This Week: RECAP – Adam Lambert; Ariana Grande; Chris Stapleton; Adele; Gwen Stefani; Haley Reinhart;” and MORE

Here’s a bunch of stuff that caught my attention this week. Did I miss anything? The comments section awaits!

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert’s (global) smash single “Ghost Town” was just certified double-platinum in Australia for 140,000 sales. It has also been certified gold in Denmark, platinum in Poland, double-platinum in Sweden, and triple-platinum in The Netherlands. for a total of about 350,000 certified shipments. “Ghost Town” has also sold about 354,000 copies in the United States as of November 5th, 2015. Considering that it was a pretty big hit in Germany (peaking at #11), I would assume that it is at least close to gold status there (200,000) and in a number of smaller European countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Belgium, Hungary…)

So, by my estimate, “Ghost Town” has now sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide.

Watch Adam Lambert lead a revolution against monotony and tear gas with the power of gay and color-music here.

Ariana Grande

The new music video for “Focus” is a hit. It has already racked up about 50 million youtube views in a little over a week, which puts it in competition with the likes of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. Really, only Adele is in a higher tier of stardom at the moment.

“Focus”‘s initial sales looked similar to those of Justin Bieber’s recently released singles, but they dropped quickly. It peaked at #2 on iTunes (behind Adele’s record-breaking “Hello”), but is now sitting at #27. “Focus” sold about 95,000 copies in its first week of release.

At radio, Ariana’s new single has been competing with Adele’s massive increases in audience impressions. Both have been increasing their weekly audience impression count by about 5-5.5 million EACH DAY. Normally, it is rare for ANY song to be gaining more than 3 million weekly audience impressions in a day. Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean,” Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” and Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams,” for example, each spent most of their radio growth at around 2 million additional weekly audience impressions per day.

Today, of course, Ariana Grande saw her weekly radio airplay decline by a massive 11 million audience impressions. But fear not, this is not a case of massive Ariana-dumping by radio programmers. On the first day of release, a bunch of radio stations do hourly plays for a new release, giving it massive first-day airplay numbers. So, the next week, when her audience impressions increase an ordinary amount, it looks like a massive drop-off. Of course, by the same token, her daily audience gains look artificially massive during the first week of release even if they are completely stable after release day, because the comparison is with audience impressions pre-release. So, the real test of the strength of Ariana’s new single will be the daily gains over the coming week.

Ariana Grande still hasn’t experienced the joy of having a song crown the Billboard Hot 100 (her massive 438,000-sale “Problem” debut landed her at #3, virtually tied with #s 1 and 2, “All of Me” and “Happy”; she dropped down to #4 the next week before rising to a 5-week peak of #2 behind “Fancy”). But, after literally every song she released from her last album became a hit, it is clear that she has at least built up some goodwill among radio programmers. Look to see a solid debut from “Focus” on the Hot 100.

I will note that some people are comparing “Focus” to “Problem Part 2,” and that is why they aren’t getting excited about it. Sia seems to be facing similar difficulty with “Alive”/”Chandelier” comparisons. There is some legitimacy to the criticisms, but I, for one, happen to like all of the above-mentioned songs. I kindof feel like there should be another hit reminiscent of “Chandelier” once in a while. Nobody other than Sia can really do the Sia thing, so why not get behind her? Sure, it would be nice to see her do other things too, but why bash her for playing on that part of “Chandelier” that really dug into our souls? “Problem” was a real hit. It did things musically that other songs weren’t doing at the time, and it did them well. If it created a new space in the music industry, it only seems fair to me that Ariana should be allowed to partially occupy that space. But that’s just my two cents.

Anyways, “Focus” is going to be a hit no matter what. The only question is how big it will be. I think it will be a top ten hit at least. Maybe top five. Maybe as high as #3. Probably not #1 or #2.

Watch Ariana Grande be the center of attention here.

Chris Stapleton/Justin Timberlake

Who?

That’s what I said when I looked at iTunes the other day and noticed that this guy was all over the place, with one single almost competing with Adele’s “Hello” in terms of sales!

Apparently, this random, not-particularly famous (even within country) country singer out of the blue asked Justin Timberlake to sing with him at the CMAs and Justin Timberlake, who happened to be a fan, said yes. So they sang Justin Timberlake’s “Drink You Away,” (from The 20/20 Experience Part 2/2, which peaked at #9– on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart), and Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey,” (which peaked at #46— on the country airplay chart). Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton blew all the country fans in the country away — leading to massive, fraction-Adele level of sales.

Sales have tamed down a bit. Now “Tennessee Whiskey” is only selling half an Adele-minute/minute. Justin Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” is still selling 1/3 of an Adele unit.

To put this into perspective, Justin Bieber’s new single, “Sorry,” and Drake’s huge hit, “Hotline Bling,” which are next in line, are each only selling about 18% of the number of copies that Adele’s “Hello” is still selling. So, if Adele hadn’t just basically taken over the world, Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton would look like they had.

This goes to show also that Justin Timberlake has retains serious star-power, and that he is successful for a reason. I’m watching for his next album, to see how many opening week copies it sells. The 20/20 Experience sold almost a million copies in its first week. Can his next album match or top that in a declining album market?

Watch Justin Timberlake come to peace with his dick-size here.

Adele

Everyone is watching Adele. Here’s a quick numbers recap.

“Hello” has 269.5 million views. It earned 15,197,727 views on Thursday, up from 14,827,387 views Wednesday and views 14,290,930 on Tuesday. Youtube views should see a bump for the weekend when Friday’s views are finalized tomorrow.

The continued massive youtube views are partly driven by skyrocketing radio airplay. “Hello” reached 113.528 million radio audience impressions over the past seven days, up 5.461 million weekly audience impressions from yesterday. That places Adele at #7 on the overall chart.

“Hello” is still #1 in most of the world’s countries, and #1 on the global Spotify chart.

What I’m really watching: how many copies will Adele’s 25 album sell in its first week. For my full analysis of this question, including my predictions (based on analogies to #s from Taylor Swift), check out this article.

Watch Adele make tea improperly here.

Meghan Trainor

“Like Gonna Lose You” is BREAKING A TREND.

Normally, the lead single from an album is the biggest hit, and then each successive single does a little worse. Why? 1) Later singles are sometimes released after a lot of the fans have already bought the album, so they aren’t going to buy the single unless you make a special remix (like Taylor Swift a la “Bad Blood,” or Katy Perry with “ET”). 2) People lose interest in the artist over time, and want something fresh. 3) Later singles from the same albums sometimes sound like “Original Single: Part 2,” and although Part 2 may be a hit, it is rarely as big of a hit as the Part 1 on which it is based. 4) Labels aren’t stupid. They pick the best songs to release first.

Sometimes an artist will break the trend, finding more success as singles progress. Paramore did this with their last album, as did Maroon 5, Sam Smith, and The Weeknd. When this happens, the artist is generally growing in fame and popularity. It is not necessarily that the first hits weren’t as good as the later hits. It could be that the first hits built a fanbase that kept growing as the artist reaches successively larger audiences. In other words, a song’s popularity is only part of the picture; the artist’s personal popularity can also play a huge roll in the song’s success.

In the case of a new artist with a massive breakthrough hit (like “All About that Base”) they frequently have to wait until the lead single from their next album before we can really see if there is more to them as an artist than that one hit. Look at, for example, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lorde, and Iggy Azalea. All had strong starts. Apart from their respective breakthrough hits (“Call Me Maybe,” “Royals” and “Fancy”/”Problem”), they each had other songs that were big hits in their own rights (“Good Time,” “Team,” and “Black Widow,”). But, successive hits did successively worse, and none has had a really big hit since.

Meghan Trainor was a quintessential breakthrough artist, with a massive cultural movement-style first hit, “All About that Base,” a contemporaneous huge but lesser hit, “Lips Are Movin,” and successively less successful followups: “Dear Future Husband” and a featured role on Charlie Puth’s “Marvin Gaye.”

But, with the fourth single off of Title (“Marvin Gaye” is on Charlie Puth’s upcoming debut album), Meghan Trainor breaks the trend, as “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” bounds 18-13 past the peak of “Dear Future Husband.” With such strong gains, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” could be a solid top ten hit in coming weeks. Depending on how it holds up, it could even have a Top Five peak in store.

“Like I’m Gonna Lose You” sits at #11 on radio songs, with 89.665 million weekly audience impressions (+1.361 million over yesterday). Sales increased 67k-73k from the week ending 10/29/15 to the week ending 11/5/15.

Watch Meghan Trainor find out she’s a witch here.

Gwen Stefani

Is Gwen Stefani still a thing?

After all, she hasn’t really had a hit song in like a decade, almost. She actually hasn’t has a solo top 40 hit on the Hot 100 since “The Sweet Escape” peaked at #2 in 2006, and she hasn’t had a top 33 hit at all since then. To be fair, she hasn’t really been releasing music since then. But, the stuff she released very recently hasn’t really done well. Until now, at least.

As I argued here (on its release), Gwen Stefani’s “Used to Love You” may well grow into a substantial hit.

At the very least, it is charting on pop and adult pop formats, and making gains. Overall, the song got 8.854 million audience impressions over the past week, a 334,000 weekly audience impression gain over yesterday (a #198-#193 move). She now ranks at #25 on Adult Pop, and #36 on Pop. She is charting on iTunes at #96 (she peaked at #2 on the song’s release).

So, why do I think it will be a hit? Because I want it to. Duh.

Watch Gwen look at the camera sadly here.

Haley Reinhart

We haven’t really heard anything new about Haley Reinhart recently, since she stopped putting out songs for Postmodern Jukebox and became an integral part of one of the world’s most successful advertising campaigns.

But, speaking of the ad campaign, Haley’s cover just jumped back onto the US iTunes chart! “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” apparently got some airtime as an actual ad, because sales popped up from 6k the week ending 10/29, to 9k the week ending 11/5. Assuming that the ad keeps running, it would be very interesting to see how many copies of Haley Reinhart’s song she could ultimately sell. A steady stream of sales over a long period of time can ultimately result in a large number of total sales.

Daily US iTunes chart positions, starting with the most recent: 172, 123, 106, 72, 85, 144, 198, 169…

Get your heart broken here.

Shawn Mendes

“Stitches” took over atop pop radio today, by spins. It looks poised to take over on audience impressions in a few days. On the overall radio airplay chart, “Stitches” passes Justin Bieber’s outgoing hit “What Do You Mean?” #5-#4, with an increase of 1.151 million weekly audience impressions, and a total of 146.382 million weekly audience impressions.

“Stitches” is also sitting at #5 on the global Spotify chart and #12 on US iTunes. It’s sales are down 76,000-70,000 for the week ending November 5th, 2015.

Just how high is this song going to go?

Watch Shawn Mendes get beat up by literally nothing here.

Justin Bieber

Massive Youtube views. Mountains of sales. Consistent massive hits by streaming, radio airplay, and sales.

I’ll admit I am digging “Sorry” and “What Do You Mean.” Justin Bieber deserves his success, when he’s not being a douche. Other than all that, Bieber-world is kindof boring right now, and I also kindof want to minimize the amount of ink devoted to Bieber. So, enough said!

Watch Baby Bieber sing “Baby” (which “Blank Space just barely overtook as the second-most viewed video on Youtube) here, then watch older Bieber pull a douchy prank on his baby here.

Elle King

For a song whose music video has only received 11.5 million views since May 1st, Elle King’s debut single sure is turning into quite the sleeper hit. “Ex’s and Oh’s” is now at #7 on Pop radio, and #6 on overall radio, with 117.150 million audience impressions (+1.774m). It rose #15-#12 on the most recent Hot 100. Will it be an official Top Ten hit next week? I hope so. This song is seriously on my short list.

Watch Elle King be weird in the desert with men here.

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding’s “On My Mind” is still making strong gains at radio. #14 overall. 76.217 million audience impressions; +1.676 million.

Watch Ellie develop her mind-powers here. “On My Mind” is obviously about how sad she is that she no longer has such magic.

Selena Gomez

I’m seriously digging Selena Gomez’s new music. Specifically, “Same Old Love,” is turning me into a Selena fan. Apparently, I am not alone, because “Same Old Love” is the #3 greatest gainer at US radio today (+2.512 million weekly audience impressions). It rises #24-#21 today. At its current rate of increase, it will rise to #14 with 80 million audience impressions in a week.

Prior single “Good For You” peaked at #4 on overall radio (#1 at pop) with almost 133 million radio audience impressions. Can Selena’s second single top the success of the first?

“Good for You” peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. “Same Old Love” drops #16-#18, but with an increase in chart points. Weekly sales for the single dropped 55,000 – 50,000, offsetting gains at radio. On US Spotify, “Same Old Love” sits at #13 (#15 globally), while global YouTube views remain largely stable at about 800,000/day.

Watch a pop star riding in a pop star cab here.

Taylor Swift

Three-ish questions:

  1. How many copies will 1989 sell before the end of the year? How will it stack up against Adele’s 25? Will someone else release a competitive album? Will Rihanna pull a Beyonce next month?
  2. How is her next single going to perform, and when will she release it, now that “Wildest Dreams” appears to have peaked?
  3. How many copies will her next album sell in its first week (next October, presumably), after the massive success of 1989? 

Watch the first song Taylor Swift ever uploaded to Youtube here.

Sia

“Alive” music video released. Boring?

I love Sia. I love “Alive.” But seriously, the new video is NOT interesting. It is just some girl in a wig practicing (what looks like) karate.

“Alive” is meandering around the bottom of the charts. It is being called “Chandelier Part 2.” I love the song. It has that stunning, emotional vocal performance that you expect from Sia. It should be doing better than it is. But seriously, check out some of these comments:

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Watch some of Sia’s amazingly weird and creative music videos that she made before she was famous, and watch “Chandelier” again.

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pdaines

Peter Daines is a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. His interests include studying foreign languages, watching and predicting events in politics and the music industry, and searching fruitlessly for the meaning of life.

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