Lost in the hullabaloo over the Black Eyed Peas’ stranglehold on the Billboard Hot 100′s top spot was the news that Jason Mraz’s strummy “I’m Yours” set its own record on the singles chart this week as well; the sweet ditty has now been on the Hot 100 for 70 weeks, breaking the record set by the 69-week chart run of LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live.”
There have been threats to Rimes’ record before, but the peculiarities of staying power on the Hot 100—basically, any song older than 20 weeks gets sent to the old-folks’ home that is Hot Singles Recurrents after it falls below No. 50—have made it tough to break. In 2007, when we were discussing the possibility of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” besting Rimes, chart guru Chris Molanphy noted a common thread between songs with staying power:
Billboard chart policy is also a factor here, too — at some point in the mid-’90s, they stopped trying to define what radio stations were specifically pure “Top 40″ stations and started including in the Hot 100 data pool radio airplay from all currents-based formats, including R&B, A/C, country, modern rock, etc. What this means is, it’s certainly easier to score a big hit if large-market Top 40 is playing it, but tons of airplay at country or A/C or whatever can both spur a song’s Hot 100 debut and keep it alive….
R&B and hip-hop radio turn over much, much faster than “white” formats do. But in one sense, the absence of R&B/rap crossover records could seem counterintuitive; the addition of all-format airplay to the Hot 100 has actually helped R&B/hip-hop songs tremendously, as such hits get a blast of airplay data from both Top 40 and urban radio simultaneously. (The ’90s and especially the ’00s have seen rock and other honkie formats totally dominated by hip-hop on the charts.)
But this double-blast of airplay is what explains the quick burn on most “black” hits — it’s an airplay blast that comes all at once. The average A/C radio station is so slow and nervous about adding any hit to the rotation that isn’t a natural fit — their listener base has a low tolerance for novelty — that they basically prop up hits that have long since peaked at Top 40. And the opposite goes for country: the [Carrie] Underwood, [Faith] Hill and Lonestar tracks all broke at country and rode low on the charts for months until Top 40 belatedly caught on.
When you have an urban hit, in general, you have it quickly or not at all (which explains in part why 50 Cent’s people have been panicking all year).
Ha ha… Curtis.
Anyway, a look at this week’s Hot 100 shows five songs that have a substantial, if not Mraz-sized, amount of staying power:
49 weeks: Taylor Swift, “Love Story” (No. 49)
39 weeks: The Fray, “You Found Me” (No. 46)
38 weeks: Shinedown, “Second Chance” (No. 38)
36 weeks: 3OH!3, “Don’t Trust Me” (No. 31)
35 weeks: Lady GaGa, “Poker Face” (No. 39)
Swift’s hit has the edge time-wise, but judging by its previous dips down the chart it will probably fall out of the Hot 100 next week, as will the Fray in either the next week or two; the 3OH!3 song is probably too “young”-sounding to make the crossover to adult-contemporary that, as Chris pointed out, most of the long-lasting chart hits had. “Poker Face” could probably stick around for a few more weeks. But I think the song that has the most chance of at least making the top 10 as far as longevity is by one of 2009′s slowest-burn success stories—the finally-broken-through Kings Of Leon, whose “Use Somebody” is currently at No. 5 on the Hot 100 and still gaining. It’s been on the big board now for 29 weeks, and while its sales are finally starting to wane, its overall airplay numbers are still heating up despite its peaking on both the Modern and Mainstream Rock charts some time ago. Whether or not it’ll slot into the country’s oddly conservative adult-contemporary playlists is the larger question, and one that will likely determine its fate.
Hot 100 [Billboard]
Earlier: “Before He Cheats” Bashes Its Way To Chart History