Ask Billboard: Is Katy Perry's 'Prism' Better Than 'Teenage Dream'?

Katy Perry - Roar

A look at possible singles from - and the future success of - Perry's new album. Plus, women are ruling the Hot 100 at a nearly historic level

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

LORDES OF THE CHART

Hi Gary,

I've recently noticed that "Roar" by Katy Perry, "Royals" by Lorde, and "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus have been trading spots in the top three of the Hot 100. Thus, we've seen all of the three top songs each week by credited to solo women.

So, I've been trying to remember other times when such a feat has happened. But, I could only relate it to 2005, when  "Oh" by Ciara (featuring Ludacris), "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani and "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey were top three hits simultaneously. (Ludacris was not the lead artist on "Oh," so I think that song counts).

Could you give more such examples, please? And, if possible, try to explain with a theory why this occasionally happens? We can also see that both the current and 2005 cases include rising singers: Lorde now and Ciara then. ("Oh" was her third single, but she was then at the start of her long career.)

Thankfully,

Lucca Mascarenhas
São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Hi Lucca,

Great observation. To answer the last part of your question first, I'm not sure it's anything other than timing mixed with three absolute smashes by Lorde ("Royals"), Perry ("Roar") and Cyrus ("Wrecking Ball"). Sometimes men hold such a lock, if there's, say, a long-lasting hit like "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, and sometimes groups do, such as when Black Eyed Peas reigned for 26 straight weeks with "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling" in 2009.

It's interesting, though, that after Lorde, Perry and Cyrus at Nos. 1-3 on this week's Hot 100, Lady Gaga (No. 9) and Lana Del Rey (No. 11) are the only other lead women in top 20. That the trio is bunched up in the top three speaks to the strengths of their current singles.

Lorde, Perry and Cyrus have monopolized the Hot 100's top three for six consecutive weeks, with Lorde at the summit for the past four frames. It's not, however, a record, for women locking up the top three for the most consecutive weeks.

The all-time mark? In 1998-99, lead women held the top three for a record 12 weeks in a row. And, 10 of those frames included only solo women, with no featured males. Here are the songs that contributed to the record dominance:

"Have You Ever?," Brandy
"Nobody's Supposed to Be Here," Deborah Cox
"...Baby One More Time," Britney Spears

"Angel of Mine," Monica
"Believe," Cher
"Heartbreak Hotel," Whitney Houston feat. Faith Evans & Kelly Price (as even the featured acts were women)

And, since Celine Dion is co-billed with R. Kelly on "I'm Your Angel," we can up the count from 10 to 12 weeks of women occupying the top 10 consecutively.

We could even expand the mark to an amazing 18 weeks if we consider songs featuring female vocals. The list would then include Divine's "Lately" and Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)."

Lorde, Perry and Cyrus, thus, have combined for the second-longest top-three occupation by solo women in the Hot 100's 55-year history.

Some honorable mentions: 2005, as you mention, Lucca, saw Stefani, Ciara and Carey owning the top three for four successive weeks.

2001 was a monster year for women on the Hot 100. From April through that June, Janet Jackson, Destiny's Child, Dido and the team of Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and P!nk combined for six straight weeks in the top three. That August/September, Mariah Carey, Blu Cantrell, Destiny's Child, Eve – featuring Gwen Stefani ("Let Me Blow Ya Mind) – Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez and Jackson also tripled up in the top three for six weeks in a row.

1979 was also a landmark year for women on the survey. For a whopping nine weeks, female voices held the top three, thanks to Donna Summer, Sister Sledge, Anita Ward, Chic and Barbra Streisand.

For four of those frames (June 30-July 21, 1979), solo women held sway with three songs: Ward's "Ring My Bell" and two – "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" – by the artist aptly named for that sultry season, Donna Summer.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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