Smells Like Teen Handoff: Chris Brown Takes The Baton From Soulja Boy

dangibs | November 1, 2007 2:15 am
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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”:

The six-week history of this column has been dominated by a single YouTube-fueled, “YOOOOOOOU!!”-chanting chart-topper. This week, we finally have a changing of the guard atop Billboard‘s Hot 100, and–surprise, surprise–the 17-year-old Soulja Boy has abdicated to another pipsqueak. Voting-age Chris Brown dances up to No. 1 with “Kiss Kiss” after a 20-spot move to No. 2 last week. It’s Brown’s second career No. 1 hit, after 2005’s “Run It!”; meanwhile, featured vocalist T-Pain is taking second trip to the top of the chart this year, following “Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” last spring.

Ain’t No Particular Sound He’s More Compatible With: We really called it wrong on “Kiss Kiss” last week. After scoring a fat first week of iTunes sales, my suspicion was that Brown would have a tough time moving into the Hot 100 penthouse, thinking that his sales couldn’t possibly move much higher and his airplay was still building. Well, guess what? Digital sales on “Kiss Kiss” grew in week two–up 18% to an even fatter 187,000–and Brown’s airplay is also exploding: “Kiss Kiss” is now the third-most-played song on the radio, up from ninth last week. The moral: radio programmers watch the charts, too. I’d lay good money that Brown’s latest would’ve grown much more slowly at Top 40 radio (especially after the failure of Brown’s teaser single this summer, “Wall to Wall”) if PDs hadn’t observed the data showing the song had momentum.

Significantly, “Kiss Kiss” actually grows in airplay faster than the song that rises one spot to No. 2, “Apologize.” That’s bad news for Timbaland and OneRepublic, who have likely gone as far as they can; Brown and T-Pain are both outselling them and out-playing them, and the momentum’s on their side.

As far as who’ll evict Brown in the weeks to come, the songs in the Top Five to watch remain Alicia Keys’ “No One”–still at No. 4, but still the top song at radio–and Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly,” holding at No. 5 and now moving into the top 10 in radio airplay. If you live in a Top 40-centric (read: white radio) universe, you’d be fair in thinking that “Bubbly” is the most massive song in the universe right now; it’s the highest-charting song this week that relies entirely on non-R&B radio airplay. The Top 40 and Hot AC stations spinning “Bubbly” are playing the living crap out of it.

The Album Effect: Ever since iTunes and other digital-store sales were added to the data fueling the Hot 100, it’s been interesting to observe how the release of an album affects activity on the singles chart. The record industry spent most of the ’90s convinced that singles “cannibalize” album sales (hence, the disappearance just before the turn of the century of the cassingle and CD-5 for most pop hits); like it or not, they’re now reaping the karma from that decision, as 99-cent song volume begins to outstrip full-length album sales for many pop acts. But the principle doesn’t seem to hold in the opposite direction: the release of an album seems to help, not hurt, already-rising songs whose release preceded their respective albums.

Just two months ago, the same week Kanye West topped the album chart with Graduation, his nearly stalled single “Stronger” got a one-week burst of iTunes sales that allowed him to top the Hot 100 and interrupt Soulja Boy’s run for a single week. This week we have Carrie Underwood, whose release of the half-million-selling Carnival Ride provides rocket fuel to her single “So Small.” It crashes into the Top 20 on the big chart, mostly on the strength of a 155% increase (not a typo) in digital song sales.

On the country chart, which is based only on airplay, Underwood’s latest moves up just one notch to No. 3, indicating solid, but not spectacular, growth on the radio. You’d think that die-hard Underwood fans would have spent last week buying her CD (physically or digitally) and ignoring her single. (Just to clear this up: a full-length album sale on iTunes is tracked on the Billboard 200 album chart; the songs on that album do not receive a data boost on the Hot 100.) It seems that the promotion around dropping an album serves as a reminder to the more casual fan to go download the big hit.

Stuff To Watch: Following on from our album-boost theme, I know I sound like a broken record, but Alicia Keys still has one more trick up her sleeve: her third studio album, As I Am, which drops in mid-November. That should give “No One” the final sales blast she needs to top the chart, but in the meantime, Chris Brown and T-Pain are likely to get comfortable, especially since Brown’s album drops this coming Tuesday.

The top 20, with last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses: 1. Chris Brown, “Kiss Kiss” (LW No. 2, 7 weeks) 2. Timbaland feat. OneRepublic, “Apologize” (LW No. 3, 13 weeks) 3. Soulja Boy, “Crank That (Soulja Boy), Soulja Boy Tell’em” (LW No. 1, 16 weeks) 4. Alicia Keys, “No One” (LW No. 4, 8 weeks) 5. Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” (LW No. 5, 18 weeks) 6. Kanye West, “Stronger” (LW No. 6, 14 weeks) 7. Kanye West feat. T-Pain, “Good Life” (LW No. 8, 7 weeks) 8. Baby Bash feat. T-Pain, “Cyclone” (LW No. 7, 14 weeks) 9. Rihanna feat. Ne-Yo, “Hate That I Love You” (LW No. 9, 9 weeks) 10. Timbaland feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E., “The Way I Are” (LW No. 10, 22 weeks) 11. J. Holiday, “Bed” (LW No. 11, 15 weeks) 12. Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” (LW No. 12, 28 weeks) 13. 50 Cent feat. Justin Timberlake & Timbaland, “Ayo Technology” (LW No. 14, 12 weeks) 14. matchbox twenty, “How Far We’ve Come” (LW No. 16, 9 weeks) 15. Pink, “Who Knew” (LW No. 15, 21 weeks) 16. Britney Spears, “Gimme More” (LW No. 13, 8 weeks) 17. Nickelback, “Rockstar” (LW No. 17, 38 weeks) 18. Finger Eleven, “Paralyzer” (LW No. 21, 21 weeks) 19. Maroon 5, “Wake Up Call” (LW No. 19, 12 weeks) 20. Carrie Underwood, “So Small” (LW No. 36, 11 weeks)