Despite that dominance, 2017 has seen a substantial drought for women in the Hot 100’s upper reaches. As previously noted, Swift, here in September, is the first woman to lead the Hot 100 this year.
Through the first eight-plus months of 2017 (on charts dated Jan. 7 through Sept. 16), just seven of 50 total Hot 100 top 10s, or 14 percent, have been by women unaccompanied by men, a new low since Nielsen Music data began powering the Hot 100 just more than 25 years ago. In fact, never before since 1992 have fewer than 11 songs, or 17 percent of a year’s top 10 hits, by women-only (billed as by soloists, girl groups or all-female collaborators) reached the region in a January-December span. So, 2017 could challenge for the lowest such share, as well as the first year in which top 10 Hot 100 hits by women without male co-stars fail to reach a double-digit count.
A look at 1992 through 2017 reveals that, unsurprisingly, the ’90s were a highpoint, thanks to such powerhouse vocalists as Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston, along with the late 2000s, when the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Swift took over to rule pop. (In a highpoint for female artists this year, Rihanna became just the second woman, and third act overall, to notch 30 Hot 100 top 10s; she’s since upped her count to 31.) The early 2000s and 2017 have generally been more dominated by male hip-hop acts, so it makes sense that women haven’t fared as well in the Hot 100’s top 10 in those stretches, with this year so far especially standing out.
With a third of 2017 still left on the calendar, perhaps the current hits by Swift (whose second release from her Nov. 10 album Reputation, “…Ready for It?,” is due on next week’s Hot 100) and Cardi B signify that women may yet make up for a year that’s so far historically belonged to men in the Hot 100’s top 10.