America’s New Favorite Song Finds Drake Saying “Sorry” for “Hotline Bling”

With his latest No. 1, the rapper takes a page from Justin Bieber and breaks another record. Now, where was I? Eleven weeks ago, in the closing paragraph of my “Why Is This Song No. 1?” article about “God’s Plan”—Drake’s previous chart topper and the song he himself ejects from Billboard’s penthouse this week—I offered [...] Read more

Drake’s Latest No. 1 Was a Foregone Conclusion. Is There Anything Left for Him to Prove?

The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” is now considered one of the greatest recordings in rock history, but when it was released in 1966, it never climbed higher than No. 39 on Billboard’s Hot 100. As I explained in the latest episode of my Slate podcast Hit Parade, this was partially because Brian Wilson’s exquisite [...] Read more

What Cardi B’s New No. 1 Has in Common With J. Lo’s First, and Taylor Swift’s Last

Growing up in the Bronx, a young Jennifer Lopez would dabble in anything that might one day make her famous: acting, dancing, choreography, even gymnastics and track. Oh, and singing—but it was Lopez’s least-pursued talent prior to her mid-twenties. As she rose to prominence during the 1990s, Lopez was, variously, a regional theater actress and [...] Read more

“Despacito” Is the Most Dominant Song of the Summer Ever. Could It Become the Biggest Hit, Period?

The last time Billboard’s Hot 100 had a new No. 1 song, the United States was still in the Paris climate accord. The Senate hadn’t even started Obamacare repeal, let alone botched it. North Korea hadn’t yet fired off a Hwasong-14 missile. And virtually no one outside of the investment banking community had heard of [...] Read more

Why America’s First Spanish-Language No. 1 in Decades Is Likely to Be the Song of the Summer

Could it be that we already know the Song of the Summer? This year, contenders are taking their turns atop Billboard’s Hot 100 exceptionally early and rapidly. Just since late April, the revolving door at No. 1 has been remarkable. Four new songs topped the chart in four consecutive weeks: tracks by Kendrick Lamar, Bruno [...] Read more

America’s New No. 1 Song Is the Triumph of DJ Khaled, Hip-Hop’s Jay Gatsby

What if “We Are the World” wasn’t about feeding starving people? This month 32 years ago, America’s No. 1 song was nominally about helping to alleviate sub-Saharan famine, but what folks remember best about USA for Africa’s chart-topping 1985 single (and especially its video) was all the superstars getting their turn at the mic. Critics [...] Read more