Chart Watch: Rihanna Lands Eighth No. 1

            Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” featuring Drake leaps 60-1 on this week’s Billboard Hot 100, becoming Rihanna’s eighth No. 1 single and third this year following "Rude Boy" which spent five weeks at No. 1 starting in March and "Love The Way You Lie" with Eminem which spent seven weeks at No. 1 starting in July. The last time an artist managed a hat trick? Rihanna in 2008.

             The Barbados-born pop singer has ruled the charts since her appearance in 2005. In only half a decade, she has totaled the fifth most No. 1s of a female singer, behind only Mariah Carey, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Janet Jackson. At the rate she’s going, it’s only a matter of time before she passes some of those ladies up.

     With each new No. 1, you wonder if Rihanna deserves to be numbered among some of the most enduring and influential female musicians of the rock era. It begs the broader question of the extent that the Hot 100 is a true barometer of the most popular songs and artists in the country. Although Rihanna has scored eight chart toppers, few would be willing to argue that she has had more of a cultural impact than say, Beyonce, Britney Spears, or Lady Gaga who have charted five, three, and two No. 1 hits respectively.

     You could also compare Rihanna to a female superstar who has never gone higher than No. 2 on Hot 100, but is the biggest singer in the America right now - Taylor Swift. Although Swift doesn't have any Hot 100 chart toppers to her name, she sold over 1 million album a week ago. Compare that to the measly 181,000 copies Rihanna sold of her latest record, Rated R, last November. 

     The fact of the matter is Rihanna is a singles artist. Try as she might to put out compelling coherent albums, the buying public doesn't trust dropping $9.99 on iTunes for her records. She puts out catchy singles every so often, and more people are willing to spend $1.29 for a single song. Although that means less money for her, her songwriters and producers, and Def Jam records, it works in her favor when looking at the Hot 100 record books.

     "What's My Name?" will likely drop from the penthouse next week or the week after at the most. In terms of memorable Rihanna singles, this one isn't likely to be remembered as a classic, or even remembered a few years from now. Still, it's another notch in the pop star's belt as she marches on with Janet Jackson clearly in her cross hairs.

     The question of Rihanna's legacy in relation to other queens of the Hot 100 will only be answered with time. She could be destined to be one of the greats, or she could be another Paula Abdul (six No. 1s in two years, and I bet you can only name one of them, and even then it's only because she was a judge on American Idol), a flash-in-the-pan pop star. What's more likely is that Rihanna is the most obvious fulfillment of the new digital age of music. Rather than songs slowly building up radio airplay and sales over a period of time, they start their chart life out with a bang of high sales which taper off, leading to "hit" singles that spend relatively little time in the chart's upper echelons.

     Last week's No. 1, Ke$ha's "We R Who We R", drops to No.5. Katy Perry's "Firework" is this week's digital gainer, which boosts it to the top ten. This week's top ten is one of the worst I have ever seen. Can we get some good music up in here? Please?

1. "What's My Name?" - Rihanna feat. Drake (first week at No. 1, airplay gainer)
2. "Like A G6" - Far East Movement feat. Cataracs & Devs
3. "Just The Way You Are" - Bruno Mars
4. "Only Girl In The World" - Rihanna
5. "We R Who We R" - Ke$ha
6. "Just A Dream" - Nelly
7. "Raise Your Glass" - Pink
8. "Bottoms Up" - Trey Songz feat. Nicki Minaj
9. "DJ Got Us Falling In Love" - Usher feat. Pitbull
10. "Firework" - Katy Perry (digital gainer)


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