CHART WATCH: What’s the Difference Between a Pitbull and a Femme Fatale? Lipstick…

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.

Kelly Clarkson announced the completion of her fifth studio album this March, but RCA is pushing the release date to September. One could assume the delay is due to the overcrowded pop market right now. If RCA wants Clarkson to make the biggest splash possible, they’re doing themselves a favor by waiting until the airwaves have calmed down a bit.

For the past several months, the upper echelons of the Hot 100 have been dominated by female pop stars. Katy Perry stays at No. 1 this week with “E.T.” featuring Kanye West, Rihanna comes up short once again with “S&M” at No. 2, and both Britney Spears and Lady Gaga have songs in the top 10.

These ladies’ record labels are working hard to promote their artists and help them stand out in the overcrowded sea of estrogen. It seems like everyday brings news of a music video clip or TV appearance from someone. Of course, the timing of these promotional activities has to be just right. Britney Spears can’t make a tour announcement the same day Lady Gaga is posting a new Gagavision to YouTube. Rihanna can’t pop a “Rih-mix” onto the web the same day Katy Perry releases a music video snippet. The planning involved in these album campaigns almost involves the same level of dedication as a political campaign.

If you haven’t been watching the slow burning 2012 campaign thus far, I don’t blame you. It’s been boring. Regardless, the candidates and potential-candidates-that-everyone-knows-will-run-but-they-still-haven’t-announced-it-yet are doing their best to make the most out of the media cycle, and they will continue to do so, especially on the Republican side as the race starts to fill up.

It’s kind of like Katy Perry and Rihanna.

You see, Perry and Rihanna are big, they’re just not Lady Gaga big. Gaga leads the pack, and anything she does is news. With “Born This Way” cooling, right now is a window for everyone else who wants to get some spotlight before Gaga drops her next song and gets all the attention. Never mind, Gaga released “Judas” four days early. Regardless, before Gaga surprised the world with “Judas,” it must have been pretty obvious to Def Jam that if they wanted Riri to get her tenth No. 1 sooner rather than later, they had to act fast.

“S&M” is currently the most played song on American radio, but it’s been beat out by “E.T.” for the past three weeks because its sales have been waning while Perry’s have soared. Last week, “E.T.” was outselling “S&M” by a two-to-one margin. Considering that “E.T.” is the fourth song from an eight-month-old album, its chart strength is puzzling, but can be explained the addition of Kanye West. Sure, he doesn’t add much to the song (but what he does add makes me nostalgic for the 808s & Heartbreak era and wish the bill was flipped, but alas), but including him on the record means even more consumers will snatch up the song on iTunes. Rihanna’s team-up with Britney seems like an obvious attempt to beat Perry at her own game.

In presidential campaigns, a lot of thought goes into picking a vice presidential candidate. Are they from a key swing state? Do they have experience the presidential candidate is lacking? Can they energize the base with their sass, high heels and folksy appeal? The same went for Def Jam vetting a “VP” for Rihanna’s “S&M” campaign. Spears’ fans can provide the jet fuel “S&M” needs for that one-week boost to the top. Afterall, these fans are the same people who made the lackluster “3″ to No. 1 with absolutely zero promotion in 2009.

Like I mentioned before, however, “Judas” could make this all a moot point. Although it’s radio airplay won’t be as strong, a phenomenal sales week could be enough for a No. 1 debut. If that doesn’t happen though, it’s a jump ball between Perry/West and Fenty/Spears. After outselling “E.T.” for days, “S&M” has finally slid, but the version without Spears is outselling the version without West. If the race is tight, numbers for the original singles without the features could be the deciding factor.

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

  • Britney re-enters the top 10 with “Till The World Ends” at No. 8. Her apocalyptic music video seemed to be the key to the song’s much needed bump.
  • Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee” is the week’s highest debut at No. 13. The soon-to-be husband of Miranda Lambert is getting plenty of coverage from hosting the American Country Music Awards and promoting The Voice, which he will be featured on.
  • British rap phenom Tinie Tempah continues his assault on America with “Written in the Stars” which climbs to No. 14. It’s by no means the best track from his album “Disc-Overy,” but if it can do this well, imagine how smashes like “Pass Out” and “Miami 2 Ibiza” could do.

Here’s this week’s top ten:

  1. “E.T.” — Katy Perry feat. Kanye West (third week at No. 1)
  2. “S&M” — Rihanna
  3. “Just Can’t Get Enough” — Black Eyed Peas
  4. “F**k You” — Cee Lo Green
  5. “Born This Way” — Lady Gaga
  6. “Down On Me” — Jeremiah feat. 50 Cent
  7. “Look At Me Now” — Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes
  8. “Till The World Ends” — Britney Spears
  9. “On The Floor” — Jenifer Lopez feat. Pitbull
  10. “Rolling In The Deep” — Adele
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