After warming to radio programmers for over a year and a half, Glass Animals‘ “Heat Waves” hits No. 1 on Billboard‘s Pop Airplay chart (dated Jan. 29).
Released on Wolf Tone/Polydor/Republic Records in June 2020, the song first reached a Billboard radio chart that November, when it debuted on Alternative Airplay. It went on to lead the list for three weeks beginning in March 2021.
(Glass Animals, which formed in 2010 in Oxford, England, first appeared on Billboard‘s charts in 2014.)
“Heat Waves” entered the Pop Airplay chart dated Feb. 20, 2021, and as it crowns the latest survey, its 11-month, one-week span between its debut and its reign marks the longest for a No. 1 in the chart’s nearly 30-year history.
The song doesn’t, however, hold the record for the most weeks on Pop Airplay on the way to No. 1. It rules in its 32nd week on the tally, second only to the 37-week journey for Lewis Capaldi’s “Before You Go,” logged continuously, in January-September 2020.
Unlike Capaldi’s climb, “Heat Waves” cooled at pop radio amid its run. It originally hit a No. 16 high on Pop Airplay last June before dropping off the chart in July (neatly, and somewhat not unexpectedly, tying into its “late nights in the middle of June …” lyric). It returned to the ranking in mid-November and reached the top 10 two weeks later.
The week that it re-entered Pop Airplay, the song also hit the top 10 of the all-genre, multi-metric Billboard Hot 100, completing a record 42-week climb to the region.
As its pop radio play declined, however, “Heat Waves” surged on TikTok, playing off another line in the song, its “all I think about is you” hook. It trended especially strongly in late summer, including via a clip from the band itself.
From its release through Jan. 20, the track has drawn 1.2 billion in all-format radio audience and 737 million streams and sold 173,000 downloads in the U.S., according to MRC Data.
“‘Heat Waves’ always felt strong, but once it kicked in on TikTok, and never went away from the top tier [in] streaming, radio seemed to realize that it deserved another shot, which is when it kicked in to the next gear,” says Erik Bradley, assistant program director/music director at Pop Airplay reporter WBBM-FM (B96) Chicago, which has played the song more than 2,100 times. “It’s always sounded like a massive hit song, which is exactly what it wound up becoming.”
“My favorite earworm of the year,” declares Sue O’Neil, pd of Pop Airplay panelist WKSE (Kiss 98.5) Buffalo, N.Y., which has given the song more than 1,800 plays. “I thought it was going to go away, or maybe stay as a recurrent, but loved when we started seeing research and were able to move it into a power rotation.”
Meanwhile, the song’s Pop Airplay coronation is uncommon for another reason: Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley solely wrote and produced it. It’s the first No. 1 on the chart penned by a single writer in four years, since Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” reigned for three weeks starting in January 2018. “Heat Waves” is also the first Pop Airplay No. 1 that a single talent both authored and produced since Pharrell Williams wrote, produced and performed “Happy,” which dominated for four weeks beginning in March 2014.
On the Hot 100, “Heat Waves” has reached a No. 3 high. It has led the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs and Hot Alternative Songs charts, both of which use the same multi-metric methodology as the Hot 100, for 17 weeks each (through rankings dated Jan. 22).