2011 Pop Music Forgot About the Men, And We’re OK With That
With the rise of songstresses like Ariana Grande, Halsey, Cardi B, Billie Eilish and Normani on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, 2019 is shaping up to be a year full of female domination. In fact, it might even be the next 2011.
2011 proved to be a landmark year in pop music, both for the genre itself as well as the solo female artists who went on to outperform male artists in record fashion on the Billboard Hot 100.
Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Adele and Rihanna made up the 2011 pop dream team that would set the tone for a new decade of female chart toppers. The women shattered records when they held onto the #1 Billboard Hot 100 slot for an unheard of 37 weeks – a record that still stands in the 21st century – and racked up over 55 Platinum certifications combined in their #1 singles alone.
The only year following 2011 to come close in terms of female domination was 2014, when women ruled the Billboard Hot 100 #1 for 28 weeks. Female songs at #1 have since been on the decline, with 2017 marking a record low at just 8 weeks.
2011, sadly, continues to exist in its own little fantasy bubble for now. Continue reading below for a deeper look into the #1 female songs that defined the year, as well as some of the records that still stand 8 years later.
Katy Perry: Firework
Katy’s Perry’s DIAMOND certified smash “Firework” from her sophomore album ‘Teenage Dream’ marked the first #1 song of 2011 and Perry’s fourth #1 overall. The track continued the momentum established by the album’s previous chart-toppers “California Gurls” and “Teenage Dream,” and went on to earn two Grammy nominations as well as the VMA “Video of the Year.”
A look at Billboard Hot 100 top 5 (Jan. 6, 2011) shows a concentrated set of girl power on the chart. Behind “Firework” was “We R Who We R” by Kesha (#3), “What’s My Name” by Rihanna feat. Drake (#4) and P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass” (#5).
-5 million paid downloads.
-1.16 BILLION views on YouTube.
-Music video directed by Dave Meyers (“no tears left to cry,” “God is a woman,” “SICKO MODE”).
-Nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance at the Grammys.
-First female artist since Monica to earn three consecutive #1 songs from the same album.
Britney Spears: Hold it Against Me
Britney Spears broke a slew of records when she debuted at #1 with “Hold it Against Me,” the lead single from her 7th studio album ‘Femme Fatale.’ The dance pop anthem was the 18th song to debut at #1 in the chart’s history and made Spears the second female artist behind Mariah Carey to debut two songs at the summit (Ariana Grande has since joined this elite group with “thank u, next” and “7 rings.”)
The smash hit was originally offered to Katy Perry who, interestingly enough, reigned atop the Billboard Hot 100 just two weeks prior. Perry originally served as inspiration for the track when songwriter Bonnie McKee saw the singer in a tight dress and joked, “Damn Katy, if I told you you had a nice body would you hold it against me?
-Britney Spears’ fourth #1 song.
-Production by Dr. Luke and Max Martin.
-411,000 downloads in its first week, beating Taylor Swift’s “Today was a Fairytale” for the most downloads by a female artist in a single week at the time.
-Eight years later, RIAA has yet to confirm the track’s certifications.
Lady Gaga: Born This Way
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, “Born This Way” (single) solidified Lady Gaga as one of the biggest pop stars of the 21st century. More importantly, the track proved she had something to say, and that she was more than just a stunt queen to the peripheral viewer.
“Born This Way” launched at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the 1,000th #1 single in the chart’s history and the 19th song to debut at the top. The song accumulated 448,000 downloads in three days to beat previous record holders Britney Spears (“Hold it Against Me”) and Taylor Swift (“Today Was a Fairytale”) for most downloads by a female artist in a single week. Today, the song is certified 4x PLATINUM and was featured on NPR’s list of the 200 most important songs by women in the 21st century.
-Won “Best Female Video” at the 2011 MTV VMAs.
-Gaga’s third #1 single.
-Sold 1 million copies in just five days on iTunes worldwide.
-Marked the biggest debut on Radio Songs EVER at #6 (78.5 million audience).
-Reportedly written in just 10 minutes.
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West: E.T.
Katy Perry continued her monumental streak of #1’s when the remix of “E.T.,” featuring Kanye West topped the chart. Produced by Max Martin and Dr. Luke, the hit was originally a promo single that debuted at #42. The song ended the six-week reign of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and marked Perry’s fourth #1 single from her album ‘Teenage Dream.’
Perry said the song describes the feeling of “falling in love with a foreigner.” “E.T.” was originally produced for the rap group Three 6 Mafia before Perry insisted she take a shot at recording it. “I heard it and I always knew I wanted to write this futuristic, alienistic song, and they pulled it up and I was like, ‘wait, I can wrap my head around this,” Perry told MTV. “‘I know this seems like a long shot, but I think I have the perfect material to put on top of this sound.’ And I did, and it really worked out perfectly.”
-Perry’s fifth #1 song overall.
-515 MILLION views on YouTube.
-‘Teenage Dream’ became just the ninth album in history to have four #1 songs.
Rihanna feat. Britney Spears: S&M
Rihanna fully embraced her Bad Girl Riri persona with the release of “S&M.” The track found great success despite its taboo subject matter – bondage, fetishes, sadomasochism – and has since been certified 5x PLATINUM.
“S&M” charted to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 following the release of its official remix with Britney Spears. The song’s NSFW music video is one of the rare set of visuals that’s maybe just as important as the song itself. Viral moments in which Rihanna sucked on a banana, dog walked Perez Hilton and simulated sex with a blow up doll ended up getting the video banned in 11 countries.
-Went #1 for one week.
-Rihanna’s eighth #1 on the Pop Songs chart
-Music video by Melina Matsoukas, who later directed Beyonce’s “Formation.”
-Third #1 single from “Loud.”
-Rihanna’s 10th #1 single, tying her with Janet Jackson for the fourth most #1 singles among female soloists.
Adele: Rolling in the Deep
While Adele had already made her mark on the industry with her debut album ’19’ three years earlier, “Rolling in the Deep” was the defining hit that shot her celebrity into the stratosphere. The song proved to be a bit of a grower on the U.S. charts, though, as “Rolling in the Deep” charted for 24 weeks before hitting #1. It has since gone on to be certified 8x PLATINUM and won the Grammy for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Short Form Music Video.
-Debuted at #68 on the Billboard Hot 100
-#1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100 year-end list
-Named the best single of 2011 by Rolling Stone
-Has sold 8.4 million copies to date.
-32nd biggest song on the Billboard Hot 100 EVER.
-The fourth song in history to achieve the year end #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the Grammy for Record and Song of the Year.
Katy Perry: Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
Katy Perry continued her meteoric rise to pop stardom with the #1 hit “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.). Produced by Max Martin and Dr. Luke, the hit marked Perry’s sixth #1 song overall as well as the fifth #1 from the album ‘Teenage Dream.’ Perry became the only female artist to achieve five #1 songs from the same album and the first artist since Michael Jackson achieved the same feat with “Bad.”
-3.7 million copies sold
-Spent two weeks at #1
-10th most played single on radio in 2011
-1.1 BILLION views on YouTube to date
-230 million Spotify streams to date
Adele: Someone Like You
It took an artist of Adele’s status to propel something as restrained and low-tempo as “Someone Like You” to the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song rocketed to #1 following the success of “Rolling in the Deep” and marked the second #1 single from the album ’21.’ Interestingly enough, “Someone Like You” is considered the first strictly voice-and-piano ballad in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to top the chart. The song has since gone on to sell six million copies and is certified 5x PLATINUM.
-First female British solo singer to have two songs from one album top the Billboard Hot 100.
-The first recipient of the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance, beating out such hits as “Grenade,” “You and I,” “Firework” and “Fuckin’ Perfect.”
-Fourth-best selling single of the millenium in the U.K.
-Adele’s second-most streamed song on Spotify at 591 million plays.
-Biggest jump to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#19 to #1) that wasn’t spurred by a single release.
Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris: We Found Love
“We Found Love” became yet another testament to the star power of Rihanna when it went #1 for a monster 10 weeks. Originally produced for Leona Lewis, Calvin Harris later replaced the singer with Rihanna, saying the track “wouldn’t have been a hit if anyone else had sung it.” “We Found Love” is still Rihanna’s longest running #1 on the chart (just ahead of “Work” at 9 weeks) and has since gone on to be certified 9x PLATINUM.
-Named the 40th most important song by a woman in the 21st century by NPR.
-25th biggest song on the Billboard Hot 100 ever.
-Rihanna’s 11th #1 song, which tied her for the third-most among female artists with Whitney Houston.
-Rihanna’s 20th song to pass one million downloads.
-Made Rihanna the seventh artist to tally 11 #1 singles.
-5.4 million copies sold.
-Tied for the longest-running #1 by a lead female artist this decade with “Hello” by Adele.
What was your favorite female #1 hit from 2011? Tweet us at @PopCrave.