Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.
Bruno Mars sits atop the Hot 100 for a fourth week with “Grenade,” fending off Pink’s “F*ckin’ Perfect” which moves 11-2. What’s more interesting, however, is the song that occupies the No. 4 spot, “Black and Yellow.” The song is an ode to the AFC champion Steelers and the breakthrough single for a Pittsburgh’s own Wiz Khalifa.
Over the past two years, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena on the Hot 100 where songs about specific geographic areas topped the chart at the same time that a team from that area won a championship. In 2009, Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” featuring Alicia Keys went No. 1 as Yankees won their 27th World Series, and in 2010, Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” [sic] featuring Snoop Dogg went No. 1 as the Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th NBA Championship.
Songs specific to certain regions usually don’t go No. 1, and for obvious reasons. You wouldn’t expect a song about New York City to do well in Los Angeles or vice versa. And while anyone can relate to songs about love or heartbreak, you’ll have a hard time getting people across the country to listen to a song about a city they’ve never lived in or visited. Add the fact that both of these cities had a team competing for a championship, and not just any team, some of the most hated teams in all of sports, and it would seem like radio programmers and music buyers might have an aversion to the tunes. For one reason or another, they didn’t. Even radio stations in Philadelphia and Boston (home of the Phillies and Celtics, respectively) had the pop anthems of their rival’s hometowns among their most spun songs.
“Black and Yellow” is an entirely different beast though, and reaching the Hot 100 summit isn’t as easy a feat.
To start off, Pittsburgh isn’t as romantic as places like NYC and LA. Not only have most people never been to the Steel City, but it’s not as if there are many movies or TV shows set in Pittsburgh. Also, you never hear of people dreaming of going to there to make it big, do you? The song name checks Pittsburgh landmarks like U.S. Steel Tower and the city’s many bridges, but it’s not just about the city, it’s about the team.
Luckily for Wiz Khalifa, the Steelers don’t generate the nationwide animosity that the Yankees or Lakers do, but there sure are a lot of Packers fans who don’t listen to the song. I spoke with several radio programmers at stations from Green Bay to Milwaukee and, unsurprisingly, none of them are playing “Black and Yellow.” Lil Wayne decided to fill that void and released his own version of the song, “Green and Yellow,” that is getting plenty of airplay in the Midwest.
Whether or not Wiz Khalifa can take his Steelers anthem to No. 1 depends on a lot of factors, the least of which is if his team can win this Sunday. “Black and Yellow” is currently the tenth most played song in America (and the top rap record), and is the second most downloaded song. If a Steelers win leads to enough excited fans dropping $1.29 at iTunes, it just might be enough to bump it to the top. If not, he better hope the Penguins have a good year and get busy writing their theme song.
Here’s what’s happening on the rest of the Hot 100:
- Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” has now been No. 1 for a month, although this is the first time it has been No. 1 for two consecutive weeks. The song had it’s best week of radio airplay, which makes up for its 19 percent slip in sales.
- Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect” had a great sales week and surged 11-2. If her song can get to the top, it would become the first explicitly titled song to do so, and Pink’s greatest hits collection would become the first to spawn two chart toppers.
- Britney Spears continues to tumble as “Hold It Against Me” drops 6-8 in its third week. Don’t be surprised if the song makes a comeback though. Although sales have dropped off dramatically, the song continues to grow at radio and it is now the ninth most played song in the country.
- “Back to December” by Taylor Swift originally peaked at No. 6 thanks entirely to digital downloads in the lead up to the release of Speak Now. Now that the song has been released as a single, it is slowly moving up the chart again. It currently sits at No. 18.
Here’s this week’s top ten:
- “Grenade” – Bruno Mars (4th non-consecutive week at No. 1)
- “F**kin’ Perfect” – Pink (digital gainer)
- “Firework” – Katy Perry
- “Black and Yellow” – Wiz Khalifa
- “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)” – Enrique Iglesias feat. Ludacris
- “What’s My Name?” – Rihanna feat. Drake
- “Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)” – Pitbull feat.T-Pain
- “Hold It Against Me” – Britney Spears (airplay gainer)
- “Rocketeer” – Far East Movement feat. Ryan Tedder
- “We R Who We R” – Ke$ha
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