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”:
Tidily, the first Billboard Hot 100 dated for 2008 brings the new year’s first No. 1 single, as Flo Rida’s generic, T-Pain-backed banger “Low” finally ends Alicia Keys’s run at the top after five weeks. On the whole, the chart looks a lot like last week’s: static toward the top (the No. 1 changeover notwithstanding) but with lots of interesting activity in the lower regions.
The Year of Weezy? Let’s skip the activity in the Top Five–we’ve been talking about “Low,” “No One,” “Apologize,” “Kiss Kiss” and “Clumsy” for months–and do like we did last week, running down some lower-chart highlights:
• For a pair of well-known, omnipresent hip-hop figures, Wyclef Jean and Lil Wayne have fairly middling pop-chart histories, but that might be about to change. “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” (also featuring R&B/jazz songstress Niia and some dude named Akon, who sings the song’s stickiest hook) vaults 11 slots, landing just outside the Top 10. Likely fueling the jump: the release of the inevitable, Wu Tang-biting remix that makes the song’s “C.R.E.A.M.” allusion complete. As a lead artist, Clef has only one solo Top 10 to his name, 1997-98′s “Gone ‘Til November”; his featured appearances on smashes by Destiny’s Child and Shakira were bigger (and he probably made more cheddar on the song he produced and wrote for Santana, 2000′s 10-week chart-topper “Maria Maria”). Similarly, Lil Wayne has done better as a featured act, only riding into the Top 10 on hits by Destiny’s Child (“Soldier”) and Lloyd (“You”). This Clef-credited hit won’t change Weezy’s stats, but his expert rap on “Sweetest Girl” might set him up for the pop crossover he probably fears and covets in equal measure.
• Improbably, Finger Eleven are still climbing the charts with “Paralyzer.” Now approaching its 30th chart week, the song is one rung below the Top Five, breathing down Fergie’s neck.
• What were we saying last week about Alicia Keys as the double-hit juggernaut? Scratch that, and take a look at Chris Brown. “With You,” the followup to his former chart-topper “Kiss Kiss,” leaps nine spots into the Top 20, mostly thanks to a major boost in radio airplay. Meanwhile, Keys has a bad Hot 100 week for a change, as her pair of Top 20 hits, both the former chart-topper and the fast-moving followup, erode. “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” drops due mostly to weak iTunes sales, even as airplay continues to grow. The good news for Keys: the new single’s digital sales will likely recover after the holidays–she’s been busy selling tons of albums–and “Like” is already a smash on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, where it moves to No. 1, ousting “No One.”
• Ickiest chart appearance of the week goes to Alvin and the Chipmunks, whose 2007 remake of their own “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” is the Hot 100′s top debut at No. 70, thanks wholly to digital-song sales. Like the movie from which it’s taken–already past $100 million at the box office in just two-plus weeks!–the song is evidence of the public’s ghastly taste. Unlike the movie, the song is so unmistakably Christmas-themed that it will (hopefully) be gone by Martin Luther King Day.
• After looking all but dead for weeks, “Piece of Me” by Britney Spears finally becomes an official Top 40 hit, shooting 24 spots to No. 21. Radio airplay has been just okay on “Piece,” but the rocket fuel comes from digital sales, where Brit-Brit sees one of the week’s biggest gains from new iPod-fillers. Which brings us to our final topic…
Stuff to Watch: Next week’s chart will reflect the answer to what is possibly the most interesting music-related chart question of the past three years: What song(s) will win big in the annual post-Christmas iTunes sales bonanza? Each year for the past three, the week between Christmas and New Year’s has set a new record for volume of sales on Apple’s song store, as iPod gift recipients rush to their PCs to load up on music. In the past, it’s made at least one strange record a big hit: D4L’s “Laffy Taffy,” which topped the Hot 100 for a single week in January 2006 as a nation collectively decided D4L were worth about 99 cents. This year, clearly the equally one-hit-smelling Flo Rida will benefit; but expect more established acts with current big singles, like Britney, to get a bump, too.
The top 20, with last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses:
1. Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, “Low” (LW No. 2, 9 weeks)
2. Alicia Keys, “No One” (LW No. 1, 16 weeks)
3. Timbaland feat. OneRepublic, “Apologize” (LW No. 3, 21 weeks)
4. Chris Brown feat. T-Pain, “Kiss Kiss” (LW No. 4, 15 weeks)
5. Fergie, “Clumsy” (LW No. 5, 11 weeks)
6. Finger Eleven, “Paralyzer” (LW No. 7, 29 weeks)
7. Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” (LW No. 6, 26 weeks)
8. Jordin Sparks, “Tattoo” (LW No. 8, 13 weeks)
9. Sara Bareilles, “Love Song” (LW No. 16, 8 weeks)
10. Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo, “Hate That I Love You” (LW No. 9, 17 weeks)
11. Soulja Boy, “Crank That (Soulja Boy), Soulja Boy Tell’em” (LW No. 11, 24 weeks)
12. Wyclef Jean Featuring Akon, Lil Wayne & Niia, ” Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)” (LW No. 23, 15 weeks)
13. Baby Bash feat. T-Pain, “Cyclone” (LW No. 12, 22 weeks)
14. Kanye West feat. T-Pain, “Good Life” (LW No. 10, 15 weeks)
15. Sean Kingston, “Take You There” (LW No. 18, 8 weeks)
16. Chris Brown, “With You” (LW No. 25, 4 weeks)
17. Plies feat. Akon, “Hypnotized” (LW No. 14, 13 weeks)
18. Natasha Bedingfield feat. Sean Kingston, “Love Like This” (LW No. 19, 10 weeks)
19. Alicia Keys, “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” (LW No. 13, 7 weeks)
20. Kanye West, “Stronger” (LW No. 17, 22 weeks)