Dua Lipa‘s “Levitating” triumphs as the No. 1 hit on Billboard‘s 2021 year-end Hot 100 Songs chart, following its record-breaking run on the weekly ranking, which blends streaming, radio airplay and sales data.
Meanwhile, Olivia Rodrigo leads Billboard‘s 2021 year-end Hot 100 Artists recap, becoming the youngest woman ever to take top honors in the category over the chart’s 63-year archives.
Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts dated Nov. 21, 2020, through Nov. 13, 2021. The rankings for MRC Data-based recaps reflect equivalent album units, airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that the titles appeared on a respective chart during the tracking year. Any activity registered before or after a title’s chart run isn’t considered in these rankings. That methodology detail, and the November-November time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by MRC Data.
‘‘Levitating’ Doing Its Thing on the Billboard Chart Is Absolutely Surreal’
“Levitating” debuted on the weekly Hot 100 dated Oct. 17, 2020. It peaked at No. 2 on the May 22, 2021-dated survey and, as of the latest, Dec. 4-dated list, has yet to depart the chart. The song ranked in the Hot 100’s top 40 each week of the 2021 chart year (Nov. 21, 2020-Nov. 13, 2021), with 41 of those frames in the top 10 — a record for a song by a woman over the Hot 100’s history. Overall, it’s second only to The Weeknd’s 57-week run in the top 10 with “Blinding Lights,” 2020’s year-end Hot 100 No. 1.
“It’s nice after you work so hard, especially despite the pandemic, when you’ve got limited resources,” Lipa marveled to Billboard upon learning of the top year-end status for “Levitating.” “So it means a lot to me. ‘Levitating’ doing its thing on the Billboard chart is absolutely surreal. That song has been my baby for so long, and to have it out in the world, and for people’s response to be the way that it is, it’s just absolutely mind-blowing to me. I’m really, really, really grateful for it all.”
The persistent performance of “Levitating” paid off, as it’s only the third song to be crowned the Hot 100’s year-end top hit without having reached No. 1 on the weekly Hot 100 ranking. Since the chart began in August 1958, a non-weekly leader previously won for an entire year only in 2000 and 2001, when Faith Hill’s “Breathe” and Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” were the biggest hits of each respective year. Both tracks also peaked at No. 2 on the weekly Hot 100, the former for five weeks and the latter for four. Both songs, also like “Levitating,” logged year-plus runs on the chart overall, further enabling their overall top year-end finishes.
The year-end No. 1 on Hot 100 Songs is by a lead female artist for the first time in 10 years, since Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” reigned in 2011. (The last year-end No. 1 to credit a female artist at all was 2012’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” with Gotye as the lead act and Kimbra in a featured role.)
“Levitating” is also No. 1 on the 2021 year-end Billboard Global 200, Streaming Songs, Radio Songs, Pop Airplay, Adult Pop Airplay and Billboard Canadian Hot 100 charts.
The song navigated a winding road to its chart success. First released on Lipa’s album Future Nostalgia in March 2020, it debuted on Pop Airplay in October 2020 and initially peaked at No. 4 for two weeks in January. It fell off the list for two months in March-May before re-entering in May. Helping spark its revival, Lipa and DaBaby, the featured artist on the song’s most prominent remix, performed “Levitating” at the Grammy Awards in March as part of a medley with lead Future Nostalgia single “Don’t Start Now,” a No. 2 Hot 100 hit in March 2020 and the No. 4 song of all of 2020.
“Levitating” also surged as a soundtrack to clips on TikTok. “I really believe TikTok gave it a humongous jolt back into the pop-culture forefront,” Erik Bradley, music director at KNOU Los Angeles and assistant program director/md at WBBM-FM Chicago, told Billboard in June. “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.”
The song maintained its prominent weekly presence on the Hot 100 even after its DaBaby version was largely dropped at radio following the rapper’s controversial comments at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami on July 25. (In a July 27 Instagram post, Lipa wrote of DaBaby: “I really don’t recognize this as the person I worked with. I know my fans know where my heart lies and that I stand 100% with the LGBTQ community.”)
The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears,” with Ariana Grande, ranks at No. 2 on the year-end Hot 100 Songs chart. It was originally released as a solo track by The Weeknd in 2020 and received a boost, which helped drive it to No. 1 on the weekly Hot 100 in May, from their collaborative remix. Plus, 2020’s year-end Hot 100 champ, The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” is the No. 3 Hot 100 title of 2021. He is the first act with two of the top three year-end Hot 100 hits since Justin Bieber held Nos. 1 and 2 in 2016 with “Love Yourself” and “Sorry,” respectively.
Rounding out the top five on the 2021 year-end Hot 100 Songs chart are 24kGoldn’s “Mood,” featuring iann dior, at No. 4 and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” at No. 5. The former topped the Hot 100 for eight weeks between October 2020 and this January, while the latter led in its debut week in May, becoming Rodrigo’s second No. 1, after “Drivers License,” the year’s No. 8 hit, ruled the Hot 100 for eight weeks from its January debut.
Sweet Success for Sour‘s Songs
Meanwhile, Rodrigo crowns the 2021 Hot 100 Artists chart, also sparked by the year-end ranks of her singles “Deja Vu” (No. 13) and “Traitor” (No. 38) on the year’s Hot 100 Songs recap, with those songs, each of which hit the weekly Hot 100’s top 10, and her two weekly leaders all from her debut LP, Sour.
Rodrigo is the first woman to win top honors on Hot 100 Artists since Katy Perry in 2014. The singer-songwriter, 18, also makes history as the youngest woman ever to rank at No. 1 on Hot 100 Artists. Among all acts, she’s the youngest to achieve the feat since Michael Jackson, then 14, tied Al Green for the title in 1972.
Drake places at No. 2 on Hot 100 Artists for 2021, having upped his totals during the chart year to nine career No. 1s and a record-extending 54 top 10s. He’s followed in the top five by The Weeknd, Bieber and Doja Cat, at Nos. 2 through 5, respectively.