Here’s the History Made on Billboard’s Charts in the First Half of 2021: Olivia Rodrigo, BTS & More

Written by on June 25, 2021

Plus, unprecedented feats by Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and others that are dominating 2021 so far.

Every year (or every week, for that matter) brings its fair share of eye-catching achievements on Billboard‘s charts. But 2021 has felt particularly notable, and we’re only halfway through the year so far.

In the past six months, we’ve seen historic chart debuts by Olivia Rodrigo and Justin Bieber, unprecedented sales by Taylor Swift, record reigns by BTS and more.

As June comes to a close, reaching the halfway point of the year, here’s a look back at some of the records that have been broken in 2021 and other chart feats that have wowed us.

Olivia Rodrigo‘s “Drivers License” debuted in at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated Jan. 23 with 76.1 million opening-week U.S. streams, according to MRC Data. That’s the most ever in a week for a female artist’s first single properly promoted to radio, streaming services and other platforms.

The Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights” set new records for the most weeks spent in the Hot 100’s top five (43, on March 13), as well as the top 10, 20 and 40 (57, 71 and 76, respectively). As of the June 26-dated Hot 100, the song is in its 80th week on the chart, the second-most ever after Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (87 weeks, in 2012-14).

Drake became the first artist to debut Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on the Hot 100 simultaneously, thanks to “What’s Next,” “Wants and Needs” (featuring Lil Baby) and “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” (featuring Rick Ross), respectively, on the chart dated March 20.

Also on March 20, the top four of the Hot 100 were all debuts for the first time in a single week: Drake’s trio of tracks and, at No. 4, Silk Sonic‘s “Leave the Door Open.” That song, by the duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson. Paak, later hit No. 1 on the April 17 Hot 100.

Rosé‘s “On the Ground” debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts dated March 27. The double coronation of the song by the member of South Korean quartet BLACKPINK marked a first: As BLACKPINK topped the Oct. 17, 2020-dated Global Excl. U.S. survey with “Lovesick Girls,” Rosé became the first artist to have led the list solo and with a group.

Justin Bieber became the first solo male to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 in the same week, thanks to “Peaches” (featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon) and Justice, on April 3. Among all acts, he joined Taylor Swift and BTS in achieving the double-up.

Plus, in the same week, at age 27 (and one month), Bieber became the youngest soloist with eight No. 1 Billboard 200 albums when Justice arrived atop the chart.

Pop Smoke‘s posthumous LP Shoot For the Stars Aim for the Moon became just the second hip-hop album to spend 30 or more weeks in the top five of the Billboard 200, joining M.C. Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em (44, in 1990-91). Pop Smoke’s set has spent 34 weeks in the top five, logging its latest frame in the region on the chart dated April 3.

Taylor Swift‘s Fearless (Taylor’s Version) debuted at No. 1 on the April 24 Billboard 200 with 109,000 streaming equivalent albums (SEA), totaling 143 million on-demand streams of the album’s tracks that week. That helped the set score the biggest streaming week so far for a country album by a female artist (with country albums defined as those that have appeared on Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart).

Meanwhile, with eight months and two weeks spanning the first weeks at No. 1 for Swift’s Folklore (Aug. 8, 2020), Evermore (Dec. 26) and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (April 24), Swift became the first woman in the Billboard 200’s history to earn three new No. 1s in less than a year. She passed late disco legend Donna Summer, who tallied three new leaders in just under 14 months in 1978-80.

Additionally, after just three days of release, the vinyl edition of Swift’s Evermore broke the record for the biggest sales week for a vinyl album in the U.S. since MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991. It sold 102,000 copies on vinyl in the week ending June 3, as it returned to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 dated June 12.

DMX posthumously earned his highest-charting song on the Hot 100, when “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” which first hit the chart in 1999, re-entered at its No. 16 high on April 24, the first full tracking week after the rap icon’s passing.

Ariana Grande joined Paul McCartney as the only artists to earn three No. 1 duets on the Hot 100, thanks to “Save Your Tears,” with The Weeknd, which topped the tally dated May 8 (after the arrival of its remix with Grande). It followed her “Rain on Me,” with Lady Gaga, and “Stuck With U,” with Bieber, both of which led in 2020. McCartney’s duets: “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey,” with Linda McCartney (1971); “Ebony and Ivory,” with Stevie Wonder (1982); and “Say Say Say,” with Michael Jackson (1983-84).

“Save Your Tears” also made parent album After Hours by The Weeknd the first album by a male artist to generate Hot 100 No. 1s in three distinct years, following “Heartless” in 2019 and “Blinding Lights” in 2020. Overall, only Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 previously achieved the feat, producing No. 1s in 1989, 1990 and 1991.

Grande subsequently became the first artist with three simultaneous top 10 hits on the Pop Airplay chart, thanks to “Positions,” “34+35” and “pov” (May 15 and 22).

Gera MX and Christian Nodal‘s “Botella Tras Botella” became the first regional Mexican song to debut on the Hot 100, at its No. 60 best, on May 8. It has spent spent its first two months on the Hot Latin Songs chart in the top 10.

Five songs debuted in the Hot 100’s top 10 for the first time on the chart dated May 29: Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” at No. 1, followed by four from J. Cole: “my.life” (with 21 Savage and Morray, No. 2); “amari” (No. 5); “pride.is.the.devil” (with Lil Baby, No. 7); and “95.south” (No. 8).

That same week, Rodrigo’s LP Sour became the first debut album to spin off two debuts at No. 1 on the Hot 100: “Drivers License” (Jan. 23) and “Good 4 U” (May 29). It also marked the first album by any artist to yield two No. 1 Hot 100 debuts before even entering the Billboard 200 (as Sour started atop the June 5 Billboard 200).

Even more Rodrigo records: She became the first female artist to chart at least 11 songs in the Hot 100’s top 30 simultaneously (June 5), thanks to the entirety of Sour.

BTS‘ “Butter” became the longest-running Hot 100 No. 1 by a South Korean act, thanks to its fourth frame atop the chart dated June 26. It surpassed the three-week reign of the group’s own “Dynamite” last September-October.

As for another “Dynamite” feat, it broke the record for most time spent at No. 1 on the Digital Song Sales chart: 18 weeks, on the chart dated April 10, surpassing the 17-week reign of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” featuring Bieber, in 2017.


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