Who needs the VMAs anyways? Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera go No. 1

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Cultural commentators frequently discuss the death of the monoculture in the digital age – the loss of shared cultural artifacts that span regions and generations. When Americans only had a few black and white channels to chose from, it was easier for them to experience the same cultural phenomena at the same time.

No matter how many YouTube views Justin Bieber gets, it’s not the same as a nation transfixed by Elvis’ swivelling hips on the Steve Allen Show in 1956 or overwhelmed by Beatlemania when the band performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1963. Today, there are precious few events (the Superbowl, a high profile presidential debate, maybe the finale of American Idol during its heyday) that can bring us together that way.

While the fragmentation of culture makes it impossible to have another Elvis or Beatles or Michael Jackson, MTV proved the monoculture isn’t as dead as we thought Sunday when they attracted a record 12.4 million viewers for the annual Video Music Awards. And America didn’t just watch – they talked about it too. VMA commentary dominated Twitter trending topics. Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby announcement broke a Twitter record with 8,868 tweets a second being sent out about Beyonce’s baby bump.

Lady Gaga’s performance of “You and I”  while dressed in drag contributed to a sizable 35-16  jump for the song on the Hot 100 while Adele’s heart wrenching rendition of “Someone Like You” led to similar 34-19 move. Expect both songs to continue their climb in next week’s chart. A top ten entrance for both of them wouldn’t be surprising.

What is surprising, however, is that the new No. 1 song in America is a song that was neither performed Sunday night or up for any of awards. In fact, the lead singer militantly attacked the VMAs on Twitter before the broadcast calling it the ”one day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music” (oh, and he also added a “f*** you VMA’s” tweet too).

Maroon 5′s “Moves Like Jagger” feat. Christina Aguilera hops 4-1 thanks to a 20 percent increase in radio airplay and a slight jump in digital downloads. This marks Maroon 5′s second No. 1 and Aguilera’s fifth (and first in over a decade!).

It seems a bit odd that the chart immediately following one of the most unifying and of-the-moment musical events of the year is led by a song about a 68-year-old British rock star performed by a band presumed to be passed their peak in popularity and a washed-up diva (to be fair, this week’s chart only reflect airplay and sales up to Sunday night). Maroon 5 hasn’t had a top ten hit since 2007 and Aguilera since 2008.

Rolling Stone lead singer Mick Jagger actually seems like the most relevant thing about this song. The Stones haven’t released a studio album in more than five years, but everyone from Ke$ha to the Black Eyed Peas have been singing about him recently with the required rhyme-Jagger-with-swagger at some point in the song. I, for one, am grateful that there is finally a song referencing him performed by an artist who has actually recorded with the Stones. Aguilera can be heard on “Live with Me” on the 2008 live set Shine a Light. I am also grateful they refused to use the word “swagger” once in the track.

While “Jagger” might not have been performed Sunday night on MTV, it did have a splashy television debut of its own. It was just a month ago and for far fewer viewers.

Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Aguilera performed the song in June on the show they served as mentors for, NBC’s The Voice. That makes the pair the first reality show judges to have a No. 1 single after their stint on a singing competition.

While shows like American Idol and The Voice are billed as the search for the next superstar, they’ve become launching pads for artists looking to reignite their careers. Paula Abdul tried unsuccessfully to do so during her time on Idol. “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” peaked at No. 62 in 2008, and “I’m Just Here for the Music”  reached No. 87 the following year. Jennifer Lopez was more fortunate. American Idol allowed the singer to once again capture the public interest and “On the Floor” feat. Pitbull became her highest charting song in eight years, reaching No. 3 earlier this summer.

While Levine, Aguilera and Lopez are are making a dents on the Hot 100 thank to their day jobs as television personalities, the contestants on their shows aren’t as lucky. The Voice winner Javier Colon reached No. 17 with his coronation song “Stitch by Stitch.” Although American Idol has a larger viewership than The Voice, season 10 winner Scotty McCreery did only marginally better. His “I Love You This Big” peaked at No. 11.

So while performing for a television audience of more than 12 million people or winning a singing competition doesn’t necessarily equal a No. 1 single, it sure doesn’t hurt.

It’s hard to imagine “Jagger” being No. 1 right now without The Voice raising Levine and Aguilera’s profiles. The song also picked the perfect time to peak.

Katy Perry’s record breaking “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” plummets 1-5 thanks to a nearly 50 percent drop in sales. Why did Perry’s downloads fall so fast? Capitol had dropped the price of the song on iTunes from $1.29 to .69 to get their gurl (sic) a fifth No. 1, and now that she did and the record books are rewritten, they want to make more money thank you very much.

Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and Bad Meets Evil’s “Lighters” feat. Bruno Mars are on the rise, but the charts are in a bit of a lull right now. The summer jams have sizzled out and the lead singles for the holiday season’s big releases aren’t out yet, giving “Jagger” the chance to shine.

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

  • Adam Levine is having a good week. Not only does his band have the No. 1 song, but “Stereo Love,” his solo collaboration with Gym Class Heroes enters the top ten making him the first artist in chart history to go No. 1 as a member of a band and enter the top ten as a solo artist the same week.
  • Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” moves 7-3, and is weeks away from its first birthday. The indie track, released mid-September 2010, has a fighting chance of going No. 1. It’s currently the second most downloaded song after “Jagger,” and is growing slowly at radio. Could Foster the People be the ones who finally save rock music?
  • The drop of “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” proves that Katy Perry’s heralded record tying feat deserves an asterisks. While the song it displaced, “Party Rock Anthem,” remains steady at No. 2, “Friday” plumets because Capitol’s promotion push and discounted pricing is over. Oh, and Katy, you looked dumb wearing a cube on your head at the VMAs.
  • Rihanna moves 17-11 with her Avril Lavigne sampeling “Cheers (Drink to That).” If “Cheers” can inch up at least one spot, Loud will become her first album to launch four top ten hits. And no, Good Girl Gone Bad doesn’t count. Two of  those album’s five top ten hits were only available on the rerelease.
  • Lil Wayne’s “She Will” feat. Drake falls hard. The track drops 3-17 this week even as Weezy anticipates one of the biggest first weeks on the album chart for Tha Carter IV. The reason is simple – his blockbuster sales faded once the album was available. Expect the song to rise again once radio catches up. Most stations are still spinning his previous single, “How To Love,” which sits at No. 7 this week.

Here’s this week’s top ten:

  1. “Moves Like Jagger” – Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera (first week at No. 1)
  2. “Party Rock Anthem” – LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennet & GoonRock
  3. “Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster the People
  4. “Lighters” – Bad Meets Evil feat. Bruno Mars
  5. “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” – Katy Perry
  6. “Super Bass” – Nicki Minaj
  7. “How To Love” – Lil Wayne
  8. “Good Life” – OneRepubllic
  9. “Give Me Everything” – Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer
  10. “Stereo Hearts” – Gym Class Heroes  feat. Adam Levine
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