On the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, the No. 1 spot was occupied by The Weeknd‘s new official single “Heartless,” which had jumped up 31 spots from the week before — but the week’s top debut was another new Weeknd track, “Blinding Lights,” which bowed at No. 11.
“Heartless” would ultimately spend 23 total weeks on the Hot 100, but “Lights” has held on ever since — with the exception of one week in January 2021, when the chart was overrun with holiday titles — for a now-record-setting run of 88 weeks, over a year and eight months total. It’s been long enough that “Blinding Lights” has been a Hot 100 fixture that it’s increasingly tough to even remember a time when The Weeknd’s synth-rock instant classic hasn’t been an inextricable part of our pop lives.
So, given the occasion of its record-breaking 88th week on the Hot 100, we decided to flash back to the very beginning of its run, to remember a world in which “Blinding Lights” had only just begun to make our acquaintance, on its way to being one of the most ubiquitous hits in top 40 history. What was the world like on Dec. 14, 2019? Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
-New albums in stores and on streaming that weekend included Stormzy’s Heavy Is the Head, Kaytranada’s Bubba, Smokepurpp’s Deadstar 2, and Harry Styles’ Fine Line — the latter of which would ultimately be the week’s best-performing set, moving 478,000 equivalent album units in its first week of release.
–Frozen II, released nearly a month earlier, was still ruling pop culture: The movie was spending its third week No. 1 at the U.S. box office, while the soundtrack had just topped the Billboard 200 albums chart for the first time.
-New in theaters that weekend: Jumanji: The Next Level, Richard Jewell, 6 Underground, Bombshell — and, most relevantly to The Weeknd, the Safdie Brothers’ A24 production Uncut Gems, which featured a cameo from none other than Abel Tesfaye as his 2012-era self, performing cuts from his breakthrough House of Balloons mixtape and trying to seduce Julia Fox’s character.
-The NBA team with the best record was the Milwaukee Bucks, who moved to 24-3 on the season with a 17-point beatdown of the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, just behind them was the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers, who were 23-3 in LeBron James’ and Anthony Davis’ first season together in the Purple and Gold.
–The New York Times ran an op-ed letter from their editorial board about Pres. Trump led by a simple one-word message: “Impeach.”
-The annual festivity of SantaCon was underway, with thousands of Santa-dressed revelers of various degrees of drunkenness meeting up at Times Square in the morning and spending the rest of the day flooding the streets of New York.
–Saturday Night Live was hosted that night by Scarlett Johansson — her sixth time hosting — while the musical guest was Niall Horan, playing a pair of songs from his then-upcoming Heartbreak Weather album: “Nice to Meet Ya” and “Put a Little Love on Me.”
–Reports emerged that Pres. Trump’s administration would soon announce the withdrawal of about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan. “The commander feels confident we can go down to a lower level without jeopardizing our ability to ensure that Afghanistan doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorism,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had said.
-Joe Burrow, 23-year-old redshirt senior quarterback for the LSU Tigers, won the Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding player of that college football season — by the largest margin in the history of Heisman voting.
-No news stories ran in any major publication that included the words “coronavirus” or “COVID-19.”