Harry Styles Makes History With 3 Hits in Pop Airplay Chart’s Top 10
Harry’s House has made itself quite at home on Billboard‘s Pop Airplay chart.
On the list dated Oct. 15, Harry Styles infuses the top 10 with three hits, all from his third album: “As It Was,” which reigned for seven weeks beginning in May (No. 4); follow-up “Late Night Talking” (No. 8; a week at No. 1 in September); and third radio track “Music for a Sushi Restaurant,” up 12-10 to become the third Pop Airplay top 10 from the set, and his fifth overall.
Harry’s House, released on Erskine/Columbia Records May 20, launched at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart dated June 4, spent two weeks at the summit, and has ranked in the top 10 in each of its first 20 weeks on the tally.
Styles becomes the first solo male to log three simultaneous Pop Airplay top 10s, and just the third artist total, dating to the chart’s October 1992 inception. Ariana Grande initiated the honor for two weeks in May 2021 with “Positions,” “34+35” and “pov,” all from her album Positions, and Doja Cat tallied two frames in the tier last October with “Kiss Me More,” featuring SZA; “You Right,” with The Weeknd; and “Need to Know,” all from her LP Planet Her.
While artist separation has long been a tenet of radio, to help ensure variety, “It’s up to pop radio to reflect what truly is the hottest of the hot, and that’s definitely Harry,” says Erik Bradley, assistant program director/music director at Pop Airplay reporter WBBM-FM Chicago. “It’s a challenge to keep all of his songs separated, but when an artist is this on fire, I tend to not be as critical about that.”
“As programmers, we’re looking to give our listeners what they want,” echoes Mark Adams, iHeartMedia vp of pop programming and pd of Pop Airplay panelist KYLD San Francisco, among other stations. “As the demand for those songs has been overwhelming, we’ve been nimble in recognizing that our listenership is not concerned about the traditional rules of artist separation and have acted accordingly. Ariana Grande and Doja Cat were similarly audience-driven, and radio responded.”
Matt Mony, pd of Pop Airplay reporter WYOY Jackson, Miss., pd, concurs. “Harry Styles and other artists who continue to pump out massive amounts of hits have forced radio playlists to adapt to an online world,” he says. “An album can drop and have five or six songs hit the Spotify top 10 almost instantly. Bad Bunny is a great example. Harry Styles and Doja Cat have both earned a special 15-minute separation on WYOY. Some programmers might look at this as playing too much of a certain artist, [but] Harry Styles is extremely popular right now, so the station should reflect that.”
Also helping Styles’ latest single stand out: its instrumental hook, courtesy of Ivan Jackson on trumpet.
“Pop songs with almost entirely instrumental-driven hooks have seemingly become rare,” Adams says. “I can readily think of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ or Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles,’ but there have been fewer of them as of late. Modern dance music producers and DJs are probably where most of the instrumental-dominated hit tracks are originating from in more recent years.” Adams notes such examples as DJ Snake’s “You Know You Like It,” with AlunaGeorge, and “Lean On,” with Major Lazer and featuring MØ, and SAINt JHN’s “Roses.”
Joining “Sushi,” instrumental ingredients are key to David Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s “I’m Good (Blue),” as the track, another with a dance pedigree, bounds 21-14 on Pop Airplay, built on the signature section of Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” from 2000.
Mony, meanwhile, cites Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” as a song in which an instrumental section was … well, instrumental to its success. “That is such a great record for so many reasons, but that driving bass and drum line makes the song,” he says. Also: “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man, as “The Ventures vibe in that guitar riff made that song inescapable.
“It’s refreshing,” Mony muses of “Sushi.” He’s also vocal about … well, the song’s vocals. “Harry’s mini-scat line in the middle doesn’t hurt things, either.”