If you’ve been looking to catch up on the hottest new songs released in 2022, you would not find them at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 lately. While the Hot 100 measures the biggest songs in the country every week, the hit list has recently been absolutely dominated by teamovers from 2021 – some of whom did not start their hit list in 2022, some of whom have only reached their peak in 2022, and some of them have just become by hanging around the list for many months (a few even close to a year) after reaching their peak.
In fact, if you look at last week’s chart, dated April 9, more than three months into the calendar year, you will find several songs in both the top 10 (Glass Animals’ “Heat Waves”, No. 1) and the top 20 ( Dua Lipa’s “Levitating”, No. 15), which was released in 2020 than in 2022 – with the last year only represented by Yahritza y Su Esencia’s brand new “Soy El Unico”, a debut item at No. 20. (The Weeknds “Save Your Tears”, at No. 17, also began its hit list full two years earlier, in April 2020, although the Ariana Grande remix for which it is currently credited did not affect the chart until May 2021.)
“WI’ve seen this trend develop over a number of years now, ”says John Fleckenstein, chief operating officer of RCA, who believes that the current predominance of streaming simply more accurately reflects the way listeners have probably always consumed music. “I could imagine that if you look at someone’s consumption, it’s a bit like a bell curve, where they start to discover the song, and they start to get excited about it, and they listen to it a LOT for a while. . But I think when you do that across millions of people, you see this very long tail, and you see songs last a very long time. And I think that’s what you see on the charts. ”
Still, streaming has been the biggest driving force in the music industry for over half a decade now, and the lack of brand new big hits in 2022 stands in stark contrast to even just a year earlier. Look back at the Hot 100 dated April 10, 2021, and not only is each of the top five on the list – Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me by Your Name),” Justin Bieber’s “Peaches”, with Daniel Caesar and Giveon, Silk Sonics “Leave the Door Open”, Cardi B’s “Up” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” – all releases from the year they were all long lasting (and ultimately top list) hits, three of them even debuted at No. 1. To comparison, only two 2022 songs had even debuted in the Hot 100’s top 10 from April 9. Hot 100 – Nicki Minaj & Lil Baby’s “Do We Have a Problem?” and Gunna and Futures’ “Pushin P,” starring Young Thug, none of which topped the charts. (“We’re not talking about Bruno,” the hot 100-topping smash from the ubiquitous Charm the soundtrack, first debuted on the hit list in 2022, but it was released in late 2021 and went viral after the film came to Disney + in late December last year.)
While streaming may be sovereign on the market right now, the top of the Hot 100 this year has undoubtedly looked more reflective out of the radio landscape, with the biggest songs staying stronger for longer, as dictated by audience surveys – a trend that largely kicked of during the comfort-seeking early days of the pandemic, but which is even more the case now. “Skids just do not die – they last forever, ”says Erik Bradley, assistant program director / music director at Chicago’s CHR station WBBM-FM (B96). I mean, ‘Save Your Tears’ do not want to stop researching. You’re just thinking, ‘It’s gonna be gone, it’s gonna be gone …’ And every week it’s still sitting up there in the top two or three positions. [‘Woman’ by] Doja Cat, same thing … They’re still among them [our audience’s] very, very favorite songs that we might be able to play. ”
Although radio support lasts longer than ever before, it currently takes a while to get started on songs that have already proven to be culturally influential through other polls – which Epic Records evp and head of A&R Ezekiel Lewis believes contributes to the current lack of 2022 hits from 2022. “AAs time goes on, we are more and more in a kind of ‘show-and-proof’ era of record releases, “he says,”whereby the gatekeepers are increasingly searching towards the digital space to see the cultural relevance of a track. So you put out a record, you get sticky in the digital space … and then things that really help to influence Billboard diagram, just like radio audiences – they lag a bit behind.
That explanation is certainly confirmed by looking at some of the hits that are currently taking place in the Hot 100’s top 10 – like GAYLE’s “abcdefu”, Imagine Dragons and JID’s “Enemy” and Kodak Black’s “Super Gremlin” – which started to pick up speed on TikTok (which currently does not contribute its totals to Billboard‘s charts) and switched to streaming services in late 2021, but only climbed to their current hit list tops after radio support began kicking into this calendar year. But it’s also telling that for as much influence as viral platforms like TikTok should create instant interest in a song, it has not resulted in the same amount of instant smashes (as “Soy El Unico”, a rare top 20 debut from a relatively unknown artist), as it might even have been a few years earlier.
“TikTok is [still] throwing up [hits]but the question is, ‘Is it heading to the level it went before?’ “ponders another A&R source.” I mean, Arizona Zervas, [Lil] Nas X – there was this race, from 2019 to the middle of 12020, where when something happened on the platform, it went. And I think to a large extent you can still attribute most of the new breakthroughs to TikTok. I just do not know if they are so ubiquitous or so dominant on the platform that they translate in the same way they did before. ”
Part of the problem may be that the impact of TikTok is more widespread now – not only in terms of influencing new hits, but reviving old ones, and also discovering catalog balances that were never really hits in the first place, and are now embraced by listeners as if they were brand new. While a TikTok video from user doggface208 famously drove Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Dreams” back to the Hot 100’s top 15 in 2020, in the years since, such revitalized catalog entries (Arctic Monkeys ‘”505″, Frank Ocean’s “Lost”, Pharrell Williams’ ” Just a Cloud Away “) is increasingly liberated for any clip or cultural moment. Instead, their rise in the streaming space comes as gradually and almost as unstoppably as modern hits by Dua Lipa and The Weeknd, and then lasts almost as long – taking up space that could have previously belonged to more traditional new releases.
“IIt takes longer and longer for people and songs to reach the critical mass, so I think these resurrected records … we’ll see more and more of that stuff, ”says the A&R source. “Where songs are out, it’s a great song, it got a marketing push, it was maybe even processed into radio, did not work completely … It did not find the cultural context, or the awareness or the right trend for people to engage in it and discover it. And they will reappear. ”
The industry’s search for such quick hits has also come, say sources interviewed for this article, at the expense of long-term artist development. “There is one end of the business right now that is very focused on the algorithmic hit game, like finding songs that are moving because the audience is being served that particular sound on a repetitive basis, and trying to chase it, ”says Fleckenstein, if RCA artists claim several of the biggest success stories of the past year (Doja Cat is unstoppable The planet her blockbuster, Latto’s current Hot 100 top 10 hit “Big Energy”, SZA’s enduring R&B hit “I Hate U”, Lucky Dayes rising “Over”). “From an RCA perspective – we are, and we have been, and always will be, an essential artist development machine. And our successes when you look at our artists, whether it be HER, or Doja, or Khalid or SZA, then we talk about projects that were under development for years. ”
And part of the lack of brand new 2022 hits in 2022 is simply the relative lack of the previously developed A-lists releasing new music. The previously mentioned top five in 2021 included releases from a handful of proven hitmakers in Cardi B, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars (from Silk Sonic) – the type of superstars we just have not seen much new music from in 2022, with only one handful of exceptions during the first three months of the year. Even in some of these rare cases, radio superstars like The Weeknd (who dropped his new one Dawn FM album in January) and Dua Lipa (whose Megan Thee Stallion collaboration “Sweetest Pie” debuted in March) has faced the added challenge of competing with herself – where both artists still have more hits from 2020 and 2021 still hanging in the top 40.
However, a new series of instant smashes of documented A-lists may be on the way – as potentially heralded by the arrival of the first true runaway hit to be released in 2022, Harry Styles’ “As It Was”. The long-awaited lead single from the global superstar’s upcoming third album Harry’s house, “As It Was” was an instant mega-success on streaming services and an enthusiastically received addition to radio playlists after its March 31 release. Not far behind is the rising rapper Jack Harlow, who topped the Hot 100 for the first time in late 2021 alongside Lil Nas X on “Industry Baby,” and even passed Styles’ debut tracks on Spotify this weekend with the release of his TikTok-hyped “First Class” single.
The influx of major releases combined with some calendar overtaking may mean that the lack of brand new 2022 hits may not last much longer. “I think in two or three months we’ll have another conversation [about 2022 hits]”Lewis predicts.” First of all, you want more big names on the way. But secondly, some of these songs that have fallen to the top this year will have caught up with you in terms of all the different measurements that need to be fired 100 percent in order for you to really see [their impact] on the chart. “
And maybe some of the sustained hits from 2021 and 2020 will also finally start to melt away as the weather gets warmer. “I feel that [those older hits] starting to get a little slower, Bradley says. “I hope that’s what happens. Because you know, as a music fan and someone who loves new artists and new projects and all that, I also want to see some new life come into play – but at the same time I want to also make sure my brands play hit songs, you know that? So I’m a little tired of it all. But I feel like there’s a lot of good material on the horizon. So I’m very optimistic.