This Week’s Number One: “The Box” by Roddy Ricch

Yes, boys and girls, it’s officially inescapable. “The Box,” propelled by the powers that be, is an unstoppable force that is now on its seventh week atop the Hot 100. Some say that even when you close your eyes, you can still hear the “EEH ERR”s. God help us all if this becomes the next “Old Town Road,” but it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem: Besides “Old Town Road,” Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” and Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” are the only songs from 2019 that lasted as long as — or longer — at #1 than “The Box.” Other than Lil Nas X, a rapper hasn’t had this kind of domination on the Hot 100 since Drake’s mammoth run in 2018, when “God’s Plan, “Nice for What,” and “In My Feelings” gave him 29 weeks at #1. Roddy Ricch needs another hit to challenge that kind of status, but Ricch should know that status ain’t hood.

The rest of the chart:

  • Drake and Future are still stuck at #2 with “Life is Good.” Even a remix featuring Lil Baby and Da Baby failed to bump it up to #1. Good luck next week, guys.
  • The Biebs giveth, the Biebs taketh away. As “10,000 Hours,” Bieber’s collab with Dan + Shay, dropped out of the Top 10, “Intentions,” featuring Quavo, climbed to the #9 spot. “Yummy,” which peaked at #2, is also making a resurgence, currently sitting just outside the Top 10 at #11.
  • Billie Eilish’s “everything i wanted” also dropped out of the Top 10, but you shouldn’t feel too bad for the world’s most famous Office superfan. “No Time to Die,” Eillish’s theme for the upcoming James Bond film, debuted at #16, and will most likely continue to rise as the film’s April premiere inches closer. Until then, there’s always Threat Level Midnight.

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This Week in Number Ones: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles (#1 for seven weeks, February/March 1964)

All this talk about chart domination brings us back to the originators of the concept. It was 56 years ago that four Scouse lads in their early 20s completely eviscerated the Billboard charts, barely leaving scraps for anybody else.

What’s left to be said about The Beatles that hasn’t already been said a thousand times? Yes, they are statistically the best selling musical act of all time. Yes, it’s almost impossible to replicate the kind of ubiquitous cross-continental takeover that John, Paul, George, and Ringo managed in the ‘60s. Yes, they have hilariously bad songs. But it’s The Beatles. They have the kind of cultural niche that no one else can touch.

There may be no better illustration of this than what they pulled off in 1964. At this time that year, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” — perhaps the ultimate hit of the band’s moptop era — was in its fifth week at #1, with a scattering of other Beatles songs situated around the chart.

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Roughly a month later, Beatlemania would hit its peak: On the week of April 4, The Beatles held all top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100, with “Can’t Buy Me Love” at #1, “Twist and Shout” at #2, “She Loves You” at #3, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at #4, and “Please Please Me” at #5. This kind of immense popularity would almost certainly lead to a backlash today, but The Beatles just kept riding the momentum. They had 20 #1s (a record), the most #1s in a year (six in 1964 and five in 1965, both records) and the second most consecutive #1s (six, behind only Whitney Houston). Paul McCartney is the songwriter with the most #1s in Billboard history (32). John Lennon is second (26). To write about Billboard history without mentioning The Beatles is to erase almost the entirety of the ‘60s.

The popularity of The Beatles is a weird thing to talk about. The Beatles are basically like oxygen: pervasive to everyone and everything. For God’s sake, Ringo Starr had two solo #1s in the ‘70s, and I can promise you it wasn’t because they were earth-shatteringly good songs. The Beatles are the band that won’t die. We’ll all be dead and gone, the sun will burn out — and somehow, somewhere, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” will still be playing.