The Year in Streaming Charts 2019: Post Malone Leads, Pop Gains Ground

Adam Degross
Post Malone

Hip-hop was the flavor of Billboard’s streaming charts in 2018, a feat no more evident than in the year-end Streaming Songs Artists list, where 17 of the 25 were rappers.

For 2019? Well, rap still largely reigns, but don’t look now, because pop is mounting a charge.

The 25-position 2019 year-end Streaming Songs list is still largely hip-hop-driven, with, once again, 17 of the 25 either explicitly rappers or marrying multiple genres that include occasional rapping (see: Lizzo). But after a 2018 chart where the entire top four of the year-end artists list were rappers, along with eight of the top 10, the genre’s hold on the highest reaches of the year-end survey dwindles slightly for 2019, with two of the top five coming from the pop realm alongside four of the top 10.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps are based on chart performance during the charts dated Nov. 24, 2018, to Nov. 16, 2019. Data registered before or after a title’s chart run is not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-to-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Nielsen Music.

Explore All of Billboard's 2019 Year-End Charts

Perhaps it’s fitting that the artist who leads the 2019 Streaming Songs Artists list somewhat marries pop and hip-hop. Post Malone, who ranks at No. 1, has made waves for his pop crossovers as much, if not more than his hip-hop wins, for 2019 album Hollywood’s Bleeding. “Sunflower,” his Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse collaboration with Swae Lee, concurrently ranks on the year-end Streaming Songs list at No. 2, and despite featuring a pair of artists also embraced by hip-hop circles, the track is completely sung and was more impactful on pop-leaning radio vs. hip-hop, similar with Malone-only single “Wow.”

Whatever his genre, Malone’s reign atop Streaming Songs Artists is his first, following an appearance at No. 9 in 2017 and No. 2 last year. He leads thanks not only because of his songs’ success on the weekly Streaming Songs chart but also due to his saturation of the market, with a chart-leading 22 entries on the list in 2019, four more than the next-closest act (DaBaby, 18).

Malone helps Republic land the top two on Streaming Songs Artists for 2019, as Ariana Grande ranks at No. 2. Grande’s the first pop-specific artist in the year-end top two since Justin Bieber ranked at No. 2 in 2016, and it’s Grande’s first time in the year-end top 10 since 2014, when she reached No. 5.

While she’s been a longtime entrant on Streaming Songs, Grande’s 2019 success is assisted by her the fact that “Thank U Next” and “7 Rings,” the first two singles from Grande’s 2019 album Thank U, Next, were her first two No. 1s on Streaming Songs at all. The former debuted at No. 1 on the final weekly tally of 2018 (Nov. 17, 2018) and led for seven total weeks, while “7 Rings” reigned for eight starting in February.

Meanwhile, the No. 3 act on Streaming Songs Artists claims the top entry on the year-end Streaming Songs tally, and chances are you know exactly who we’re talking about.

After all, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, was everywhere. It didn’t just claim the record for the longest-running Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 in the tally’s history at 19 weeks, it also broke the record for the most weeks atop Streaming Songs with 20, four weeks more than its closest competitor, “Despacito.” Along the way, the song scored the three biggest weeks streaming-wise in history -- April 20 (143 million streams), June 1 (130.7 million) and April 27 (125.2 million) -- as well as eight of the top 10.

There were times, in fact, where the song didn’t just lead the chart – it had triple the streams of the next-biggest song.

Comparatively, by year’s end, the most-streamed song in the country, Lil Tecca​’s “Ran$om,” earned 30.5 million streams toward the Nov. 16 list, the lowest single-week stream count for the biggest such song since January 2017. Don’t think of that as an indication that the market is losing steam, per se; rather, the close of 2019 saw fewer zeitgeisty, major releases prior to the end of the decade racking up sizable streaming numbers against the rest of the pack.

One last act might surprise you in the top 10 of the Streaming Songs list: Pinkfong, who also looms just outside the Streaming Songs Artists top 10 at No. 13.

Thank “Baby Shark.” The viral kids song, which originally debuted on the weekly Streaming Songs tallies during the close of the 2018 chart year, eventually peaked at No. 14 in February, while sticking around on the chart for the entire year, often hovering in the top 30 or 40 even at the end of the year. Its streams eventually helped drive the song to a No. 32 peak on the Hot 100 in early January.

It’s one of two somewhat kid-oriented songs in the top 10, as the aforementioned “Sunflower” came from the Spider-Man soundtrack.

2019 Billboard Year in Music


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