The Billboard Canadian Hot 100 published its first chart at the spring equinox of 2007. It was a time that saw the film 300 on top of the box office. Statistics Canada had just announced that, for the first time in history, the three territories had officially surpassed a combined population of 100,000, via 2006 census data. Canadian artists held the top 3 spots on the Albums chart. Neil Young was #1 with his Live at Massey Hall 1971, Arcade Fire #2 with Neon Bible, and at #3 was Finger Eleven’s Them Vs. You Vs. Me. On that very first Hot 100 chart were a total of 33 Canadian artist songs, one-third of the chart, from 25 domestic artists (six authoring more than one entry). In those days, radio airplay was the dominant factor in determining the chart with digital downloads (a relatively new phenomenon) and the fading CD single holding a lesser sway. The #1 song on that chart was “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne.
Times have changed.
Fast forwarding to July 10, 2018, tops at the cinemas is Ant-Man and the Wasp. Greyhound has announced shutting down operations in western Canada; apparently ticket sales have plummeted since the horrific incident in 2008 which we will not get into. The number one album in the land is Scorpion by Drake. Not yet available in physical format, streaming and digital downloads are the key determiners, and, as tracks from the album fare better on the Hot 100 than on the Digital chart, one can assume that the weighting falls mostly on the side of streaming for the former chart. Do record labels have warehouses filled with devices that stream albums 24/7 to drive up the numbers? Conspiracy theorists of the world unite!
Scorpion achieves 70,000 consumption units, the highest one-week total for an album so far in 2018. It breaks the record for a one-week streaming total at 70 million. Six of its tracks make the Top 50 on the Digital chart with only one in the Top 10 – “Don’t Matter to Me” featuring the late Michael Jackson. It’s a song that came to Drake by way of the founding father of Canadian rock and roll, Paul Anka. With the release of the album, Drake authors or is featured in a total of 27 entries on the Hot 100, 22 of which made the Top 40, and six the Top 10. “Non Stop” is the biggest song in the country, “Nice For What” #3, “Don’t Matter to Me” #4, “God’s Plan” #6, “I’m Upset” #7, and “In My Feelings” #9. Drake has broken a number of chart records in the United States, with the American Hot 100 dating back much further than the Canadian one.
Does the much stronger performance on the Hot 100 than the Digital chart suggest that, although people felt inclined to stream the album, plugged heavily by the media, few felt it, or its tracks, were good enough to purchase? Perhaps some are waiting for its release on CD.
Returning to our initial review of the first Canadian Hot 100 chart in the spring of 2007 with 25 Canadian artists populating, we can compare that to this week’s chart with only six artists. In just over a decade, there are no artists in common.