If it wasn’t already abundantly clear before, the COVID-19 pandemic is proving once and for all that Drake is a bulletproof force on the charts.
While he’s certainly not the only artist releasing new music amid the global pandemic, Drake‘s “Toosie Slide” marks the first instance of a major, Top 40 artist launching a music campaign in these uncertain times. The rapper’s release doesn’t quite compare to someone like The Weeknd, who was already in the final stretch of his campaign when he dropped ‘After Hours,’ or Dua Lipa, whose decision to release ‘Future Nostalgia’ early was more out of necessity than anything. In that sense, Drake is arguably the only act of his caliber conducting business as usual at the moment.
And because he’s Drake, “Toosie Slide” is already dominating despite these uncertain times. Thanks to a clever marketing campaign directed squarely at Gen-Z TikTok users, the song is spawning thousands of dance challenges online while simultaneously dominating the Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes charts. The track debuted at #2 in the UK and is projected to battle “Blinding Lights” for the #1 spot on the Hot 100.
.@Drake’s “Toosie Slide” could dethrone @TheWeeknd’s “Blinding Lights” at #1 on the Hot 100 next week, @Billboard reports.
Projections have the song earning over 45 MILLION US streams, 20 MILLION in airplay audience and 20k downloads in its first full tracking week. pic.twitter.com/r2rNR024eC
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 8, 2020
The first-week streaming figures for “Toosie Slide” aren’t especially surprising considering this is Drake we’re talking about, an artist who’s received near universal support the past few years despite limited TV performances, promotional interviews and the standard pop star press tour. Any release in these times is a risk, though, and “Toosie Slide” is proving once again that Drake is bred for digital dominance.
The success of “Toosie Slide” poses a big question for Summer 2020: can anyone stop Drake on the charts? With a #1 debut in sight, it can be assumed that Drake‘s team has the green light to move forward with plans for an album and subsequent singles in the coming months. The rollout for “Toosie Slide” mirrors the campaigns for “One Dance” and “Nice For What,” two monster singles also dropped in the first week of April that were followed up by proper albums. Both campaigns were also supported with successful collaborations not featured on the album like “Work” and “Yes Indeed,” with this year’s slot being filled with the Future-assisted “Life is Good.”
All signs point to Drake rolling full steam ahead with a new album in the coming months, and if the success of “Toosie Slide” is any indication, it doesn’t look like it’ll be a fair fight. Traditionally, Billboard’s “Song of the Summer” champion falls into two different categories. The first is that of an underdog song slowly building momentum for months before breaking out in the early weeks of summer (“Old Town Road,” “Can’t Hold Us,” “Fancy”). The other winners have been strategized releases from huge artists like Drake (“In My Feelings”), Katy Perry (“California Gurls”) and Justin Bieber (“Despacito” remix) dropped in the prime months of April, May and June. History favors “Toosie Slide” and Drake‘s odds at dominating the summer, even more so if other major artists continue to delay their music.
.@Drake confirms he’s hard at work on a new album in late-night Instagram Live stream. ? pic.twitter.com/HUaPSDooiV
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 7, 2020
The trajectory of music amid COVID-19 is so uncertain that it’d be silly to try and predict who will win out in the end. However, there’s one thing we already know for certain: Drake isn’t like other artists. The rules that apply to someone like Lady Gaga, whose identity is intertwined with live performances, or Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, women in pop who’d be endlessly scrutinized for dropping music in a pandemic, are non-factors in Drake‘s world. The closest artist we have to Drake in terms of image, popularity and streaming figures is perhaps Post Malone, but who knows if he’d be willing to start a whole new campaign in times like these. Meanwhile, Billie Eilish has already confirmed on multiple occasions that she won’t be dropping new music in 2020.
If Drake continues with an album rollout, it’s likely we’ll see another summer dominated by the rapper similar to 2018 and 2016. And in that sense, maybe a COVID-19 summer won’t be so different than we thought.
Do you think anyone can compete with Drake this summer? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @PopCrave!