"Don't Start Now," "Break My Heart" and "Levitating" were all first released on Lipa's 2020 album Future Nostalgia, making the set the first to spin off a trio of Pop Airplay No. 1s in over five years; Selena Gomez's Revival generated "Good for You" (featuring A$AP Rocky), "Same Old Love" and "Hands to Myself" in 2015-16.
Future Nostalgia is also the first album with three Pop Airplay No. 1s promoted by Warner Records in the chart's 28-year history. ("Levitating" was released by Lipa solo on the LP; its DaBaby remix arrived in October. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill, released on Maverick/Reprise/Warner, yielded a trio of Pop Airplay leaders in 1996, although they were promoted to radio by Reprise.)
Notably, "Levitating" completes a uniquely circuitous route to the Pop Airplay summit. It debuted at No. 26 on the Oct. 17, 2020, chart and first peaked at No. 4 for two weeks in January. It fell off the chart for two months in March-May before re-entering on the May 15 survey.
Helping spark its revival, Lipa and DaBaby performed "Levitating" during the Grammy Awards March 14 as part of a medley with "Don't Start Now," while "Levitating" has also surged as a soundtrack to clips on TikTok.
"I really believe TikTok gave it a humongous jolt back into the pop culture forefront," says Erik Bradley, music director at KNOU (97.1 Now!) Los Angeles and assistant program director/md at WBBM-FM (B96) Chicago, both of which report to the Pop Airplay chart. "It sure is an interesting case. There was a period as it was re-emerging at radio when you couldn't open TikTok without seeing it all over your feed."
Bradley notes that the song has "remained at or near the top, week after week" in listener research.
Cat Thomas, pd of Pop Airplay panelist KQMV (Movin 92.5) Seattle, concurs, sharing that "Levitating" has lodged itself in the station's highest or second-highest level of rotation "throughout the song's run. It did take a slight dip, but not so much. It went from an 'A' to a 'B,' then to an 'A' again."
Additionally, per Thomas, "The upbeat and tempo flavor of the song is a big help, with several major artists' songs being ballads. We need the tempo to separate the slow songs."
"Levitating" has even outperformed two songs that Lipa has sent onto Pop Airplay since it debuted. Miley Cyrus' "Prisoner," featuring Lipa, hit No. 23 in January and Lipa's own "Levitating" follow-up "We're Good" rose to No. 11 in early May.
"It was a perfect storm that helped bring it all the way back," muses Bradley. "You love to see it."