In The Quantity Ones, I’m reviewing each single #1 single within the historical past of the Billboard Sizzling 100, beginning with the chart’s starting, in 1958, and dealing my method up into the current.

The week of Thanksgiving 2007, T-Ache had 4 of the highest 10 singles in America. Technically, none of these 4 songs have been T-Ache songs. A couple of months after T-Ache topped the Billboard Sizzling 100 along with his personal “Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’),” he’d turn out to be the most popular freelancer in all of pop music. Nearly anybody might rating successful so long as they’d the phrase “Feat. T-Pain” subsequent to their music title. And if a music didn’t characteristic T-Ache, or not less than some model of T-Ache’s smooth and energized robo-voice, that music most likely wasn’t getting very far.

T-Ache’s imperial second confirmed that issues have been shifting. Pop listeners had come to just accept the way in which T-Ache used Auto-Tune as a stylistic affectation slightly than a cover-up for out-of-tune singing. R&B was transferring in a path that was much less showboaty, extra clubby. The pulsing textures of European dance music have been lastly making inroads on the American pop charts, which might result in a dramatic shift over the subsequent few years. And T-Ache himself was a dominant voice. Even guesting on another person’s observe, T-Ache had a method of overwhelming the music, making it his personal.

The week that T-Ache held down 40% of the highest 10, Kanye West’s vivid and fizzy “Good Life” reached its #7 peak. (It’s a 9.) The Houston pop-rapper Child Bash’s Lil Jon-produced “Cyclone” was sitting at #8, every week after it reached its personal #7 peak; the very best second of that music was T-Ache making an attempt to mimic the sound of an precise cyclone. (It’s a 7.) That very same week, one other music with a T-Ache hook broke into the highest 10; it’ll seem on this column quickly. And the #1 music in America was the one which T-Ache mainly gifted to Chris Brown, the teenage heartthrob who was nonetheless a 12 months and a half away from turning into a nationwide shame.

Chris Brown wanted successful. Two years earlier, Brown had reached #1 with “Run It!,” his very first single. That music turned Brown right into a sensation. His stay units drew an entire lot of screaming women. His self-titled debut went double platinum, and it spun off extra hits. Brown was beginning to land performing jobs — a recurring half on The O.C., a supporting function within the steppers’-competition sports activities flick Stomp The Yard. He was additionally turning into a well-known tabloid face as a result of he was courting Rihanna, who was nicely on her option to superstardom. However that form of teenage-heartthrob fame can typically be ephemeral, and early indications for Chris Brown’s second album weren’t good.

Chris Brown initially wished to name his sophomore LP Commencement, because it was set to return out round his 18th birthday — the time that he would’ve graduated highschool if he hadn’t dropped out to chase pop stardom. However Kanye West claimed that title, so Brown as a substitute gave his album the title Unique, giving MTV the marginally incoherent rationalization that the file was “exclusively for those that will support it.” Unique was supposed to return out in August of 2007, however that was earlier than lead single “Wall To Wall” crashed and burned, peaking at #79. The child wanted a distinct technique.

“Wall To Wall” was the kind of music that Chris Brown would’ve launched in 2005. It was a junior-varsity Usher membership observe — principally written by one in all Usher’s key collaborators, with lyrics all about how Chris Brown couldn’t get away from all the women chasing after him. It had a profoundly foolish big-budget video about dancing vampires. Pop music was shifting in slight, intangible methods, and Brown was behind the curve. “Kiss Kiss” was the reset.

“Kiss Kiss” is mainly a T-Ache music. T-Ache himself is everywhere in the observe. He handles the intro, doing a humorous radio-DJ spiel about how Chris Brown’s new music is the factor that’ll resolve all of the disbelieving caller’s romantic issues. T-Ache additionally sings backup all through the observe and provides a quick, energized rap verse. Extra importantly, although, Chris Brown sounds identical to T-Ache all through the observe. It was as if T-Ache had rented his complete type out to Brown, and Brown wasn’t the one one.

Should you have a look at the T-Ache tracks that have been filling up the highest 10 throughout that one week in November, all of them characteristic lead artists adapting T-Ache’s sound whereas performing alongside the person himself. Kanye West sing-raps by way of Auto-Tune on “Good Life,” and he’d quickly do an entire lot extra of that. Child Bash sing-raps by way of Auto-Tune on “Cyclone.” On the music that’ll quickly seem on this column, the lead-artist rapper doesn’t use conspicuous Auto-Tune, however he does add a sure melodic bounce to his circulation. And on “Kiss Kiss,” Chris Brown sings by way of a lot Auto-Tune that it’s generally arduous to inform which voice belongs to Brown and which is T-Ache.

T-Ache produced “Kiss Kiss,” and he co-wrote the observe with Chris Brown. At first, it was going to be a music about butts. The unique refrain: “She’s chunky chunky/ She’s thick thick.” However Brown’s handlers thought that was a bit too grownup for his fanbase, even when Brown himself had simply turned 18. Brown told MTV, “At first, we was making it a little grown, but my manager shut it down… We gotta keep it PG-13 at least.” (The video nonetheless has a scene the place Chris Brown helpfully factors out a butt.) Brown and T-Ache modified “Kiss Kiss” right into a music about all the ladies fantasizing about him: “She want that lovey-dovey/ That kiss kiss/ In her mind, she fantasize ’bout gettin’ with me.”

These lyrics are fairly awkward, however “Kiss Kiss” doesn’t sound as kid-friendly because it reads. As a substitute, T-Ache’s beat is a vivid, fizzy tackle Southern club-rap. The bass pulses, and little synth-hooks bounce energetically across the observe. I just like the “whoof” sound impact beneath the verses. Whereas the hook is not less than nominally romantic, the music principally simply provides Brown an opportunity to flex. Brown’s singing sounds so much like rapping, and most of his traces are about being fly. He’s obtained paper, woman. The Lamborghini with the spider seats — you’ve by no means seen it. (I all the time questioned what a spider seat was. The reply, so far as I can inform, is that Chris Brown was so into Spider-Man that he had his automobile reupholstered in order that the seats appeared like Spider-Man’s costume.)

Loads of Chris Brown’s traces on “Kiss Kiss” don’t even come near working: “I’m the epitome of this demonstration, I got the remedy/ You feelin’ me, so why is you hatin’ on my anatomy?” It’s solely spectacular to make use of SAT in case you have a complete understanding of what these SAT phrases imply. “Kiss Kiss” has a heedless ahead power that reaches its peak when T-Ache is available in with the guest-verse. T-Ache’s lyrics are as ecstatically meaningless as the rest: “Shawty, let me holla at you! You so hot! Hot! Hot! Hot! You think I’d be hollerin’ if you not? Not? Not? Not?” However T-Ache turns that meaninglessness into a celebration.

“Kiss Kiss” is finally only a fun-but-forgettable piece of melodic pop-rap, however its timing was good. There have been many, many teenage women who wished to like a brand new Chris Brown observe; “Wall To Wall” simply hadn’t given them something to work with. Brown’s complete type was easy however bodily. He was extra of a dancer than a singer, and “Kiss Kiss” let him sing like a dancer. The video gave him an opportunity to showcase what his dancing expertise.

The “Kiss Kiss” video is not any masterpiece, however it’s an entire lot extra retable than the vampire-fantasy factor that he tried to do on “Wall To Wall.” Brown labored with “Run It!” director Erik White, who would later make the Bow Wow automobile Lottery Ticket. The clip takes place at a vivid, sunny highschool, and it entails two completely different Chris Browns competing for the affections of a lady — the identical gimmick that Avril Lavigne utilized in her “Girlfriend” video earlier that 12 months. Brown performs the twin roles of a hopeless, Urkel-looking nerd and an asshole jock, and the nerd naturally will get the woman.

The entire storyline of the “Kiss Kiss” video doesn’t actually click on, since Chris Brown is an entire lot extra convincing because the asshole jock than because the sympathetic nerd. However the video works an entire lot higher as a showcase for Brown’s dancing, which is simply ridiculous. The man was all the time an athlete, and the sight of him backflipping throughout a school-bus roof is actually spectacular. T-Ache can’t dance like Chris Brown, however he’s obtained a foolish, irrepressible power, and the video involves life an entire lot extra each time he’s onscreen. He’s onscreen so much.

“Kiss Kiss” grew to become the hit that Chris Brown wanted — the music that established he’d last more than one album. The week after Brown’s Unique album got here out, “Kiss Kiss” ascended to #1, beating out all these different songs with T-Ache options. That album ultimately went quadruple platinum, promoting higher than Brown’s debut or any of the albums that he’s since launched. Brown adopted “Kiss Kiss” with the fluffy Stargate-produced love music “With You,” and that single made it to #2. (It’s a 7.)

Throughout that complete stretch, Chris Brown by no means obtained raunchier than he did on “Kiss Kiss.” He offered a clear, approachable picture to the world, and that picture labored for some time. Whereas “With You” was nonetheless thriving on the charts, Brown duetted with the previous American Idol winner Jordin Sparks on her love music “No Air,” and that music grew to become one other big hit, peaking at #3. (It’s an 8.)

In 2008, Chris Brown was fashionable sufficient to do TV commercials. Wrigley employed Brown, his staff, and Polow Da Don to provide you with a brand new jingle for Doublemint gum. That jingle sounded identical to an precise Chris Brown music, and Brown shortly launched a model of the jingle that was a full Chris Brown music. “Forever” got here out on a deluxe model of Unique, and it went all the way in which to #2. (It’s a 6.)

Chris Brown obtained all these large appears to be like as a result of he got here off as a cute, proficient child. That picture didn’t final. The night time earlier than the 2009 Grammys, Chris Brown and Rihanna went to Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy occasion. After the occasion, Rihanna discovered a textual content message from one other lady on Brown’s telephone, and he or she confronted him. Brown went right into a rage, making an attempt to push Rihanna out of the automobile after which repeatedly punching her within the face whereas driving. When she tried to name the police, he choked her and bit her fingers. When somebody lastly referred to as 911, Brown fled the scene and turned himself in to police that night.

Within the aftermath of that assault, somebody leaked a photograph of a bloodied, battered Rihanna to the media, and the sight was surprising and horrific. It might have a big impact on each Chris Brown and Rihanna’s careers. Rihanna will seem on this column with many extra songs, together with one which Chris Brown co-wrote. (It got here out and hit #1 earlier than the beating.) Chris Brown hasn’t been again to #1 since then, however his profession has endured. In an odd and troubling method, that horrible second would possibly’ve prolonged Brown’s shelf life, giving him a bad-boy antihero energy that he by no means would’ve had in any other case.

Chris Brown tried to maintain going like nothing had occurred. He was charged with assault, however a decide let him off with probation and group service. Later in 2009, he launched his album Graffiti. It tanked, and none of its singles went top-10. However Brown adopted that with a storm of music — three mixtapes over the subsequent 12 months — and stored his foothold at R&B radio with songs like “Deuces.” In 2011, Brown made it again into the highest 10 when “Look At Me Now,” a stunning fast-rap show with Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne, peaked at #6. (It brings me no pleasure to report that “Look At Me Now” is a ten.)

If the beating of Rihanna was an remoted incident, that might be unhealthy sufficient. Nevertheless it wasn’t. Brown stored doing shitty, violent issues. There was a bottle-throwing nightclub brawl with Drake, an artist who will seem on this column loads of instances. Tony Parker, the Spurs participant, obtained damaged glass caught in his eye throughout that battle, and he wanted surgical procedure. Brown additionally obtained right into a bodily battle with Frank Ocean over a parking house. There was the hit-and-run in Los Angeles. There was the battle in DC with the fan who wished a photograph. There have been loads of lawsuits, too. Brown has gone by way of rehab and been identified with bipolar dysfunction, and he nonetheless comes off as an overwhelmingly disagreeable human being. Simply final month, Brown went off on an Instagram tirade concerning the individuals who nonetheless convey up the Rihanna beating: “If y’all still hate me for a mistake I made as a 17-year-old, please kiss my whole entire ass.” (He was 19, however who’s counting?)

Chris Brown actively steered into the entire outlaw picture throughout that complete stretch, flaunting his gang affiliation and carrying himself increasingly more like a rapper. Possibly that lent him some transgressive attraction. Possibly individuals actually noticed him as being embattled and sympathetic. In 2011, I moved to Virginia, not too removed from Chris Brown’s hometown, and I seen a lot of Crew Breezy shirts out on this planet. To his fanbase, Brown’s real human shittiness appeared to make him extra interesting.

Chris Brown and Rihanna ultimately obtained again collectively and dated for some time, and he or she pronounced him “a good man.” The hits stored coming, too. In 2012, Brown’s EDM tracks “Turn Up The Music” and “Don’t Wake Me Up” each peaked at #10. (“Turn Up The Music” is a 3. “Don’t Wake Me Up” is a 4.) On the 2013 single “Loyal,” Brown teamed up with Lil Wayne and Tyga to debate the query of whether or not these hoes are loyal, and the music peaked at #9. (It’s a 4.) In 2018, Brown obtained along with comedy-rapper Lil Dicky for the body-switching skit-song “Freaky Friday,” and the entire joke there gave the impression to be Lil Dicky eager to be allowed to make use of the N-word. By some means, that music made it to #8. (It’s a 1.)

You’d like me to cease now, wouldn’t you? Nope! Too many Chris Brown hits. In 2019, Brown deaded his beef with Drake, and the 2 of them obtained to #5 with the collaboration “No Guidance.” (It’s a 3.) A 12 months later, Brown and Younger Thug made a collaborative mixtape, and so they obtained to #3 with their music “Go Crazy.” (It’s a 6.) Final 12 months, Brown launched his album Breezy, and it was a real flop; none of its singles made it out of the decrease rungs of the Sizzling 100. However whereas that album was languishing, the 2019 album observe “Under The Influence” went viral on TikTok and have become an out-of-nowhere hit, peaking at #12 earlier this 12 months.

Proper now, as I’m scripting this, Chris Brown has two songs on the Sizzling 100. One in all them is “Under The Influence,” which continues to be lingering across the prime 20. Late final 12 months, Brown additionally appeared alongside Future on rap super-producer Metro Boomin’s observe “Superhero (Heroes & Villains),” which is all about being seen as a villain. That one peaked at #8 when Metro’s album got here out, and it’s nonetheless within the prime 40. (It’s an 8. Future will ultimately seem on this column, and so will Metro Boomin’s manufacturing.)

Chris Brown is enormously proficient. He’s handsome and charismatic, and he’s obtained the instincts to remain on prime of a altering pop-music zeitgeist, whether or not that’s meant collaborating with T-Ache or with Metro Boomin. I like loads of Brown’s music, however the entire Chris Brown saga is miserable as all hell. His persevering with industrial relevance is extra proof for the argument that cancel tradition doesn’t exist. There’s a superb likelihood that Brown will seem on this column once more at the start is claimed and carried out. I’m not rooting for him.

GRADE: 6/10

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