Three weeks: That’s how much longer Drake needs to be No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 to tie the all-time record for most weeks spent on top in one calendar year.
The current Hot 100 single-year record, set by Usher in 2004, is 28 weeks. Between his three No. 1 singles this year — “God’s Plan” (11 weeks), “Nice For What” (eight weeks) and “In My Feelings” (six weeks and counting), Drake is up to 25 weeks total on top. Without an obvious threat charging up behind it, “Feelings” could continue its run for the foreseeable future.
But while there’s no clear frontrunner for the next song to depose Drake — and indeed, said challenger might not even have dropped yet, or might have just been released this Friday (like the new tracks on K-pop sensation BTS’ Love Yourself: Answer) — there are a handful that at least have a shot at knocking him from his perch. Here are five of the most obvious contenders:
Maroon 5 feat. Cardi B, “Girls Like You” (Currently: No. 2)
Seems only right to start off the discussion with the song that’s been directly underneath Drake the past two weeks. “Girls Like You” moved to No. 2 on the Hot 100 last week, largely on the back of its dominance of the airwaves: It’s been No. 1 on Billboard‘s Radio Songs chart for four weeks now. However, it’s majorly lagging behind “In My Feelings” when it comes to streaming: “Girls” is No. 6 on the Streaming Songs chart this week, but with only about 40 percent of the total streams of “Feelings” (71 million streams to 29.3 million). And while “Feelings” is starting to slip in all metrics, so is “Girls”: It fell 1 percent in radio plays, 15 percent in sales, and 5 percent in streams this week, which would would make a rebound to overtake Drake difficult, though not impossible, to pull off.
Travis Scott, “Sicko Mode” (Currently: No. 7)
Ironically, the song with arguably the best shot at knocking Drake off No. 1 is one on which he guest stars. Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” — which debuted at No. 4 on the Hot 100 last week (hot off Scott’s Astroworld album’s fantastic first-week performance) before sliding to No. 7 this week — includes at least one full verse from Drake as a guest rapper. But like the rest of Astroworld, the song credits no guests, meaning that should the song hit No. 1, it would not contribute to Drake’s overall tally for weeks on top.
Does it have a chance of getting there? Well, it obviously moved in the wrong direction on the chart this week — but unlike several of the other songs currently populating the top 10, which seem to have already mostly run their course as hits, “Sicko” still has time and room to grow. And some of the early signs are encouraging: The song climbed to the top of Spotify’s daily U.S. chart on Monday — replacing “In My Feelings” — and has remained there since. It might be tough for the song to make up the difference in sales (“Feelings” stays at No. 1 on Digital Song Sales for a sixth frame this week, while “Sicko” plummets from No. 5 to No. 38) and radio (“Feelings” remains at its No. 3 peak on Radio Songs, and “Sicko” has yet to appear on the chart at all), but it should have the streaming foothold to at least compete in the weeks to come.
Post Malone, “Better Now” (Currently: No. 5)
“Better Now” has been a fixture on the Hot 100 for the last 16 weeks, debuting at No. 7 (the same week that parent album Beerbongs & Bentleys entered at No. 1 on the Billboard 200) and only reaching its current peak of No. 5 for the first time earlier this August. It’s performing well in all metrics — No. 4 on Radio Songs, No. 5 on Digital Song Sales, No. 11 on Streaming Songs — but it’s been lacking a little in the momentum needed for it to really mount a serious threat to “In My Feelings.”
However, it has a card still left to play: an official music video, which it hasn’t yet received, despite “Now” being the best-performing song off Beerbongs that hadn’t already debuted prior to the album’s April release. Videos have given late jolts to Post’s previous Beerbongs hits, “Rockstar” and “Psycho” (the latter of which didn’t hit No. 1 until its 15th week on the chart), so perhaps one could do the same for “Better.” (Also, news of Post’s recent in-flight near-death experience could inspire a surge in listener streams — though it’s too soon to tell how much of a bump, if any, he’ll actually receive from that.)
Ariana Grande, “God Is a Woman” (Currently: No. 30)
Given its relatively low standing on the chart this week — down from its No. 11 debut (and current peak) four weeks earlier — “God Is a Woman” might seem like a particular longshot to dethrone Drake. However, more than any other song on this list, it has momentum on its side: parent album Sweetener debuted last Friday (Aug. 17) to critical acclaim and projected chart-topping sales, while Grande also gave a triumphant performance of the song at Monday’s MTV Video Music Awards.
The exposure is paying off: “God” has been atop the real-time iTunes chart for much of the week following Grande’s VMAs performance, while ranking at No. 6 on Spotify’s daily chart for the entire week — and although radio has been slow to shift its focus away from previous single “No Tears Left to Cry” (No. 12 on the Hot 100 this week, and No. 7 on Radio Songs), “God” does debut at No. 46 on Radio Songs this week. The song will almost certainly spike on the Hot 100 next week, but whether it’ll get within striking distance of “Feelings” — and be able to continue to accelerate from there — remains to be seen.
DJ Khaled feat. Justin Bieber, Quavo & Chance the Rapper, “No Brainer” (Currently: No. 10)
While “No Brainer” is currently lingering at a safe distance from the No. 1 spot — it moves up one spot to No. 10 this week, after debuting at No. 5 two weeks ago — you have to respect the pedigree: The four artists credited previously linked up on 2017’s “I’m the One” (also with Lil Wayne) which debuted at No. 1 and became one of the defining songs of last summer. “No Brainer” isn’t there yet, obviously, but in just three weeks it’s bound to No. 14 on the Radio Songs chart, and is holding relatively strong on both Streaming Songs (No. 14) and Digital Song Sales (No. 21) — meaning that even if it didn’t arrive with the force of “I’m the One,” it may still build up to that eventually.