Nicki Minaj is first woman with 100 entries on Billboard chart

Nicki Minaj trails behind the cast of Glee on Billboard 100.
Nicki Minaj trails behind the cast of Glee on Billboard 100.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK • Nicki Minaj made history this week as the first woman to land 100 appearances on the Billboard 100 chart.

The rapper reached the milestone with her featured appearance on Tyga's Dip, which debuted at No. 83 on the chart.

It is an exclusive accolade achieved by a mere five acts - the only other artists who have surpassed the 100 mark are Drake, Elvis Presley and Lil Wayne, Minaj's mentor and frequent collaborator.

Their chart dominance might seem surprising, but more shocking is who is perched at the top of the list.

It is the cast of Glee, the television show about singing teenagers.

There are a few different factors at work here.

It began with the rise of iTunes and the new way users consumed songs.

Instead of going to a local record store, users are now buying individual songs. So the charts had to figure out how to count those downloads.

Then came streaming, the music industry's true disrupter.

As reported in The Washington Post in July: "Billboard added streaming songs as one of the metrics for its charts in 2012... The criteria have changed several times in the interim - just last month, the company made changes to weight paid streams on services like Spotify over unpaid ones on jukeboxesque services like Pandora for the Billboard 100 singles chart."

The result is that it is much easier for a song to pop onto the Billboard 100.

Consider this: In the old days, a fan would purchase an artist's new record. It did not matter if she listened to that record once or 100 times on repeat. Now, though, every listen counts.

And since streaming makes it easier to listen to new music, a fan might leave the new Drake record playing on repeat for a few days.

The key is that the song only needs to hit the list, not remain on it. In the current culture of hype, that means fans might listen to a certain song over and over again for a week - and then never listen to it again. It still charts.

In the past, radio stations would have to give songs massive radio play for them to chart.

Keeping in mind how easy it now is to hop on the Billboard 100, even if only for a week, now consider the artists in question.

Rap tends to be heavy on featured guests, meaning that one rapper (say, Minaj) will often appear on the song of another rapper (say, Wayne).

That is where Minaj shined. She amassed 100 appearances on the chart in less than a decade by teaming up with other artists.

And despite her frequent presence on the Hot 100, Minaj has never had a No. 1 hit. She has had 17 songs reach the top 10 and ascended to the No. 2 spot with her 2014 single Anaconda.

So that explains many of the hip-hop artists, but what about the cast of Glee?

It comes down to a type of chart manipulation.

A couple of new songs - a mix of covers and musical mash-ups - were dumped onto streaming services to coincide with each new episode.

Fans would obsessively listen to these few songs each week, meaning they would chart. The next week, there would be two more.

It is likely that if these songs were all dropped in a bundle, fans would not have had the patience to listen to them all so many times.

Minaj certainly deserves the praise for her record, but Billboard and Spotify share in that glory.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2018, with the headline 'Nicki Minaj is first woman with 100 entries on Billboard chart'. Print Edition | Subscribe