A couple years ago, when a song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 it often meant that the entire world was rooting for its success. For a song to generate a massive amount of attention to top the charts on its debut week, it would mean that the song’s release was an actual event.
Prior to the streaming era, songs that debuted at No. 1 achieved the accomplishment due to strong first week sales, radio airplay, and overall word of mouth. Nowadays, any superstar that bundles their songs with merchandise and a music video premiere to accompany the release just means they’re aiming for a No. 1 peak on its debut week.
But while such antics come across as desperate and calculated, it represents the name of the game, and if you can’t beat the competition, join them. For artists like Ariana Grande whose first and only four No. 1 singles all debuted at No. 1, it’s a rare accomplishment, for artists like 6IX9INE who’s only No. 1 single debuted at No. 1 and then plummeted off the charts, it ruins the prestige.
The year 2020 had a record breaking 6 songs debut at No. 1, and we’re only at the halfway point. Here’s the good, the ok, and the bad
“Stuck With U” – Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber’s long-awaited return to the scene with Changes wasn’t the comeback that the world expected. So, for him to release yet another single, wasn’t looking to be so good. But, “Stuck With U” was the redemption song that proved he still got it. Teaming up with fellow Scoter Braun signee, Ariana Grande, this retro-doo wop sounding song complemented both their voices, showcasing an undeniable amount of chemistry.
“The Scotts” – The Scotts ( Kid Cudi and Travis Scott)
When Kid Cudi and Travis Scott collaborated for the fourth time, fans knew to expect something special. “The Scotts” was a triumphant moment that was greater than the song itself. It’s a song that’d you expect from both artists – a spacey atmospheric synth-heavy production, backed by the Travis melody effect, and Cudi’s signature delivery. Much like Travis Scott’s previous No. 1 debut “Highest In The Room”, the highlight was the outro provided by Mike Dean. A not-so ambitious collaboration that succeeded with giving Kid Cudi’s first No. 1 in his decade long career.
“Toosie Slide” – Drake
“Toosie Slide” was Drake’s attempt at getting a viral TikTok hit but proved that you can’t force a viral hit. Artists these days have witnessed the power of a TikTok challenge and attempt at creating their own, but don’t realize that you can’t force something to go viral. Songs like “Blinding Lights” and “Say So” had a natural appeal that catered to various demographics, thus fueling an organic viral hit. But with Drake, who basically birthed the viral dance challenge with “Hotline Bling”, created an embarrassing buzz track that ultimately became forgotten in the long run.
“Trollz” – 6IX9INE & Nicki Minaj
The controversial duo that is 6IX9INE and Nicki Minaj once again caused an uproar with their third collaboration “TROLLZ”. Absolutely succeeding with the trolling, both acts deliver a big F you to the industry and somehow found their selves at the top of the charts, but then quickly fell off. While the song is not terrible per se, it’s a guilty pleasure that is met with a terribly mixed production, a generic 6ix9ine delivery, and Nicki Minaj finding herself impressively switching flows and carrying the song along the way.
“Rain On Me” – Lady Gaga featuring Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande makes yet another appearance, this time she’s the saving grace. Over a BURNS production, both pop stars attempt to create a soaring uplifting dance pop song but falls flat halfway through. “Rain On Me” showcases an awkward, semi-aggressive vocal delivery from Lady Gaga who somehow tries to overshadow Ariana Grande, thus allowing two vocal styles to clash instead of blending together effortlessly.
“Cardigan” – Taylor Swift
Right before Billboard decided to no longer count bundles for chart success, Taylor Swift found herself surprise releasing an entire album before the cutoff date. “Cardigan” arrives with the usual generic fairytale referenced songwriting that sounds like a failed Ed Sheeran attempt at folk music.
"WAP" - Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion
When two chart-topping female rappers collaborate, the outcome is another chart-topping song. Unlike "Savage" (Remix) and "Bodak Yellow" or "I Like It", "WAP" reeks of desperation of forcing a hyper-sexual song for the sake of being sexual. It's neither genre-breaking or a grand slam collaboration that it should've been, instead, it's a City Girls knockoff, in fact, we just heard a similar City Girls sounding song with Doja Cat.