Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” is one of the hottest songs in America right now. It’s been living inside the top 10 on the Hot 100 for months, and it keeps approaching the summit, coming tantalizing close to the No. 1 spot. Whether the tune will reach the peak position or not is yet to be seen, but whether it does or doesn’t, the track’s legacy is already cemented due to its near-unprecedented success at radio.
Initially released in 2019 as part of Swift’s album Lover, “Cruel Summer” was intended to be a single from the pop record. The singer never got to realize those plans at the time, as the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic forced a change of course. Swift embarked on her highly anticipated The Eras Tour in 2023, and it was during this trek that the song experienced a resurgence, breaking free from the confines of being only a fan favorite.
The song’s revival was nothing short of remarkable. It swiftly climbed the streaming charts, catching the attention of Swift and her team. Against all expectations, “Cruel Summer” was officially released as a single, four years after its initial drop. Its impact was immediate, with the song ascending to the upper echelons of the Hot 100 and earning a spot in the top 10.
Its Hot 100 presence is impressive, but the true measure of the song’s success lies in its dominance on Billboard’s radio charts. The single has become a historic win on most of the pop-focused tallies, breaking records and proving Swift’s dominance…and doing so as an incredibly unlikely win, to boot.
“Cruel Summer” achieved the remarkable feat of becoming Taylor Swift’s twelfth No. 1 hit on the Pop Airplay chart, which tracks the most popular tunes at pop radio in the U.S. With this latest win, she surpassed the records of other chart-toppers like Maroon 5, Katy Perry, and Rihanna, making Swift the reigning queen of the Pop Airplay list.
But the accolades didn’t stop there. “Cruel Summer” also conquered the Adult Pop Airplay chart, which is aimed at more mature listeners. The tune claimied the No. 1 spot and marking Swift’s eleventh leader on this particular chart. In fact, she holds the record for the most No. 1 hits among all soloists in the history of the Adult Pop Airplay chart, trailing only Maroon 5’s record of 15 No. 1s.
In October 2023, the song achieved another milestone by topping the overall Radio Songs chart. This list ranks songs across genres, making Swift’s eight chart-toppers—including “Cruel Summer”—on this ranking all the more impressive. With this latest smash, she now claims fourth place among all acts for the most No. 1 hits on the Radio Songs tally and became the third-highest-ranking woman, breaking her tie with Katy Perry.
While “Cruel Summer” may not have claimed the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 chart as some had hoped—at least not yet—the decision to release it as a single proved to be a smart move. The song not only performed exceptionally well, likely justifying the investment, but it also propelled Swift to historic heights and new records on various Billboard charts.
In the grand scheme of Swift’s illustrious career, “Cruel Summer” stands as an unlikely and remarkable triumph. Even if it never ascends to the top of the Hot 100, its legacy is secure.