As the entire pop-watching world now knows, Lil Nas X made Billboard Hot 100 history this week by notching his 17th week at No. 1 for debut single “Old Town Road” — with 16 of those weeks also helped by Billy Ray Cyrus on its popular remix — thus making it the longest-reigning No. 1 song in the chart’s history.
It could be a long time before that 17-week tally is matched, but the rest of the field might have to do even better than that, since it doesn’t seem like Nas and Billy Ray are done yet. The song’s metrics have stayed strong throughout its run so far, and nothing is really charging up the Hot 100 from behind to seize its throne at the first sign of weakness.
But “Old Town Road” can’t stay No. 1 forever — probably not, anyway — so eventually, something is going to have to come along to take over the top spot. Is that song one we already know about — maybe one already on the Hot 100? Time will tell, but in the meantime, here are 10 songs that should at least have a shot of securing the honors.
Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
Gotta start the list off with the song technically closest to unseating “Old Town Road” already: “Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish’s seven-week No. 2 hit. The margin between the songs is as close as it’s ever been — a 1.2 to 1 lead in points — but “Bad Guy” isn’t exactly storming the castle at the moment, as its overall metrics are down 9% from the week before, when it got a big bump from the song’s much-anticipated Justin Bieber remix. Still, “Old Town Road” is down even more (12%), and “Bad Guy” is still climbing at radio — so now that Lil Nas X has less reason to continue promoting the song, “Bad Guy” might have to only even out a little to eventually be able to claim the No. 1 almost by default.
Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello, “Señorita”
“Señorita” is at No. 3 on the Hot 100 this week, one spot shy of where it initially debuted four weeks earlier. It could certainly get back there, or higher, given how quickly the song is still growing at radio — it’s the top Hot 100 Airplay Gainer this week, up 27% in audience impressions and two spots on Billboard‘s Radio Songs chart — while still holding in the top five on Streaming Songs and Digital Song Sales. A headline-catching live performance between the two oft-shipped duet partners could certainly go a long way towards giving it that final bump to No. 1 — perhaps next month at the VMAs, where “Señorita” is up for four awards.
Lizzo, “Truth Hurts”
One of the only songs in the top 10 still actively climbing, “Truth Hurts” finally cracks the top five this week, moving 6-5, thanks to bumps on the Streaming Songs (7-5) and Radio Songs (8-7) charts. It’s rarely more than a couple of weeks in between viral performances, and indeed, Lizzo’s “Tiny Desk” performance for NPR earlier this week drew a ton of attention — maybe the extra momentum boost the song needs to be a true contender for No. 1.
Post Malone feat. Young Thug, “Goodbyes”
The opening for “Goodbyes” hasn’t seen it performing quite strongly enough to really mount much of a challenge to “Old Town Road” as some anticipated: The song debuted at No. 3, and has since slipped to No. 7. However, if we’ve learned anything about Post Malone hits, it’s that they last forever — “Sunflower” and “Wow.” are still in the top 20, despite both being released in 2018 — and that they’re always threats to bounce back up to No. 1, as “Psycho” did in its 15th week on the chart in 2018, and “Sunflower” did in its 12th frame this year.
Blanco Brown, “The Git Up”
For the past seven weeks of Lil Nas X’s Hot 100 rule, a different country-rap hybrid has been scaling the chart: Blanco Brown’s “The Git Up,” a joyous surprise smash with a Nashville twang, an Atlanta beat, and a chorus to get ’em dancing in the streets all over. The song has long been an Internet hit, with various challenges and videos helping it ascend to No. 14, but it feels like there’s a higher level of virality for it still to reach, with a new remix, or a star co-sign or both. With “Old Town Road” perhaps finally starting to cede its cultural space a little, the time would appear to be now.
Lil Tecca, “Ran$om”
The No. 1 song on Spotify in the U.S. right now is this runaway hit from 16-year-old New York rapper Lil Tecca, which got a huge boost from its Cole Bennett-helmed music video and now appears to be headed skyward, rising 23-19 on the Hot 100 this week. There’s been something a ceiling on most non-“Old Town Road” viral rap hits from new artists this year, with Blueface’s “Thotiana,” DaBaby’s “Suge” and Polo G’s Lil Tjay-featuring “Pop Out” all stalling outside the top five, but eventually a new one is sure to have the momentum to break through.
Lewis Capaldi, “Someone You Loved”
Also new to the top 20 this week: British singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi, whose ballad “Someone You Loved” has long been one of the biggest hits of the year overseas, and who’s now on the doorstep of achieving that feet on both sides of the Atlantic. At a moment when Ed Sheeran is a little too busy collabing with his celeb friends to deliver the kind of heart-puncturing solo acoustic ballads his fans crave, Capaldi could be picking up the mantle — and he has a social media awareness worthy of the current No. 1 artist. Underestimate his potential at your own peril.
Megan Thee Stallion feat. DaBaby, “Cash Shit”
Megan Thee Stallion has taken over the summer with her new mixtape Fever and maybe-soon-trademarked “Hot Girl Summer” catchphrase, but she hasn’t yet had the Hot 100 crossover smash to reflect her seasonal dominance. That looks about to change with “Cash Shit,” which has slowly but steadily bound up the Hot 100 in its five frames on the chart, reaching a new peak of No. 51 this week. The presence of DaBaby can only help, especially following the pair’s appearance on last week’s XXL Freshman Cypher video, for which both drew rave reviews and confirmed themselves as superstars in the making. That said, Megan’s also releasing a new single actually titled “Hot Girl Summer” this Friday (Aug. 2), so maybe that’s the release we should most be keeping an eye out for.
Lil Nas X, “Panini”
Even if Lil Nas X’s weeks are numbered with “Old Town Road” at No. 1, that’s not to say he can’t or won’t get back there with one of his other songs. The second single off his 7 EP is “Panini,” which had a strong first-week showing (debuting at No. 16 on the Hot 100) and currently resides at No. 28 on the chart. It’s got its work cut out for it to potentially climb all the way up to No. 1, but Lil Nas X didn’t get to 17 weeks at No. 1 by accident, and you can bet he’s got some plans to help get “Panini” to the same level as his first single when the time is right.
Social House feat. Ariana Grande, “Boyfriend”
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) July 29, 2019
Of course, we don’t know much about “Boyfriend” yet prior to its Aug. 2 release — just an 11-second teaser tweeted by Ariana last night – but we do know that Ariana has already spent a combined 15 weeks at No. 1 in the past year, and that should be enough to make her a contender for the top spot whenever she graces a new release. The rest, we’ll find out on Friday.