Music

What Will the Early Year Be Like on the Hot 100?

With the holiday rush finally clearing up on the Billboard Hot 100 — all the dozens of Christmas songs that appeared on the chart last week (dated Jan. 6) fall off completely this week, including none of the song’s in that week’s top 10 — we can finally get a bit of a picture as to how early 2024 is going to go on the listing.

Jack Harlow‘s “Lovin on Me,” the most recent song to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 before the Yuletide swarm, returns to the top spot this week, followed by fellow 2023 chart-topper “Cruel Summer.” Meanwhile, three songs hit new peaks inside the top 10 — Tate McRae’s “Greedy,” Tyla’s “Water” (No. 7) and Doja Cat’s “Agora Hills” (No. 10) — and double-digit debuts and re-entries flood the chart to replace the departed holiday tunes.

How long will Harlow’s smash dominate the chart? And who might be the most viable threat to it in the weeks to come? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.

1. So far this decade, there’s been one song every year that’s sort of lorded over the Hot 100 for the majority of the winter — “The Box” in 2020, “Drivers License” in 2021, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” in 2022 and “Flowers” in 2023. Do you believe that Jack Harlow’s “Lovin on Me” (No. 1 both the week before and now the week after the holiday rush) is going to be that song for 2024?

Rania Aniftos: My gut is saying yes, depending on how Ariana Grande’s upcoming “Yes, And?” does upon its arrival. The winter always has a slowdown in music releases, which is why Harlow’s track might stick around — but I really think Grande is coming in for the 2024 title, especially with all the buzz about her new relationship in the news.

Katie Atkinson: It’s possible, but I would give the edge to the new songs coming this Friday from Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X. After all, “Drivers License” and “Flowers” both came out in early January (Jan. 8 and 12, respectively), so there’s a real opportunity for one of those new songs — by artists with reliable Hot 100 track records – to dominate in the same way. We’ll have to wait and see if “Yes, And?” or “J CHRIST” has the juice.

Stephen Daw: Probably not, but not because it’s not a jam — as a Jack Harlow skeptic, even I can’t deny that “Lovin on Me” is fun and catchy as hell. But I think there are two problems for Jack here: momentum and track record. “Lovin on Me” was having a moment before the Christmas season kicked in, and it is certainly back to cultural dominance now that Mariah and Brenda Lee don’t stand in its way. But the second a buzzier 2024 release comes along (more on that later), I don’t see this song picking up the steam it lost out on thanks to the yuletide chart disruption.

Moreover, Jack’s songs have a tendency to hit the top of the charts and then slowly move downward shortly after (“First Class” kept the spot for three weeks, while “Industry Baby” topped the chart for just one week). This song will certainly be a top 40 mainstay for months to come, but with gargantuan artists gearing up to release new singles this month, I’m not “Lovin” Young J-A-C-K’s chances at maintaining a No. 1 streak.

Kyle Denis: I think so! The closest competitors to “Lovin on Me” are probably Tate McRae’s “Greedy” and Tyla’s “Water,” but both artists have already started to shift their attention to their follow-up singles. Furthermore, “Lovin on Me” is tailor-made for crossover radio success, which will only help with its longevity on the Hot 100. Not to mention, there is still ample time for more live performances and a remix (or two!).

Andrew Unterberger: It does feel like Harlow’s only real competition here hasn’t been released yet. “Lovin” remained steady all through throughout the holidays — no small feat — and is still leading the pack two months into its lifespan, which are usually strong signs a song is gonna stick around for a long, long time. But with new Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X singles on the horizon — and now a new 21 Savage album as well — it’s gonna have its work cut out for it protecting against challengers to the throne.

2. Three songs hit new peaks in the top 10 this week: Tate McRae’s “Greedy” (No. 3) Tyla’s “Water” (No. 7) and Doja Cat’s “Agora Hills” (No. 10). Which song do you think will stick around the chart’s top tier the deepest into 2024?

Rania Aniftos: “Greedy” for the win! I genuinely think Tate McRae’s star journey is just getting beginning, and as her pop star status grows, her hits will continue to endure. She’s also heading out on tour this spring, which will surely encourage revisits to songs like “Greedy.”

Katie Atkinson: My money is on “Water.” Tyla got her biggest U.S. look yet when she was one of only five Times Square performers on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, so this new peak comes after that mainstream moment. After Wizkid’s “Essence” peaked in 2021 and Rema’s “Calm Down” peaked last year, maybe Tyla can usher in 2024 with a major Afrobeats hit and keep them coming throughout the year.

Stephen Daw: It’s gonna be Tate. With a steadily rising profile for Tate and a tried-and-true pop sound that fits in the pantheon of enduring hits, it feels like “Greedy” is going to be here for a while. “Agora Hills” is a killer song, but with her album cycle well and truly over and only a small European leg of her tour set for this summer, I don’t see Doja climbing this “Hill” much higher. I think the only thing that could help “Water” stick around longer than “Greedy” would be a win at the 2024 Grammys — and even that might not be enough. 

Kyle Denis: My money is on Doja Cat’s “Agora Hills.” Doja’s singles tend to stick around on the Hot 100 for a long time – she has four songs that have spent at least 40 weeks on the chart – and “Hills” hasn’t even hit the top 10 on Pop Airplay yet, unlike “Greedy.” Another advantage “Hills” may have over “Water” is its crossover appeal, Doja will get play from rhythmic, top 40 and hip-hop stations which should only bolster the song’s longevity. Couple that with her consistent on-demand streaming success, and Doja could be looking at another 40-plus-week Hot 100 hit.  

Andrew Unterberger: They’ve all got a shot, but “Greedy” just seems like one of those songs that radio will wring every last ounce of life out of — likely to the detriment of McRae’s Think Later follow-up singles, even. And there’s still a card left to play there in terms of a big-name remix, which could provide an extra adrenaline shot if the song starts to lag sooner than expected. I’m rooting for “Agora Hills,” though, since it might be Doja Cat’s most intoxicating single to date.

3. Way down the chart, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s early-‘00s U.K. smash “Murder on the Dancefloor” debuts at No. 98, as the latest pop culture-boosted catalog hit to become newly chart-relevant in the 2024s, thanks to its much-memed use in Saltburn. Do you see it growing into one of the year’s biggest hits, Kate Bush-style, or will it fall back off within a few weeks?

Rania Aniftos: I think we’ll have some more time with “Murder on the Dancefloor,” especially with awards season heating up and Saltburn staying in the news, both at the ceremonies and on TikTok. Speaking of TikTok, tastemaker influencer Alix Earle has recently expressed how much she likes the song since watching the movie, and everything she touches turns to gold.

Katie Atkinson: I definitely see it climbing higher than No. 98, but I don’t think the Hot 100 top 10 is in its future, like it was with the No. 3-peaking “Running Up That Hill.” Stranger Things is just a broader pop-culture vessel than the over-the-top, adults-only Saltburn ever could be. That said, I think “Murder” has a better shot at hitting a new peak in the U.K., where it’s already rebounded to No. 8 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart. It originally topped out at No. 2 in 2001, so I think the most interesting story is whether it could climb to the very top in Ellis-Bextor’s native U.K. more than 20 years later.

Stephen Daw: Much like the mind of Barry Keoghan’s sadistic protagonist, I’m torn. “Murder on the Dancefloor” is the definition of a feel-good banger, it fits naturally within our current pop landscape and the deliciously weird memes surrounding it could very well propel it to further heights on the Hot 100 in the weeks to come.

The problem, though, is another one of momentum. Part of the reason that “Running Up That Hill” performed as well as it did was because it played a major part in a once-in-a-generation, monolithic series like Stranger Things. Saltburn has certainly garnered much wider attention since it became available on Prime Video, but its following is much smaller and more cultish than the Duffer Brothers’ behemoth show. Once awards season is over, I don’t think “Dancefloor” will be killing on the charts for much longer.

Kyle Denis: I’m on the fence on this one. We haven’t completely moved on from the recent wave disco-inspired dance-pop, so that works in the song’s favor. On the other hand, however, Saltburn will likely never amass the cultural capital of Stranger Things 4, so that could also stunt the song’s ability to replicate the success of “Running Up That Hill.” If “Murder” is unable to successfully transcend Barry Keoghan’s NSFW scene by the end of awards season, it could be light out on the dancefloor.  

Andrew Unterberger: Perhaps my opinion will change if I ever actually see Saltburn, but I just can’t see this getting that much bigger. I’m a fan of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s early-’00s output and it’s always fun to see a song this good getting its belated due… but irresistible as the song is, it’s just not “Running Up That Hill” (or “Dreams”) in terms of its timeless and enduring power. The big question, though, is radio — if the song continues to grow for a few weeks and folks don’t seem sick of it yet, will top 40 jump on the 20-year-old song as free playlist filler? Don’t know if I’d bet on it, but it’s definitely not impossible.

4. Who else outside the top 10 this week do you have your eye on as potentially being a big threat on the chart in the weeks and months to come?

Rania Aniftos: I beg the readers to continue listening to Teddy Swims’ “Lose Control.” He’s at No. 12 right now, and one of the most talented musicians and vocalists out there right now. He deserves all the success and I want to see that song climb up and become a mainstay in the top 10.

Katie Atkinson: With the amount I’ve heard it on playlists and radio, Teddy Swims’ “Lose Control” feels like the obvious choice. It peaks just outside the top 10 (at No. 12) this week, and it has a lot of elements that make it feel like it could be a winter creeper hit.

Stephen Daw: Among the crop of candidates currently charting, I’m watching Nicki Minaj’s “FTCU.” Pink Friday 2 may be meandering down the Billboard 200, but “FTCU” has quickly become the most talked-about song off the album in the weeks since its release. Online hype has at least sustained itself, if not increased for the song, and with the right strategy (I notice that the song does not yet have an official music video), “FTCU” could easily earn Nicki another top 10 centerpiece in the coming weeks. 

Outside of this week’s charts, the candidates for upcoming chart domination are pretty clear to me. Both Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X have hugely anticipated new songs out this week. Ari’s “Yes, And?” comes after the singer took a break from solo music following her prolific album from 2018-2021, meaning the masses are starving for fresh Ariana Grande content. And with the increasingly provocative promotions Lil Nas is putting out for his track “J CHRIST,” it’s evident that his pot-stirring shenanigans could very well lead to another massive hit for the rapper. 

Kyle Denis: I’m definitely keeping an eye on Nicki Minaj’s “FTCU” and “Everybody” (with Lil Uzi Vert). Likewise with Flo Milli’s “Never Lose Me.”  

Andrew Unterberger: The people have spoken in terms of electing “FTCU” as the breakout hit off Pink Friday 2, and I think it’s only gonna get bigger throughout the first month or so of 2024. If it’s not in the top 10 two weeks from now I’d be pretty surprised.

5. Make one bold Hot 100-related prediction of any kind for 2024. (Let me know if you’re having trouble with this one.)

Rania Aniftos: I don’t know how bold this is, but Harry Styles will be back (shaved hair and all) to take over 2024 with another “As It Was”-like Hot 100 hit.

Katie Atkinson: This is more of a hope than a prediction, but I really want more artists to have Hot 100 No. 1 hits this year. I love when the top spot is a revolving door, and in 2023, due to a couple of longtime No. 1s (namely Morgan Wallen’s 16-week stay with “Last Night” and Miley Cyrus’ eight weeks with “Flowers”), only 20 total artists had chart-toppers. Would it be crazy to ask for 26 this year?

Stephen Daw: Rihanna’s ninth album is coming this year, and all of the singles will replace each other at No. 1. You said to be bold!!

Kyle Denis: An all Portuguese-language Brazilian funk track cracks the top 50.

Andrew Unterberger: Ariana Grande ends up with three of the top 10 songs on the Year-End Hot 100, including her first ever No. 1 on the chart.

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