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Drake's 'Hotline Bling' Aims At No. 1, And Misses. Why?

Recording artist Drake speaks about Apple Music during the Apple WWDC on June 8, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
Recording artist Drake speaks about Apple Music during the Apple WWDC on June 8, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

Getting "Hotline Bling" to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 was something that Drake really, reallywanted. He said so, very publicly, last week on Instagram:

The "Hotline Bling" video, which was originally only posted on Apple Music, proved to be endlessly remixable, with Drake seeming to be in on the joke — or at the very least, more or less cheerfully resigned to its destiny.

A meme doesn't always make a No. 1 hit, though. Billboard confirmed for us this morning that Apple does not report its video streams to Nielsen Music, whose statistics determine the Billboardcharts.

As Silvio Pietroluongo, Billboard's vice president of charts and data development, pointed out to me in an email this morning, they don't know the volume of views that "Hotline Bling" actually had on Apple — and if those numbers would have been enough to squeeze The Weeknd out of his month-long stretch at No. 1 with "The Hills." At any rate, Adele's "Hello" is now in stratospheric ascent — garnering nearly 90 million views and counting on YouTube since its release on Oct. 22, in contrast to Drake's 900,000 count. So it seems that "Hotline Bling" won't be the arrow that gets Drake to his target, despite its omnipresence in GIFs.

Maybe Drake's disappointment serves as a little bit of a cautionary tale for other artists: The streaming platform you choose just might decide your chart fate.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
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