1 Year of ‘SOS’: 8 Records & Achievements for SZA’s Blockbuster Album

Music

Recapping the historic heights of SZA’s record-setting sophomore album as it hits its 1st anniversary.

SZA

Jacob Webster

In the year since SZA’s SOS set sail on Dec. 9, 2022, the album has swelled into a blockbuster success that has dominated the R&B game. With a string of hit singles that preceded the release, exploded alongside it, or kept the momentum alive months after the drop date, SOS pushed SZA’s career into the stratosphere, while gliding from milestone to milestone on Billboard’s charts.

Before the first inklings of a title, release date or single, SZA’s second studio album was already among the industry’s most-anticipated albums. The singer-songwriter’s full-length debut, 2017’s Ctrl, proved a phenomenon, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and, as of December 2023, remaining on the chart every week since its arrival. Ctrl singles “Love Galore,” featuring Travis Scott, and “The Weekend” scored SZA a pair of top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, while collaborations “All the Stars,” with Kendrick Lamar, and a supporting turn on Maroon 5’s “What Lovers Do” not only added to SZA’s success in the Ctrl era, but also produced top 10 Hot 100 results.

As anticipation mounted, SZA’s sophomore era began with a cycle of hope and disappointment for fans, as a series of single releases warmed up the speculation machine each time. “Hit Different,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, landed in September 2020, followed by “Good Days” in December 2020 and “I Hate U” in December 2021, but each came and went without any further announcements regarding S2.

And suddenly, the five-year wait had an expiration date. In a November 2022 Billboard cover story, SZA revealed the second album’s title, SOS, and promised its release the following month. If there was any doubt that the gap cooled the fervor for SOS, its initial success answered with authority. SOS debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and broke the record for the biggest streaming week for an R&B album, while its new singles expanded the hitmaking legacy of its predecessors, with “Kill Bill,” in particular, reaching historic heights.

That explosion, however, was just the beginning of a historic year for SOS, both in terms of all-time records on Billboard’s storied R&B/hip-hop charts and personal milestones for SZA’s career. As we hit the one-year anniversary of SOS, here’s a rundown of what the juggernaut album has achieved in its time.

SOS Debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200

Image Credit: Courtesy of RCA Records

Given the five-year wait and excited anticipation for SOS, many observers wondered if the new album could check off a career milestone for SZA and give her a first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Easy answer: Yes. SOS debuted atop the chart dated Dec. 24, 2022, with 318,000 equivalent album units – the third-highest debut week of 2022 – and shattered the record for the biggest streaming week for an R&B album by a woman, with 404.6 million official on-demand streams for the album’s songs, according to Luminate.

SOS’ 10th Week Makes Most Since Mariah

Image Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

After spending its first seven weeks on the Billboard 200 at No. 1, SOS dropped to the runner-up spot for a week, but quickly rebounded for three more weeks in charge. With its 10th week atop the Billboard 200, on the chart dated March 4, 2023, the runaway hit became the first R&B album by a woman to hit the double-digit mark since Mariah Carey’s self-titled debut posted 11 weeks at No. 1 in 1991.

“Kill Bill” Slays Competition on Hot 100

Image Credit: Jacob Webster

With a No. 3 debut on the Billboard Hot 100 in the thick of holiday season, “Kill Bill” announced itself as a future challenger for the top spot once the calendar flipped to January. When the Christmas competition subsided, however, “Kill Bill” had to contend with another blockbuster album’s standout hit (Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero), a red-hot streaming smash (Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers”) and a TikTok-fueled revival, then charged by a new version (The Weeknd & Ariana Grande’s “Die for You”). Eventually, though, helped in part by its own Doja Cat-assisted remix, “Kill Bill” defeated its competition to crown the Hot 100 dated April 29, 2023, and give SZA her first view from the chart’s penthouse.

SOS Breaks Aretha’s 54-Year-Old Record

Image Credit: Kyle Gustafson / For The Washington Post via Getty Images

It takes a special album to dethrone the Queen of Soul, and on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart dated May 13, 2023, SOS made its move into the history books. With an 18th week at No. 1 on the chart, SOS became the longest-running No. 1 album by a woman since the chart launched in 1965. It took the record from Aretha Franklin’s Aretha Now, which logged 17 weeks in the top slot in 1968, a mark unequaled for 54 years.

“Kill Bill” Leaps Over “Old Town Road”

Image Credit: RCA Records

Already a Hot 100 champ, “Kill Bill” continued to dominate on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, racking up an unprecedented 21 weeks at No. 1. Thanks to that final frame, SZA’s monster hit surpassed the 20-week run of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, as the song with the most weeks at No. 1 on the chart since it became an all-encompassing genre survey in 1958. From its nearly half-year run atop the list, “Kill Bill” finished at No. 1 on the year-end Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for 2023.

SOS Becomes Longest Champ Since Hammer’s Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Image Credit: Jacob Webster

While “Kill Bill” was in clear command of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, SOS was clearing the competition on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. After surpassing the 17-week barrier to take the record for the longest stay at No. 1 for an album by a woman, the juggernaut added five more weeks to its tally. With that stint, it leapfrogged the 20-week stretch of Pop Smoke’s Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon to become the longest-running champ since M.C. Hammer’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em clocked 29 weeks on top in 1990.

SOS Joins the Five-Timers Club

Image Credit: Andrew Chin/Getty Images

Seven months after SOS‘ release, the fan-favorite-turned-single “Snooze” cruised to the upper heights of the Hot 100, finally reaching the top 10 on the chart dated Aug. 19, 2023. With its entry into the top tier, “Snooze,” which later peaked at No. 2 in October, became the fifth top 10 hit from SOS, alongside “Good Days,” “I Hate U,” “Kill Bill” and “Nobody Gets Me.” As it joined the rare five-timers club, SOS became, notably, the first R&B album to produce five Hot 100 top 10 hits since the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack completed the feat in 1995-96.

“Snooze” Leads 2023 Hot 100 Longevity Race

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As of the chart dated Dec. 9, 2023, only one song is still in the running to have spent every week of the year on the Hot 100: “Snooze.” From its debut at No. 29 on the chart dated Dec. 24, 2022, the track managed to ride its fan-favorite status and consistent streams to remain on on the list for several months before its official launch as a summer single brought in chart reinforcements via huge radio support – it reached No. 1 on the all-genre Radio Songs – and a music video that teased a remix featuring Justin Bieber. Thanks to that steady rollout, the “Snooze” consistency is just weeks away from being the only track to last wire-to-wire on the Hot 100 in 2023.

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