Silk Sonic or J. Cole has the No. 1 song, depending on the chart

By Ben Sisario

What is the No. 1 song in the country? These days, it depends on the chart.

On Wednesday, Billboard announced, after a two-day delay, that “Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic, the new retro-soul project of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, reached the top spot on the Hot 100, the magazine’s singles chart and the industry standard since 1958.

But days earlier, the competing Rolling Stone 100 crowned J. Cole’s new “Interlude” as its No. 1, with “Leave the Door Open” just No. 10. On Billboard’s latest chart, “Interlude” reached only as high as No. 8.

Even more strange, both charts are now owned by the same company. When Rolling Stone introduced its rankings in 2019, they were positioned as competitors to Billboard’s, with different data sources and methodologies. Rolling Stone chart positions are often hyped by fans and press agents but have not proved a major challenge to Billboard’s authority.

Last year, a deal between the publishers of Rolling Stone and Billboard brought both companies under a new joint venture, P-MRC. Jay Penske, the young media entrepreneur who represents half that deal, controls those publications as part of a portfolio that now also includes The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline, WWD and Vibe. P-MRC also has a 50% stake in the South by Southwest festivals.

A spokeswoman for MRC Data, Billboard’s tracking arm, said the delay in the magazine’s Hot 100 was a result of data anomalies that were being investigated by its chart experts and was not related to Rolling Stone having a conflicting song at No. 1. It is also not the first discrepancy: Early this year, Olivia Rodrigo’s blockbuster “Drivers License” topped the Billboard chart for eight weeks, but Rolling Stone’s for only five.

Rolling Stone looks at songs’ sales and popularity on audio streaming services, but not radio; for the Hot 100, Billboard considers sales, audio and video streams, along with radio spins. Still a persistent head-scratcher in the music world is why the same company maintains two separate and competing charts.

In a slow week for albums, Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo reclaims the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart with “A Gangsta’s Pain.” It had the equivalent of 61,000 sales in the United States, mostly from streaming, according to MRC Data. “A Gangsta’s Pain,” which had opened at the top two weeks ago, then dipped to No. 2, had the lowest sales number for a No. 1 album since early January, when Taylor Swift’s “Evermore” notched its third time at the top with 56,000 sales in the post-holiday doldrums.

Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” is in second place, while last week’s top seller, DJ Khaled’s “Khaled Khaled,” falls to No. 3 in its second week out. Justin Bieber’s “Justice” is No. 4.

Dua Lipa is in fifth place with her album “Future Nostalgia.” Lipa’s song “Levitating,” featuring rapper DaBaby, is No. 2 on Billboard’s singles chart thanks in part to its popularity on TikTok.

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