Madonna achieves her highest debut on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, as “Crave,” with Swae Lee, launches at No. 19 on the June 8-dated tally. The song arrives as Madonna’s 37th AC entry, dating to her first, “Borderline,” in 1984.
The Queen of Pop logged her prior best AC start in her most recent visit before “Crave,” when “Ghosttown” opened at No. 21 in April 2015. As the latter song peaked at No. 18, Madonna boasts back-to-back top 20 AC hits for the first time in 20 years, since “Frozen” (No. 8 peak) and “The Power of Good-Bye” (No. 14) charted consecutively in 1998-99.
The AC chart ranks titles by weekly plays on a panel of 85 adult contemporary stations monitored by Nielsen Music. (The survey has contracted from 50 positions in the ’80s to its current 30-rung depth.)
“Crave” is from Madonna’s album Madame X, due June 14. The first taste of the set, “Medellín,” with Maluma, reached No. 18 on the Hot Latin Songs chart, Madonna’s best career rank on the survey, and became her record-extending 61st top 10 on Dance Club Songs.
“If you didn’t know it was Madonna, you might think it was Ariana Grande or Alessia Cara,” says WWLI Providence, Rhode Island, program director Emily Boldon of the song.
Notably, Interscope Records has serviced a Madonna-only edit of “Crave” to adult radio. “About half [of Cumulus] stations playing it are playing the duet version with Swae Lee, which, even for AC, is a hooky rap,” Boldon muses.
“‘Crave’ took me a few listens, but now it’s stuck in my head,” says Brian Demay, pd of Cumulus-owned WRRM Cincinnati, who notes that the station is playing the Madonna-solo version “only because our listeners don’t know who Swae Lee is.
“This song is legit. It’s not campy or nostalgic. It sounds like 2019. Madonna has reinvented her sound yet again.”
“‘Crave’ sounds great on the air,” Boldon echoes. “You don’t have to sell it as ‘new Madonna.’ It stands on its own as simply ‘cool new music.’ “