Posts Tagged ‘Rihanna’


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.

Steve Jobs iTunes Apple Billboard Hot 100 Rihanna

How Apple Changed Music and Steve Jobs Made Rihanna (and the Cast of Glee and Lil Wayne and Taylor Swift, etc.) a Record-Breaking Star

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

Apple marked the passing of its co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs Wednesday, calling him “a visionary and creative genius.” In the coming weeks, much will be said of Jobs and how he revolutionized the  way we live. Evidence of his impact can be found in pockets carrying app-filled iPhones, DVD collections sprinkled with Pixar films and of course, the Billboard Hot 100.

Before the launch of the iTunes digital store in 2003, the record industry was facing the unprecedented threat of online piracy. Consumers were freed from forking over $15 for an album with one hit song and a tracklist full of filler by file sharing services such as Napster. Suddenly, an industry that had made record profits in the late ’90s with this model (think Chumbawamba, Eiffel 65, Natalie Imbruglia, etc.) scrambled to restore revenue by resorting to lawsuits.

MTV Europe Music Awards 2004 - Show

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.


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.


CHART WATCH: It’s Game Change Alright: Britney Goes Rogue, Beyonce Flops and Rihanna’s Maverick Wears Off

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.

After spending a single week at the summit, Rihanna’s “S&M” featuring Britney Spears slides to No. 4 as Katy Perry’s “E.T.” featuring Kanye West retakes the No. 1 position with an impressive burst of sales and radio airplay.

In my last Chart Watch column, I compared the battle between Perry/West and Fenty/Spears to a presidential campaign, and likened Spears to the Sarah Palin of pop. Those comparisons aren’t that far off. Def Jam’s last minute decision to add Spears to “S&M” was a calculated Hail Mary. The label correctly assumed that by courting Britney’s rabid fan base, the song could finally break from its No.2  position and overtake “E.T.”

Remember when McCain picked Palin and suddenly, the disgruntled Republican base had someone to cheer for on the ticket? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.


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.

Top 25 Songs of 2010

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music

December really is the most wonderful time of the year. Not only does Christmas essentially last the entire month, but critics publish their lists of the best music of the year. Some of these lists are pretentious (Really Pitchfork, Ariel Pink’s “Round and Round” is the best song of the year? Not just in the top ten, it’s the best?) while others are pandering (Rolling Stone has plenty of good stuff, but they always throw in some curve balls. According to them, Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R” is the fiftieth best song the the year. How about you add a few zeros to that number?) Hopefully, the 17 Tracks list is neither of those things. Created from top 25 lists of 17 Tracks contributors, it ranges from pop to indie to rock and hip-hop. Hope you enjoy.

Honorable mentions: “Power” – Kanye West, “Airplanes” – B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams, “Boyfriend” – Best Coast, “Tenderoni” – Kele, “Yamaha” – The-Dream, “Find Your Love” – Drake, “Commander” – Kelly Rowland, “Indestructible” – Robyn, “Rude Boy” – Rihanna, “Guns & Horses” – Ellie Goulding

25. Norway – Beach House

Beach House’s new album Teen Dream, is composed of 11 tracks that somehow melt in and out of the other while competing for your attention simultaneously. “Norway,” however, is the most telling of the ambient duo’s new album. The 3 minute and 55 second long song starts out with kicking drums, joined by the characteristic guitar, keyboard, and siren-like vocals.  This track embodies the increased maturity and sensitivity found on their new album and suggests that despite having found their niche in today’s music scene, this is a band that is not afraid of change. – JP

24. All The Lovers – Kylie Minogue

“All The Lovers” is a return to form for Australia’s reigning pop star. After being diagnosed with breast cancer and failing to meet expectations with her comeback album, Kylie Minogue was in need of a hit. Teaming up with producer Stuart Price was a good choice, resulting in the glossy, intelligent, and highly danceable Aphrodite. “All The Lovers” captures the euphoria of the album as Kylie commands the listener to dance and gently tells her lover, “don’t be frightened, just give me a little bit more.” – HS

23. Airplanes – Local Natives

The Local Natives somehow fuse the styles of Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Kings of Convenience to supply every indie kid and small venue across the country with the refreshing sound were craving this summer. “Airplanes,” the track that originally sparked everyone’s interest with its cascading guitars, captivating piano, and audience-participation-inducing clapping, make it nearly impossible not to join with Taylor Rice’s smooth vocals and sing along. Their debut album “Gorilla Manor,” was released in early March and though still underground enough to keep pretentious listeners content, it’s a great introduction to an impressive new band. - JP

22. Pursuit of Happiness – Kid Cudi feat. MGMT & Ratatat

Before Kanye teamed up with Bon Iver, Kid Cudi teamed up with MGMT, hinting at the distinct indie feel many in hip-hop would take over the course of the year. MGMT might have failed to match the pop sensibilities of Oracular Spectacular on their new record, but they make up for it with their hook on “Pursuit of Happiness”. Slurring through his verses, Cudi recounts his fruitless search for happiness saying, “everything that shines ain’t always gonna be golden.”  – HS

21. F**k You! – Cee Lo Green

“F**k You!” (also known as “the song otherwise known as ‘Forget You!’”) is the successor to such quirky neo-retro pop gems as “Hey Ya!” and Cee Lo’s other big hit, “Crazy”. The song failed to reach the level of ubiquity of those similarly styled hits for obvious reasons, but it did pretty well considering its explicit title.  The lyrics-only video went viral this summer, and then the song was given new life by Glee in November, reaching No. 9 on the Hot 100. – HS

20. Lights – Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding may not yet be a household name in the States, but in her native U.K. she has made quite the debut. She topped the BBC Sound of 2010 poll which honors new talent and was also awarded the Critics’ Choice Award at the 2010 BRIT Awards. “Lights” was originally a bonus track on her acclaimed debut effort of the same name, but was officially released as the albums’ fifth single this year. Haunting ethereal, otherwordly, “Lights” demands our attention and proves that Ellie Goulding is one to watch in 2011. – CH

19. Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons

“Little Lion Man” the first single released by London’s nu-folk rock quartet Mumford & Sons, boasts flawlessly composed instrumental arrangements, an intoxicating melody, and an unforgettable chorus. The song provides an accurate insight to the band’s first album Sign No More, which features 12 other tracks that are equally impressive. Four other singles were equally well-received as they were released over the last 10 months, but “Little Lion Man” will hold a special place in the hearts of many as the song that introduced so many of us to this great new band. – JP

18. Erase Me – Kid Cudi feat. Kanye West

Kid Cudi feat. Kanye West, or Weezer feat. Jay-Z? It’s okay—we weren’t sure at first, either. The same Kid Cudi that won us over with his debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day, showed no trepidation in parting from his typical style for something a little more radio-ready. Mr. Solo Dolo inherently attracts hipsters and electro-heads alike, but assured that no genre would be left unaffected album by featuring Kanye West on this track. If there was any way to heighten the anticipation of his album that came out in September, “Erase Me” was without a doubt the way to do it. – JP

17. Alejandro – Lady Gaga

Critics compared Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” to a modern day “La Isla Bonita” or an Ace of Base knock off, but Gaga’s seventh top ten single was unmistakably hers. The song evoked the album art on The Fame Monster with black tears streaming down her face as weeping strings give way to towering, colossal synth lines.”She’s not broken, she’s just a baby,” Gaga sings about the protagonist, an insecure girl with both hands in her pockets. – HS

16. Hang With Me – Robyn

“I know what’s on your mind there will be time for that too,” sings Robyn in Body Talk Pt. 2‘s “Hang With Me”. Yeah, that’s right, Robyn is talking about friends with benefits. The euphoric melody and insistent and gentle blips courtesy of producer Klas Åhlund don’t hint towards the song’s true meaning, but it’s a part of its charm. Warning her lover he can only hang with her if he doesn’t fall in love, the girl who perpetually gets her heart broken is finally firmly in control. – HS

15. Runaway – Kanye West

Our first toast to the doucebags started with a simple repeated keystroke and catchy melody. The stage of MTV’s Video Music Awards ceremony was rushed by the corps de ballet as Kanye West delivered his most earnest performance of all time. Not long after its debut, the song played title for Kanye’s 35 minute long art film. “Runaway” is the poster child for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the album that assures critics and aficionados alike that Kanye West isn’t going anywhere. – JP

14. Crossfire – Brandon Flowers

The Brandon Flowers who sings in “Crossfire” is not the same Brandon Flowers who used to rock guyliner, pick fights with other bands, and brag that Sam’s Town was one of the greatest rock albums of the past twenty years (it was, and so was Hot Fuss, but that’s besides the point). Credit his return to Mormonism or his growing family (he and his wife have two kids with another on the way), but Flowers has toned down the whole rock star persona. Instead, his music centers on themes of redemption. “Tell the devil that he can go back from where he came,” he sings on “Crossfire”, the most epic track from the understated Flamingo. – HS

13. Animal – Neon Trees

Provo, Utah’s very own Neon Trees have had a good year. Breaking into the music scene in a big way, their debut single “Animal” has spent an impressive 26 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 13 and even clawing its way to the Alternative Songs chart summit in September. Comparisons to new wave pop from the early ’80s are almost immediate with its infectious use of synth and hand claps. “Animal,” with its popping melody and intelligent lyrics, showcases the breakout band’s engaging sound and its lead singer’s distinct vocals. – CH

12. Only Girl (In The World) – Rihanna

2010 was Rihanna’s year. “Umbrella” was the song that separated her from the pack of similarly marketed one name pop starlets, but when everyone’s favorite good girl gone bad tried to go serious on Rated R, no one cared. That is until the up tempo “Rude Boy” was released. The success of “Rude Boy” laid the groundwork for Loud, a collection of ballads and Caribbean flavored dance tunes of which “Only Girl (In The World)” was the queen. – HS

11. Not Afraid – Eminem

Ten years ago, at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Eminem led an army of blond young men in white shirts and jeans into Radio City Music Hall as he rapped “The Real Slim Shady”. That moment symbolized how Eminem had, for better or worse, given a voice to a generation of alienated youth. “Not Afraid” is for those people and anyone else who is in a dark place. “We’ll walk this road together, through the storm,” he says. Think of it as a white rapper’s “Beautiful”. – HS

10. The Only Exception – Paramore

Dialing down their usual guitar-heavy rock’n'roll, Paramore achieved their most commercially successfully single to date with easily their most restrained. “The Only Exception” is beautiful in its simplicity. Critics quickly took note of front woman Hayley Williams’ sturdy vocal delivery, noting her ability to connect with the listener emotionally. Paramore proved their musicianship by turning what could’ve been a sappy, trite ballad into an honest and heartfelt look at love. – CH

9. Teenage Dream – Katy Perry

“Teenage Dream” was meant to be a Katy Perry song for people who hated Katy Perry. Instead of being annoying, trite and revolve around stereotypes, it was impossibly catchy and celebrated the universal feeling of eternal youth. But, like other songs created in a laboratory with the sole intent of being a monster hit (read: “I Gotta Feeling” or “TiK ToK”), the song soon wore out its welcome and all the Katy haters just ended up hating her more than before. But unlike those other annoying songs, “Teenage Dream” has value, evident in the Resucuers’ unironic and beautiful cover and the fact that if another singer had the song, no one would have hated it as much. – HS

8. Starry Eyed – Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding described “Starry Eyed” as a song about feeling a natural high, and it’s no surprise she pulls that off with ease considering the lighter-than-air nature of her small but growing body of work. Balancing the intelligent dance pop Europe is currently demanding from its pop artists with a dash of folk pop, Goulding led the way in making music that appeals to a wide audience. “Starry Eyed” with its building but gentle beat was the most pop song the singer recorded, and it became her first top ten hit. – HS

7. Dancing On My Own – Robyn

Dance music isn’t a genre that’s known for emoting, especially if the song’s subject matter is something as trite as dancing, but Robyn managed to do that with the heartbreaking “Dancing On My Own”. The Swedish singer vividly describes the scene: Her in the corner and her true love across the dance floor with his “new friend”. Stilettos, broken bottles, and oblivious ex lovers be damned, Robyn is going to dance, even if it’s on her own with tears in her eyes. – HS

6. Cosmic Love – Florence + the Machine

Surprisingly, “Cosmic Love” was the sixth single from Florence + the Machine’s critically acclaimed debut album Lungs. In a word, the song is audacious. It perfectly showcases everything the band achieves so masterfully on the album: layered with deeply rich harmonies and sweeping orchestration, emotionally complex, and palpable in its intensity.

Florence Welch, lead singer and co-writer of the track, said she is often hungover when she writes her best material, and “Cosmic Love” is no exception. Coming off a night of heavy drinking, it took her a mere 30 minutes to pen the track once she got started. The end result became the most acclaimed track on the near-perfect album, a thunderous ballad that truly feels out of this world. – CH

5. Everything You Wanted – Kele

Thematically, Kele’s solo debut, The Boxer, was the healing balm to Intimacy‘s pain and hearbreak. It was an album about finding inner strength, believing in yourself, and looking forward.  “Everything You Wanted” was perhaps Kele’s only look back and the most emotional performance of his career.

Setting aside the harsh, blaring synthesizers, Kele employs tribal drums, a massive sing-a-long chorus, and piercing lyrics to get his point across. “I could have given you everything you wanted, everything you needed,” he laments, staring straight into the camera with tears streaming down his face. It’s hard to believe those are fake. – HS

4. XXXO – M.I.A.

The release of The Social Network forced us to examine the role social media plays in our modern society, and M.I.A.’s digital freakout music provides the unofficial soundtrack. Drowning in post-apocalyptic MySpace imagery, she defiantly snarls, “You want me to be somebody who I’m really not.” Considering the airbrushed life most people live online, her statement comes across as a call for logging off and living life for no one but yourself.

Unfortunately, her message failed to match reality when she came across as a pretentious poser following a scathing New York Times Magazine article. Although critics argued that it killed her street cred, songs like “XXXO” were evidence that Maya not being the anti-establishment freedom fighter she once was isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rapping about Twitter and Tarintino over a beat catchier than bird flu, “Bird Flu”, or “Paper Planes”, M.I.A. makes pretty good pop for an anti-pop star. – HS

3. Cold War – Janelle Monae

“Cold War” is the confession of an underground artist unwilling to sell out or give up what makes her special just to be mainstream. “If you want to be free, below the ground’s the only place to be,” Janelle Monae sings. Despite the tear that glides down her face in the music video, Monae is sure of herself. “You better know what you’re fighting for,” she urges.

Her future-retroism is reminiscent of vintage OutKast or alternate reality Amy Winehouse, but she remains completely true to herself. In a pop landscape where being obsessively unique is quickly becoming the norm and bordering on being boring, Monae actually pulls it off. – HS

2. Telephone – Lady Gaga feat. Beyonce

The Fame Monster was Lady Gaga keeping her promise to be a true pop artist. It was dark and deep, something her debut album was not. The only exception was “Telephone”, her collaboration with Beyonce.

While the rest of the EP dealt with death, romance, and fear, “Telephone” seemed like just another pop song that could have been recorded by any number of pop stars. It wasn’t until a rough, unfinished, and highly autotuned demo by such a pop star surfaced that you realized that Gaga took the song to another level that the likes of Britney Spears simply could not.

On the surface, “Telephone” is about turning off the phone and partying, but in the context of the storyline of The Fame Monster, it’s so much more. Gaga’s character isn’t just dancing, she’s running from a bad romance, from a controlling boyfriend who’s just like a dad. She isn’t dancing for fun, she’s dancing for her life. – HS

1. Love the Way You Lie – Eminem feat. Rihanna

You knew Eminem had a hit on his hands when people who usually quote Ke$ha or Miley Cyrus in their Facebook statuses start quoting one of his songs. Sure, most of those people were quoting Rihanna’s hook, but they were still listening to an Eminem song. Despite Eminem being around for over a decade now, “Love The Way You Lie” was the first song of his that found its way onto many peoples’ iPods and it marked a return to relevance for the 2000′s biggest selling artist.

Misogyny has always been a favorite theme of Slim Shady’s, but rather than use the same tired, vile, and violent clichés, he made a haunting, powerful record that condemned domestic violence. His raps are graphic and raw, and although he apologizes, he reveals that he doesn’t really mean it. It’s not as if Rihanna’s character is fooled by it though. “Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, but that’s alright because I like the way it hurts,” she sings. She knows he hurts her, she knows he’s lying, but she can’t leave.

Some critics condemned the song, saying it glorified domestic violence, but the very inclusion of Rihanna on the record renders that argument void. Just eighteen months removed from her encounter with Chris Brown, Rihanna brought authenticity and pain that few other singers could have.

It’s the rawness and brutal reality of the song that does the condemning, because Eminem never explicitly does. Still, as the house burns down in the Joseph Kahn directed music video, the anti-violence message is clear. Remaining atop the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks and receiving five Grammy nominations, it’s safe to say the song and it’s message penetrated pop culture, becoming a counter-intuitive but very effective public service announcement. – HS

Graphic by Nick Smith

Text by Chase Hilton, James Porter, and Hunter Schwarz

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