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I was wondering if you noticed that the top 10 of this week's Billboard Hot 100 (dated April 29) is comprised of all men. Do you know the last time this happened?
Only a few years ago, it seemed like men had all but disappeared from the chart's upper echelon, with music then dominated by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Adele and Beyoncé, etc.
I recall that the week of March 28, 1964, also saw an all-male top 10, with The Beatles occupying the top four (a week before they held the entire top five).
Boys have hung a "no girls allowed" sign on this week's Hot 100 top 10. To recap:
1, "Shape of You," Ed Sheeran
2, "That's What I Like," Bruno Mars
3, "Humble.," Kendrick Lamar
4, "Sign of the Times," Harry Styles
5, "Something Just Like This," The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
6, "iSpy," KYLE feat. Lil Yachty
7, "Mask Off," Future
8, "XO TOUR Llif3," Lil Uzi Vert
9, "Body Like a Back Road," Sam Hunt
10, "Paris," The Chainsmokers
That's eight lead solo males (with one featured solo male) and two groups, with one of them, The Chainsmokers, on two songs. It is mixed company given Emily Warren's vocal on "Paris," but she is uncredited officially.
Making way for an all-men top 10 is the departure of "Rockabye," by Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie. And, the week before, Zayn and Taylor Swift's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)" vacated the region, after reaching No. 2.
You're right, Dwight, that women fairly recently dominated the Hot 100; in 2014 and 2015, women led the chart for a record-tying 19 weeks in a row, starting when Swift's "Shake It Off" debuted at No. 1 (on Sept. 6, 2014). Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" and Swift's "Blank Space" continued the run.
But, with no women in this week's Hot 100's top 10, a week-by-week look back reveals that women have ranked in the region with at least one song for … well, quite a while, until this week.
In the 2010s, superstars including Swift, Adele, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Perry, Rihanna and others have regularly visited the bracket. Not a week had gone by until now that no women were in the top 10 in the '10s.
In the 2000s, many of those same artists hit the top 10, along with other chart-ruling women including Mariah Carey, Fergie, Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys and P!nk.
Traveling back to the 1990s, Carey, Celine Dion, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Shania Twain and others continually hit the Hot 100's upper reaches, again, keeping women in the top 10 every week from now back to … Oct. 6, 1990. That's when we have to flash back to in order to find the last time that no female soloists charted in the Hot 100's top 10 until this week. The top 10 on that date more than 26 years ago (when Swift, by the way, was not yet a year old):
1, "Close to You," Maxi Priest
2, "Praying for Time," George Michael
3, "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection," Nelson
4, "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven," Phil Collins
5, "I Don't Have the Heart," James Ingram
6, "Blaze of Glory," Jon Bon Jovi
7, "Ice Ice Baby," Vanilla Ice
8, "Oh Girl," Paul Young
9, "Do Me!," Bell Biv DeVoe
10, "Release Me," Wilson Phillips
That week, only female trio Wilson Phillips represented women in the top 10 (along with the girl in the title of Young's song).
And, before that, '80 ladies including Houston, Jackson, Madonna, Pat Benatar, Gloria Estefan and Cyndi Lauper routinely mixed with males in the top 10.
But, like this week, the last time no women at all ranked in the Hot 100's top 10? Until the latest Hot 100, dated April 29, 2017, the top 10 had not been absent of women entirely since … Feb. 11, 1984, more than 33 years ago. The top 10 that week (more than eight months before Perry was born):
1, "Karma Chameleon," Culture Club
2, "Joanna," Kool & the Gang
3, "Talking in Your Sleep," The Romantics
4, "Owner of a Lonely Heart," Yes
5, "Jump," Van Halen
6, "That's All," Genesis
7, "Running With the Night," Lionel Richie
8, "Pink Houses," John Mellencamp
9, "Think of Laura," Christopher Cross
10, "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," Elton John
No, Joanna and Laura don't count for that week. Then again, they do reflect that even when female artists aren't in the top 10, men are singing about women. Same for this week, when both Sheeran and Hunt are driven to curves; The Chainsmokers are remembering their French fling (with Warren's character); and KYLE wants a curly-headed cutie he can turn into his wife. (Wait, that means forever, ever; hold up, never mind.)
(For the record, on Feb. 18, 1984, Nena's "99 Luftballoons," Lauper's fittingly titled, per the stat at hand, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and Shannon's "Let the Music Play" all entered the top 10, starting a streak that would continue through "Rockabye." And, by October 1984, Madonna would hit the top 10 with "Lucky Star," the first of her record 38 top 10s.)
While this week is, amazingly, the first time in more than 33 years that solo women don't infuse the Hot 100's top 10, it doesn't mean that they've ceded all the chart's big hits to men: Selena Gomez (with Kygo), Julia Michaels, Anne-Marie (with Clean Bandit and Paul) and Alessia Cara (with Zedd) rank at Nos. 11-14, respectively. So, if, say, Nos. 10 and 11 were reversed, we likely wouldn't even be discussing this topic right now.
And, as Billboard editorial liaison (and Chart Beat Podcast co-host) Trevor Anderson recently analyzed, women's share of Hot 100 No. 1s in the 2010s is at a nearly all-time high (46 percent, up from 22 percent in both the '60s and '70s, and not far off the 49 percent pinnacle of the '90s).
Again, four solo women, as noted above, are knocking on the door to the current Hot 100's top 10. Gaga, Perry and Rihanna also recently ranked in the region. So, what are the main factors perhaps leading to this week marking a male milestone? Three seem key:
1. Female stars including Adele, Ariana Grande and Sia have largely completed the singles runs of their latest albums, leaving even more room for men to swoop into the top 10. (And, it could be argued that Perry's "Chained to the Rhythm," featuring Skip Marley, underperformed, given her prior success, which includes nine Hot 100 No. 1s since her 2008 arrival, as well as the longest streak of any artist appearing in the top 10 consecutively: 69 weeks, in 2010-11. "Chained" debuted at No. 4 on the March 4-dated Hot 100, fell to No. 8 in its second week and has spent the next seven weeks below the top, although within the top 30.)
2. Not that men seem to have needed women to step aside, as they are forging an impressive 2017. Especially noticeably, traditionally male-dominated hip-hop and rap are thriving, as Migos and Rae Sremmurd, among others, have topped the Hot 100 this year (driven by viral reaction). At the same time, Sheeran, Mars and The Weeknd are solidly within strings of hit singles from recently released albums.
3. And, again, a bit of coincidence. Gomez, Michaels and others are oh-so-close to the Hot 100's top 10, and still could enter the bracket. In a few more weeks, we'll have a better idea of whether the present shutout of women in the top 10 is merely an aberration or a more evident trend.
Per that last point, industry executives and veteran chart followers often point to any chart extremes as cyclical. Joel Whitburn, founder of Record Research, which has been chronicling Billboard surveys for roughly a half-century, pointed to musical ebbs and flows in 2014, when Swift and Trainor were barring men from the Hot 100's top spot … and just a year before momentum swung and men claimed eight of the top 10 (Oct. 24, 2015). "It's a trend," he observed of women ruling the chart at the time. "Men dominated the charts in the mid-'60s. Groups, too. You can go back and find all kinds of trends. This is happening now, but it'll change.
"But, right now, it's the trend of today."