(January 23, 2020). You can officially add Drake and Future to the growing list of established superstars who, in the past year, have had to settle for No. 2 debuts (or peaks) on the Hot 100 behind chart-topping hits by relative newcomers.
This week, Future and Drake’s thought-to-be surefire No. 1 single “Life is Good” actually debuts at No. 2 on the chart, behind the Roddy Ricch song “The Box,” which spends a second week at No. 1.
Last week, Ricch held court at the top while Justin Bieber’s heavily hyped new single “Yummy” also entered at No. 2.
Bieber’s runner-up status was particularly noteworthy (and funny) because the pop heartthrob launched a campaign upon the song’s release to have fans stream “Yummy” on repeat to try to get it to No. 1. This week the song falls from No. 2 to No. 10.
But those are just the latest examples of superstar shutouts on the singles chart. Last year on several occasions – five to be exact – superstar releases were held at bay while a relative chart newcomer – again from the hip-hop genre – dominated the No. 1 spot.
First, superstar Post Malone’s “Wow” was held at a No. 2 peak while newcomer Lil Nas X catapulted to the No. 1 position with his first hit “Old Town Road,” which remained No. 1 for 19 weeks.
In that time, four other songs by superstars debuted and/or peaked at No. 2 behind “Road,” including two by Taylor Swift (“Me!” and “You Need to Calm Down”), plus pop ditties by Shawn Mendes (“If I Can’t Have You”) and Ed Sheeran’s duet with Bieber (“I Don’t Care”).
Two other songs (Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and Shawn Mendes’ “Señorita” with Camila Cabello) also placed behind Lil Nas X at No. 2, but they eventually climbed to the No. 1 spot when “Old Town Road” ran its course.
Still, a list that includes Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber (both twice), Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Post Malone, Future and Drake all being held to No. 2 peaks behind the likes of Lil Nas X and now Roddy Ricch falls in that category of if you had predicted it, it would’ve never happened.
In the cases of Bieber and Swift, it’s particularly astonishing because both artists heavily promoted their songs and it’s happened to them both twice, with neither artist having had a No. 1 single in more than two years.
In Future’s case, the No. 2 position actually represents a high-water mark, as the highest position the Atlanta rapper had reached on the Hot 100 before “Life Is Good” was No. 5 (with “Mask Off”).
Drake’s No. 2 status as a featured artist on “Good” isn’t so shabby, as he can claim to be a mere contributor to someone else’s hit – although he makes a substantial contribution. Besides, his debut on this week’s chart ties him for the most appearances in Hot 100 history at 207 – a mark the Glee Club Cast reached years ago. Drake will no doubt surpass that and have the record all to himself very soon.
But it does speak to the status of all these artists as guaranteed chart-toppers. While many of them will no doubt hit No. 1 again in their careers, it’s no longer automatic. They’ll have to work much harder and be more savvy as newer, fresher artists populate the scene.
Or as Drake once said, “we started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
Except “here” may not be the top anymore, but a very close second.
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.
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