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Song Of the Summer Showdown: Drake, Ariana Grande, Cardi B and More Battle For the 2018 Title

Tim Marrs

     

The annual Song of the Summer chart tracks the 20 biggest hits on the Billboard Hot 100 -- based on airplay, streams and digital sales -- in a race that spans Memorial Day to Labor Day. Despite Drake’s “Nice for What” losing its No. 1 spot to Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” on the May 19 chart, “Nice” remains a contender among other standouts -- and some dark horses.

Drake, “Nice for What”

The track has already posted four weeks atop the Hot 100 and has been the top streaming song in the United States for four out of five weeks, adding to Drake’s titanic 2018. He’s the only one on this list to have scored a Song of the Summer, with “One Dance” in 2016, and with new album Scorpion due in June, he has laid down the gauntlet to rule again.

Ariana Grande, “No Tears Left to Cry”

Grande’s comeback hit, “No Tears Left to Cry,” blasted onto the Hot 100 at No. 3, marking her ninth top 10 and tying her career-best Hot 100 debut alongside “Problem,” which spent 16 weeks in the top 10 of the chart. The Max Martin-produced “No Tears” also debuted at No. 1 on Digital Song Sales and No. 5 on Streaming Songs.

Shawn Mendes, “In My Blood”

The song dropped following its debut at No. 22 on the Hot 100, but it’s rising again, 36-27, in its eighth week. The radio-approved Mendes (with three top 10 titles on Radio Songs preceding “Blood”) continues to find a warm reception on airwaves as “Blood” moves 16-14. And with a new self-titled LP coming May 25, its trajectory could accelerate.

Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa, “One Kiss”

A dark horse, given its modest No. 62 debut on the Hot 100, but don’t count it out. The tune sails 61-49 in its fifth week, and has promising gains in all three chart metrics: up 8 percent in streaming, 14 percent in sales and 15 percent in radio.

Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny & J Balvin, “I Like It”

Though not an official single (yet), “I Like It” debuted at No. 8 on the Hot 100 due to massive streaming after Cardi’s Invasion of Privacy dropped in April. The tune is No. 10 on Streaming Songs, and a rumored video suggests that “Like” could be Cardi’s summertime single.

Ella Mai, “Boo’d Up”

The breezy DJ Mustard-helmed track -- Mai’s first Hot 100 hit -- rockets 37-17 on the current chart, pushed by a 40-17 explosion on the Streaming Songs tally. The newcomer’s breakthrough hit has support from radio, too, as it holds at No. 4 on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay, behind three Drake hits: “Nice for What,” “God’s Plan” and a featured turn on BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive.”

-- TREVOR ANDERSON

 


 

WHAT ELSE? 
A handful of coming albums may pack last-minute songs to rule after Memorial Day.

BTS, Love Yourself: Tear (May 19)

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The K-pop superstars’ “MIC Drop” hit No. 4 on Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart last December, priming BTS for continued global success in 2018. The act begins a world tour in August, including six North American dates.

Kanye West, TBA (June 1)

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West had a Song of the Summer contender with his 2009 feature on Keri Hilson's “Knock You Down,” and in 2011 after guesting on Katy Perry’s remixed “E.T.” Though reactions to “Lift Yourself” and “Ye vs. the People” were lukewarm, Yeezy is one for surprises.

Christina Aguilera, Liberation (June 15)

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The pop icon last had a Song of the Summer winner in 1999, with her self-titled debut’s single “Genie in a Bottle.” The hip-hop-influenced new track “Accelerate” teases an unexpected direction that could put her back on top.

Nicki Minaj, Queen (June 15)

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With still-growing singles “Barbie Tingz” and “Chun-Li,” Minaj has a shot, especially since she nearly hit the top twice: in 2011 with “Super Bass,” and in 2012 with “Starships.”

Troye Sivan, Bloom (August)

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Though he has yet to release a contender, Sivan proved his potential with 2018 single “My My My!” hitting No. 80 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 24 on Pop Songs.

-- LYNDSEY HAVENS 

This article originally appeared in the May 19 Issue of Billboard.