We’ve gotten off to something of a slow start in 2022 when it comes to big-ticket releases by a A-list pop artists — so to get a new one from two at once is of course a pretty big deal.
That’s what we got earlier this March with the release of “Sweetest Pie,” the first ever teamup between Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa. The song arrived (after a couple teases from the star pair) two Fridays ago, with a Dave Meyers-directed music video to match — and this week, on the chart dated March 26, it debuts at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
How should the duo feel about that first-week performance? And when are we going to start seeing more movement on the Hot 100 again? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.
1. “Sweetest Pie” debuts at No. 15 on the Hot 100 this week. As the much-buzzed-about new single by two of the 20 biggest pop stars of last year, how would you rate that first-week performance on a scale from sweet to sour?
Lyndsey Havens: Pretty sweet. A top 20 debut from two of the 20 biggest pop stars of the last year is nothing to frown at — especially during a time when it’s been especially difficult for new songs to break into the chart’s upper echelon. Just look at current No. 1: “Heat Waves,” which needed a 59-week climb to the top. Of the Hot 100’s top 10, seven songs have been on the chart for over 20 weeks. So even if “Sweetest Pie” fails to take a bite of the top 10 in the near future, landing this close at all is quite impressive.
Gil Kaufman: Just north of mouth-puckering, and not in a good way. Dua is coming off a massive pandemic surge in popularity thanks to “Levitating” and the well-orchestrated Future Nostalgia roll-out, and Megan is inarguably one of the hottest rappers in the game, expert at keeping us intrigued, whether through her singles, college graduation or other clever brand extensions. Considering their collective heat, this feels like a soft landing.
Jason Lipshutz: Fairly sweet! Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion have developed into A-list artists over the past two years, although neither has the kind of longevity yet to ensure a No. 1 debut on the Hot 100, a la Adele or Justin Bieber. With that in mind, a top 20 debut for “Sweetest Pie” represents a nice start for a song that should climb over the course of the spring as pop radio begins picking it up.
Heran Mamo: I’d say it’s a tad sour, especially after another recent superstar team-up between Post Malone and The Weeknd, “One Right Now,” debuted at No. 6. But Meg certainly found the sweet side of it all when she tweeted, “For me to completely step out of my normal zone / genre/ style of music or whatever and crack the TOP 20 on @billboardcharts as the DEBUT!!! Bi— I’m gagginggg.” The song has plenty of time to rise above, however – especially since Lipa is the longevity queen with how long “Levitating” has stayed on the Hot 100 (a historical 70 weeks and counting). Even though the song never levitated past the No. 2 spot, it still finished at No. 1 on the 2021 Year-End Hot 100. So this song’s first-week performance might not be super sweet, but the results later on might be.
Andrew Unterberger: A little on the sour side, given how low the water level is right now for a top 10 hit. That said, neither artist has ever been the type to debut in the top 10 automatically — in fact, this is Lipa’s highest-debuting Hot 100 hit to date — so maybe it’s unfair to judge the song too much by its debut frame, as clearly both artists have made their names making hits for the long haul.
2. Do you think the collaboration is a good illustration of the stars’ respective strengths? Is it more or less than the sum of their parts?
Lyndsey Havens: Well, there comes a point in a superstar’s career where one of their strengths is… being a superstar. While I don’t think this song necessarily challenges either artist — which is, I suppose, to say it’s more a sum of their parts — that’s not necessarily worth faulting them for. It’s a catchy release from two badass women and for me that’s enough — and likely what it will be remembered for most.
Gil Kaufman: Yes and no. Dua brings the expected disco-lite smoothness and Megan is just raunchy enough (but not too much) to get the song on radio rotation and onto the right streaming playlists. But on the whole it feels safe for both of them, and definitely doesn’t advance the ball in terms of either woman’s sound or musical persona.
Jason Lipshutz: “Sweetest Pie” isn’t the type of disco-fied pop jam that Lipa has excelled at, or the crossover-ready rap showcase that has allowed Megan to ascend; the song tries to find a middle point between the two styles, and while the hook and production aren’t strong enough to crack either artist’s highlight reel, their singular personalities still shine through. It’s not perfect, but I’m glad “Sweetest Pie” exists.
Heran Mamo: I think it’s more than the sum of their parts. Going back to Meg’s tweet, this is new territory for the rapper, who’s still maneuvering the pop lane. While she and Doja Cat guest starred on Ariana Grande’s Hot 100 No. 2 “34+35” remix in 2020, Meg takes another bite into the bubblegum pop scene with “Sweetest Pie.” But mixed with Dua’s groovy, radio-friendly hook that adds a dash more sexy than her blockbuster pandemic album Future Nostalgia, “Sweetest Pie” shows that these two are bigger than the genres they respectively conquer.
Andrew Unterberger: I think it’s about the sum of their parts, but that that those parts might’ve added up to more with a stronger song concept, or at least one that the artists involved seemed a little more invested in than this one. Wouldn’t be shocked if they worked together again soon enough, though — maybe with Dua singing the hook for a more traditionally Megan-sounding single, as kind of the second half of a home-and-home between the two stars.
3. The next album eras from both Megan and Dua will be among the most anticipated of their respective years. Does this seem like a jumping-off point to that for either artist, or more likely just a one-off collab?
Lyndsey Havens: This seems to me like a one-off collab (at least, I’m hoping it is). I love being gifted in-between-cycle treats and this accomplishes that as we wait patiently for a new “era,” if you will, from both artists on their own. Especially considering the return to touring — for Lipa in particular — if it’s going to be a while, at least we can enjoy a nice slice while we wait.
Gil Kaufman: It’s a nice one-off to have in the bank, but it’s hard to see this lighter-than-air pop trifle getting anyone super-pumped for their respective next moves. Too soft for Meg’s fans, a bit more of the same (but not as inspiring) for Lipa’s people.
Jason Lipshutz: Depends on timing, really. If Lipa, who’s currently touring the world behind Future Nostalgia, is still a long way away from releasing a new album, or if Megan Thee Stallion’s still not ready to begin her next era, then “Sweetest Pie” represents a fun one-off for both artists. But if either artist returns with a new project in the coming months, then “Sweetest Pie” would be a timely top 20 hit previewing that project. Musically, the single doesn’t sound like a stark departure or declarative statement by either artist, so I wouldn’t expect “Sweetest Pie” to function as a lead single.
Heran Mamo: Considering Meg chose this single to lead her highly anticipated sophomore album, this could mean she might be diving deeper into pop for the project. Don’t forget she collaborated with Maroon 5 on “Beautiful Mistakes” last year, and Adam Levine commended Meg for showcasing her “versatility” on the track. I’m still in love with her 2020 Suga EP (which housed her Grammy-winning, Hot 100 chart-topping hit “Savage”) because it felt like a proper, exquisite sampler of her pop-leaning rap – and she could be leaning into that even more with this next LP.
Andrew Unterberger: It might depend on how big it grows — I couldn’t see either artist keying a new project around it, necessarily, but I could see it showing up as a near-bonus track near the end of one of their new albums, if it made sense. In either way, I’d be pretty surprised if it ended up the song that defined either artist’s 2022.
4. It has been a notably stagnant period on the Hot 100 for most of 2022, with most of the songs in the chart’s top 10 still being holdovers from 2021. If even a high-powered event teamup between two of the biggest names in popular music can’t break into the top 10 — at least at first — what is it going to take for this year’s pop to get shaken out of its doldrums?
Lyndsey Havens: Let’s not forget the powerhouse that was Encanto and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” I’m also still holding out for Posty to officially kick off his new cycle. There seems to be a general feeling that while the focus remains on some of these star artists finally hitting the road — with years-old material — that it’s worth them sitting tight when it comes to new material, as if to space our attention spans out. All that is to say, I’m not really sure what it will take… and I don’t necessarily think I mind easing back into life again, one sector at a time.
Gil Kaufman: Whatever surprises Cardi or Taylor have up next. Short of that… we could use another Lil Nas X release to shake up the chart snow globe.
Jason Lipshutz: Saying “the right song” is glib, but it’s true: recent singles like “Sweetest Pie” and Camila Cabello and Ed Sheeran’s “Bam Bam” have the pedigree to crack the top 10, but time will tell if they catch on with the mainstream enough to shake up a stagnant upper frame. Yet as songs like Glass Animals’ “Heat Waves” and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto have proven, pedigree isn’t everything — No. 1 smashes can come from any corner of pop culture. I have a feeling that there will be some shake-ups in the top 10 within the coming weeks, and they’ll come from unexpected sources.
Heran Mamo: Considering it took a song released all the way back in 2020 to finally knock off the five-week No. 1 “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from the top of the Hot 100 in 2022 (I’m looking at you, Glass Animals), it’s a relatively challenging feat. But songs like Justin Bieber’s “Ghost,” which is currently a pop radio behemoth, or a Tik-Tok smash like GAYLE’s “abcdefu” are steady climbers within the chart’s top 10 region. When a song finds its dominant platform(s), it might take a while for it to find success on the overall charts.
Andrew Unterberger: I’m wondering. It’s easy to say something like “this year’s Olivia Rodrigo,” but much to major labels’ consternation, those are easier dreamed of than found, and it’s not guaranteed one will come by in any given 12-month period. But considering we’re in a period where ’90s stars like Dr. Dre and Nirvana appear more equipped for making splashy Hot 100 debuts with decades-old songs than actually new songs by new artists, clearly we’re at a moment when we could use an infusion of brand new star power. Here’s hoping it arrives sooner than later.
5. While Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion may or may not have the sweetest pie, they’re far from the only artists who’ve tried to give fans the complete confection with their singles. What’s your favorite dessert-themed older hit?
Lyndsey Havens: The first that comes to mind is Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” — a classic Xtina throwback.
Gil Kaufman: Kelis “Milkshake.” The crazy great Neptunes beat, the single-entendre meaning behind the chorus and the hidden message of empowerment. Plus, milkshakes are delicious!
Jason Lipshutz: Maroon 5’s “Sugar,” an airy and delicious pop treat that’s among the group’s best singles. “Sugar! Yes please!” is a great hook, as well as a perfect mantra for fellow dessert-lovers.
Heran Mamo: “Brown Sugar” by D’Angelo. It’s a neo-soul delight commonly mistaken about loving a woman when it’s actually about a sweet flower (marijuana).
Andrew Unterberger: Gotta go with Warrant’s hair-metal staple “Cherry Pie.” Won’t get any points for progressiveness, and singer/writer Jani Lane hated the song more than anyone, but at least the song leans all the way in with the pie lyrical concept — too far, some would say — and that’s what I ask for first and foremost from my food-as-sex anthems.