As of mid-August, there hasn’t been a definitive Song of Summer for 2015; even Vulture’s own months-long horse race came up in a five-way draw. But if we had to pick a winner for Artist of the Summer — a more accurate indicator of this year’s seasonal dominance — that honor could go to either Fetty Wap or the Weeknd.
Currently, Fetty Wap has three songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 (“Trap Queen, “My Way,” “679”), all within the Top 20 — as does the Weeknd, albeit within the Top 40. So how do we decide a winner? We must defer again to the latest charts, where the Weeknd has scored his first No. 1 hit for “Can’t Feel My Face,” ending OMI’s four-week run at the top spot with “Cheerleader.” It’s also the first No. 1 of the Weeknd’s career; he’d previously made it to No. 3 with “Earned It” off the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.
While Fetty’s breakthrough earworm, “Trap Queen,” has bounced around the Top 10 for weeks (its highest chart position was No. 2 back in May), and even got the T. Swift co-sign over the weekend, “Trap Queen” hasn’t been able to edge out the competition for top honors. The Weeknd’s newest pop confection, on the other hand, has sped up to No. 1 after just nine weeks on the charts — giving Abel Tesfaye a major advantage for a belated Song of (Late) Summer. (With the exception of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” remix, all of our Song of the Summer winners have been around since at least the spring.) In addition to earning just the fifth different No. 1 song of the year, the Weeknd currently sits atop Billboard’s Artist 100 list, a ranking of artists’ influence across all charts. In two weeks, he’ll release his sophomore album, Beauty Behind the Madness, including guest features from Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran, no doubt two more tracks that fans will push to go viral for the Weeknd on the charts.
The only ones who could seemingly threaten the Weeknd’s chart dominance in the coming weeks are everyone’s favorite Manic Pixie Dream Boy Band. One Direction’s first Zayn-less single, “Drag Me Down,” debuts on the Hot 100 this week at No. 3, the highest-charting debut of 2015. But it’s worth noting that 1D released the song first to radio, Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music — foregoing the usual YouTube route — and potentially leaving significant streaming numbers on the table. That’s probably not an accident, but rather a strategy that will see 1D hit No. 1 when the “Drag Me Down” video hits YouTube and Vevo, backed by a determined Break the Vevo Record campaign — though that’s not to say it couldn’t go No. 1 even before then. It looks like these next couple of weeks could be the Brits vs. the Canadian.
Over on the Billboard 200 chart, Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late has gone platinum, making it the first album released in 2015 to sell one million copies in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Disney Channel’s Descendants soundtrack has become the lowest-selling album to debut at No. 1 this year, selling just 42,000 copies.