Every year brings historic achievements on Billboard‘s charts, and 2021 was no different.
Among 2021 highlights, Olivia Rodrigo roared in with an unprecedented chart start, The Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights” became the biggest hit in the Billboard Hot 100‘s history and Drake matched a mark that only The Beatles had previously accomplished in 1964.
Let’s look back at 21 feats that padded Billboard‘s record books in 2021.
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.
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 (April 3).
Nearly two years after winning the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence‘s “Arcade” became the competition’s first victorious title to hit the Hot 100 (April 17) in 45 years, since “Save Your Kisses for Me” by England’s Brotherhood of Man, which reached No. 27 in 1976. “Arcade” went on to hit No. 30. Plus, this year’s winning Eurovision act, Måneskin, rose to No. 13 in November with its first Hot 100 entry, “Beggin’.”
Ariana Grande joined Paul McCartney as the only artists with three No. 1 duets ever on the Hot 100, thanks to “Save Your Tears,” with The Weeknd, which topped the tally (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 in 2020. McCartney’s dominant 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).
Gera MX and Christian Nodal‘s “Botella Tras Botella” became the first regional Mexican song to hit the Hot 100, debuting at its No. 60 best (May 8). It also reached No. 3 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
Grande and Doja Cat became the only artists to have charted three songs each simultaneously in the Pop Airplay chart’s top 10. Grande’s “Positions,” “34+35” and “pov” tripled up (May 15 and 22), with all tracks from her album Positions. Doja Cat repeated the feat with three Planet Her radio hits: “Kiss Me More” (featuring SZA); “You Right” (with The Weeknd); and “Need to Know” (Oct. 23 and 30).
Olivia Rodrigo‘s Sour scored sweet success as the first debut album to spin off two debuts at No. 1 on the Hot 100: “Drivers License,” on the Jan. 23 chart, 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 ranking. Rodrigo wrapped 2021 as the year’s top new artist.
Bo Burnham‘s Inside (The Songs) became the first comedy album to reach the Billboard 200’s top 10, flying 116-7 after its first full tracking week (June 26), since Lil Dicky’s Professional Rapper debuted and peaked at No. 7 in August 2015.
Lauren Daigle‘s crossover smash “You Say,” released in 2018, ran up its record reign on Hot Christian Songs to 132 weeks (Aug. 7). It’s the only song to have reached triple-digit weeks at No. 1 on any of Billboard‘s multi-metric song charts.
Kanye West scored a perfect 10, landing his 10th total and consecutive Billboard 200 No. 1 with the entrance of Donda (Aug. 28). He and Eminem are the only artists to have linked 10 leaders in a row in the chart’s 65-year history.
Anne Wilson became the first female soloist in a lead role to hit No. 1 with a first entry on Christian Airplay since the chart began in 2003, as “My Jesus” began a six-week command (Aug. 28). (On the latest list, she expands upon her history with her second No. 1 in as many tries, “I Still Believe in Christmas.”)
The Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights” took over top honors on Billboard‘s Greatest of All Time Hot 100 Songs recap, reigning as the No. 1 title in the Hot 100’s entire 63-year history. Along its run on the weekly Hot 100, it established the records for the most weeks spent in the top five (43), top 10 (57) and top 40 (86) and on the chart overall (90, tallied on the Sept. 4 chart).
More Drake dominance: The year-end top artist of 2021 claimed the entire top five, and a record nine spots in the Hot 100’s top 10, led by “Way 2 Sexy” (featuring Future and Young Thug), new on the chart at No. 1 (Sept. 18). All nine songs are from Drake’s LP Certified Lover Boy, which blasted in atop the Billboard 200 the same week. Previously, only The Beatles had monopolized the Hot 100’s top five in a single frame, on the April 4, 1964, chart.
With the No. 8 arrival for Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga‘s Love for Sale (Oct. 16), the legendary Bennett, 95 years young, claimed a 59-year span of top 10 albums on the Billboard 200, the longest such stretch for a living artist in the chart’s archives.
Dua Lipa‘s “Levitating” logged its 41st week in the Hot 100’s top 10 (Nov. 6), the most frames that any song by a woman has spent in the bracket. Its longevity sparked its coronation on the year-end Hot 100 Songs chart, despite peaking at No. 2 on the weekly survey in May.
Glass Animals‘ “Heat Waves” completed the lengthiest ascent to the Hot 100’s top 10, reaching the region in its 42nd frame (Nov. 13). It has so far hit No. 7 and crowned the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart for 14 weeks and counting.
ABBA‘s reunion album Voyage rocketed in as the act’s first Billboard 200 top 10, launching at No. 2 (Nov. 20). The Swedish pop icons, who first appeared on the chart in 1974, previously hit a No. 14 high with The Album in 1978.
Given the 10-minute, 13-second recording of “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version),” Taylor Swift‘s opus became the longest No. 1 single by run time in the Hot 100’s history, soaring in at the summit (Nov. 27). Don McLean’s “American Pie (Parts I & II),” at 8 minutes, 37 seconds, held the mark for nearly a half century, dating to its first of four weeks at No. 1 in January 1972.
Elton John and Dua Lipa’s “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix)” hit the Pop Airplay top 10 (Dec. 11), marking a record return to the tier for John. The legend ended a gap of 27 years, two months and one week between top 10s, as he had last ranked in the region in October 1994 with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
As Adele‘s “Easy on Me,” the lead single from her album 30, added its seventh week atop the Hot 100 (Dec. 18), it followed the 10-week rule of “Hello” and seven-week reign of “Rolling in the Deep,” the respective lead singles from her albums 25, in 2015, and 21, in 2011. Adele is the only artist ever to send lead singles from three consecutive albums to No. 1 on the Hot 100 for at least seven weeks each.
In what has become a modern holiday tradition, Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” jingled to its unprecedented third run at No. 1 on the Hot 100 (aptly dated Dec. 25). It started its first two turns on top in December 2019 and December 2020.