It’s been quite a past week for Tate McRae in the Billboard realm — in a span of about five days, she made her first-ever appearances on the cover of Billboard magazine, on stage as a Billboard Music Awards performer, and in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
The last two appearances come courtesy of McRae’s breakout hit “Greedy,” which takes a more pop-forward, triple-threat approach to top 40 domination than her moodier prior hits “You Broke Me First” and “She’s All I Wanna Be.” In addition to delivering the song at Sunday’s (Nov. 19) BBMAs, McRae also performed the song (along with ballad “Grave”) on Saturday Night Live the night before — another first for the 20-year-old rising star.
How did “Greedy” become the song to take McRae to the next level of stardom? And what chances does it have of becoming her first No. 1? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.
1. “Greedy” moves from 11-8 on this week’s Hot 100, becoming her first top 10 hit on the chart in its ninth week. Did you expect the song becoming this kind of breakout hit for her?
Rania Aniftos: Yes, the second I saw tube girl take over TikTok lip syncing “Greedy,” I knew Tate had found her hit. Every other video on the platform had “Greedy” in it.
Kyle Denis: Yes. I covered this song for Billboard’s Trending Up column back in September; the success of “Greedy” has been the result of a coordinated promotional effort beginning with a TikTok snippet strategy and adding several show-stealing live performances along the way.
Lyndsey Havens: Oh yes. Tate has been developing as an artist and building the foundation for her career since 2018 — and even before that, if you count her teenage YouTube series Create With Tate. She’s already had a taste of success with breakout hit “You Broke Me First,” so the stage was set. And with a song like “Greedy” — with its endearing swagger and nostalgic production — the pieces finally fell into place.
Jason Lipshutz: No on the first listen, yes on the fifth listen. After a few plays, “Greedy” fully won me over, both from the standpoint of being insanely catchy and as a subtle showcase of the snappy rhythmic-pop sound in which Tate McRae has created a pocket. McRae is no stranger to top 40 radio — “She’s All I Wanna Be” and “You Broke Me First” both performed well in recent years — but “Greedy” is more immediate, charismatic, and downright memorable than those prior hits. As soon as it clicked into place for me, I expected “Greedy” to become her first top 10 hit.
Andrew Unterberger: I dunno if I could’ve ID’d at it as a sure top 10 hit in a blind taste test, but certainly once the TikTok hype of the song led to a top 40 bow for it on the Hot 100, clearly big things were in the works here — especially after the debut of its hockey rink-set music video, as star-making a moment for McRae as the song itself.
2. What do you think the biggest reason is that “Greedy” has been the single to bring McRae to a higher tier of hitmaking?
Rania Aniftos: We’re still in this interesting time in music in which Gen Z is super nostalgic. They wish they got to experience the height of the Y2K pop star era with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, etc. So, when Tate came out with “Greedy” and it’s sassy and flirty and feels fresh out of 2002, it’s exactly what her demographic has been looking for.
Kyle Denis: It’s probably her most singular offering yet. Tate McRae is clearly a talented performer, but despite her previous success, a lot of her those singles felt faceless and nondescript. While “Greedy” isn’t the most innovative pop song of the year by any means, its undeniable chorus and connection to the “It Girl” aesthetic allowed it to unlock a new level of hitmaking for McRae.
More specifically, however, the TikTok snippet campaign is what really sewed up the success of “Greedy.” Thanks to the campaign, McRae has been prepping consumers’ ears and stoking their interest for “Greedy” since the beginning of August. Couple that with two back-to-back live performances that flaunt her impressive dance skills and you’re left with a good old fashioned pure pop smash.
Lyndsey Havens: I think there are two main drivers here. The first is that she’s sort of talking her s—t a bit… It’s clear she’s coming at the song from a place of confidence and matured sass, two traits that are an easy sell for most pop fans. That self-assuredness is not only heard but also seen in the steamy music video, in which McRae flexes the fact that she is also a professionally trained dancer. I think the combination of a catchy pop hit and eyebrow-raising choreography is fueling this moment.
Jason Lipshutz: The hook here works across formats — from isolated TikTok clips to pop radio to streaming playlists — in a way that makes “Greedy” fit into a ton of different listening scenarios. Scrolling through social media and stumbling across choreo routines? Rolling through a new pop playlist on Spotify, or top music videos on YouTube? “Greedy” is malleable, and can entertain within a variety of pop contexts, which is why it’s caught on with such force over the past few weeks.
Andrew Unterberger: May or may not be the biggest factor, but I think “Greedy” is one of a few singles to benefit from the (relative) absence of Ariana Grande in the pop landscape. Grande was such a mighty top 40 fixture from 2018 to early 2021 that these past couple years without her doing much has left an unoccupied lane on radio and in the culture when it comes to flirty, quippy, swaggering pop&B — one that McRae was more than ready to swerve into here.
3. McRae released her follow-up single “Exes” last Friday — do you think the song will follow “Greedy” to hit status, or does it feel like “Greedy” will be tough for her to match?
Rania Aniftos: While “Exes” is equally as catchy to me, it’s going to be tricky to grab onto the viral success of “Greedy.” It really found the balance of having a TikTok trend attached to it, as well as it being marketable for radio, TV and other mainstream channels. I am rooting for “Exes,” though! It’s such a good song.
Kyle Denis: “Greedy” still has plenty of room to grow, so I’m not sure “Exes” will even get to half of what “Greedy” can achieve. “Exes” is fine. It’s less instant that “Greedy,” which could delay how quickly it takes off. Nonetheless, McRae is already growing into an artist who can really move the needle for her singles through live performances. Perhaps with the right stage, “Exes” will explode into its full potential.
Lyndsey Havens: I think “Greedy” will be tough to match. I think instead of trying to compete, “Exes” — and her entire forthcoming album Think Later — will only help “Greedy” sustain. If anything, “Exes” proves that “Greedy” wasn’t a lucky one-off or contrived — it’s Tate fully loaded.
Jason Lipshutz: “Greedy” is still going strong, so if “Exes” is going to have a moment, I’d guess that such a moment is still a couple months away. That said, I do like “Exes” quite a bit: the bruising confidence and deep percussion of “Greedy” is carried over, and McRae’s personality is even more on display on the follow-up track. I could foresee a world in which “Ohh, I’m sorry / Sorry that you love me,” followed by that indelible cackle, becomes a quick-spreading meme at the top of 2024, and McRae continues her recent hot streak.
Andrew Unterberger: “Exes” has its moments and is off to a pretty strong start on streaming, so it’s probably going to be a factor on the charts in the weeks (months?) to come — but it will have to shine while remaining in the shadow of “Greedy,” which is certainly not going anywhere anytime soon.
4. The last week has represented a major moment for McRae, not only with the top 10 ascent of “Greedy” and the release of “Exes,” but also a Billboard cover story, a BBMAs performance and a musical guest turn on Saturday Night Live. Do you think having so much Tate McRae in pop culture at once will ultimately have a positive or negative effect on her career momentum?
Rania Aniftos: Positive, for sure. People who had never heard about her before or aren’t on TikTok are now getting introduced to her via more mainstream platforms like SNL or awards shows. This is exactly the exposure she needs to transcend from social media star to full-fledged pop star.
Kyle Denis: Definitely positive. For the past few years, Tate McRae has been floating around the ever-revolving cast of mid-tier pop stars that aren’t necessarily popular by measure of celebrity or name recognition. This level of exposure both helps consumers visually differentiate her from her peers, and showcases why she’s a pop star who people should bother caring about beyond whatever radio hit they may have in rotation at a given moment. Not to mention, she has an album due before the year’s end – this is all great for her!
Lyndsey Havens: I think this succession of major wins will only have a positive impact overall, simply because these things are not happening to her right out of the gate. These things are happening as she’s promoting her second album. They are happening after years of development and key internal changes (like new management) that are finally paying off. I think this moment is happening because of the momentum she already had — and not necessarily because of the momentum from this moment.
Jason Lipshutz: Positive, for sure. McRae has had hits in the past, but has not had the wider name recognition to turn those hits into sustained pop stardom; “Greedy” has functioned as a best-case breakthrough scenario, though, by not only becoming her highest-charting hit to date, but concurrently introducing McRae, the artist, to a mainstream audience. We’ll see how far that introduction takes her in the coming months and years, but she has her foot in the door now, and that’s all that matters.
Andrew Unterberger: Honestly, flooding the zone is rarely a bad move for pop artists in 2023. There’ll be some backlash, sure, but being at the center of discussion is something precious few artists can manage for any (not career-killing) reason in 2023 — so if you have the opportunity, may as well grab it.
5. Now that the song has reached No. 8 on the Hot 100, how much higher do you think it can still climb — will it get to the top five? How realistic a goal would a No. 1 be?
Rania Aniftos: Top five seems doable to me, but as long as Taylor Swift keeps releasing re-recordings and as long as “Cruel Summer” still exists, No. 1 is tough for anyone to reach.
Kyle Denis: I think the sky is the limit for “Greedy.” I can definitely see this growing into one of those songs that holds throughout the holidays season and enters the new year as one of the most dominant songs in popular music. She still has ample opportunities for live performances, the built-in boost of album release week and potential remixes. The song just hit the top five on Billboard‘s Pop Airplay chart this week, so its journey is far from over – especially as older 2022 hits and Taylor Swift’s vault tracks continue to free up space in the Hot 100’s uppermost regions.
Lyndsey Havens: I would love to see “Greedy” enter the chart’s top five — and I do think once Think Later arrives in a few weeks that could happen. And hey, call me crazy but… historically, songs that end one year near the top can often begin a new year with even more attention as a result of how slow January can be. So, while a No. 1 spot seems a bit unlikely, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible.
Jason Lipshutz: Top five is realistic for sure, although No. 1 will be difficult with a flood of holiday music about to return to the top of the chart. Who knows, though? It’s not like Burl Ives is performing intricate choreography in hockey pads!
Andrew Unterberger: Top five should definitely be in Mcrae’s sights for “Greedy,” which is still clearly on its way up, and if she and her RCA label have a remix in reserve — maybe even one featuring AG herself? — it could absolutely have a shot at No. 1. The key will be timing, and in fact it may be best for McRae & crew to wait out the Holiday crush and go for the gusto in early 2022.
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