While we’ve already seen a few proven hitmakers — Miley Cyrus, Shakira, Morgan Wallen — zooming onto the Billboard Hot 100 with splashy hits so far this year, this week we get something a little different: a top 15 debut from two rising pop artists who’ve never reached higher than No. 82 on the chart before.
Hot 100 First-Timers: PinkPantheress Arrives With Ice Spice Collab ‘Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2’
“Boy’s a Liar” was already a modest streaming success for acclaimed pop&B singer-songwriter PinkPantheress, racking up millions of plays a week. But it didn’t really threaten the Hot 100 until its “Pt. 2” remix premiered on Feb. 3, alongside viral rapper Ice Spice. The new version took off almost immediately, and continued climbing for all last week — resulting in a No. 14 Hot 100 debut on the chart dated Feb. 18.
Why did their combination prove so potent? And which artist does the breakthrough mean more for? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.
1. PinkPantheress’ and Ice Spice’s names won’t be unfamiliar to anyone who’s paid close attention to pop music over the past couple years — particularly online — but their individual solo Hot 100 histories to this point are minimal. What is about their team-up that allowed “Boy’s a Liar” to have such an explosive Hot 100 debut?
Rania Aniftos: PinkPantheress and Ice Spice teamed up at the perfect point in their careers, where they both had just enough buzz for the collaboration to take off. Also, “Boy’s a Liar” is two cute, fun women singing about how men are trash. It was made for the Hot 100.
Jason Lipshutz: Sometimes, online popularity is multiplied thanks to a collaboration between two well-known (if not high-charting) artists, and then applied to the right song to have both artists explode up the Hot 100. The effect that we’re seeing from “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” reminds me a little of Migos and Lil Uzi Vert’s No. 1 smash from 2017, “Bad and Boujee” — not that those songs sound anything alike, but they both soared up the Hot 100 at a time when their respective creators had been cult favorites for a while without a full-on mainstream embrace. We’ll see how high “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” can climb, but PinkPantheress and Ice Spice are likely about to experience highly expanded profiles because of it.
Heran Mamo: TikTok has been an impressive launchpad for both artists, so for PinkPantheress and Ice Spice to join forces (and online fanbases), their collaboration was sure to make a lot of noise on the Billboard charts. Sonically, Pink’s U.K. drum and bass-meets-bubblegum pop and Ice’s Brooklyn drill sounds complement one another with their uniquely frenetic rhythms, while Pink’s sweet-sounding, shrill voice and Ice’s bold, raspier voice delivery provide a noteworthy contrast. Not to mention, the “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” music video — which currently sits at No. 1 on YouTube’s U.S. Trending music chart — adds to their indomitable power as Gen-Z’s it-girlies.
Andrew Unterberger: Sometimes it just takes a small boost for artists who have long been knocking on the door of the mainstream to break all the way through. The pairing of PinkPantheress and Ice Spice was unexpected but intriguing — and, once you got the chance to hear and see it, pretty logical. If you were interested in either artist, chances are you were checking this out, and you were probably satisfied enough to share it on put it on your heavy-rotation playlists. To see it just snowball from there — to the point where the song now likely has plenty of listeners who were previously unfamiliar with either artist — is mostly just a testament to the song being real good.
Christine Werthman: PinkPantheress and Ice Spice both get a lot of streaming and TikTok love on their own, though that doesn’t necessarily translate to Hot 100 success. But their team-up on “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2″ — not just for a song but also a video — made for a perfect joining of forces that united their fanbases, and their numbers, and catapulted this vulnerable 2:11-long callout to that impressive No. 14 debut. PinkPantheress recently admitted to being picky about her collaborators, and it seems like she held out for the perfect one.
2. The original “Liar” had been lingering around the Spotify daily charts as one of PinkPantheress’ bigger streaming hits, but could never quite seem to get the juice to cross over on its own. Do you think the Pt. 2 with Ice Spice is a superior and/or more commercial version of the song, or do you think it’s mostly excitement over the combination of artists that’s propelling it so far?
Rania Aniftos: The online hype surrounding Ice Spice lately definitely didn’t hurt. Her soothing rap verse adds a digestible, radio-ready quality to the song without sacrificing its unique sound. Fans in general also seem to be loving female collaborations, as we’ve seen through various team-ups Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion have done over the past few years. The unexpected-but-so-natural decision for PinkPantheress and Ice Spice to work together was such a good move, and allowed the song to propel into the mainstream.
Jason Lipshutz: Why not both? The remix has certainly benefited from the presence of Ice Spice, who’s been a prominent figure in popular hip-hop throughout this year, thanks in part to her Like.. ? EP. But her presence on “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” isn’t a gimmick: even though the song lengths of the original and remix are exactly the same, Ice Spice balances out PinkPantheress’ melodic sighs and jingly chorus with weighty bars, making the song less of a delightful trifle and more of a fleshed-out pop hit.
Heran Mamo: I’d say both. Adding another fast-growing internet sensation like Ice Spice into the mix is the perfect ingredient to make “Boy’s a Liar” a commercial hit. Even leaked TikTok videos of them filming the “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” music video in New York made waves before the song was ever released because fans were in disbelief that their favorites were coming together. Additionally, the beginning of Ice’s verse – “He say that I’m good enough, grabbin’ my duh-duh-duh/ Thinkin’ ‘bout sh— that I shouldn’t have (Huh)” – has proven to be one of the most lyrically memorable components of the track, so she adds more value to “Boy’s a Liar” beyond her presence.
Andrew Unterberger: I wouldn’t say the new version is better, necessarily, but it does make “Liar” feel more like a commercial pop song. The “Pt. 2” version of “Boy’s a Liar” isn’t actually any longer than the original — both run 2:11, just with Ice Spice’s new verse subbed in for PinkPantheress’ second verse on “Pt. 2” — it just feels fuller, thanks the switch-up to Spice’s completely different (but still well-matching) flow. For two artists whose singles have been consistently satisfying, but maybe a little too clipped and weightless for certain pop audiences to really give them full consideration, the combination ends up being more than the sum of its parts.
Christine Werthman: The Bronx rapper brings a grounding element to the original track, which flits about as the British dance-pop artist vocalizes relationship insecurities and frustrations. “Pt. 2” also catches Ice Spice in a less guarded place than usual, and though there’s something novel about that for fans, I don’t think it upped the song’s commercial appeal. Instead, I think it just granted each artist exclusive access to the other’s fanbase, and that combination propelled the plays.
The video dropped 11 days ago, and it already has 12 million views — so watching these two link, looking ultra cool against a New York City backdrop, is enough to get people excited. That said, if “Pt. 2” (or even the original “Boy’s a Liar”) weren’t such a strong track on its own, the collab might not have had such an impact. But the audio plus the visual made it take off.
3. Which of the two artists do you think this debut ultimately means more for?
Rania Aniftos: I really want to say both, but I’m not going to cheat on this answer. I’m going to say PinkPantheress, because I’ve always known that she’s great, and it’s about time everyone else does too.
Jason Lipshutz: Probably Ice Spice — who appears to be on the verge of full-blown stardom, after a months-long run of positively received music, increasing meme-ability and growing respect for her microphone skills from the old school and new school hip-hop communities. Make no mistake, “Boy’s a Liar” represents a significant win for PinkPantheress, a critically adored pop savant who is about to play bigger stages. Yet the song feels like another checked box in Ice Spice’s rapid breakthrough as a major artist.
Heran Mamo: PinkPantheress, considering she’s the lead artist on the track and this marks her career-first entry on the Hot 100. She released her debut mixtape, To Hell With It, in October 2021, and besides her latest slew of singles (which includes “Boy’s a Liar”), it’s been relatively quiet on her end. Her evolution from a faceless singer who teases her music on TikTok via viral snippets to charting star with increasing momentum and an actual physical presence has been remarkable to witness in the short years she’s been on the scene.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s tough, because it means a whole lot for both in different ways. But I’d say Ice Spice gets the slightly bigger boost here as the difference-maker; she also debuts her own slowly growing solo hit “In Ha Mood” at No. 85 this week, and seems well on her way to being one of the most ubiquitous pop figures of 2023. This is a big breakthrough for PinkPantheress and should help her visibility significantly, but if she went back to being a mostly cult-level pop hitmaker after this it wouldn’t be shocking.
Christine Werthman: Ice Spice, since it looks like her co-sign/feature can boost songs to new heights.
4. Once the initial excitement passes, do you see “Liar” continuing to grow into one of the biggest hits of early 2023? Or do you think this strong start is about as good as it will get for the song?
Rania Aniftos: It’s hard to say because I still haven’t been able to pinpoint what the major 2023 trend in music is yet. It seems like this is going to be the viral song that stays through the summer due to its bubbly nature, but you really never know with the Internet. Every time we think we figured out what’s viral, another random smash comes out of nowhere.
Jason Lipshutz: Although it will be tough for “Liar” to challenge smashes from A-list artists like Miley Cyrus, SZA, Morgan Wallen and Taylor Swift at the top of the Hot 100 in the coming weeks, I do expect the song to keep rising and make a top 10 bow sooner than later. “Liar” is too damn catchy and well-made to be relegated to “viral hit” status, and even though PinkPantheress and Ice Spice have zero track record at pop radio, I could see top 40 programmers taking a chance on a single that’s this accessible, and help its upward momentum continue.
Heran Mamo: I have hope that “Boy’s a Liar” has the momentum to become one of the year’s earliest hits. Pink’s catchy “Good eno-o-ough, good eno-o-ough” post-chorus, cheeky Ice Spice-isms like “grabbin’ my duh-duh-duh” and the candy-coated production ensure this track will be a mainstay. I mean, how could they lose if they’re already chose… like?
Andrew Unterberger: It’s really never a good idea to underestimate the commercial ceiling for a song that debuts strong out the gate and just keeps growing from there. The song has continued to climb on streaming services’ daily charts — and not just one of them; it’s in the daily top 10 for each of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube — and radio shouldn’t be far behind. It’ll have its work cut out for it passing some of those bigger names currently occupying the chart’s top spots, so No. 1 might end up being out of reach for it. But the top five feels like a distinct possibility, and sooner than later.
Christine Werthman: All the attention is boosting “Liar” beyond the Ice Spice and PinkPantheress fan spheres, so I think it will climb a little higher from here. Maybe even top 10 material.
5. When a song like this comes out of nowhere (relatively speaking) and zooms into a debut like this, it’s guaranteed the industry will sit up and pay attention to it. So what important industry lessons, if any, do you think can be taken from the early success of “Boy’s a Liar”?
Rania Aniftos: Songs that sound like Paris Hilton listened to them in 2005 are still very much in – and so are female collaborations! We’ve been on this early 2000’s nostalgia wave in music over the past few months, and I think it’s going to continue well into 2003. I expect to see more of these pop, digital-sounding hooks in the future.
Jason Lipshutz: A decade ago, there were certain indie-pop artists who were never going to remove the “indie-“ prefix from their categorization and score a mainstream hit; now, in the age of TikTok, left-of-center artists have a very real shot at scoring top 40 hits under the right circumstances. So as unlikely as a hit PinkPantheress single may have seemed a few weeks ago, the industry cannot afford to shrug off the mainstream potential of singer-songwriters who continue to produce top-notch pop. You never know which “Boy’s a Liar” is just around the corner.
Heran Mamo: Make remixes that make sense. Sometimes, songs that are already performing well on their own will be supplemented with remixes that don’t necessarily add to the track beside A-list names (e.g., the Justin Bieber and J Balvin remix of 24k Goldn and iann dior’s “Mood”) and end up doing nothing. PinkPantheress and Ice Spice are two 20-something, pop and rap princesses of the digital age with a similarly eclectic taste in beats. Even Pink said it herself in a cover interview with NMEthat “when it comes to collaborations, I’m quite picky: I always want someone who can match me well on a track.” And Ice does exactly that on “Boy’s a Liar.”
Andrew Unterberger: I think there’s something to be said about looking out for buzzy singles that internalize trends that have been going on for some time in the underground, while filtering them through a more accessible pop framework. You can hear some of the frenetic airiness of hyperpop and even a little bit of the bounce of Jersey club in “Boy’s a Liar,” but at the end of the day you wouldn’t say it really belongs to either of those genres — you’d just call it a pop song. Songs that can pull that off, without seeming trend-hoppy or late… the sky’s the limit for ’em, really.
Christine Werthman: PinkPantheress has more monthly listeners on Spotify than Ice Spice (20 million vs. 14 million, respectively), but they’re not lightyears apart in terms of popularity. Perhaps the takeaway is that you don’t need a big Drake-sized feature on your track to make it soar — you just need a smart pairing of artists who naturally vibe, who differ stylistically but aren’t total opposites and, sure, who have each found love in the streaming world.
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