Chart Beat

How Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion's 'WAP' (Edited) Became a Top 10 Radio Hit: 'The Listeners Have Spoken'

Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion "WAP"
Courtesy Photo

Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion "WAP"

The Hot 100 leader is No. 5 on Rhythmic Songs & No. 10 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop.

When a song sports a title with a word that's far from FCC-friendly, it might not be a likely bet for widespread radio airplay.

But, when that song has claimed record streaming numbers and pop culture domination, an edit can entice programmers.

Cardi B's "WAP," featuring Megan Thee Stallion, tops the Billboard Hot 100 for a third week. It debuted at No. 1 (on the chart dated Aug. 22) with 93 million U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data, the most ever for a song in its first week of release. It leads the latest, Sept. 19-dated chart with 48.2 million streams and, notably, 27.3 million radio airplay audience impressions, up 11%, in the tracking week.

"WAP," released on Atlantic Records, bounds from No. 9 to No. 5 on the Rhythmic Songs airplay chart, up 24% in plays, and bullets at No. 10 on Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop, up 7%.

"When I first heard the song I thought, 'Wow, that's going to be fun, and challenging,' " John McMann, Atlantic senior vp of pop and rhythmic promotion, recalls with a chuckle. "We took it to radio and, even though some had reservations, they knew it was a major event with Cardi and Megan together."

McMann says that the song was ultimately edited "to the point where we'd be able to get it on the radio," with its original title lyric tweaked for terrestrial broadcasters.

"Obviously, it needed to be edited," Doc Wynter, iHeartMedia evp of R&B/hip-hop programming strategy, says of the song. "We were satisfied with [Atlantic's] edit in that we felt we could still understand the 'message' in the record."

"The listeners have spoken. They want to hear the song, and we give the listeners what they want," echoes Jill Strada, Cox Media Group's Miami director of operations. "We play the edited version of 'WAP' on [mainstream R&B/hip-hop] WEDR. While it isn't as raw as the unedited version, the point of the song is still very prevalent."

"It's a female empowerment anthem," McMann muses. "Cardi and Megan are strong females and they have something to say."

Which Fan Army Is the Strongest? | Billboard News