Goodbye Alicia, Hello Alicia: New Hits Start Bubbling Up

Dec 20th, 2007 // 5 Comments

no_one.jpgEd. 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”:

Now in its fifth week atop Billboard‘s Hot 100, Alicia Keys’ “No One” is as unmovable as sticky toffee pudding–as is most of the Top 10. But there are songs percolating further down the chart, and they give a hint of what might burst into the winner’s circle when the year-end logjam breaks.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Snoop Was Horny: Here’s a quick rundown of the biggest movers in this, the final week Billboard credits to 2007. (Next week’s chart will be dated Jan. 5.)

• Hope you haven’t OD’d on Keys, because she’s already got her followup lined up: “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” is just outside the Top 10 on the Hot 100 and already No. 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, right behind… um, “No One.” With that song still tops in airplay on the overall radio panel and “Like” moving to the tenth-most-played position, Keys now has two of the 10 biggest radio hits in the country.

• “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles (no, not a Cure cover) is the latest beneficiary of TV exposure and resulting iTunes sales. Leaping 56 spots to No. 16, the song is the fifth-biggest digital seller of the week, thanks to its appearance in holiday ads for Rhapsody and TiVo. As usual with a TV-fueled hit, radio airplay is as yet nonexistent; we’ll see if it picks up stations after the holidays or is doomed to a quick burn a la Feist’s “1-2-3-4.”

• We’ve already enjoyed its genius/hideous ode-to-Rick-James-and-Prince video, and now Snoop Dogg’s “Sensual Seduction” makes a big move into the Top 40, up 14 spots to No. 37. That’s notable, because while this isn’t the first song to feature Snoop singing, it’s definitely the fastest to break–especially at radio, where he’s already ranked in the Top 20. He hasn’t had a serious pop crossover hit since late 2004′s immortal “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (his 2005 single with Justin Timberlake, “Signs,” was a surprising flop).

• Doing even better in airplay, Kanye West’s awesome “Flashing Lights” is right behind Snoop in the Top 40 (No. 39, up 11 spots). His previous hit, “Good Life,” has been hovering in the lower half of the Top 10 for months now, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Idolator flophouse’s favorite track from his album–a seemingly less radio-friendly track–emerges as a comparably large hit.

• Up 20 spots and just outside the Top 40, Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” topped Billboard‘s dance chart (Club Play) months ago but is finally crossing over to radio. Club-oriented hits–”Don’t Stop” sounds almost like Cascada-style Eurodance–are harder to break at anything but pure Top 40 stations (even R&B radio often turns up its nose at them), so Def Jam probably has its work cut out for it.

Schlockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: With just days to go till Santa Day, I took a peek at a little-seen chart, Hot Holiday Songs. If ever there were a chart that didn’t warrant Billboard‘s overused “Hot” moniker, it’s this one. It only appears online, and while new holiday hits are theoretically eligible for this airplay-oriented list it mostly tracks songs that are decades old. Surprisingly, the chart is only a few years old (presumably started when enough radio stations went all-Christmas this decade), and it’s 30 positions long. Here’s the current week’s Top 10:

1. “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You),” Nat King Cole
2. “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” Brenda Lee
3. “Jingle Bell Rock,” Bobby Helms
4. “Please Come Home For Christmas,” Eagles
5. “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” Mariah Carey
6. “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Burl Ives
7. “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon & Yoko Ono
8. “Feliz Navidad,” Jose Feliciano
9. “White Christmas,” Bing Crosby
10. “Merry Christmas Darling,” The Carpenters

Like all of its charts, Billboard includes a “Weeks on” column. But I haven’t included it here, because none of these tunes is less than 31 weeks old. That’s remarkable–and becomes even more so, when you consider that chart only runs about 8-10 weeks each year; which means most of these songs have had repeat runs every year the chart has appeared.

Theoretically, Hot Holiday Songs should exhibit some overlap with Hot Adult Contemporary, since at this time of year most AC stations flip to all-Christmas formats. But there’s actually no overlap at all, even though the No. 1 song on the AC chart this week is (natch) Josh Groban’s Oprah-endorsed “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

Why? For one thing, the AC chart doesn’t allow anything older than two years to chart; so Burl Ives, Brenda Lee et al. aren’t eligible to appear there, even though they’re clearly receiving tons of current AC airplay. And second, no matter how hot Groban is with the Christmas-record-buying set this year, his No. 1 AC track is clearly getting played less than even the lowest-ranked Hot Holiday hit (this week, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” at No. 30); otherwise he’d be on the list somewhere.

One last tidbit: there are only two tracks on the whole Hot Holiday list that are 40 weeks old, which suggests (I can’t be sure) they’ve been on the list every week the chart has been in existence. One is Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas”: unsurprising, as that song is often cited as radio’s cumulatively most-played Christmas song year after year. And the other? At No. 14 this week, it’s Wham!’s “Last Christmas.”

I don’t know about you, but nothing says “Christmas” to me like Sam the Snowman and a closeted gay pinup from 1984. Happy holidays!

The top 20, with last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses:
1. Alicia Keys, “No One” (LW No. 1, 15 weeks)
2. Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, “Low” (LW No. 3, 8 weeks)
3. Timbaland feat. OneRepublic, “Apologize” (LW No. 2, 20 weeks)
4. Chris Brown feat. T-Pain, “Kiss Kiss” (LW No. 4, 14 weeks)
5. Fergie, “Clumsy” (LW No. 5, 10 weeks)
6. Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” (LW No. 6, 25 weeks)
7. Finger Eleven, “Paralyzer” (LW No. 8, 28 weeks)
8. Jordin Sparks, “Tattoo” (LW No. 10, 12 weeks)
9. Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo, “Hate That I Love You” (LW No. 7, 16 weeks)
10. Kanye West feat. T-Pain, “Good Life” (LW No. 9, 14 weeks)
11. Soulja Boy, “Crank That (Soulja Boy), Soulja Boy Tell’em” (LW No. 11, 23 weeks)
12. Baby Bash feat. T-Pain, “Cyclone” (LW No. 12, 21 weeks)
13. Alicia Keys, “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” (LW No. 19, 6 weeks)
14. Plies feat. Akon, “Hypnotized” (LW No. 16, 12 weeks)
15. Trey Songs, “Can’t Help But Wait” (LW No. 14, 13 weeks)
16. Sara Bareilles, “Love Song” (LW No. 72, 7 weeks)
17. Kanye West, “Stronger” (LW No. 13, 21 weeks)
18. Sean Kingston, “Take You There” (LW No. 21, 7 weeks)
19. Natasha Bedingfield feat. Sean Kingston, “Love Like This” (LW No. 18, 9 weeks)
20. Timbaland feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E., “The Way I Are” (LW No. 17, 29 weeks)

  1. Chris Molanphy

    @Ngawri: I’ve been trying to remain sort of passively neutral on the Flo Rida song, but yeah, I gotta agree with you. You’re exactly right, actually — it’s so generic, I haven’t had the strength to give it a serious dis in the column all these weeks.

  2. Anonymous

    I still haven’t heard that Flo Rida song yet, is it still riding on the coattails of digital and store sales? Or is it so generic that I mistook it for some other T Pain song?

  3. Maura Johnston

    the only interesting thing about flo rida is the long ‘i’ in the second word of his name.

  4. Anonymous

    It’s so generic you did mistake it for another T-Pain song. The whole song & music video are horrible.

  5. Rob Murphy

    Sir dennisobell, excellent as usual.

    Up 20 spots and just outside the Top 40, Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” topped Billboard’s dance chart (Club Play) months ago but is finally crossing over to radio…

    This is my favorite non-”Umbrella” track from Good Girl Gone Bad. I think it’s essentially the perfect Pop/R&B/Dance-able track that requires no remix to be club-awesome. Like Madonna’s “Ray Of Light”. Or j.lo’s “Waiting For Tonight”. Also, love the Michael-Jackson-biting B-hook.

    [I say "non-'Umbrella' track" because, well, ya know, "Umbrella" is "Umbrella"...]

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