Chart Watch is 17 Tracks’ weekly look at the happenings on the Billboard Hot 100 with chart expert Hunter Schwarz.
The 2011 Grammy awards drew more than 26 million viewers, its biggest audience in over a decade, and it shows on this week’s Hot 100. The entire top five is comprised of songs performed during the show, led by Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” The fact that “Born This Way” is No. 1 for a second week is significant, and we’ll get to that in a second.
In the two spot is Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You,” a song that won’t die. The track was released last summer and it slowly but surely began climbing the chart, reaching the top 40 in September. The next month, the track was censored and performed on Glee by Gwyneth Paltrow, sending Green’s version to a new peak of No. 9. “F**k You” has yo-yoed up and down the chart, but Green’s Grammy performance with Paltrow was the rocket fuel that has sent the song to new heights. It went 16-7 last week and then reached its new peak of No. 2 this week. The track registered a 178 percent sales increase and added enough radio spins to be the week’s airplay gainer.
Its new high of No. 2 makes it the highest charting explicitly titled song since … oh yeah, Pink’s “F**kin’ Perfect,” which was No. 2 only a few short weeks ago. Pink’s song is No. 6 this week and add that to Enrique Iglesias’ “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)” (which is the clean version of “Tonight (I’m F**kin’ You)”), and the past few weeks might be the only time in chart history that three songs with the f-bomb in their uncensored titles have been in the top 10.
Bruno Mars’ “Grenade,” Dr. Dre’s “I Need A Doctor” featuring Eminem and Skylar Gray, and Katy Perry’s “Firework” — all performed during the broadcast — sit at No. 3-5, and Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” featuring Jaden Smith, which was also performed during the show, becomes the Bieb’s second top ten hit, leaping 25-8.
But back to Gaga. Her new single broke records last week when it became the 19th song in chart history to debut at No. 1, thanks to 450,000 digital downloads and an impressive start at radio despite only three days of chart eligibility. This week, the song did even better.
“Born This Way” sold 509,000 digital downloads (a 14 percent increase), which is the fourth largest one-week sum for a digital song. If she would have released it with a full week of chart eligibility rather than on a Friday, she probably would have smashed the record, selling anywhere in the ballpark of 725,000-750,000 downloads (compared with the record-holding 640,000 downloads Flo Rida’s “Right Round” received in a week in February 2009). On radio, the track experienced a 7 percent boost to become the fourth most played song. Any increase at all is remarkable, considering it was being played multiple times an hour on many of the country’s top stations.
With stats like that, it’s no wonder Lady Gaga remains in the penthouse for a second week. But holding onto No. 1 for a second week after debuting there is a hard thing to do. You have to go back to 2003 to find a song that pulled it off — Clay Aiken’s “This Is The Night.” The 19 songs that have debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 can be categorized into three groups: Superstar Blockbusters, American Idol Coronation Songs, and Digital Blockbusters.
The first group is the largest with 10 songs that charted from 1995-1998. These songs reached the top because of a Billboard rule that required songs to have a physical single available for purchase for it to chart. Labels would release a song to radio exclusively first and then drop the physical single a few weeks later after demand had built to a point that it would get enough purchases and airplay to enter the chart on top. In 1998, Billboard changed this rule and No. 1 debuts vanished for a few years. Below are the ”Superstar Blockbusters” and the number of weeks they spent at No. 1.
Michael Jackson, “You Are Not Alone” (September 2, 1995), 1 week
Mariah Carey, “Fantasy” (September 30, 1995), 8 weeks
Whitney Houston, “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (November 25, 1995), 1 week
Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day” (December 2, 1995), 16 weeks
Puff Daddy and Faith Evans featuring 112, “I’ll Be Missing You” (June 14, 1997), 11 weeks
Mariah Carey, “Honey” (September 13, 1997), 3 weeks
Elton John, “Candle in the Wind 1997″ (October 11, 1997), 14 weeks
Céline Dion, “My Heart Will Go On” (February 28, 1998), 2 weeks
Aerosmith, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (September 5, 1998), 4 weeks
Lauryn Hill, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (November 14, 1998), 2 weeks
Billboard allowed airplay-only songs to chart because record labels had stopped releasing physical singles for a lot of big songs. The reasoning was, if you didn’t release a single, people would be forced to fork over cash and buy the whole album — and in the booming 90s, people did. Monster hits like No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and Natalie Imbrugila’s “Torn” never charted for this reason.
By the early ’00s, the single was dead. It would be a few years before iTunes would revolutionize the record industry and revitalize the single, but until then, the only people releasing them were American Idol contestants. Following the season finale, the winner and runner-up would release their “coronation song,” and Idol fans would go out and buy them in droves. From 2003-2006, four of these songs debuted at No. 1. These songs only charted due to a quick burst of sales that didn’t last more than a few weeks, and radio never really played these songs too much, so unlike the “Superstar Blockbusters,” they only spent a single week atop the chart (except for Aiken’s song which spent two).
American Idol Coronation Songs
Clay Aiken, “This Is the Night” (June 28, 2003), 2 weeks
Fantasia, “I Believe” (July 10, 2004), 1 week
Carrie Underwood, “Inside Your Heaven” (July 2, 2005), 1 week
Taylor Hicks, “Do I Make You Proud” (July 1, 2006), 1 week
American Idol‘s luck ran out during the 2007 season when Jordin Spark’s “This Is My Now” debuted and peaked at No. 15. By this time, Idol no longer released physical singles, but relied on digital sales on their own website and iTunes. Apple’s digital music store was still growing at this point, and it had yet to reach its full potential with consumers.
By the late ’00s however, iTunes had matured and it manifested itself in the continually broken record for biggest jump to No. 1. From 2007-2009, the record was broken five times as songs would make their first week debut at the chart’s lower rungs and then pole vault to the top ten after a huge week of sales. Beyonce and Shakira’s “Beautiful Liar,” Britney Spears’ “Womanizer,” and Kelly Clarksons’ “My Life Would Suck Without You” all moved up more than 90 spots in a week — a feat that would have been impossible without iTunes. Britney Spears took it one step further when she became the first artist to debut at No. 1 in three years with her third No. 1, “3.” Since then, four other songs have repeated the feat. Expect it to become a regular Hot 100 occurrence.
Britney Spears, “3″ (October 24, 2009), 1 week
Eminem, “Not Afraid” (May 22, 2010), 1 week
Ke$ha, “We R Who We R” (November 13, 2010), 1 week
Britney Spears, “Hold It Against Me” (January 29, 2011), 1 week
Lady Gaga, “Born This Way” (February 26, 2011), 2 weeks (so far)
Like the American Idol coronation songs, these “Digital Blockbusters” could only hold onto the penthouse for one frame because their first week sales were a result of excited fans who had all purchased it within the first few days. Many of the more casual consumers hadn’t bought it yet, and radio still had to catch up. “Born This Way” is the first “Digital Blockbuster” to stay at No. 1 for a second week, and Lady Gaga has the enormous hype she created for the song to thank for that — and also the fact that she performed the song for more than 26 million people at the Grammys.
The possibility that Gaga could be No. 1 next week is there, but she could face some stiff competition from any one of the songs in this week’s top ten — especially Dr. Dre’s comeback track “I Need A Doctor,” featuring Eminem and Skylar Gray.
Here’s what’s happening on the rest of the Hot 100:
- Like I wrote earlier, 60 percent of the top ten is made up of songs performed during the Grammy broadcast — a testament to the power of television for selling music. “F**k You,” “I Need A Doctor,” and “Never Say Never” benefited the most, as the other three songs were already top ten fixtures or No. 1 last week. Other songs that moved up this week thanks to their Grammy performance are Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” featuring Drake, which inches up 13-12, and Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave,” which jumped 68-27, and “Little Lion Man,” which re-entered the chart at No. 45.
- Britney Spears continues to slide. “Hold It Against Me” drops out of the top ten for the first time, hitting No. 11.
- Katy Perry has released the follow-up to “Firework.” “ET” featuring Kanye West appears at No. 28. We’ll see if she can continue her No. 1 streak and go 4-for-4. Let’s hope not.
Here’s this week’s top ten:
1. “Born This Way” — Lady Gaga (second week at No. 1)
2. “F**k You” — Cee Lo Green (airplay gainer)
3. “Grenade” — Bruno Mars
4. “I Need A Doctor” — Dr. Dre feat. Eminem & Skylar Gray
5. “Firework” – Katy Perry
6. “F**kin’ Perfect” — Pink
7. “S&M” — Rihanna
8. “Never Say Never” — Justin Bieber feat. Jaden Smith
9. “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)” — Enrique Iglesias feat. DJ Frank E
10. “Black and Yellow” — Wiz Khalifa
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