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Beyoncé, Kanye, Teddy: Who Has the Edge in Next Week’s Crowded Race for No. 1?

The Contenders is a midweek column that looks at artists aiming for the top of the Billboard charts, and the strategies behind their efforts. This week (for the upcoming Billboard Hot 100 dated March 16), Beyoncé’s country smash aims for a third week at No. 1, but will have its hands full fending off still-growing hits from Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign, Teddy Swims and more.  

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Beyoncé, “Texas Hold ‘Em” (Parkwood/Columbia/Columbia Nashville): “Texas Hold ‘Em” squeezed out a Hot 100 victory on the river last week, just holding off a hard-charging “Carnival.” It remains a strong seller, hanging at No. 2 on this week’s Digital Song Sales chart and still notching two variants in the top 10 of the current real-time iTunes chart. And it is bounding onto radio playlists nationwide – and format-wide, as it now adds Adult Alternative to Pop, R&B, Country and other radio airplay charts it is currently populating – as it leaps 43-23 on this week’s all-format Radio Songs listing.  

Where “Hold ‘Em” is increasingly vulnerable, however, is on streaming. After spending the prior week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Streaming Songs listing, it slides to No. 3 this week – and on the daily charts for both Spotify and Apple Music, it’s now slipped out of the top five. If it stabilizes in the last few days of the week, its advantage in sales and rapidly growing gains on radio may still be enough to keep it a frontrunner for the Hot 100’s top spot, but if those streams continue receding, the Queen may have a shorter reign on the chart than it was looking to be just a week ago.  

¥$: Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign feat. Playboi Carti & Rich the Kid, Carnival” (YZY): Streaming consistency may be an issue for Beyoncé, but it is certainly not a problem that the “Carnival” quartet has had since the song’s debut as part of Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign’s collaborative Vultures album a little over three weeks ago. The song takes over the top spot on Streaming Songs this week, while holding strong atop both Spotify’s and Apple Music’s daily charts, appearing to be only growing stronger there in its fourth week. It also reappears on Digital Song Sales this week, returning to the No. 19 spot after falling off entirely the week before.  

The question for “Carnival” may still be one of radio. Following the recent backlash against Kanye’s latest controversies — including wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt and making repeated antisemitic comments (which he has since issued a public apology for in Hebrew) — as well as his departure from the major label system, support on the airwaves has been minimal for the hit single so far. Slowly but surely, however, it is growing there: top 40, rhythmic and mainstream R&B/hip-hop radio have all started taking “Carnival” for a spin – numbers that remain relatively small, but in a close race, could still be enough to make the difference.  

Teddy Swims, “Lose Control” (SWIMS Int./Warner): Teddy Swims’ breakthrough hit is still hanging around the top five, dropping 3-5 this week but ranking in the top six on all three component charts: Digital Song Sales (No. 3), Streaming Songs and Radio Songs (No. 6 on each). It’s still climbing in airplay, and should get an extra boost in sales and streams this week from a slew of new variants released on Friday (March 1) — including instrumental, a cappella, sped up, slowed down and remixed versions – which are currently dotting the real-time iTunes chart, as the song’s original version (discounted to 69 cents for sale) holds atop the listing.  

Benson Boone, “Beautiful Things” (Night Street/Warner): If Swims doesn’t get Warner its first No. 1 of the new year, his labelmate Benson Boone still might: Boone resumes pole position on Digital Song Sales this week, while hanging in the top five on Streaming Songs, where it’s lived for all six weeks of its release. And radio is officially coming for the song: It’s not moving quite as fast as “Texas Hold Em,” but it jumps 49-36 in its second week on Radio Songs, while lifting to No. 16 on Pop Airplay – an impressive top 40 embrace for a single that undergoes a dramatic mid-song transformation.  

Jack Harlow, “Lovin on Me” (Generation Now/Atlantic): Don’t forget about Jack! His six-week No. 1 “Lovin on Me” remains a very real contender on the Hot 100 in its upcoming 17th week. On the current chart, it holds at No. 3 this frame, while spending its seventh week at No. 1 on Radio Songs and remaining top 10 on both Digital Song Sales and Streaming Songs. It’s hard to say what could still give it a boost on the Hot 100 this late in its life – though the song has still yet to receive the official remix treatment — but regardless, it remains a steady-enough performer on the chart that if its competition should ever pull up just a bit short, it could seize the crown once again with minimal effort.  

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