Note to my dear readers: Thanks to the dozens of you who sent good wishes my way last week, on Twitter and elsewhere, as I took “100 and Single” to my own blog. Also, apologies for the ongoing commenting glitches; I hope to have that fixed by the time I do my next full-length column. Below is a mini-column. For the past year on Idolator, the column has been biweekly, but now that I’m taking it back I’m hoping, as my work schedule permits, to produce something every Friday – a full-length piece one week followed by quicker, shorter rundowns the next. Please bear with me during this transitional period.
How he broke the curse: Completely contrary to my confident prediction last week, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys rise to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with “Empire State of Mind,” making it the first song specifically about New York City to reach the penthouse. As if taunting me, Billboard’s own “Chart Beat” team does a better job than I did running down previous NYC-centric hits. (My biggest mistake: forgetting to search for hits with “Harlem” or “Broadway” in the title. Aretha Franklin’s “Spanish Harlem” peaked at No. 2, among several other Gotham-based tracks. Still, I was right about no NYC songs going to the top before.)
Incidentally, “Empire” is also the first-ever chart-topper for Jigga as a lead, not featured, act; he’s dropped rhymes over the bridge or lead-in of three prior chart-toppers, by Mariah Carey (“Heartbreaker,” 1999), future wife Beyoncé (“Crazy in Love,” 2003) and protégée Rihanna (“Umbrella,” 2007). Scoring his first No. 1 one month before his 40th birthday is sort of unbelievable. It’s doubly so when you consider his album-chart record: 11 chart-toppers as of two months ago, the most among solo acts and second place among all acts, behind the Beatles. (So much for that old rock-critic theory that hip-hop is a singles-based, not album-based, medium…)