Ed. note: Chris “dennisobell” Molanphy, our resident chart guru, looks at the upward, downward, and lack of movement on the Billboard Hot 100 in the latest installment of “100 And Single”:
When writing last week’s column, I mentioned the fast-rising Chris Brown single “Kiss Kiss (feat. T-Pain)” almost as an afterthought. But Brown and T become the story on Billboard‘s Hot 100 this week, soaring 20 places to No. 2. Which puts them right behind… yes, the indefatigable Soulja Boy, holding onto No. 1 for a seventh week with “Crank That.” The Boy has got to drop sometime (and the song is eroding), but who’ll grab the jump ball for No. 1 in the next week or two is still anyone’s guess.
Remember the Super-Ho: “Crank That” is one of only three songs in the Top 10 not earning enough points to win a bullet (Billboard’s indicator of upward sales and airplay momentum), meaning other songs are closing in on Mr. YouTube. There is a lot of movement in the Top 10 in general this week, with three songs dropping out entirely (Britney Spears’ “Gimme More,” J. Holiday’s “Bed” and–saints be praised!–Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”) to make way for new blood. Let’s look at some of the contenders.
The huge move by “Kiss Kiss” happens for the reason these things usually do nowadays: a big debut on iTunes. It’s the most-purchased song of the week, with a debut total of nearly 160,000 downloads. Airplay is also building gradually, and it had better keep going: second-week sales of “Kiss” probably won’t equal the pent-up demand 99-cent buyers showed in week one, and radio might have to pick up some of the slack if Brown and T-Pain are going to take over the top slot. (By the way, with Baby Bash’s “Cyclone” rising to No. 7 and Kanye West’s “Good Life” up to No. 8, T-Pain does indeed have the trio of simultaneous featured-vocal Top 10 hits we predicted last week.)
OneRepublic’s gift from Timbaland, “Apologize,” has been on the verge for weeks now, but while it earns a bullet at No. 3, it’s starting to slow just a bit: iTunes sales, which have fueled its fast rise, are flat-to-down. It does garner enough airplay this week to rank among radio’s top 10 most-played songs. At this point, if “Apologize” is going to top the Hot 100, airplay’s going to have to keep building; if Adult Contemporary radio catches onto the day-shift-friendly ballad soon, that could still happen.
But Alicia Keys remains the stealth MVP. While she holds at No. 4 with “No One,” the deep data shows continued growth on all fronts: it’s now the most-played song at radio, period, and the song moves into the Top Five in digital sales, with another double-digit percentage increase. As impressive as Chris Brown’s move this week is, there’s still a good chance Keys could pull a shocker if the stars align. It’s a similar story for the No. 5 hit, Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly,” which makes an even stronger leap on iTunes (up 22% in overall digital sales and the winner of Billboard‘s “Sales Gainer” prize) and keeps rising, ever so slowly, on the radio. If the song keeps creeping up like this, Caillat’s snoozer could be a winner three or four No. 1′s from now.
When Routine Bites Hard, and Ambitions Are Low: The shocker for hipster-rock fans on the Hot 100 this week is the chart’s top debut at No. 68: the Killers’ cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay.” It instantly becomes the highest-charting Ian Curtis composition ever to grace the U.S. singles chart, as the immortal “Love Will Tear Us Apart” never even made the Hot 100 back in 1980. And given New Order’s middling historical performance on American radio (“Regret,” their highest charter, only reached No. 28), it even ranks among the bigger U.S. hits for co-writers/bandmates Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris.
Of course, all of the above data points pertain to songwriting credits; it’s the Killers who get the artist credit on “Shadowplay,” as Brandon Flowers & co. recorded the dour classic for the soundtrack of Control, Anton Corbijn’s Curtis biopic. As with Feist’s recent oddball hit “1, 2, 3, 4″ (now all the way down at No. 76, by the way), a ton of iTunes sales is what’s fueling the chart appearance–it ranks just outside the Top 10 in digital sales this week–as it has no appreciable airplay. (“Shadowplay” does debut within the lower rungs of the Modern Rock chart, however.) The song’s sales performance is kind of impressive: Control is still only playing at a couple of art-house theaters nationwide, with a wider release still to come.
The takeaways: (1) TV and film–even a film with limited exposure–remain much more powerful promotional tools for a song than anything record labels or radio can do; and (2) the Killers still have fans. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say maybe their last album would’ve produced some bigger chart hits if they’d, y’know, recorded better songs…
Branding It: We might have spoken too soon dissing 2007 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks last week–”Tattoo” finally makes a big move into the Top 40 this week, up 16 spots to No. 39. Both Maura and I have heard it building on Top 40 radio (in New York and Chicago) over the last couple of weeks, so clearly Jive Records is working it, hard. (Conspiracy theory du jour: now that a certain song by a certain other Jive female pop star is sinking fast, the label’s radio-promotions team is a lot less distracted.)
Stuff to Watch: We’ve already run down the hot-n-heavy competition for No. 1 next week, but even below the Top Five there are medium-term contenders, including Rihanna’s fast-rising Ne-Yo duet at No. 9.
Oh, and we shouldn’t gloat too long about Ms. Fergalicious vacating the Top 10 this week. “Clumsy,” the (uuuugh…) fifth single from Fergie’s positively undead album The Dutchess, shoots up 46 spots and will no doubt make the Top 40 next week. The siege continues.
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. 1, 15 weeks)
2. Chris Brown, “Kiss Kiss” (LW No. 22, 6 weeks)
3. Timbaland feat. OneRepublic, “Apologize” (LW No. 3, 12 weeks)
4. Alicia Keys, “No One” (LW No. 4, 7 weeks)
5. Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” (LW No. 5, 17 weeks)
6. Kanye West, “Stronger” (LW No. 2, 13 weeks)
7. Baby Bash feat. T-Pain, “Cyclone” (LW No. 11, 13 weeks)
8. Kanye West feat. T-Pain, “Good Life” (LW No. 10, 6 weeks)
9. Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo, “Hate That I Love You” (LW No. 15, 8 weeks)
10. Timbaland feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E., “The Way I Are” (LW No. 7, 21 weeks)
11. J. Holiday, “Bed” (LW No. 8, 14 weeks)
12. Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (LW No. 9, 27 weeks)
13. Britney Spears, “Gimme More” (LW No. 6, 7 weeks)
14. 50 Cent feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland, “Ayo Technology” (LW No. 12, 11 weeks)
15. Pink, “Who Knew” (LW No. 14, 20 weeks)
16. matchbox twenty, “How Far We’ve Come” (LW No. 17, 8 weeks)
17. Nickelback, “Rockstar” (LW No. 13, 37 weeks)
18. Keyshia Cole feat. Missy Elliott & Lil Kim, “Let It Go” (LW No. 16, 18 weeks)
19. Maroon 5, “Wake Up Call” (LW No. 19, 11 weeks)
20. Daughtry, “Over You” (LW No. 23, 11 weeks)