Ask Billboard: Childish Gambino's First Hot 100 Top 10 Is a No. 1 – Is that a Rare Feat?

Plus, Drake, J. Cole & Post Malone's historic hits.

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'THIS IS' CHILDISH GAMBINO'S FIRST TOP 10, AND No. 1

Hi Gary,

It's simply fantastic that Childish Gambino's "This Is America" has debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (dated May 19). Thanks for pointing out that it's the first all-out socially-themed leader in some time. Of course, one could say that Drake's "Nice for What" is somewhat about female financial independence, or that Camila Cabello's "Havana," featuring Young Thug, winks at the Dreamers.

Meanwhile, when Donald Glover (aka, Gambino) was interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel May 11, Glover cited The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as a key inspiration. "It's kind of flawless," he said. Given that one of the set's most notable tracks, "Ex-Factor," considers reciprocity, and is sampled heavily in Drake's "Nice," how appropriate that Drake's hit (now at No. 2), powered in part by Hill's sample, has made way for Gambino's first No. 1. After all, part of the point of Gambino's song is that reciprocity is too uncommon in the U.S.

Also, given that Gambino/Glover's new No. 1 is truly of the moment, covering themes that are political and social; that it doesn't sample another recording; and, that it was written and recorded by a well-known star who already has earned Grammy Awards approval, could it become the first rap song to win record of the year?

So happy for the amazing artist and human named Donald Glover. Ah, hope for "America" again.

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Thanks Pablo. All great points about the song's most important elements.

Since you've covered those, I'll take the quirky chart stat angle. One of the more intriguing aspects in that regard is that "America" is not only Childish Gambino's first Hot 100 No. 1, but his first top 10, as he had previously peaked as high as No. 12, with "Redbone" in 2017.

Is that a rare achievement, topping the Hot 100 with a first top 10?

The prior five Hot 100 No. 1s, for instance, were all by lead artists who, unlike Gambino this week, had previously hit the top 10: Drake's "Nice" and "God's Plan"; Cabello's "Havana"; Ed Sheeran's "Perfect"; and, Post Malone's "Rockstar" (featuring 21 Savage).

Before that, Cardi B last did what Gambino has done this week: crown the Hot 100 in a first visit to the top 10, as her debut hit, "Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)," led for three weeks in October 2017.

Still, if we narrow down the category to lead artists who, like Gambino but unlike Cardi B, had previously hit the Hot 100 but not the top 10 and then soared to No. 1 in a first visit to the tier, we have to go back two more leaders before "Bodak Yellow."

Beginning last May 27, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito," featuring Justin Bieber, began its record-tying 16-week reign. Previously, Fonsi had charted no higher than No. 90, with "Nada Es Para Siempre," back in 2005. (He had hit the Hot 100 just once more since, reaching No. 92 with "No Me Doy Por Vencido" in 2008.) As with Gambino, Daddy Yankee had climbed as high as No. 12 before earning his first top 10, as featured (with Nina Sky, Gem Star and Big Mato) on N.O.R.E.'s "Oye Mi Canto" in 2004.

Before "Despacito," one of Glover's favorite acts, Migos, last achieved the feat, when "Bad and Boujee," featuring Lil Uzi Vert, led for three weeks starting Jan. 21, 2017. The trio had logged a prior No. 69 best with "Fight Night" in 2014.

So, of the 14 Hot 100 No. 1s since the start of 2017, only four belong to lead artists who had not previously visited the top 10.

Going back further, 10 songs led in 2016, with three by lead acts in the top 10 for the first time: Zayn (of course, formerly of One Direction, which had scored four top 10s while he was a member), Desiigner and Rae Sremmurd.

In 2015, eight songs topped the Hot 100, with two by top 10 rookie lead acts: Mark Ronson and OMI.

And, 2014 was relatively more welcoming to such artists, as, of the year's nine No. 1s, four were by lead acts earning their first top 10s with those hits: John Legend (who notched his first No. 1 and top 10, "All of Me," after 10 years of appearing on the chart), Iggy Azalea, MAGIC! and Meghan Trainor.

Overall, 13 of the past 42 Hot 100 No. 1s since the start of 2014, or 31 percent, have belonged to, like Childish Gambino, artists earning first No. 1s with their first top 10s.

If there's a lesson to be learned from this stat, it's that a prior history of top 10s often helps set up an artist's Hot 100 coronation. Still, sometimes (roughly three out of 10 times), the right song can simply connect and send an act all the way to the top regardless of an artist's track record.

Or, per the latter pattern, to quote the recipient of the prestigious Icon Award at tonight's Billboard Music Awards, mainstream success can be, as "This Is America" reflects this week, a matter of, what have you done for me lately.

IGGY, ARIANA, DRAKE, J. COLE & POST MALONE

Dear Gary,

I noticed something interesting in the Hot 100's top 10 last week (on the chart dated May 12) and the week before (May 5).

Last week, two acts, Drake and Post Malone, each charted three songs in the top 10 simultaneously. Drake appeared with his own "Nice for What" (No. 1) and "God's Plan" (No. 3) and as featured on BlocBoy JB's "Look Alive" (No. 9). Meanwhile, Post Malone charted with "Psycho," featuring Ty Dolla $ign (No. 2), "Better Now" (No. 7) and "Rockstar," featuring 21 Savage (No. 8).

The previous week, Drake's three hits ranked at Nos. 1, 2 and 9, respectively, while J. Cole jumped in at Nos. 6 ("ATM"), 8 ("Kevin's Heart") and 10 ("KOD"), all new entries on the Hot 100, marking the first time that an act had debuted three top 10s in the same week.

Prior to those two weeks, had that happened before: two acts each scoring three Hot 100 top 10s in the same week?

Thanks,

Raditya Gunardisurya
Jakarta, Indonesia

Hi Raditya,

One prior week in the Hot 100's 59-year history found a pair of acts each earning three simultaneous top 10s, but one component of the achievement makes the May 5 and 12-dated charts different from the first such instance.

These artists first tripled up in the top 10 together on the Hot 100 dated Aug. 30, 2014:

Ariana Grande
No. 4, "Break Free," feat. Zedd
No. 7, "Problem," feat. Iggy Azalea
No. 10, "Bang Bang," Jessie J, Grande & Nicki Minaj

Iggy Azalea
No. 5, "Fancy," feat. Charli XCX
No. 7, "Problem," Grande feat. Azalea
No. 8, "Black Widow," feat. Rita Ora

The difference between that week and this month's feats? Grande and Azalea shared one of those top 10s: "Problem." Thus, the May 5 and 12-dated Hot 100s mark the first and second times that two acts each charted three top 10s simultaneously while accounting for a hefty six songs in each week, thanks to Cole, Post Malone and, aptly, the 6 God.

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