The “Old Town Road” Controversy Reveals Problems Beyond Just Race

  Music The debate about Lil Nas X’s No. 1 hit is only the latest sign that Billboard’s methodology is broken. By Chris Molanphy April 12, 20194:23 PM <img src="https://compote.slate.com/images/6f8b3507-72bb-4d74-928b-46a983211fe4.jpeg?width=780&amp;height=520&amp;rect=1560x1040&amp;offset=0x0" alt="Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus" /> Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Columbia Records; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty [...] Read more

Why Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” Is the Ultimate “Bop,” for Better or for Worse

Writing about popular music is lousy with obnoxious words. Indeed, there are so many—jangly, crunchy, seminal—that there is a whole book of them (and shamefully, I have used my share). Making things more complicated, much of this language is also subject to a generational divide—words coined by the young are understood to be off-limits to [...] Read more

The Music Club, 2018

Entry 6: Will Drake’s reign ever end? Happy Festivus, my Kikis who will never, ever leave me: As part of its year-in-review package, Billboard published a calendar of everything Drake did every day of 2018. When I saw this a few days ago, I plaintively—desperately?—asked my social media feed: This is it, right? This means [...] Read more

Does Travis Scott Deserve His First No. 1, or Is He Just a Master of Chart Gimmicks?

Why “Sicko Mode” sits atop the Hot 100. In early 1984—as Michael Jackson’s Thriller was nearing the end of its epic run at No. 1, about 15 months after its release—a non-album single appeared on the radio that sounded like a Jackson bonus track. It was clearly Michael’s voice, singing the chorus, sounding paranoid about [...] Read more

How Maroon 5 Fused With the Pop Machine to Score a Second Life on the Charts

The band’s new No. 1 is only their latest collaboration with the song factory. The Beatles. Led Zeppelin. The Clash. Talking Heads. The Police. Nirvana. All of these hit-making, Hall of Fame–level rock bands recorded together for fewer years than Maroon 5, who have now been releasing hit albums and, especially, hit singles for 16 [...] Read more