Cardi B beats Taylor Swift, the biggest pop star in the world with her No. 1 hit

Updated Tuesday 26 September 2017 11:31
Cardi B beats Taylor Swift, the biggest pop star in the world with her No. 1 hit
Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” is officially the No. 1 song in the country, beating out Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. This makes her the first solo female rapper to top the chart since Lauryn Hill in 1998 and only the fifth female rapper to ever have a No. 1 hit.

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Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” had been sitting at the top of the charts for 16 weeks when the lead single for Swift’s Reputation (her first new album since October 2014) hit the web on August 24th, debuting at No. 1. Dethroned after three weeks, the song is a minor failure for Swift, who sat at the top of the charts for four weeks with “Shake it Off,” and seven with “Blank Space” during her last album rollout.

The battle for the spot was one of the most well-attended Twitter sporting events of the last month. Anyone with an investment in a true come-up story was tweeting to stream “Bodak Yellow,” while Swift fans insisted on “LWYMMD streaming parties” to keep her single on top. Die-hard Nicki Minaj fans joined them, eager to deprive Cardi of an achievement the “true” queen of rap hadn’t secured yet. They tweeted “#StreamLWYMMD,” too, making an unlikely alliance where there was once a lot of uh, sorry, bad blood.

But hashtag battles between fans dedicated to one artist or another are nothing new, and we have no way to prove what impact they might have (likely not much). What’s behind Cardi B’s unlikely win? Algorithm or alchemy? Probably a little bit of both, and I won’t be the first or last to suggest that people are just plain tired of Taylor Swift, a style of pop princess who feels almost anachronistic just three years after her nearly unprecedented crossover from CMT and Joni Mitchell bangs. But just three months after her showy return to the platform, Swift’s Spotify page boasts nearly 37 million monthly listeners, making her the second most popular artist (behind only Ed Sheeran) and a monthly habit for more than a quarter of Spotify’s active users.

Cardi B is the 97th most popular artist on the platform, with just over 13 million unique monthly listeners. Regardless, Cardi beats Taylor on Spotify’s charts, too. She’s at No. 4 there, with about 1.1 million streams per day for “Bodak Yellow.” Swift’s down at No. 12, with about 740,000 streams per day for “Look What You Made Me Do.” Cardi B has far more loyal, repeat streamers, where a significant number of Taylor’s appear to have been sucked in briefly by her gravitational pull in the popular culture. They weren’t bumping this song over and over, they were streaming it once, maybe twice, to acquaint themselves with the news of the day.

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