Patrick Crowley July 14, 2017, 10:55am EDT
On the Billboard Hot 100 dated July 8, Rihanna ended a 12-week run of women being absent from the top five -- the longest lady drought since 1972. The song with which she returned women to top-tier territory, DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts,” finds her as a featured act, alongside Bryson Tiller.
Two weeks later, on the current July 22-dated Hot 100, Rihanna is the sole woman repping the top 10 -- compared to 15 male or male-fronted acts (three of which appear twice: DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber and Quavo). In fact, the highest-charting lead female this week is Halsey, with “Now or Never” at No. 18, followed by Julia Michaelswith "Issues" at No. 19. And while The Chainsmokers' “Closer,” on which Halsey is featured, held the No. 1 spot for 12 weeks in 2016, the last woman billed as the lead act in the top spot was Sia, with “Cheap Thrills” last August. Even with that song, a male is featured: Sean Paul. The last unaccompanied female artist to hold her own at No. 1? Adele with “Hello” on the chart dated Jan. 16, 2016.
It wasn’t too long ago that ladies ruled the charts. In late 2014, solo female artists occupied the top five positions on the Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks. Thanks to features, as many as eight women occupied the top five at once, with Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”; Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”; Iggy Azalea’s “Black Widow,” featuring Rita Ora; Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High)”; and “Bang Bang” by the triple threat of Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj.
With just-released tracks from Kesha, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, perhaps the pendulum could swing back toward women residing in the Hot 100's upper reaches. And while it’s impossible to predict, here are 13 ladies we’d like to see crash the Hot 100 sausage party.
Few artists are as buzzworthy as the St. Louis-born SZA. Her debut studio album Ctrl snagged the No. 3 spot on the Billboard 200 (July 1 chart) upon its arrival, and her video for “Drew Barrymore” has drawn viral attention thanks to a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from the song’s namesake. If there’s any justice in this world, the raspy R&B singer-songwriter will be boxing chart heavyweights like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars in no time.
With 18 million monthly Spotify listeners, it’s shocking that Dua Lipa’s highest Hot 100 notch is No. 72, with “Blow Your Mind (Mwah).” That peak could perhaps be bested soon: her latest music video, “New Rules,” premiered July 7 and has already logged over 13 million views globally on YouTube. While the visual -- which features an expertly choreographed routine -- is fantastic, it’s Dua’s low alto voice that’s most exciting. Not since P!nk have we heard a rising pop star with such a neat, smoky tone.
Paramore. No Doubt. Evanescence. Female-fronted bands are a rarity on the Hot 100 -- but when they do chart, they often make an impact. Alt-rock may not be a strong force in today’s musical climate, but Imagine Dragons and twenty one pilots have proven that the genre isn't dead. With a cool blend of dark, synth-heavy rock and lead singer Lynn Gunn’s soaring voice, Pvris could be the next big alt act.
Since Iggy Azalea topped the Hot 100 with “Fancy” in 2014, only one other female rapper has reached the top 10: Nicki Minaj. Given that there are nine male rappers in the top 10 this week alone, this is absurd. While there are several lady emcees who can spit bars as hard as their male counterparts, few may be poised for future chart domination as DeJ Loaf. With co-signs from Drake and Kylie Jenner and three Hot 100 entries under her belt, we’re ready for her summery bop “No Fear” to charge the charts.
Another emcee who could find her way to the upper reaches of the charts is Love & Hip-Hop: New York star Cardi B. Her first major-label single “Bodak Yellow” just debuted on the Hot 100 at No. 85 (July 22) and has been bouncing around Spotify’s Viral 50 charts. Given her Instagram notoriety (she has 7.6 million followers) and her cred in the hip-hop community (she’s shared the stage with Lil' Kim and Remy Ma), we’re anticipating big things for this Bronx native.
It's no surprise that Sir Elton John handpicked this Norwegian import to open a few of his gigs: she's the epitome of pure joy. Dagny’s visual for her latest single “Wearing Nothing” is a jubilant depiction of #relationshipgoals. Between the playful choreography and the sunny beat, it's impossible to finish this clip without containing the inevitable, obnoxiously stupid grin. Add it to your poolside playlist immediately.
Country is another boys' club: of the July 22-dated Hot Country Songs chart’s 50 spots, only four are held by unaccompanied solo female artists: Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert and Carly Pearce. Even if charting collaborations that feature Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina and Faith Hill are taken into consideration -- as well an entry by co-ed Lady Antebellum -- the male-to-female ratio is still embarrassingly unbalanced. Still, given that all of her aforementioned Nashville sisters have tallied entries in the Hot 100’s top 40, it's Carly’s turn to shine. Her heartbreaking ballad “Every Little Thing” is drenched in crossover appeal. Given a proper push, other formats would be wise to consider it.
Brooklyn-based Vérité grew up listening to '90s alt-rock acts like The Cranberries, Green Day and Nirvana, and the influence is apparent in her grungy, dark pop records. With songs like her haunting take on The 1975’s “Somebody Else” and a sound that sits somewhere between hitmakers like Tove Lo and Lorde, we’re excited for her future prospects.
Calvin Harris’ latest album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, is brimming with A-list collaborators: Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Future, Nicki Minaj and Snoop Dogg are just a sampling of the all-star lineup. It's telling, then, that he chose to close the set with a feature from this easily lesser-known Canadian singer-songwriter. A quick sampling of her discography makes it immediately apparent that the powerhouse DJ is onto something: Jessie Reyez’s laid-back delivery is immediately captivating. Give “Figures,” the lead single from her debut EP Kiddo, a spin and try not to hit repeat.
With highlighter-green hair, this big-voiced Finn could be on the verge of breaking big stateside. Her first EP, Dye My Hair, generated more than 100 million combined Spotify streams -- and that just might be the beginning. With heavy hitters like MNEK, Charli XCX, Rudimental and Gorgon City helping craft her international full-length debut, Alma is poised to make a serious impression.
CupcakKe’s lyrics make Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” seem tailor-made for Kidz Bop. With song titles like “Cumshot,” “Deepthroat” “Juicy Coochie” and “Spider-Man Dick,” it's obvious CupcakKe wears that parental advisory sticker as a badge of honor. In fact, in the video for "CPR," an ode to oral sex, the always-grinning rapper simulates fellatio on a corncob. But buried in all the sexual innuendos (okay, they’re hardly innuendos) is a woman with a necessary point of view: She tackles social issues like eating disorders (“Biggie Smalls”) and poverty (“Scraps”) with the same conviction demonstrated in her raunchier tracks.
K.Flay is the female answer to twenty one pilots. Boasting two entries on the Alternative Songs chart (“Blood in the Cut,” which peaked at No. 4, and “High Enough,” at its No. 20 high on the July 22 list), her songs wouldn’t be out of place during the opening sequence of a dark action flick. In fact, if her team hasn’t secured an appearance on the Suicide Squad sequel soundtrack, what are they even doing?
Not many singers can say that they’ve worked on records with Shawn Mendes, Avicii and Katy Perry, but rising star Astrid S has those bragging rights. And she’s just as bright a star on her own: Her tracks like “Hurts So Good” and “Breathe” have seen chart success overseas. If her latest single, the breezy “Such a Boy,” is any indication, we could be seeing her on the Hot 100 sooner than later.