The reign of Lil Nas X’s smash viral single “Old Town Road” has lasted much longer than anyone participated, even the man himself. One of the sometimes ironic sometimes hilarious side effects of this country-rap mashups stranglehold on the No. 1 slot is all the highly anticipated singles from other massive artists that its dominance has blocked from hitting the coveted top of the charts milestone.
Ever since a boost from a remix with Billy Ray Cyrus catapulted it to the No. 1 slot in early April, “Old Town Road” has been memed and remixed and discussed to death, and still, it’s sitting pretty at the top, quietly daring rivals to come close. In the meantime, here is a list of all the tracks that have narrowly missed No. 1 — needing to settle at No. 2 because the music world is still busy falling in love with a queer, black cowboy.
Billie Eilish — “Bad Guy”
Released: March 29, 2019
Though she still doesn’t have a No. 1 song under her belt, Billie has been racking up interest and accolades for her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? topped the albums chart upon release. Coming out just weeks before Lil Nas X began his historic run, the fifth single from the album, “Bad Guy” was released the same day the full-length dropped, and gradually made its way all the way up to the No. 2 spot, where it’s been hovering for weeks. While “Bad Guy” definitely deserves a No. 1 look, and might potentially be a track that unseats “Old Town Road,” there is clearly no hard feelings between the two young stars, who are both seen as industry upstarts, and clearly, both just getting started.
Taylor Swift –“ME!” Feat. Brendan Urie
Released: April 26, 2019
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WELL GUYS 4.26 is gonna be here in a few hours and my new song “ME!” featuring the extraordinarily talented and awesome @brendonurie of @panicatthedisco will be out tonight at midnight eastern. In other exciting news, the VIDEO will be out then too and I can’t wait to watch live with you (and answer some questions) as it premieres on @YouTube 🎥Click the link in my bio and I’ll meet you there a little later!! 😺
The lead single off Taylor Swift’s highly-anticipated follow-up to her last album, Reputation, differed from her past in many ways, including the fact that it featured another artist. Buoyed by the helium-tenor of Brendan Urie (the man behind Panic! At The Disco if you’re not on a first name basis with him), “ME!” is a confetti-filled ode to self-love and a pivot to a bright, floral aesthetic after Reputation‘s darkness. But, it peaked at No. 2 upon release, Taylor’s first lead single to not go No. 1 in nine years, and is now hovering in the early 60s on the chart.
Shawn Mendes — “If I Can’t Have You”
Released: May 3, 2019
Though “If I Can’t Have You” is one of the strongest singles Shawn Mendes has ever released, the song didn’t quite hit the No. 1 debut marker when it came out in early May. Still, a No. 2 debut is the highest single debut Shawn has ever had, so he seemed thrilled with the result. Considering his first album debuted at No. 1 before he turned 18 — something only four other artists have ever done — and all three of his albums have debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, making him the third-youngest artist to achieve that, he’s probably okay with the lack of a No. 1 single. It’ll definitely be coming, and “If I Can’t Have You” is still hanging out in the top 20 on the chart.
Ed Sheeran — “I Don’t Care” Feat. Justin Bieber
Released: May 10, 2019
This summer bop to end all bops is both antisocial and pro-love in the same breath. Featuring two of the biggest white, male pop stars in the world, it’s almost unthinkable that a track including both the Biebs and Teddy wouldn’t be an immediate No. 1. Debuting at No. 2 in mid-May, the song has lingered in the top ten for the last month and a half, and probably won’t make its way back up to No. 1 to unseat Nas. But as the lead single off Ed’s No. 6 Collaborations project, it definitely signaled that these two stars are back in the game. More collabs can’t come quickly enough, numbers be damned.
Taylor Swift — “You Need To Calm Down”
Released: June 14, 2019
This controversial and decidedly pro-queer anthem racked up a host of responses when it dropped — like any Taylor Swift single does. While a lot of the backlash felt like bad faith responses from people who had already made up their mind about Taylor, some fair critiques certainly existed, too. Either way, the song made a huge splash when it came out, and rose all the way up to the No. 2 spot, mirroring what happened with “ME!” but still hanging out in the chart’s top 20. It currently sits at 16, and looks like it will be sticking around this summer.
Shawn Mendes — “Senorita” Feat. Camila Cabello
Released: June 21, 2019
Another strong contender to potentially unseat Lil Nas X, considering it combines the star power of two of the hottest young pop stars in a steamy faux-romance, “Senorita” couldn’t quite clear the hurdle, debuting at No. 2 during the early weeks of summer. Settling in at No. 3, right behind Billie’s long term slot at No. 2, it’s still possible that “Senorita” will rise up to No. 1 and end Nas’ record-breaking run. But since it couldn’t make it there upon debut, it’s also possible that he’ll continue to sit at the top for plenty more weeks to come.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.