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Five Burning Questions: Billboard Staffers Discuss Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello’s New No. 1 ‘Senorita’

Will its steamy VMAs performance last night benefit "Señorita" even more from here? And now that Shawn Mendes has his first No. 1, who's the biggest pop star still without one? Billboard staffers…

It’d been well over four months of “Old Town Road” at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, before that song’s historic reign was finally interrupted by Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy.” But in case anyone wondered if Eilish’s run on top would be similarly unending, here come Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, unseating “Bad Guy” this week with their smash duet “Señorita.”

The collab — which debuted at No. 2 on the Hot 100 back in June — marks the second No. 1 for Cabello (after “Havana” in early 2018) but the first for Mendes, who celebrated his crowning on Monday night (Aug. 26) with a double-performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards, playing both his own smash “If I Can’t Have You” and then “Señorita” with Camila. Will the steamy VMAs performance benefit “Señorita” even more from here? And now that Mendes has his first No. 1, who’s the biggest pop star still without one? Billboard staffers debate these questions and more below. 


1. After 19 weeks of the same No. 1, we now have two new No. 1s in the space of two weeks. Are you glad to see “Señorita” adding to the pool of 2019 No. 1s, or would you rather have seen Billie Eilish get a longer run of her own?

Eric Frankenberg: While I’m a big “Bad Guy” fan, it’s nice to see quick movement atop the Hot 100 after the reign of “Old Town Road.” Billie will have one of the year’s biggest hits regardless after all this time she has spent in the top 5 and “Senorita” certainly feels like enough of a moment for Shawn and Camila to warrant a week on top.

Gab Ginsberg: Eh, the more the merrier. I love Billie, but that song has personally been big for me all year — even before it reached crowning glory — so I’m not devastated that its run at No. 1 was a short one. Plus, Billie is the queen of many things, including but not limited to Coachella, touring and lots of other charts.

Jason Lipshutz: Out with the old, in with the new, as they say — after literal months of the same No. 1, who wouldn’t want a little variation? I was glad to see Billie Eilish score a deserved chart-topper, but “Bad Guy” has been around for such a long time that I’m fine if its run is not one of the multi-week variety. And Shawn Mendes has surely earned his first No. 1 Hot 100 single by now, right? With the way this shook out, everybody wins.

Andrew Unterberger: One week is already one week longer than Billie Eilish expected to have on top with “Bad Guy” at this point. Let Shawn have his long-awaited turn, Billie’ll be back soon enough. 

Taylor Weartherby: I’m happy to see Shawn get his No. 1. Like Billie, he probably would’ve had a No. 1 with “If I Can’t Have You” (as well as “Señorita”) if it hadn’t been for “Old Town Road,” so it’s cool that the two of them got there once Lil Nas X finally lost steam. And judging by the way Billie’s career is going, she’ll have a No. 1 streak of her own soon enough. I could even see “Bad Guy” going back to the top next week — or maybe the week after, considering Shawn and Camila burned up the VMAs last night — and holding for at least two weeks. Needless to say, I don’t think this is going to be Shawn or Billie’s only shot at a long No. 1 run.

2. Now that Shawn Mendes has officially removed his name from the list, who do you think is currently the biggest pop star without a No. 1 hit? 

Eric Frankenberg: Definitely Nicki Minaj. She had a top 5 solo hit from three different albums, an endless list of quotable features, and still hasn’t been honored with the chart-topping distinction that she deserves. Better yet, make it a Nicki-Missy collaboration to cross them both off the list.

Gab Ginsberg: Khalid is up there — he’s gotten close but no cigar, peaking at No. 3 twice — but the truly wild one is Nicki Minaj. It’s incredible that Mariah Carey’s shade towards the rapper circa 2013 still holds up. 

Jason Lipshutz: For as big of a star as she is, for as many hits as she’d released, Selena Gomez still has yet to reach the summit of the Hot 100. While songs like “Come & Get It,” “Good for You” and “It Ain’t Me” all hit the top 10, none made it higher than No. 5; and “Bad Liar,” her best single, should have been No. 1 for two months (at least!) in 2017, yet sadly peaked at No.  20 on the chart. Gomez remains a household name, arena headliner and generally massive pop figure; hopefully she will come out with new music soon, and add a first No. 1 single to her resume.

Andrew Unterberger: Looking at the whole decade, it’s Nicki Minaj, but looking at the last couple years, it’s Khalid — he’s been as inescapable as any artist in pop since 2017, and he keeps leveling up as a solo star, most recently with the No. 3-peaking “Talk.” That distance between No. 3 and No. 1 can be a long and lonely one for certain artists, but Khalid should find has way there soon enough, on his own or with a traveling companion (or two). 

Taylor Weatherby: It’s crazy that Selena Gomez hasn’t had one yet. Her fan base is equally as powerful as Shawn’s and Billie’s, and she’s made some serious bops (the fact that “Bad Liar” only peaked at No. 20 is a travesty). Something tells me she may remove her name from the list upon dropping the highly anticipated new music she’s been endlessly teasing, though.


3. “Señorita” is now the second male/female duet to hit No. 1 this year, following Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow.” If you had to engineer another split-gendered collab that would have the best chance of being the third such chart-topper this year, who would it be? (And let’s follow in the pattern of the first two duets and say that only one of your two artist picks can already have a No. 1 to their credit.) 

Eric Frankenberg: Lady Gaga and…Timothee Chalamet? In all seriousness, it feels like we’re headed toward a major moment for Rosalia. She’s gaining exposure, VMA in hand, and has shown her adaptability across genres and moods. The Weeknd, a former mysterious indie sensation himself, has an album coming soon and could provide an interesting crossover partner for the flamenco-pop enigma. 

Gab Ginsberg: Travis Scott and Rosalia would be all kinds of awesome, and the pair has already sparked collaboration rumors due to a meeting in July. Otherwise, the biggest female stars that we haven’t heard from in 2019 are Rihanna and Adele, and if they so decided to uplift an emerging artist, that could work. Maybe Rihanna and DaBaby? Adele and Lewis Capaldi? You never know.

Jason Lipshutz: Let’s go with one that already exists. We’re in the waning weeks of Hot Girl Summer, and she’s already moved on to a new single that’s literally called “Hot Girl Summer,” but getting Megan Thee Stallion to the top of the Hot 100 with “Cash Shit,” her electric single with DaBaby, would be a triumph for the Houston rap star, and for our nation as a whole. “Cash Shit” allows Megan and DaBaby to bounce their respective swaggers off of each other, with ad-libs and quotable lyrics for days; it’s one of the best singles of 2019, and a worthy successor to “Shallow” and “Señorita” atop the chart.

Andrew Unterberger: Let’s say Rihanna and Tame Impala (or just frontman/sole constant Kevin Parker, if he feels like using his own name for once). Like Shawn and Camila, they’ve had success together before — Rihanna covered Tame’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” on her classic ANTI album, essentially a karaoke rendering of the Currents original — and they have two of the most highly anticipated comeback albums of the year supposedly on the way between them. Psych maestro Parker might not have 1/100th the chart history that Rihanna does, but that’s fine, it’s not like Calvin Harris was a Hot 100 regular before “We Found Love,” either. 

Taylor Weatherby: Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber. Not sure that’s a super-realistic combo, but they are now both under the vise of Scooter Braun, so it’s not completely unfathomable. Their fan bases are (not so) patiently waiting for new music, so both of them have a good chance at a No. 1 debut if and when they finally put something out. And if they do it together, they double the fan power. Plus, they both have comeback-like stories to tell, so I think they could join forces for a pretty meaningful track — which, in today’s times, definitely helps with No. 1 contention.

4. While Shawn and Camila’s “Señorita” has now reached the Hot 100’s penthouse, Justin Timberlake’s Justified banger “Señorita” somehow topped out at No. 27 back in 2003. On a scale from one to 10, how great a miscarriage of chart justice do you consider this to be? 

Eric Frankenberg: 1? I’m surprised to hear that Timberlake’s version didn’t go higher but it’s among my least favorite of his singles. The “Guys sing! / lay-dazz” coda always got on my nerves.

Jason Lipshutz: I mean… a 4? It’s the fourth-best single on Justified, and was still a top 40 hit! The real tears need to be cried for “Like I Love You,” still one of the Neptunes’ best heaters (with a searing Clipse guest spot to boot!),, topping out at No. 11 — so close to being Timberlake’s first solo top 10 on the chart, which came one single with “Cry Me a River.”

Gab Ginsberg: I’ve never heard this song.

Update: I took a listen. I’ll give it a 5/10 —  my rating both on the chart justice scale, and of the song itself.

Andrew Unterberger: Gotta be at least a 7, maybe an 8. “Señorita” wasn’t Justified‘s finest, but it’s about as solid a pop fourth single as I can remember, that electric piano riff remains scorching, and the call-and-response section… OK, it’s aged terribly, but it was fun at the time, and where else are you gonna hear a mid-song call-and-response section these days? Whatever, it’s early ’00s Neptunes and JT — trust me, there wasn’t so much else going on at the time that there was any excuse for holding this out of the top 10, at a minimum. 

Taylor Weatherby: Wow, that’s like finding out that Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” only hit No. 23. I wonder where both of those songs would’ve landed had streaming been a thing back then. Anyway… I think I have to say 10. I love Shawn and Camila’s take on a “Señorita” song, but JT’s is simply iconic. The rattling shakers, the jazzy horns, the funky keyboard melody, the call-and-response bridge — and all topped off with Justin’s sultry voice? I seriously don’t understand how it wasn’t at least a top 20 hit. At least JT has gotten plenty of chart redemption (including a handful of No. 1s) since then.

5. Several recent hits were performed on the VMAs last night, including Shawn and Camila live TV debut performance of “Señorita.” Which song do you think stands to benefit the most on the Hot 100 from its VMAs performance in the week(s) to come? 

Eric Frankenberg: Next week could (and should) be Lizzo’s for the taking. “Truth Hurts” got a fresh remix on Friday and its mash-up with “Good As Hell” was last night’s stand-out performance so if it’s going to hit No. 1, the time is now. If we’re considering it a “2019 single,” it’s the best of the year, and it would be quite the Cinderella story to finally see the 2017 track rule the Hot 100 two years later. (I’m also hoping for a boost for 2020 Video of the Year frontrunner Normani.)

Gab Ginsberg: I know everyone is going to say Lizzo, but I believe in the power of the JoBros, and “Only Human” is such a jam. Their Asbury Park medley performance was one of the most dynamic of the evening, and I loved seeing the guys take over a historic venue — The Stone Pony — in their home state. While it’s been hovering around the bottom half of the Hot 100 for weeks now, “Only Human” jumped seven spots last week, and I’m hoping this performance ensures it’ll keep climbing.

Jason Lipshutz: Jonas Brothers’ “Only Human” has been more of a slow-grower than its predecessor, “Sucker,” which shot out of a cannon straight to the top of the Hot 100. Yet that boardwalk performance of the ska-adjacent pop track felt like a long-overdue arrival for one of the standouts on Happiness Begins. The track has only reached No. 46 on the Hot 100, but I’d guess that changes in the coming weeks.

Andrew Unterberger: While Lizzo’s ecstatically received performance might be enough to put “Truth Hurts” over the top to No. 1, I’m a little more interested if it can finally make good on the chart potential of “Good as Hell” — a song that deserved to be a smash when it was released off the Barbershop: The Next Cut soundtrack three years ago, and has slowly grown into a major 2019 streaming success. The “Good as Hell” portion of her performance felt like the real triumph last night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it resulted in the song making its long-overdue Hot 100 debut in the weeks to come. 

Taylor Weatherby: Shawn and Camila masterfully teased fans just enough to spark even more of a frenzy over their romance and “Señorita,” which I think will help them stay at No. 1 at least for next week. But Lizzo absolutely killed it, so I’m hoping that means “Truth Hurts” will finally creep it’s way up to the top. And as the resident Jonas Brothers stan at Billboard, here is me putting it into the universe that “Only Human” will get a boost from their Stone Pony performance too — superfan or not, it’s hard to deny that they were incredible.