Ed. note: Given that Chris “dennisobell” Molanphy has been our resident chart guru since this site’s inception, it seemed natural–if a little bit belated–to give him a column where he looks at the upward, downward, and lack of movement on the Billboard Hot 100. So without further ado, here’s the inagural installment of “100 And Single,” his weekly look at the movement on the singles chart:
So much for the afterglow–the Great Album Throwdown of 9/11 may have made a king of Kanye West and spurred him to the top of Billboard‘s album and singles charts, but one week later, he’s riding shotgun on both lists. On the Hot 100, his “Stronger” has settled back in at No. 2, behind returning chart-topper–and mere tot–Soulja Boy and his half-eponymous, dance-craze-fueled “Crank That (Soulja Boy).”
Hot Cliff’s Notes: As this is my first official chart column for Idolator, I thought I’d offer a quick primer on Billboard‘s singles chart, which, for all intents and purposes, is the Dow Jones of pop: venerable and slightly complicated. Unlike the Billboard 200 album chart, which is based almost entirely on raw SoundScan data and therefore widely available from multiple news sources, the Hot 100 is distinguished from almost all other music charts by its unique combination of song sales and radio airplay–a formula Billboard guards like it’s Coca-Cola. This explains why you don’t see online leaks of singles-chart news until late in the week, and pretty much only from Billboard itself.
The Hot 100 will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, which makes it even more august than the magazine’s album charts (which were only standardized around stereo long-playing vinyl in the early ’60s). That said, Billboard has adjusted the formula countless times over the years. For our purposes, and for the sake of brevity, the two most interesting changes to the formula in the last decade were:
1. The 1998 elimination of the single-release requirement (a begrudging acknowledgement by Billboard that those greedy labels weren’t releasing radio hits as singles anymore); and
2. The 2005 addition of digital-song sales (dominated by iTunes), which basically corrected the effects of the late-’90s death of the single and, three years later, has had a more profound impact on the chart than anything since the invention of SoundScan.
Lucky Boy Could Be the Next, er…Mims: Which brings us back to this week’s charts, and Soulja Boy, who had a tremendous week of digital sales–183,000, enough to push him back to No. 1 for his third non-consecutive week there. Sales have overwhelmingly fueled “Crank That” throughout its 11-week chart run, but that might be about to change. Last week, the song earned Billboard‘s weekly “Greatest Gainer/Airplay” award, which basically means radio stations who previously saw the song as a YouTube/ringtone fad are belatedly adding the song to their rotation. In the iTunes era, this is becoming a common pattern for a big hit single: Up-from-nowhere new acts climb the charts thanks to digital sales (such as Mims, whose “This Is Why I’m Hot” flew to No. 1 last spring with tons of sales and almost no airplay at first); then, just as sales start to tail off, radio catches on and keeps the song aloft.
The good news for Kanye: even while moving backwards, “Stronger” earns a bullet–Billboard‘s indicator of continued sales and/or airplay growth–which means that, if West wins some more airplay, the two songs could be swapping places again in a week or two. With the rest of the Top 10 largely static–only Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly” makes a big move into the winner’s circle this week–the top two records have little in the way of heavy competition. That is, unless some fast-breaking hit crashes into the Top 10 next week…
She’s Coming, Bitch: For the third week straight, Britney’s Spears’ comeback single, “Gimme More,” makes an unspectacular–albeit upward–chart move, to No. 68 from No. 75. Haters were quick to pounce on Ms. Waterloo in Vegas two weeks ago, when the single made a tepid No. 85 debut. But as we’ve noted here on Idolator, here’s where a better understanding of how the charts work helps. Britney’s climbing the Hot 100 with one hand tied behind her pasty back: “Gimme More” is charting entirely on airplay, which has been modest but steadily increasing each week. With the song finally dropping on iTunes this past Tuesday and already ranked No. 3 there, you can expect to see “Gimme” flying up the chart next week. How high? A Top 40 appearance is a lock, Top 20 all but assured and Top 10 a very distinct possibility. Could she go to No. 1? With Soulja and Kanye still leading her on iTunes and her airplay still building, it’s highly unlikely. But we’ve already seen established acts set records this year: one week last May, a burst of iTunes sales shot Maroon 5′s “Makes Me Wonder” from No. 64 to the top, setting a record for the biggest jump to No. 1 in Hot 100 history.
The Steve Jobs Adult-Music Welfare Program: As forecasted on Idolator, Feist scores her first-ever Top 40 hit, as the iPod Nano-shilling “1, 2, 3, 4″ shoots to No. 28 from No. 61. While Billboard includes airplay from numerous radio formats in the Hot 100, it’s doubtful that even a shred of the former Broken Social Scenester’s chart points are coming from the radio dial–the song has been in iTunes’ top five for more than a week now, and as long as that perky Nano commercial keeps playing on prime-time TV, Feist’s unlikely career as a pop chanteuse will continue. This is but the latest example of an unlikely hit fueled by an iPod ad: Jet owe their career to Apple, as “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” broke in 2003 after appearing in one of its first jamming-silouhette ads; and just last year, Bob Dylan scored his first No. 1 album in three decades thanks in large part to round-the-clock TV-ad play courtesy of longtime Zimmy-head Steve Jobs.
The top 20, with last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses:
1. Soulja Boy, “Crank That (Soulja Boy), Soulja Boy Tell’em” (LW No. 2, 11 weeks)
2. Kanye West, “Stronger” (LW No. 1, 9 weeks)
3. Timbaland feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E., “The Way I Are” (LW No. 3, 17 weeks)
4. Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (LW No. 4, 23 weeks)
5. J. Holiday, “Bed” (LW No. 6, 10 weeks)
6. 50 Cent feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland, “Ayo Technology” (LW No. 5, 7 weeks)
7. Keyshia Cole feat. Missy Elliott & Lil Kim, “Let It Go” (LW No. 7, 14 weeks)
8. Nickelback, “Rockstar” (LW No. 8, 33 weeks)
9. Pink, “Who Knew” (LW No. 9, 16 weeks)
10. Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” (LW No. 16, 13 weeks)
11. matchbox twenty, “How Far We’ve Come” (LW No. 12, 4 weeks)
12. Plies feat. T-Pain, “Shawty” (LW No. 10, 15 weeks)
13. Kanye West feat. T-Pain, “Good Life” (LW No. 14, 2 weeks)
14. Plain White T’s, “Hey There Delilah” (LW No. 13, 26 weeks)
15. T-Pain feat. Akon, “Bartender” (LW No. 11, 17 weeks)
16. Alicia Keys, “No One” (LW No. 15, 3 weeks)
17. Justin Timberlake, “LoveStoned” (LW No. 18, 12 weeks)
18. Baby Bash feat. T-Pain, “Cyclone” (LW No. 27, 9 weeks)
19. Maroon 5, “Wake Up Call” (LW No. 23, 7 weeks)
20. Elliott Yamin, “Wait for You” (LW No. 22, 18 weeks)