According to sources, the set’s first single, whose title has not yet been announced, is scheduled to arrive at midnight Friday morning (Aug. 25). That would set the song up for a first full chart week of sales and streaming data tracking (Aug. 25-31) and a likely lofty debut on the Hot 100 dated Sept. 16, highlights of which would post on Billboard.com on Tuesday, Sept. 5 (a day after the Labor Day holiday).
That same chart week, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s “Despacito,” featuring Justin Bieber, currently at No. 1 (on the Sept. 2-dated Hot 100) for a 15th week, would be in line for a potential 17th week at No. 1 — assuming that it first earns a 16th week (on the Sept. 9-dated chart). A 17th frame at No. 1 would be a record-breaker, passing the current leader in the Hot 100’s 59-year history: Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men‘s “One Sweet Day,” which reigned for 16 weeks in 1995-96.
So, can Swift swoop in at No. 1?
Knowing what we know so far, and as yet without any hard data projections (or details of on exactly which streaming platforms Swift’s new single will arrive), it seems a good bet that the song could debut atop the Hot 100. Actually, the track could debut from radio airplay-only on the Sept. 9-dated chart, as that ranking will reflect airplay for the week ending Sunday, Aug. 27, but sales and streams for songs in the week ending Aug. 24. (Got that?)
Each lead single from Swift’s last two studio albums — “Shake It Off,” from 1989 in 2014, and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” from Red in 2012, ruled the Hot 100 following their first full tracking weeks. (“Never” debuted at No. 72 from initial airplay and then shot to No. 1 in its second week following its sales start.)
“Shake” and “Never” began with 623,000 and 544,000 downloads sold, respectively, according to Nielsen Music. Her new single could be challenged to arrive at such sales heights, given the steady rise in streaming and decline in sales since then. But, for comparison, Ed Sheeran‘s “Shape of You,” the lead single from his highly-anticipated album ÷ (Divide), bowed No. 1 on the Hot 100 on Jan. 28, driven by 240,000 sold, along with 20 million first-week streams and 57 million in airplay audience after its first full week.
Additionally for Swift, although not currently listed as performer at this Sunday’s (Aug. 27) MTV Video Music Awards, it would not be surprising if she took part in the festivities in some way. (Buzz is already strong that she may make an appearance and squash her longtime conflict with host Katy Perry.)
Back to the Hot 100: for now, it’s too early to know if “Despacito” will tie the longevity record atop the Hot 100 and nab a 16th week at No. 1 when the Sept. 9-dated chart is revealed Monday (Aug. 28). If it does, and even if Swift’s new song were to hit No. 1 the following week, it still might not spell the end of “Despacito”‘s domination. As high-profile releases often fall in their second frames (following strong streaming and sales starts in their premiere weeks before dipping and then building back up as familiarity, helped by radio airplay, takes hold), “Despacito” could theoretically give way to Swift’s song for a week but then rebound the following week for a record-setting 17th frame at No. 1 after all.
Or … perhaps DJ Khaled‘s “Wild Thoughts,” featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller, currently at its No. 2 Hot 100 high for a sixth week, or Cardi B‘s “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),” up 8-3 this week, would by then be ready to rise to No. 1, instead of “Despacito” returning to the summit or Swift’s song taking the top spot.
The next new Hot 100 (dated Sept. 9), on which “Despacito” could score its 16th week at No. 1, will update Monday and highlights of the chart will post on Billboard.com that afternoon. For now, we’ll need to wait for the next step in who’ll be No. 1 going forward.
What to do until then? Oh … once it’s out, actually hear Swift’s new song, whose quality will, of course, also play into its chances to soar to the top of the Hot 100.