covers, often duetting with the OG artists what made them famous. All of ’em still got it! Wish #Prince4Ever could have taken his place among them. But she does #PurpleRain the justice it deserves! ☔️🔥🎵🔥✨️

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