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.” More »
Over the holidays, Billboard‘s song charts were, at least on the surface, pretty sleepy. On the Hot 100, most of the songs that were hot late last fall—Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and “If I Were a Boy,” T.I. and Rihanna’s “Live Your Life,” Kanye’s “Love Lockdown” and “Heartless,” Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” the unkillable Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold”—continued bumping around the Top 10 like lazy molecules.
But below the surface, a ton of music was being consumed. In particular, one song benefited massively from the annual iPod-filling digital megasale that hits iTunes every Christmas—and that song, Lady GaGa’s “Just Dance,” reaches No. 1 the very week Apple’s music store removes digital-rights management restrictions on all of its songs, making them freely copyable.
Does this mean we’re in for even more Lady GaGa than we’re enduring now, as kids trade their iTunes purchases like baseball cards? Unlikely: those who “share” music probably figured out their DRM workarounds years ago.
But the official start of the post-DRM era—and, more important, the changes to song pricing—could have some interesting effects on digital song sales, and the charts that track them.
Maybe the country has been a little too distracted to listen to the radio recently, but for whatever reason, there’s a paucity of big moves on Billboard‘s Hot 100 this week: no skyrocketing songs moving up on account of an iTunes surge, as we’ve seen continually all during the fall.
Amid the stasis, the steady performance of T.I.’s two simultaneous hits wins the day, as his Rihanna duet “Live Your Life” finally does something I’d been expecting for weeks now: it returns to No. 1, knocking out his other chart-topper, “Whatever You Like.” It’s the second time these songs have traded places; “Life” first replaced “Whatever” in the penthouse four weeks ago. Digital sales for “Life” are a model of consistency, as the song shifts another 184,000 downloads (up 2% from last week) more than a month after dropping on iTunes.
Take a good look at what’s in this week’s Top 10—we could be living with these songs for a while. It’s too soon to tell for sure, but I have a sense that as we head toward the holidays, the song charts are seizing up as they often do at year-end and through the early winter.
For some acts like T.I., this will be good news. For others who rely on certain radio formats, this could be a problem. Jason Mraz, we’re looking in your direction.
The just-launched MySpace Music is all about making money for the labels, right? So it would behoove them to have songs that the people want to buy available for purchase on the service, no? Come with me as I try to buy the top 10 songs on this week’s Hot Digital Tracks chart by using MySpace’s widgetry:
Last fall and winter, chart fans noted the return to the radio of a style that, until recently, was pretty unfashionable on Billboard‘s Hot 100: pure-pop female singer-songwriters.
Strummier and sunnier than their Lilith counterparts in the ’90s and closer in kinship to California’s post-Joni ladies of the ’70s, two gals with hard-to-spell names led this ’07 boomlet with a pair of Top Five smashes: Colbie Caillat, with “Bubbly,” and Sara Bareilles, with “Love Song.” The surprise success of American Idol‘s Brooke White, who seemed every week to be channeling Carole King, only fueled the theory.
Trouble is, neither Caillat nor Bareilles has had an easy time following up those easy-listening hits. Caillat has fared respectably, with a No. 20 followup (“Realize”), but not spectacularly. And Bareilles is completely stalled, with “Love Song” still leading the Adult Contemporary chart but no followup–on the Hot 100, or anywhere–all these months later.
So, new theory: maybe pop fans weren’t latching onto these ladies’ earthy-girl personas at all, but their sound.
Which brings us to Jason Mraz. He makes a big move into the Top 10 this week and, just in time for fall, proves the bedroom-girlypop sound can still hit big in 2008, even if the act in question possesses an extra Y chromosome.