September 2018 brought a flurry of new #1s on the Billboard charts; the music world also lost rapper Mac Miller
Billboard #1s | September 2018
See all the Billboard charts at http://www.billboard.com/charts/
Billboard Hot 100
9/1, 9/8, 9/15, 9/22: “In My Feelings” (Drake)
9/29: “Girls Like You (Remix)” (Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B)
9/1: Sweetener (Ariana Grande)
9/8: Love Yourself: Answer (BTS)
9/15: Kamikaze (Eminem)
9/22: Egypt Station (Paul McCartney)
9/29: Cry Pretty (Carrie Underwood)
Billboard Artist 100
9/1: Ariana Grande
9/22: Paul McCartney
9/29: Carrie Underwood
September 2018: The Playlist
With fall upon us, turnover on the charts accelerated. Billboard had a different #1 album each week during the five-Saturday September. Drake stayed on top of the Hot 100 for most of the month with “In My Feelings,” setting a Billboard record for most weeks spent at #1 by an artist in a calendar year: @champagnepapi’s three #1s earned 29 combined weeks at #1, passing Usher‘s record from 2004. However, at month-end Drake was dethroned by pop veterans Maroon 5, whose “Girls Like You” ft. Cardi B became the band’s fourth Hot 100 and @iamcardib’s third chart-topper. Billboard announced that Maroon 5’s move ended “a record 34-week streak of rap #1s,” but the presence of Cardi B on the track is a reminder that hip-hop guests are nearly a requirement for a pop song to take #1 on the Hot 100 today. The last pop #1 before the 34-week rap streak began was Camila Cabello‘s “Havana.” It featured Atlanta’s Young Thug.
Although not all #1 albums on the Billboard 200 were by rappers in September, four of five featured hip-hop artists. The only one that didn’t was 76-year-old Paul McCartney‘s Egypt Station, which proved that the former Beatle could still deliver popular silly love songs like the edgy “Fuh You,” on which McCartney collaborated with OneRepublic‘s Ryan Tedder. @paulmccartney still has more than a decade to go before he can challenge Tony Bennett, the oldest artist to ever take #1 on the Billboard 200, who crowned the chart at age 88.
McCartney’s “Egypt Station” was the former Beatle’s first Billboard #1 album since 1982
Pop & More: #1s for Ariana Grande, Carrie Underwood, and BTS
Ariana Grande was wrapping up her successful Dangerous Woman world tour last year when a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured over 500 after her concert in Manchester, England. In response, Grande returned to Manchester for a benefit concert titled One Love Manchester, which raised $23 million for victims and their families. The tragedy hangs over Grande’s Sweetener, the new album that has @arianagrande widening her musical palette. Hit singles “No Tears Left To Cry” and the luxurious “God Is A Woman” are followed by “Breathin’,” on which Grande reminds herself to keep breathing through the ups and downs of her life. The Manchester bombing hangs over both “Breathin'” and “No Tears Left To Cry,” yet both are pop anthems of resilience and stronger answers to a tragedy than anything released by Jason Aldean, the country star who has avoided addressing the mass shooting that took place during his performance at Las Vegas’s Route 91 Harvest music festival on his recent album.
Three of Grande’s four albums took #1 on the Billboard 200
Like Ariana Grande, country’s Carrie Underwood experienced recent struggles. In November 2017, Underwood was injured after a fall in her home and would not appear in public until this April, when she debuted “Cry Pretty,” the lead single of the album of the same name, which took #1 at the end of September. While she was promoting the album, @carrieunderwood also revealed that she endured three miscarriages prior to announcing that she and her husband, former NHL player Mike Fisher, were expecting their second child. On Cry Pretty, Underwood reflects on life’s challenges, and even addresses mass shootings on “The Bullet,” a heartbreaking ballad that will test country radio with its anti-gun message. Even with its heavier themes, Underwood finds time to celebrate on the new album, including “The Champion” ft. Ludacris as a bonus track. The song originally came out before the Super Bowl in January and will serve Underwood well as theme music for ball games this fall.
After six studio albums Carrie Underwood gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2018 has been a quiet year for male pop stars. Justin Timberlake mostly departed the genre on Man Of The Woods, the only new thing out of Justin Bieber was a guest appearance on a DJ Khaled track, and Shawn Mendes went singer-songwriter on his self-titled album. As a result, the door has been wide open for K-Pop band BTS to bring their unapologetic, high-energy version of EDM to America. This month, the boy band achieved its second Billboard 200 #1 with Love Yourself: Answer, which repackaged earlier songs with seven new tracks. On “Idol (Remix),” @bts.bighitofficial are joined by Nicki Minaj, who again proves that guest rap verses create hit songs, even for K-Pop stars. Although Imagine Dragons do not dabble in EDM, their version of pop rock sustains on the charts. New single “Natural” precedes November album Origins, and on it Dan Reynolds and team continue bringing testosterone that drove hits like “Demons” and “Believer.” There’s no new album in sight for Selena Gomez, but her “Back To You,” off of the soundtrack to Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, reached a peak of #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September, a slow climb for sleeper hit that has been out since May.
Imagine Dragons are easily the biggest rock band of 2018 and they’re up for Artist of the Year at the AMAs
Eminem and Kanye West Stir Up Hip-Hop
Both Eminem and Kanye West wrestled with their veteran hip-hop legend status in September. Eminem’s Revival took #1 on the Billboard 200 last winter, but soon fizzled out and in response, Em brought out a meaner Slim Shady on the surprise release Kamikaze. It worked, the new album sold 60% more units than Revival did in its first week. Gone are the Ed Sheeran features. Instead we get artists like Massachusetts’s Joyner Lucas, who steals “Lucky You,” Kamikaze‘s biggest hit on the Hot 100. As for Kanye West, June’s Ye was an uneven ego exercise, which also took #1 on the Billboard 200 and then quickly fell off. In September, Ye was teasing follow-up album Yandhi, but its release has been pushed back to November. Instead we get “I Love It” ft. Miami’s Lil Pump and Adele Givens. Like @lilpump’s “Gucci Gang,” “I Love It” is quick and catchy jog on which West is maniacally vulgar. Although “Lucky You” and “I Love It” are in the top 10 of the Hot 100, the presence of Joyner Lucas and Lil Pump demonstrate that in order to have a hit, Eminem and Kanye have to bring in a younger rapper.
The things Kanye West has to do to go platinum in 2018
One of Eminem’s pursuits on Kamikaze is going after “mumble rappers” such as @lilpump and Migos. Caught up in the mix is Cleveland’s Machine Gun Kelly, who is most famous for the Fastball-sampling “Bad Things” ft. Camila Cabello, and who is a target of Em’s wrath on “Not Alike.” Among everybody dissed on Kamikaze MGK was first out the gate with battle rap response “Rap Devil,” which started at #13 on the Hot 100. While MGK highlighted Eminem’s old age and weird beard, Em responded quickly with single “Killshot.” On it, Marshall Mathers mostly talked about how much more successful he has been and pedantically pointed out factual problems in “Rap Devil.” It has been a long time since battle rap reached such chart highs and perhaps the intent of Kamikaze disses was to stir up anger at Eminem and to fuel the cycle of additional Slim Shady hits.
MGK may have a point saying that Eminem’s beard is weird. Is Marshall Mathers trying to be a Man In The Woods, just like Justin Timberlake?
R.I.P. Mac Miller (1992-2018)
This year had an abnormal number of music deaths of younger artists. Sweden’s Avicii committed suicide at age 28 in April, rapper XXXTentaction was killed at age 20 in Florida in June, and this month rapper Mac Miller died in Los Angeles at age 26. The cause of Miller’s death is officially yet to be determined, but what he leaves behind is five studio albums and twelve mixtapes. Miller’s career began as a party rapper. His first Hot 100 single was 2011’s “Donald Trump,” on which he bragged how he can “take over the world when I’m on my Donald Trump s**t,” a personal statement that got the attention of the future President of the United States, who remarked that Miller should pay Trump a royalty for the use of his name. Yet Miller migrated away from the rich white boy persona of his early releases. By the time Swimming came out in August, Mac was regarded as an indie rapper more interested in articulating his drug and alcohol struggles over atmospheric grooves than in showing off. Outside of his albums and mixtapes, Miller was best known for being Ariana Grande’s collaborator on “The Way” and her boyfriend from 2016 to May 2018. While the media seized on the breakup between the two stars, Miller addressed it on “Self Care” and Grande Instagrammed a picture of Mac with no caption after his death. A celebration of life concert for Miller is being planned in Los Angeles for October 31 and artists like Chance The Rapper and John Mayer are slated to perform. It is unclear if Grande will make an appearance. Check out “Self Care” below, a contemplative final statement from an artist who died too young.