(May 16, 2024).  With a little help from a viral rap beef, the chart gods have created a unique circumstance with this week’s Billboard Hot 100 that only a true music geek — and diehard numerologists — could love.

As everyone who is up on their current events knows, Taylor Swift released a new album three weeks ago and a week later the lead track from it — a duet with Post Malone called “Fortnight” — led a pack of fourteen T-Swizzle songs to the top 14 positions on the Hot 100, thereby setting a new record for chart dominance by a single artist.

Fourteen days later, “Fortnight” finds itself at No. 4, knocked out of No. 1 by the Kendrick Lamar diss track (targeting Taylor’s main chart rival, Drake), “Not Like Us.”

That means only two weeks — or a fortnight — at No. 1 for “Fortnight,” something few people would’ve predicted when Taylor’s album and its tracks debuted atop the charts with some of the highest streaming and sales numbers seen in years.

Even Drake, who respects the chart power that Taylor wields, had accused his nemesis Kendrick of being afraid to respond to the Canadian rapper’s own diss tracks in the wake of Taylor’s The Tortured Poets Department release. (Boy, did Kendrick acquit himself in that department!)

Still, it’s noteworthy that the only song in Billboard chart history with the word “Fortnight” in its title would spend exactly a fortnight — no more and no less — at the No. 1 position.  Rarely has anything been so on-brand as to accomplish such a feat.  

But something similar has happened before… in fact more than a quarter-century ago. Call it a case of not-so-unprecedented prescience on the charts.

Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” spent exactly one week at No. 1 in October 1988.

It was back in October 1998 when the quirky Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies went to No. 1 on the Hot 100 for one week with the song appropriately titled “One Week.”

That tune interrupted a long stay at the top for Monica’s “The First Night,” which spent 35 nights — or five weeks — at No. 1.

A quick perusal through Billboard’s No. 1 archives found that these two instances — involving “Fortnight” and “One Week” — are the only two where a song’s title foretold the length of its stay at the top of the charts.

Now there’ve been many times where a song’s title has predicted its chart peak. For example, John Lennon’s “No. 9 Dream” peaked at No. 9 in 1975, and Grover Washington, Jr.’s “Just the Two of Us” and Seduction’s “Two to Make It Right” both peaked at No. 2 in 1981 and 1990, respectively. Plus countless songs with “One” in their titles have peaked at No. 1, including “One Bad Apple,” “You’re the One That I Want,” and “One Sweet Day,” to name a few.

But only twice has a song’s duration at the top been spelled out so accurately in its title.

In fact, even though there have been many No. 1 songs that have incorporated calendar units or measures of time in their titles, like “Day” (“One Sweet Day”) or “Night” (“Night Fever,” “Tonight’s the Night,” “Last Night,” etc.) and in one case, both (“A Hard Day’s Night”), few could have pulled off the feat that Taylor Swift and Barenaked Ladies have accomplished.

That is simply because the Billboard charts are published weekly, and few tunes have incorporated phrases that are multiples of weeks — like “One Week” and “Fortnight” — in their titles. 

The closest anyone came to doing this before Barenaked Ladies might have been the Beatles, whose “Eight Days a Week” spent 14 days at No. 1 in 1965.

But, despite the Fab Four’s declaration to the contrary, eight days do not constitute a week… nor do they make two weeks, and the Beatles, who also had time-centered No. 1 titles with songs like “Yesterday” and the aforementioned “A Hard Day’s Night,” are thus excluded from contention.

Another on-brand, calendar-focused No. 1 title happened in 1966 when the song “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful topped the Hot 100 in, you guessed it, the summer (for three weeks that August).  But, for the purpose of this statistic, the song would’ve had to spend the entire summer at the top — no more and no less — requiring a three-month stay that was unheard of in 1966 (or any other year in the pre-1991 era before the charts were modernized to incorporate actual sales and airplay data).

Speaking of unheard-of, there have been other, much longer measures of time that have charted pretty high in Billboard.  The 2016 smash “7 Years” by the Danish band Lukas Graham reached No. 2 that year.  Similarly, Roseanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache” reached No. 22 in 1981.

But neither of those tunes reached No. 1, and if they had, they would have had to chart for much longer than the few months they did to live up to their titles.

And for those of you who are tempted to include the many songs with “Never” in their titles (“Never Can Say Goodbye,” “Never My Love,” “Never on Sunday”) in this statistic by virtue of them never hitting No. 1, just stop it.

Taylor Swift’s “Fortnight” video featuring Post Malone

And now back to Taylor and some more trivia numerologists might love.

The key number to a fortnight is fourteen, as in 14 days.

Taylor’s domination of the Hot 100 two weeks ago involved her commanding the top 14 positions on the chart.

Now, exactly two weeks later, the only one of those songs remaining in the top 14 positions is “Fortnight.”

It’s just another twist to the “Fortnight” story, one that keeps rewriting itself with one chart milestone after another.

But it’s not only Taylor who gets credit for “Fortnight.”  Her duet partner, Post Malone, gets that credit plus he’s about to be part of another prophetic occurrence at the top of the chart.

The projected No. 1 song on next week’s Hot 100 is his new single “I Had Some Help,” on which he “had some help” from country megastar Morgan Wallen.

You can’t make this stuff up.  


DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, disco, pop, rock and 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.

DJRob (@djrobblog) on Threads

You can also register for free (select the menu bars above) to receive notifications of future articles.

By DJ Rob

Your thoughts?