The pop-music world is an unpredictable place, but in the past few years, a pattern has begun to emerge on the pop charts. Early in the year, a relatively unknown newcomer will come along and score a massive out-of-nowhere viral smash. This song will top the Billboard Hot 100 for months before something finally comes along to unseat it. Until that song’s reign ends, the best our old-guard pop stars can hope for is a #2 single. Two years ago, the conquering insurgent song was Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” and it had the common decency to wait until spring before launching its 19-week takeover. Last year, though, we were barely halfway through January before Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” began its 11-week campaign of dominance, boxing out Justin Bieber’s whole album rollout in the process.
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