Metro Weekly

Sam Smith and Kim Petras Make Billboard Chart History

Smith becomes the first nonbinary artist to conquer the chart, while Petras now stands as the first openly transgender aritst to lead the way.

Sam Smith and Kim Petras – Photo: Michael Bailey Gates

From the moment it was released, Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ single “Unholy” was a huge success in countries around the world. The tune was welcomed warmly by fans everywhere, and it didn’t take long before it began debuting in lofty positions on important charts.

A month later, not only is the track still going strong, it continues to improve its standing in the U.S., and in doing so, the pair behind the cut has made history.

Just a short time ago, Billboard announced that “Unholy” has climbed one rung on the Hot 100 to make it to No. 1. As it lifts as high as a title possibly can, Smith becomes the first nonbinary artist to conquer the chart, while Petras now stands as the first openly transgender artist to lead the way.

The Hot 100 is Billboard’s weekly ranking of the most-consumed songs in the U.S. The list employs a methodology that includes sales of individual tunes, streams, and radio play.

It is known as the most important chart, and competition for the highest reaches is incredibly fierce, with the biggest stars in the industry doing everything they can to rise to the summit.

This past week in the U.S., “Unholy” was streamed 25.3 million times, reached 21.5 million people via radio, and sold 19,000 copies, according to Billboard. The music magazine points out that the song is once again the most-streamed and bestselling in the nation, while it’s quickly working its way up the radio ranking as well.

Somewhat unexpectedly, “Unholy” has become more and more popular with each passing week since it first arrived. The tune has now been present on the Hot 100 for four weeks, and it has lived inside the top three the entire time, as it started off at No. 3.

It’s not terribly uncommon for highly anticipated cuts from major stars to debut high on the list, though most immediate wins often begin to fall down the ranking just after they launch toward the top. 

After debuting at No. 3, “Unholy” then climbed to No. 2 on the Hot 100 in its second week. The collaboration held in second place for a pair of frames, and now it’s risen to the last remaining spot. 

“Unholy” now stands as the highest-charting single for both Smith and Petras. Smith had previously surged all the way to No. 2 with their introductory smash “Stay With Me,” which narrowly missed out on becoming a relatively rare ballad to dominate the Hot 100.

Since then, Smith has returned to the top 10 on the chart with half a dozen additional hits, and that’s to say nothing of their many other wins on the list. For her part, Petras has only appeared on the roster once, and she managed to land a No. 1 on her first try.

That kind of accomplishment is rare, as it usually takes artists months–if not years–of building their brands and fan bases before they have the power to conquer the toughest chart in the largest music market in the world.

“Unholy” is the second official single from Smith’s upcoming fourth album. The singer recently announced that their forthcoming collection, titled Gloria, will be released on January 27, 2023.

The set has already produced another single, “Love Me More,” which Smith doled out in April of this year and which was a somewhat minor success story.

Smith and Petras may make history with their first No. 1, but they aren’t the only LGBTQ musicians to succeed on the Hot 100 this year. “Unholy” replaces Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit” atop the tally after a few weeks in charge, with the bisexual star stepping down one spot to make room for a new winner.

This may mark the first time in history when one LGBTQ act has swapped spots on the Hot 100’s throne with another (or, in this case, two others).

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