Scoreboard’s chart winners of May 2018 include J. Cole, Post Malone, and Childish Gambino
Billboard #1s | May 2018
See all the Billboard charts at http://www.billboard.com/charts/
Billboard Hot 100
5/5, 5/12: “Nice For What” (Drake)
5/19, 5/26: “This Is America” (Childish Gambino)
5/5: KOD (J. Cole)
5/12, 5/19, 5/26: Beerbongs & Bentleys (Post Malone)
Billboard Artist 100
5/5: J. Cole
5/12, 5/19: Post Malone
May 2018: The Playlist
If one theme is emerging for music in 2018 it’s that hip-hop may be more dominant than it’s ever been. There have been five Billboard Hot 100 #1s year-to-date and all have either been by a hip-hop artist or featured one (I’m giving Beyoncé credit here for giving Ed Sheeran‘s “Perfect” a boost to #1 with an appearance on the remix). Over on the Billboard 200 nine different hip-hop albums took #1 including the only #1 albums of May: J. Cole’s KOD and Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys. Hip-hop’s dominance is putting pop music in an awkward position: major stars with recent new albums like Justin Timberlake and Pink are completely off the Hot 100, though their catalog is strong enough to keep them earning on tour. In fact, Pink spent a week at #1 on the Billboard Artist 100 in May after a tour/album bundle sale. Of course, not all pop stars are struggling – Camila Cabello and Halsey have had staying power on the charts, and Ariana Grande is back with new music. Yet pop is perhaps facing its most challenging summer based on May chart results in the U.S.
Pink will start the third leg of her Beautiful Trauma world tour in Sunrise, Florida, on March 1, 2019
Childish Gambino Takes on America
Donald Glover is perhaps the most versatile entertainer in America today. When he was recently on Saturday Night Live he was both the host/actor and the musical guest under his Childish Gambino moniker. One of his new tracks was “This Is America,” a social commentary on gun violence in the U.S., which pairs a singalong R&B chorus with dark rap verses. The music video especially shows a contrast as Glover commits a mass shooting and seamlessly transitions to a verse mocking hip-hop’s obsession with “hunnid bands.” The video stirred up controversy, but also took Gambino to #1 on the Hot 100, a first for Glover. The fact that a 17-year-old murdered 10 people in a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 18 provided a stark reminder that Glover’s song is truly of the moment – this is America indeed.
J. Cole Also Gets Political
Jermaine Cole’s record on the charts is impeccable – all five of his studio albums took #1 including his latest KOD, which stands for either Kidz on Drugs, King Overdose, or Kill Our Demons. Similar to Childish Gambino, @realcoleworld gets political with his new music. While his previous albums took on autobiographical stories of having a crooked smile and losing one’s virginity, J. Cole fumes at the government, drug dealers, and mumble rappers on KOD. With five #1 albums, J. Cole has made it, but he is ambivalent about his fame and fortune. “ATM,” one of the biggest hits off the new album, does not only refer to the cash-dispensing machine, but also stands for “addicted to money.” “Will I fall/Will I fly,” Cole asks on the chorus, acknowledging the short shelf-life for rappers, which he is trying to overcome.
While J. Cole’s personal experience is mostly in the background on KOD, one track – “Kevin’s Heart” – takes J. Cole’s support of monogamy and applies it to the recent tabloid drama of actor and comedian Kevin Hart, who inspired the song’s title and stars in the music video. In short, Kevin Hart admitted to cheating on his pregnant wife in 2017 after social media posts suggested that he was with another woman. The temptation that comes with fame is a familiar topic to J. Cole, who is married with a son, and the song recommends that men “choose wisely,” while the music video is a cathartic snapshot of the scandal’s aftermath for Kevin Hart. Good thing @kevinhart4real has friends like @realcoleworld to help repair his reputation.
Post Malone Avoids Politics, but Not Beerbongs
Post Malone has become a dominant rapper over the last two years without delving into politics. He took #1 on the Hot 100 last year by celebrating the life of a “Rockstar” ft. 21 Savage. The song’s sequel – “Psycho” ft. Ty Dolla $ign – took #2 on the Hot 100 while sticking to the drowsy, laid-back hip-hop groove that made @postmalone a star. Beerbongs & Bentleys, Malone’s highly anticipated second album includes both hits. In May, it easily took #1 on the Billboard 200, also giving @postmalone his first #1 placement on the Billboard Artist 100. Thankfully, the album demonstrates that Post Malone can succeed outside of drowsy hip-hop. For example @postmalone does more singing than rapping on the smooth “Paranoid,” which wrestles with the stress that fame brought him. The new album also gets Malone reminiscing about past flames, with “Better Now” picking up the heartbroken romantic theme where “I Fall Apart” left off. In totality, Beerbongs & Bentleys provides both singalong anthems and introspective ballads, ensuring that Post Malone will be unavoidable in the summer of ’18.
Post Malone living the rockstar life
In Other News: A New Single from Ariana Grande and More
Ariana Grande was already one of the biggest pop stars in the world when a suicide bomber killed 23 people outside of her concert in Manchester, England, last year. Two weeks later Grande organized the One Love Manchester concert for bombing victims and the experience has affected her work on forthcoming album Sweetener. The album’s first single “No Tears Left To Cry” is a resilience anthem that recalls Kim Wilde‘s very eighties cover of the Supremes‘ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” It started at #3 on the Hot 100 and is bound to be one of the summer’s biggest pop songs.
As pop music either cedes the charts or takes in elements of hip-hop in 2018, country music continues its shift pop sounds following a path blazed by the likes of Florida Georgia Line and Sam Hunt. Kane Brown, a mixed-race singer from Tennessee, took #1 last year on the country charts with “What Ifs” ft. Lauren Alaina and this month his love ballad “Heaven” reached #15 on the Hot 100. In May Keith Urban released his 10th album Graffiti U, which started at #2 on the Billboard 200 (behind Post Malone) and included collaborations with Julia Michaels and Ed Sheeran.
The widening strength of hip-hop has also opened fissures for new artists to emerge. The same tide that puts a new collaboration between Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, and Kanye West into the top 20 of the Hot 100 also makes room for an artist like Ella Mai, a British soul singer whose “Boo’d Up” recalls the golden days of nineties R&B and Bruno Mars‘s 24K Magic hit machine. Mai’s breakout single has already made the top 10 of the Hot 100 and may be the romantic hit of the summer. Check it out below and check in with Scoreboard @theknockturnal all summer long to see what songs are blazing up the charts.