The year 2018 finished with a strong fall for hip-hop and the biggest hit of Ariana Grande’s career
Billboard Hot 100 #1s | October to December 2018
See the full Hot 100 at www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100
10/6 thru 11/10: Maroon 5 feat. Cardi B “Girls Like You”
11/17 thru 12/1; 12/15 until today: Ariana Grande “Thank U, Next”
12/8: Travis Scott feat. Drake “Sicko Mode”
Fall/Winter 2018: The Playlist
As 2018 came to a close, Canada’s Drake finished as Billboard’s #1 Artist of the Year on the strength of four #1 hits on the Hot 100. @champagnepapi’s success comes from his ability to move easily between pop (“God’s Plan” finished as Billboard’s #1 hit of 2018) and both mainstream and indie hip-hop. In the last three months of the year, Drake not only took the futuristic Travis Scott collaboration “Sicko Mode” to #1 on the Hot 100, but also reconciled with Meek Mill on the fiery and more conventional “Going Bad.” Drake’s success cemented hip-hop as the dominant genre of 2018. More than half of the year-end Billboard Hot 100 could be classified as hip-hop, R&B, or pop featuring hip-hop guest artists. It was a year in which Maroon 5 hired A Boogie Wit A Hoodie and Cardi B to take their hits up the charts. And even with rap’s help Maroon 5 only finished as Billboard’s #16 artist of the year, ten spots below controversial, deceased rapper XXXTentaction who got little radio play in 2018 but benefited from streaming.
Drake snuck in his final #1 of the year in December
Drake, Travis Scott, Cardi B, and XXXTentaction led a parade of hip-hop heavy hitters in 2018. Post Malone finished as Billboard’s #2 artist of the year and picked up another top five hit late in the year with Swae Lee collaboration “Sunflower” from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Kodak Black ranked only at #55 on Billboard’s year-end Artist 100, but he spent two-thirds of 2018 in prison; after his release “ZEZE,” a collaboration with Travis Scott and Offset of Migos, took #2 on the Hot 100. Chicago’s Juice WRLD, whose brooding R&B recalls The Weekend and Drake at his gloomiest became 2018’s biggest new artist.
Billboard’s Top 10 Male Artists of 2018 list is dominated by hip-hop stars
Ariana Grande and A Star Is Born Dominate the Fall
Through September of 2018 hip-hop was unstoppable on the charts. At the same time pop music seemed bound to have one of its most unremarkable years ever. Yet this fall Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga sent a reminder that pop can still dominate. Grande’s “Thank U, Next” was only released on November 3, but took #1 on the Hot 100 immediately, a feat Grande has never achieved before despite having ten prior top 10 hits. The kiss-off to her exes capitalized on Grande’s recently broken engagement with Pete Davidson and also became the sweetest profanity-laced #1 in the 60+ year history of the Billboard Hot 100. It’s the best breakup song Taylor Swift never wrote and it may become the biggest hit of Grande’s already successful career. @arianagrande added more sizzle to her #1 when she released the “Thank U, Next” music video, which paid tribute to Mean Girls and similar films from the early 2000’s, setting a YouTube record in the process.
Before “Thank U, Next” destroyed competition, Lady Gaga enjoyed a ferocious October thanks to A Star Is Born, an updated version of the classic Hollywood romance directed by Gaga’s co-star Bradley Cooper. The film was both a critical and commercial success and its soundtrack took #1 on the Billboard 200. “Shallow,” the soundtrack’s highlight, peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 and may win a Grammy for Cooper, a first-time singer. It is nominated for four total Grammys, including Record and Song of the Year.
A Star Is Born is the latest incarnation in Lady Gaga’s shape-shifting career
Beyond hip-hop, Ariana Grande, and A Star Is Born, the fall featured new highs for artists old and new. Glam rock band Panic! At The Disco first made the Hot 100 in 2006 and 12 years later reached an all-time peak of #5 with “High Hopes,” an anthem to endurance in today’s competitive music industry. Britain’s Bastille also reached an all-time peak of #3 on the Hot 100 on Marshmello track “Happier,” which channels the bittersweet EDM energy of 2016 megahit “Closer” by the Chainsmokers ft. Halsey. Speaking of @iamhalsey, the singer born Ashley Frangipane also reached an all-time Hot 100 solo peak in December with “Without Me,” which took #2 behind “Thank U, Next.” The powerful ballad shared radio spins with Halsey’s “Eastside,” a faster-paced due with Khalid credited to producer Benny Blanco.
“Eastside” is cloaked in nostalgia, a feeling shared by A Star Is Born, and the “Thank U, Next” music video. 2018 was the year in which the Billboard Hot 100 turned 60 years old and artists today have a treasure chest of hits to re-imagine (“Without Me,” for example, paraphrases Justin Timberlake‘s 2003 smash “Cry Me A River“). Yet performers like Juice WRLD and Travis Scott continue pushing music into the future. A collaboration such as Marshmello ft. Bastille would have been unthinkable a decade ago. Both the past and future will wrestle for control of the charts in 2019 and it will be an exciting ride in the new year as Scoreboard waits for the next “Sicko Mode” or “Thank U, Next” to blow up.
Thank u…2018, next