The Weeknd's 'Blinding Lights' Breaks Record for Most Weeks at No. 1 on Radio Songs Chart

The Weeknd
Anton Tammi

The Weeknd

"I think people have been longing for simpler times and a nostalgic escape," says one radio programmer.

The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights" breaks the record for the most weeks spent atop Billboard's all-format Radio Songs airplay chart, logging a 19th frame at No. 1 on the survey dated Aug. 22.

The song eclipses Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris," which led for 18 weeks in 1998 and held the record all to itself for nearly 22 years.

Contributing to its Radio Songs reign, "Blinding Lights," released on XO/Republic Records, adds a 13th week at No. 1 on the Adult Pop Songs airplay chart, the longest command for a lead solo male in the list's nearly 25-year history, surpassing the 12-week dominations of Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" in 2017 and Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" in 2006.

"Blinding Lights" topped the Pop Songs airplay chart for six weeks and reached No. 2 on Rhythmic Songs. This week, it hits a new high at No. 6 on Adult Contemporary.

The song led the all-genre, airplay-, streaming- and sales-based Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, this week placing at No. 3. It adds its 26th week in the top 10, becoming one of 22 singles ever to lodge itself in the tier for at least half-a-year.

The Weeknd's smash also adds a record-padding 22nd week at No. 1 on the multi-metric Hot R&B Songs chart.

What's behind the extended shine of "Blinding Lights"?

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, "I think people have been longing for simpler times and a nostalgic escape," Will Calder, director of branding and programming for Cox Media Group Pop Songs reporters WPOI Tampa and WPYO Orlando, recently mused to Billboard. "'Blinding Lights' is 2020's answer to [a-ha's 1985 Hot 100 No. 1] 'Take on Me.' It stands out because it's different, but also familiar. And, most importantly, it just makes you feel good."

Along with the song's sound, Republic executive vp of promotion Gary Spangler recently noted, "Every quantifiable metric is through the roof, not just domestically but globally."

Also potentially helping "Blinding Lights," and other established hits, according to industry sources, is that budgets for radio stations' audience research have been challenged amid the coronavirus. Faced with less measurable data, programmers may be opting to stick with what's been working instead of taking chances on newer, more unproven titles.

Beyond The Weeknd's hit on the latest Radio Songs chart, Post Malone's "Circles," at No. 8, spends a record-extending 44th week in the top 10, having ranked in the region continuously since late October 2019.

That many operators are balancing working from home with partial schedules on-site at stations could also be playing into a reliance on the familiar on playlists among more pressing logistical priorities.

Plus, less established acts can't tour or make in-person station visits at the moment, further reducing their avenues toward forging greater inroads and, thus, challenging incumbent stars.

Brian Kelly, vp of operations at Entercom Milwaukee, which includes Pop Songs panelist WXSS, and the company's national top 40 format captain, recently called The Weeknd "one of the biggest core artists of the format." Of "Blinding Lights" he said, "This is one song that we were pulling for and thank goodness it finally came through and is staying for a while."

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