With digital downloads and online streams becoming two of the more dominant ingredients in the recipe of most of Billboard Hot 100 hits today, critics started to argue that topping the chart had become easier than ever to achieve. But, despite the likes of Jay Z, Drake, and Beyonce making headlines in 2013 for moving some of the year’s most impressive numbers on Billboard 200, they have another commonality – no Hot 100 #1 singles.
In fact, they join a bevy of African American hitmakers (i.e. Alicia Keys, Kanye West, J. Cole) who delivered chart-topping albums in late 2012 or 2013 without the aid of a similarly successful single.
Even this generation’s Hot 100 queen Rihanna, whose #1 single ‘Diamonds’ was dethroned two weeks before 2013’s beginning, did not see her name stamped atop the tally [as a leading act] for a song she released this year…
“According to writer Chris Molanphy, who surveys the pop charts, this is the first time this had happened in the Billboard chart ‘s 55 years. It represents a huge contrast to 10 years ago when a person of a color recorded every chart-topping hit.
In a similar role reversal, Molanphy also cited that white artists topped the No. 1 spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 44 out of the 52 weeks last year.”
The feat is all the more eyebrow-raising when one considers that most of 2013’s biggest hits (i.e. Justin Timberlake‘s ‘Suit & Tie’, Robin Thicke‘s ‘Blurred Lines’, Eminem‘s ‘The Monster’) all had African American co-stars in the form of usual chart-toppers Jay Z, T.I., and Rihanna.
Does this shift mean anything or was it just an isolated circumstance? Sure, many-a-theorist would reignite conspiracies of popular White artists resorting to musical looting from artists of color for their own gain (see: Elvis Presley, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Macklemore, Justin Bieber, Robin Thicke), but that has never stopped artists of color from at least notching one chart-topper over the course of 52 weeks.
Some argue the absence is just a sign of hip-hop completely losing its grip on charts to EDM, but others could easily refute that with the likes of tunes like ‘Thrift Shop’, ‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘The Monster’s firm grip on charts. Even Lorde‘s ‘Royals’, one of the year’s biggest hits, was hip-hop driven.
So, we turn to you – That Grape Juice faithful – to share your opinion.
Is it a fluke or a sign of the times?
Tidbit: In 2004, nearly a decade prior, no White artists hit #1 on the Hot 100. Every single act that topped the chart that year was African-American [source].