Chart Beat

'Mule' Meme Sends Shirley Caesar to No. 1 on Hot Gospel Songs

Shirley Caesar performs in 2016
Johnny Louis/Getty Images

Shirley Caesar performs at BankUnited Center on May 8, 2016 in Coral Gables, Fla. 

The gospel legend rules the chart thanks to continued social media buzz.

Genre icon Shirley Caesar, 79, earns her first No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart (dated Dec. 10), as "Hold My Mule," featuring Albertina Walker and Milton Brunson, rises 2-1. Caesar, who first reached a Billboard chart in 1975 and originally released "Mule" in 1988, reigns as the track leads Gospel Streaming Songs for a second week, up by 268 percent to 3 million U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music. On Gospel Digital Songs, "Mule" debuts at No. 12 (up 109 percent).

As reported last week when "Mule" debuted at No. 2 on Hot Gospel Songs, in the tradition of recent social media memes like the Mannequin Challenge has come the U Name It Challenge, which started when remix mastermind Suede created an update of "Mule," with special focus on the line, "beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb," among other food shout-outs, all timely tie-ins leading up to Thanksgiving. "Mule" gained greater traction when Chris Brown posted a video dancing to the song, inspiring further viral clips.

Since Hot Gospel Songs launched in 2005, Caesar previously reached a high of No. 3 with "God Will Make a Way" in 2013.

GARRELS DEBUTS: Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Josh Garrels makes his first appearance on Top Christian Albums, where his new holiday set The Light Came Down enters at No. 10 (4,000 sold). The release also debuts at No. 6 on Americana/Folk Albums, where it's Garrels' second appearance, following the No. 4-peaking Home in 2015.