The number 14 is a special one in terms of Hot 100 longevity, as only 10 singles in the chart’s 61-year existence have ever spent that many weeks at No. 1. But 16 is the number that marks absolute Billboard history, as only two songs have ever lasted that many weeks on top — and none have ever stayed longer.
Will Lil Nas X be able to pull off the unprecedented with his first-ever hit single? What will his competition be? And who is he racing against historically? Below, Billboard lets you know everything you need to about “Old Town Road” and its pursuit of eternal charts glory.
Which songs is “Old Town Road” chasing for the all-time record?
As previously mentioned, only two songs have outlasted 14 weeks atop the Hot 100, and both reigned for exactly 16 weeks: the Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men mega-ballad collab “One Sweet Day” (1995-96), and Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Justin Bieber-featuring crossover Latin pop jam “Despacito” (2017).
How do the numbers of “Old Town Road” compare to where those songs were at a similar point in their runs?
In its 14th week, “One Sweet Day” held a 1.3 to 1 points lead over No. 2, Mary J. Blige’s “Not Gon Cry,” while “Despacito” held a bigger margin over DJ Khaled’s Rihanna- and Bryson Tiller-featuring “Wild Thoughts,” leading by 1.5 to 1. However, “Old Town Road” has the biggest lead of the three in its 14th week, holding a 1.9 to 1 edge over the current No. 2 single, Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.” (The lead is even bigger than it was in its 13th week at No. 1, when it boasted a 1.8 to 1 advantage.)
All that said, it’s worth noting that the points leads that “One Sweet Day” and “Despacito” held over the runner-up finishers in their 14th week ultimately proved largely irrelevant, as neither No. 2 hit was the song that ended up unseating them. “One Sweet Day” was ultimately overtaken by Celine Dion’s soundtrack ballad “Because You Loved Me,” which rose from the No. 5 spot the week before, while “Despacito” was trumped by Taylor Swift’s Reputation lead single “Look What You Made Me Do,” which catapulted up from No. 77 after its first full week of tracking.
This would suggest that even if “Old Town Road” is to be overtaken before tying or breaking the all-time Hot 100 record for weeks at No. 1, its primary challenge may come from outside the most obvious competitors at this point — perhaps from a brand new song, or a song we haven’t even heard yet.
Are there any songs already out that might pose a credible threat to “Old Town Road” at No. 1?
With its metrics not gaining with any particular velocity, it seems unlikely that “Bad Guy” would be able to close the gap between it and “Old Town Road” in its next few weeks, at least in its current incarnation — more on that later. The same is true of Khalid’s “Talk” and Ed Sheeran’s Justin Bieber-featuring “I Don’t Care,” currently the Nos. 3 and 4 songs on the chart, respectively, neither of which are trending enough in the right direction to mount much of a campaign for No. 1.
Just below them on the Hot 100 are two songs that might have a chance, albeit highly outside ones. “Señorita,” the sultry new Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello duet, debuted at No. 2 on the Hot 100 last week, falling to No. 5 in its second frame. But unlike the songs ahead of it, which have all more or less hit their peaks across all metrics, it still has considerable room to grow — it debuted at No. 30 on Radio Songs this week, and should make more of a charge there in weeks to come, while also remaining in the top five of both Digital Song Sales and Streaming Songs.
Meanwhile, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” which climbs 11-6 on the chart this week, continues to gain in all three metrics, jumping 7-3 on Digital Song Sales, 10-8 on Streaming Songs and 27-14 on Radio Songs. Both songs have a long way to go before catching up with “Old Town Road” — and very likely won’t get there in time to provide a considerable road block in its potential 16th or 17th week on top — but both at least look to be moving in the right direction.
One song that was released last Friday (and thus hasn’t yet impacted the Hot 100) that might at least get within striking distance of “Old Town Road” is “Goodbyes,” from regular chart-topper Post Malone and featured rapper Young Thug. The new song has been No. 1 on Spotify and on iTunes since its debut last Friday (June 4) and figures to have a big debut on next week’s Hot 100 — although its numbers so far don’t look to be overwhelming enough to make up for the edge “Road” will undoubtedly have in overall metrics on next week’s chart.
Are there any songs that aren’t out yet that might pose a credible threat to “Old Town Road” at No. 1?
Hard to definitively answer this one with any authority, of course — we didn’t know for sure that “Look What You Made Me Do” was coming to topple “Despacito” until a day before its release, while the latter was enjoying its 15th week at pole position. The biggest artist definitely releasing a new album in the next two weeks is Ed Sheeran, whose No. 6 Collaborations Project has already spawned one No. 2 hit, in the aforementioned Bieber-featuring “I Don’t Care.” Subsequent releases from the set haven’t fared as well, but the album’s guest list does contain such recent chart-toppers as Travis Scott, Camila Cabello and Cardi B — the last two on the same track — so a potential major Hot 100 debut from it can’t be ruled out completely.
However, the biggest threat might come from a track that hasn’t been officially announced yet. Not even a full new track, actually, but rather a new version: a remix of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” has been rumored for much of the week, featuring Eilish’s longtime idol Justin Bieber. Speculation started when Bieber tweeted a context-free “REMIX” on Monday — a tweet liked and retweeted by Eilish’s writer/producer brother FINNEAS — and reached a fever pitch when talk of a Pandora leak of the remix started circulating throughout the Internet.
Certainly, a much-anticipated remix collab between the new superstar buds would have a major impact on the consumption numbers for “Bad Guy” — which, of course, has the natural advantage of already being the No. 2 song on the chart. However, timing would likely be key: If the remix dropped in the middle of a charting week (the Hot 100’s streaming and sales tracking week runs Friday through Thursday), it might split its impact too greatly between its first two tracking weeks to give the song the boost it needs to close the gap between it and “Old Town Road.”
Does Lil Nas X have any cards left to play in keeping “Old Town Road” on top?
We can’t know for sure, though Chance the Rapper has already taken to stumping on the song’s behalf, which more artists might join in on in the days to come. It’s also worth making note of one tease the rapper made a little over a week ago, when he tweeted a picture of a cowboy and snake emojis together, along with the caption “Is it too late!?” An upcoming collaboration was clearly being suggested, though which artist could mark the :snake: half of the equation has been a subject of Internet debate, with Young Thug, DJ Snake, and even Taylor Swift all serving as plausible theories.
Regardless, even with Billy Ray Cyrus and Diplo remixes already out in the world, a new version of “Old Town Road” with any one of those guests could give the Hot 100-topper a nice new bump. And given how massive the song has already been — and for how long it’s been that dominant for — that might be all it needs to coast to a place in Billboard immortality.