Elle King crowns Billboard‘s Alternative Songs chart (dated Sept. 19) as “Ex’s and Oh’s” rises 2-1. With the ascent, she becomes just the second female solo act (with lead billing) to top the list since 1996.
In the airplay chart’s 27-year history, King’s debut hit, released on RCA Records, is just the 11th song by a lead solo woman to command the tally.
“I’m honored, excited and completely dumbfounded, emphasis on dumb, because I never thought my song would ever be No. 1 of anything,” King tells Billboard. “I’m just so grateful.”
King follows Lorde, who broke a 17-year streak of male and group leaders when her debut hit “Royals” led the chart for seven weeks, beginning Aug. 24, 2013. Until then, Tracy Bonham had been the last lead female soloist to hit No. 1, nearly 17 years earlier with “Mother Mother” (for three weeks in June 1996).
Women’s voices haven’t been entirely absent from the chart’s upper ranks over the last two decades. Female-fronted groups like Evanescence (led by Amy Lee), Florence + the Machine (Florence Welch) and Paramore (Hayley Williams) have logged top 10s. Female soloists have also appeared as featured acts on such hits as fun.’s “We Are Young” (Janelle Monae) and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Kimbra), while bands like Of Monsters and Men have mixed male and female vocals on their top 10s.
Of the 330 No. 1s in the Alternative Songs chart’s history, here are the only leaders by solo females (with lead billing):
Title, Artist, Chart Date Reached No. 1
“Ex’s & Oh’s,” Elle King, Sept. 19, 2015
“Royals,” Lorde, Aug. 24, 2013
“Mother Mother,” Tracy Bonham, June 8, 1996
“Ironic,” Alanis Morissette, March 16, 1996
“Hand in My Pocket,” Alanis Morissette, Oct. 14, 1995
“You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morissette, July 22, 1995
“God,” Tori Amos, March 19, 1994
“Blood Makes Noise,” Suzanne Vega, Oct. 10, 1992
“The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Sinead O’Connor, May 12, 1990
“Nothing Compares 2 U,” Sinead O’Connor, March 31, 1990
“Love and Anger,” Kate Bush, Dec. 9, 1989
King’s retro-soul/blues-rock hybrid song has sold 444,000 downloads, according to Nielsen Music, since its release a year ago. The track rises to a new peak (57-50) on the Billboard Hot 100 and maintains its No. 2 peak on the Adult Alternative Songs chart. It pushes 15-14 on Adult Pop Songs and 39-34 on Pop Songs. During its climb, the song gained key exposure from its placement in a promotion for HBO Now.
King’s debut album Love Stuff started at its No. 8 high on the Top Rock Albums chart dated March 7 and has sold 93,000 copies.