Posts Tagged ‘Drake’


Top 25 Pop Songs of 2011

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

2011 didn’t turn out like it was supposed to.

It was supposed to be the year that the electro-Europop ushered in by Lady Gaga completed its rise to total airwave domination. It was supposed to be the year hip-hop gave up trying to be as relevant as it was in the ’00s. It was supposed to be the year rock staged a comeback. But none of those things happened.


Help us LMFAO, you’re our only hope

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Twenty-three summers ago, a song by a rising pop act reached the summit of the Hot 100 before being steamrolled by one of the biggest recording artists of the decades achieving an unrivaled chart feat. The song was “Foolish Beat” by Debbie Gibson, and the steamrolling superstar was Michael Jackson whose “Dirty Diana” became the fifth No. 1 from his Bad album. A handful of albums have pulled off four chart toppers, but for more than two decades, Bad has been the sole album with a quintet of No. 1s. That could all change next week, however.

This summer, the foolish beat is “Party Rock Anthem” by rising pop act LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock. Katy Perry takes the role of pop juggernaut. Singles from her Teenage Dream album have been unstoppable in their march to No. 1. Last summer, she began her assault with “California Gurls [sic]” featuring Snoop Dogg followed by “Teenage Dream,” “Firework” and “E.T.” featuring Kanye West.

The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show

Shock and Surprise at the 2011 Grammy Awards

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Montreal band Arcade Fire were shocked after winning the coveted Album of the Year award for The Suburbs. They lost out in the Alternative Album category earlier in the night, and beat the likes of Eminem and Lady Gaga for the honor.

The 53rd annual Grammy Awards were broadcast Sunday, and Lady Antebellum, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga walked away the big winners. Lady Antebellum won five Grammy awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Need You Now.” Although Jay-Z and Lady Gaga didn’t win in any of the general categories, each took home three Grammys apiece in the rap and pop categories, respectively. Arcade Fire won Album of the Year for The Suburbs, shocking everyone who assumed Eminem’s Recovery was a shew-in. Slim Shady was nominated for 10 Grammys — the most of any artist — but he only won two, one for Best Rap Album and the other for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Not Afraid.”

CHART WATCH: A Look Back at the No. 1 Songs of 2010

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Seventeen songs topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 2010. Ke$ha had the longest running No. 1, “TiK ToK”, which remained No. 1 for nine weeks, while six different songs were only able to claim the top spot for a single week. Rihanna spent the most time at No. 1 – 14 weeks – between her four chart toppers. What’s the most amazing is the fact that Katy Perry convinced so many Americans, even Celtics fans, to like “California Gurls” [sic]. So here it is, the good, the bad, the really bad, and the ugly. These are the No. 1 hits of 2010.


“TiK ToK”

No. 1 the week of Jan. 2

Spent nine consecutive weeks at No. 1

Ke$ha’s first No. 1 single

Ke$ha kick started the decade with the drunken auto-tuned party anthem, “TiK ToK”. The song benefited from the post-holiday rush as consumers flocked to digital retailers to fill their new iPods and use their iTunes gift cards. “TiK ToK” sold 610,000 downloads the first week of the year, breaking the record for most downloads in a single week by a female artist, a record set this same week in 2009 by Lady Gaga whose “Just Dance” sold 419,000. To date, the song has sold over five million downloads and ends the year as the biggest pop song of 2010 according to Billboard.

The Black Eyed Peas

“Imma Be”

No. 1 the week of March 6

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

The Black Eyed Peas’ third No. 1 single

The Black Eyed Peas shattered chart records and dominated the Hot 100 in 2009, spending six consecutive months on top of the chart with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling”. Despite their success, it was surprising to see “Imma Be” go No. 1 this year considering The E.N.D. was a nine month old album at that point. It was the first time since 1991 that an act landed three No. 1s from an album, but not the last time that would happen in 2010.

Taio Cruz

“Break Your Heart” feat. Ludacris

No. 1 the week of March 20

Spent one week at No. 1

Taio Cruz’s first No. 1 single, Ludacris’ fifth No. 1 single

“Break Your Heart” was nearly half a year old when it topped the charts in the U.S. The song was a U.K. No. 1 last March, but to break Taio Cruz in the States, Island Records slapped on a rap verse by Ludacris and priced the song at 99 cents.When iTunes retooled their pricing structure in early 2009, labels opted to hike up the prices for the biggest hits to $1.29. A few weeks earlier, Timbaland’s under performing “Carry Out” featuring Justin Timberlake dropped its price to 99 cents, allowing the track to peak at No. 11 and showing that saving consumers 30 cents can help a song’s chart placing. Island’s loss leader strategy worked even better for “Break Your Heart”. Although the song wasn’t doing too hot on radio, it sold enough 99 cent downloads to leap 53-1 in a single week, a debut single record. In true capitalist form, after hitting No. 1, Island repriced the song for $1.29.


“Rude Boy”

No. 1 the week of March 27

Spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1

Rihanna’s sixth No. 1 single

Rihanna’s playful dance music has always done well in the spring. Her first No. 1, “S.O.S.”, topped the chart in May 2006, followed by “Umbrella” in early June 2007, and “Take A Bow” in May 2008. But spring 2010 wasn’t looking like it would produce any bubbly chart toppers considering how dark her Rated R album was. “Rude Boy” provided a course correction after harder, more serious songs failed to generate much interest. When “Rude Boy” went No. 1, Rihanna tied Paula Abdul and Diana Ross for fifth place among female artists for most No. 1 hits. Little did we know, Rihanna was only warming up for what was to be a banner year for her on the Hot 100.


“Nothin’ on You” feat. Bruno Mars

No. 1 the week of May 1

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

B.o.B’s first No. 1 single, Bruno Mars first No. 1 single

When B.o.B took “Nothin’ On You” to No. 1, it became the third debut single to go No. 1 in 2010 following “TiK ToK” and “Break Your Heart”. But the Atlanta rapper made an even splashier debut than Ke$ha or Taio Cruz did as he immediately scored a second Top 40 hit with “Airplanes” featuring Hayley Williams which debuted at No. 12 the week “Nothin’ On You” topped the chart. Ironically, “Airplanes” which peaked at No. 2, ended up outperforming “Nothin’ On You” in the long haul. “Airplanes” places sixth on Billboard’s list of 2010′s biggest pop songs while “Nothin’ On You” is No. 11.


“OMG” feat.

No. 1 the week of May 15

Spent four non-consecutive weeks at No. 1

Usher’s ninth No. 1 single,’s first solo No. 1 single

With “OMG”, Usher became only the fifth artist in chart history after Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Janet Jackson to have at least one No. 1 single in three consecutive decades. Usher’s first chart topper was 1998′s “Nice and Slow” and he followed that with three No. 1s in 2001, four in 2004, and one in 2008.  “OMG” benefited from’s songwriting and producing, giving Usher an R&B to pop cross over he hasn’t seen since “Yeah!”.


“Not Afraid”

No. 1 the week of May 22

Spent one week at No. 1

Eminem’s third No. 1 single

Eminem might have mocked millennial teen pop during its turn of the century heyday, but his chart record has a lot more in common with Britney Spears than he’d be willing to admit. Both artists had an early career No. 1, “Lose Yourself” and “…Baby One More Time” respectively, followed by a dry spell of chart toppers despite remaining ubiquitous music makers. Their second No. 1s didn’t come for nearly a decade, but both followed a similar pattern of debuting low on the charts and pole vaulting to the top. Britney’s “Womanizer” jumped 96-1 October 2008 and then in February 2009, Eminem leapt 78-1 with “Crack A Bottle”. Britney’s third No. 1, the appropriately titled but completely inappropriate “3″, accomplished the rare feat of debuting at No. 1, the first song to do so in three years. Eminem followed suit with “Not Afraid” which became the 16th song in chart history to debut at No. 1

Katy Perry

“California Gurls”  feat. Snoop Dogg

No. 1 the week of June 19

Spent six consecutive weeks at No. 1

Katy Perry’s second No. 1 single, Snoop Dogg’s third No. 1 single

“California Gurls” is a mindless throwaway song, something Katy Perry herself acknowledges, but that didn’t stop her from trying to make it more legitimate by calling it a West Coast response to Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind” (and that was after she used Wikipedia to find a California rapper to collaborate with). Although comparing the two songs was an asinine thing to do, the two tracks do have some interesting similarities. “Empire State of Mind” went No. 1 after a team everyone loves to hate, the New York Yankees, won their 27th World Series. Somehow, the power of pop music and Alicia Key’s anthemic hook overcame rivalry and regionalism. This year, another hated team, the Los Angeles Lakers were two wins away from clinching their 17th NBA championship when “California Gurls” took the top spot. The song was even receiving heavy airplay in the last place that should be cheering for anything Californian at the time, Boston.


“Love The Way You Lie” feat. Rihanna

No. 1 the week of July 31

Spent seven consecutive weeks at No. 1

Eminem’s fourth No. 1 single, Rihanna’s seventh No. 1 single

As soon as Recovery was released, consumers handpicked the Rihanna duet, “Love The Way You Lie”, as its second single by downloading 338,000 copies of it in its first week. It wasn’t much of a surprise that the song was such a blockbuster considering how “Not Afraid” had crossed over to pop radio in a way no other Eminem song had. Releasing a song with Rihanna could only be chart gold. “Love The Way You Lie” debuted at No. 2 and stalled there for three weeks until radio airplay caught up enough to take the song to No. 1.

Katy Perry

“Teenage Dream”

No. 1 the week of Sept. 18

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

Katy Perry’s third No. 1 single

Katy Perry’s third No. 1 was her first not to be awful. Perry might be well into her twenties, but she used teenage love to describe the universal desire to be young forever and fall madly in love. Despite the massive teen fan base popular music has had ever since Billboard began tracking America’s favorite songs, “Teenage Dream” is only the second chart topper to feature the ‘teen’ in its title, the first being Mark Dinning’s 1960 controversial (at the time) “Teen Angel”.

Bruno Mars

“Just The Way You Are”

No. 1 the week of Oct. 2

Spent four consecutive weeks at No. 1

Bruno Mars’ second No. 1 single

It’s never good to be in jail, but having the No. 1 song in the country sure can make things better. That’s the position Bruno Mars found himself in after being charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in Las Vegas. “Just The Way You Are” was enjoying its two week run at No. 1 when police allegedly found Mars in a bathroom stall in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with 2.6 grams of narcotics. Mars could face one to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. With co-writing credits on three No. 1 singles as well as Travis McCoy’s “Billionaire” and Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You!”, I don’t think the fine would be too much of a problem, but it’s hard to sustain a recording career living behind bars.

Far East Movement

“Like A G6″ feat. The Cataracs and Dev

No. 1 the week of Oct. 30

Spent three non-consecutive weeks at No. 1

Far East Movement’s first No. 1 single, The Cataracs first No. 1 single, Dev’s first No. 1 single

Sure, the song is simple enough, but after reading the words ‘”Like A G6″ by Far East Movement featuring the Cataracs and Dev, it’s easy to be a little confused. Here are some definitions to help you understand. G6 = A plane, a really fly plane. Far East Movement = An Asian-American hip-hop group. The Cataracs = The West Coast version of 3Oh!3. Dev= The brunette Ke$ha. Mix it all together and you get one of the dumbest but still catchy No. 1s of the year. The song samples Dev’s opus, “Booty Bounce” and spent three non-consecutive weeks at No. 1.


“We R Who We R”

No. 1 the week of Oct. 30

Spent one week at No. 1

Ke$ha’s second No. 1 single

Ke$ha followed Lady Gaga’s lead by following up her debut album with an EP. Although “We R Who We R” isn’t anywhere near as good as “Bad Romance”, it did what “Bad Romance” couldn’t do — it went No. 1. Ke$ha also followed Katy Perry’s lead by trying to make a song more legitimate than it really was, not by comparing it to another song, but by saying that it was an anti-hate anthem. The song debuted at No. 1, the second song after “Not Afraid” to do so in 2010, and it started a six week stretch of six different songs occupying the No. 1 spot, a turnover rate not seen in nearly two decades.


“What’s My Name?” feat. Drake

No. 1 the week of Nov. 13

Spent one week at No. 1

Rihanna’s eighth No. 1 single, Drake’s first No. 1 single

Rihanna scored her third No. 1 of the year with a collaboration featuring her rumored former fling, Canadian rapper Drake. It marked the first time since 2008 that an artist had managed three No. 1s in a calendar year, and that artist just so happened to be Rihanna who sent “Take A Bow,” “Disturbia,” and “Live Your Life” with T.I. all to the penthouse that year. All three of Rihanna’s 2010 No. 1s were from different albums. “Rude Boy” from her 2009 Hard, “Love The Way You Lie” from Eminem’s Recovery, and “What’s My Name?” from her new album Loud. But “What’s My Name?” wasn’t even Loud‘s first single. Interestingly enough, the album’s first single, the danceable, more immediate, and seemingly more likely chart topper, “Only Girl (In The World)” peaked at No. 3. But Rihanna wasn’t done yet.


“Only Girl (In The World)”

No. 1 the week of Dec. 4

Spent one week at No. 1

Rihanna’s ninth No. 1 single

Rihanna and Drake only spent a single week in the penthouse with “What’s My Name?” before “Like A G6″ reclaimed the top spot for a third and final non-consecutive week. By all accounts, Rihanna had a remarkable year, and the sheer number of hit singles under her belt put her among some of the great female artists of the rock era. But the good girl gone bad still had one more home run up her sleeve before the year was over. “Only Girl (In The World)” knocked Far East Movement from No. 1 the following week, which marked the first time that the first single from an album went No. 1 after the second one had. In addition, it was the fifth time that an artist had scored more than three No. 1s in a single year. The Beatles had six in 1964 followed by four in 1965, the Jackson 5 had four in 1970, and the most recent was Usher who had four in 2004. Considering her batting average, it’s only a matter of time before Rihanna lands her tenth No. 1 which would put her in a tie for eighth for artists with the most No. 1s in Billboard history.


“Raise Your Glass”

No. 1 the week of Dec. 11

Spent one week at No. 1

Pink’s third No. 1 single

“Raise Your Glass” became Pink’s third No. 1 and, following “We R Who We R”, it cemented the notion of “It Gets Better Pop” — pop music that was anti-hate, pro-gay, and reiterated the message of the It Gets Better campaign targeted to alienated and bullied gay youth. But whether this was a true pop music movement or a convenient bandwagon to jump onto has yet to be seen.

Katy Perry


No. 1 the week of Dec. 18

Spent two consecutive weeks at No. 1

Katy Perry’s fourth No. 1 single

“You’re great just the way you are!” lyrics? Check. Guys making out in the music video? Check. It Gets Better pop went three-for-three with Katy Perry’s “Firework” as Perry herself went three-for-three with singles off of Teenage Dream. It would have been a more exciting achievement if Rihanna had not just racked up her fourth No. 1 of the year two weeks before, but “Firework” does have the distinction of being the first No. 1 to stay there for a second week after a month and a half of turnover.

CHART WATCH: Only Girl Sets Chart Records

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.

Two weeks removed from scoring her eighth No. 1 hit with “What’s My Name?” featuring Drake, Rihanna returns to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with another Loud single,  “Only Girl (In The World)”, setting a number of chart records.

What’s interesting is that “Only Girl” was the first single to be released from Loud but its second song to go No. 1. That has never happened in Hot 100 history. First appearing on the Hot 100 the week of October 3, “Only Girl” originally peaked at No. 3 and has yo-yoed up and down the top ten since then. Although it seemed like an obvious chart topper from one of the Hot 100′s most consistent pop stars, when follow up single “What’s My Name?” went No. 1, “Only Girl” seemed destined to be remembered as the older, more commercial, though less successful sister to “What’s My Name?”

“What’s My Name?” made it to the top due to a combination of strong sales and lack of tough competition. The week that it peaked in sales, “Only Girl” was waning, but it did have a foot up in radio airplay. The Hot 100 is a combination of both sales and airplay, but each of those components work differently. Sales are quick one or two week bursts, but can rarely sustain themselves for longer than that. Airplay builds slowly. It makes sense then that “What’s My Name?” was No. 1 for a single week because of its sales while “Only Girl” reached the top slot only after weeks of building at radio (And you might want to keep your eye on “What’s My Name?”. Even though it falls this week from No. 7 to 8, it was this week’s radio airplay gainer. Depending on how a number of other songs perform in the coming weeks, “What’s My Name?” could return to No. 1).

The other record Rihanna sets is in regards to the sheer number of chart toppers she’s had this year. The singer adds “What’s My Name?” and “Only Girl” to her other 2010 No. 1s, “Rude Boy”, and Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” to become the first female artist in Billboard’s 52-year history to land four No. 1s in a calendar year. Not only is Rihanna the only female to accomplish this feat, but this marks only the fifth time an artist has banked over three chart toppers in a year.

Here’s the chronological list of artists who have undisputedly dominated the Hot 100 during a calendar year:

1964 The Beatles (6): “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Love Me Do,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “I Feel Fine”

1965 The Beatles (4): “Eight Days a Week,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Help!,” “Yesterday”

1970 Jackson 5 (4): “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save”/”I Found That Girl,” “I’ll Be There”

2004 Usher (4): “Yeah!” (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris), “Burn,” “Confessions Part II,” “My Boo” (Usher and Alicia Keys)

2010 Rihanna (4): “Rude Boy,” “Love The Way You Lie” (Eminem featuring Rihanna), “What’s My Name?” (featuring Drake), “Only Girl (In The World)”

It’s not surprising that the Beatles managed ten No. 1s in two years considering the power of Beatlemania, and Usher’s four hits are a result of a Hot 100 skewed strongly towards airplay in the days after the death of the physical single but before iTunes. Both artists also had a profound impact on popular culture at the time. Have you seen clips of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show? Do you remember how many cell phones had “Yeah!” as their ringtone in 2004? Even though Rihanna has spent three and a half months at the top of the Hot 100, she just doesn’t have the hold on pop culture that either the Beatles or Usher had when they dominated the Hot 100. She also doesn’t have a No. 1 album, something that both the Beatles and Usher have had plenty of.

Loud enters the album charts this week at a commendable third place. Despite all of her No. 1 hits (she has totaled nine in six years), Rihanna has never had a No. 1 album. But then again, neither did the Jackson 5. Although Loud could have been No. 1 a different week with first week sales of 207,000, I think that Rihanna’s lack of No. 1 albums indicates how the record buying public perceives her. She’s the definition of singles artist. She has great songs worth spending $1.29 on every so often, but people aren’t so willing to buy a whole album. I imagine that people felt the same way about the Jackson 5 in 1970.

Albums make more money than singles, so the folks at Def Jam are hoping Rihanna doesn’t stay a singles artist forever. Being a singles artist does have its benefits though if you’re hoping to break records on the Hot 100.  Rihanna’s albums sales and cultural impact are nowhere near as ubiquitous as other pop stars, but she beats them all on the singles chart. Just compare Rihanna’s nine No. 1 hits to Beyonce’s five, Britney’s three, and Gaga’s two.

Sure, the Jackson 5 never had a No. 1 album, but they also only had four No. 1 singles. Rihanna is eying her tenth which would put her in a tie for eighth place for artists with the most chart topping songs. How long can a singles artist and minor player in the pop landscape remain there with such a consistent and constant stream of hit songs? I contend that 2010 is the year that Rihanna became more than just a minor player. It is as if her greatest weakness turned into her greatest strength. People haven’t been willing to buy a full Rihanna album, but in five short years, they realize that they sure have downloaded a whole lot of her songs.

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

  • Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” lifts 7-2 to become her highest charting hit since her 2008 No. 1 “So What”.
  • Cee Lo enters the top 10 with “F**k You” thanks to Glee. The censored Glee rendition enters the chart at No. 11, but it seems that the record buying public preferred the dirty original version.
  • The King of Pop gets his 48th Hot 100 hit as “Hold My Hand” with Akon from the forthcoming Michael album debuts at No. 84.

Here’s this week’s top ten:

1. “Only Girl (In The World)” – Rihanna (1st week at No. 1)

2. “Raise Your Glass” – Pink

3. “Like a G6″ – Far East Movement feat. Cataracs & Dev

4. “We R Who We R” – Ke$ha

5. “Just A Dream” – Nelly

6. “Firework” – Katy Perry

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

8. “What’s My Name?” – Rihanna feat. Drake (Airplay gainer)

9. “F**k You” – Cee Lo Green (Digital gainer)

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