CHART WATCH: Bruno Mars' "Grenade" Blows Up Hot 100

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.

After sporting a Blackberry for well over a year now, I was graciously gifted an iPhone 4 from my generous parents this Christmas. In addition to getting phones for my two of my siblings and me, my parents slipped iTunes gift cards in our stockings. As we rushed to the iTunes digital store to buy songs and apps, so did millions of other people across America, resulting in the most reliable week for digital sales the record industry has left.

Every year, the week after Christmas boasts record smashing sales for singles, usually from new artists. Bruno Mars is Christmas 2010′s big winner, selling 419,000 digital downloads of “Grenade”, the third highest one week sales totals for a song in digital music history. The only songs that sold more copies in a week are Flo Rida’s “Right Round” which sold 636,000 the week of February 28. 2009, and Ke$ha’s ”TiK ToK,” which sold 610,000 exactly a year ago this week.

The sales figures for “Grenade”, along with an increase in radio airplay (it is now the sixth most played song in the country), are good enough for Bruno Mars to score his third No. 1 single. Mars’ first chart topper came from his contribution on B.o.B’s “Nothin’ On You” last May, and his second was his debut single, “Just The Way You Are”, in October. Scoring two No. 1s with his debut singles, Mars becomes the first male artist in 13 years to take his first two singles to pole position. Puff Daddy was the last to do this in 1997 with “Can’t Hold Nobody Down” featuring Mase followed by “I’ll Be Missing You” with Faith Evans and 112.

Last week’s chart topper, Katy Perry’s “Firework” is pushed down to the No. 2 spot, but Perry has nothing to worry about – her song sold 509,000 downloads in a week, the fourth biggest single week frame ever.

The results of this year’s post-Christmas iTunes shopping spree point to a major shift in the digital market. As I explained earlier, the songs that have benefited the most every year were new artists and/or novelty songs. In 2005 it was D4L’s “Laffy Taffy”, in 2006 it was newly minted solo star Fergie’s “Fergalicious”, in 2007 it was Flo Rida’s “Low”, in 2008 it was Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance”, and one year ago it was Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK”. Looking at the past half decade, it’s clear that consumers bought songs that they thought were worth $1.29 (or 99 cents before iTunes upped prices), but that they weren’t willing to purchase an entire album of. Sure, Fergie and Gaga might prove exceptions to the rule, but the majority of their sales came after their first big singles and were spurred by future songs – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Poker Face” respectively.

What separates “Grenade”, and “Fireworks” for that matter, from other post-Christmas hits is that they aren’t just songs by new artists and/or novelty songs. Sure, Mars might technically be a new artist, the guy has been to the top ten four times already. Obviously, the way consumers view iTunes is changing over time. No longer is it just a place for quick impulse buys, it is an integral part of people’s music purchasing habits.

Here’s what’s happening on the rest of the Hot 100:

  • The top ten remains a refuge for former No. 1s. The entire top five has spent at least a week in pole position.
  • Wiz Khalifa joins the top ten as his debut single “Black and Yellow” moves 12-6, proving that some people still prefer the way music sounded circa 2004 than anything else playing on the radio today.
  • One week closer to the Super Bowl and the Peas are gaining steam with their awful single “The Time (Dirty Bit)” which sits at No. 9
  • The SNL parody group Lonely Island gets their biggest hit with “I Just Had Sex” featuring Akon which debuts at No. 30. Their previous biggest hit was “I’m On a Boat” which peaked at No. 56 in 2009.

Here’s this week’s top ten:

1. “Grenade” – Bruno Mars (1st week at No. 1, airplay gainer)

2. “Firework” – Katy Perry

3. “We R Who We R” – Ke$ha

4. “What’s My Name?” – Rihanna feat. Drake

5. “Raise Your Glass” – Pink

6. “Black and Yellow” – Wiz Khalifa

7. “Tonight I’m Lovin’ You” – Enrique Iglesias feat. Ludacris

8. “Bottoms Up” – Trey Songz feat. Nicki Minaj

9. “The Time (Dirty Bit)” – Black Eyed Peas

10. “Just The Way You Are” – Bruno Mars


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