Weekly Recap 4/1/2016

First of all, here is the obligatory April Fools-oriented post. Please feel free to trend #SpinTheBottle on twitter & con as many #Glamberts as you can on social media and chat fora. Now, on to the weekly recap —

Ariana Grande just released a new music video — the first in a series? — for “Dangerous Woman.” If she is indeed doing something clever on the music video angle, she could have an incredibly intelligent management team plotting a path to #1 on the Hot 100. Step 1: Great music => spotify streams and easy radio promotion. Step 2: Early music video-type material to spur streams and attention. Step 3: Release new music-video style material on TOP of that which has already been released when the song seams to be at its peak, in order to give it that little extra kick that it needs to make it over the finish line and give Ariana her first #1 hit.

In fact, it seems to be a similar strategy to that being currently pursued by Sia and Iggy Azalea, both of whom released music video-like material (more than a lyric video, but less than the full music video) earlier to drum up the stream-count.

Speaking of music videos, Rihanna also dropped a new one yesterday, and it already has over 5 million streams on Youtube. “Kiss it Better” is a killer single and an excellent followup to “Work,” which has finally clearly peaked at #2 on Radio songs with 164.909 million audience impressions. “Work” loses 0.883 million audience impressions today and drops to 162.626 million over the past week. Couple those stats with the substantial lead that Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” retains (it is still getting over 192 million audience impressions) and the fact that “Sorry” retains a substantial advantage in Callout survey results of pop listeners, and the chances begin to approach 0% that “Work” will ever reach the #1 slot on the radio chart.

Nick Jonas (feat. Tove Lo)’s “Close” (89) is today’s greatest radio gainer, with 24.844 million audience impressions over the past week (+2.602 million today).

Lukas Graham‘s “7Years” (#8) is today’s second-greatest radio gainer with 102.265 million audience impressions over the past week (+2.245 million from yesterday).

Mike Posner‘s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” comes in third, with a 1.65 million increase today (96.562 million over the past week).

Zayn‘s new album, Mind of Mine, is set to top the Billboard 200 next week, but without nearly the level of sales that One Direction was used to. One Direction has typically sold 300,000-600,000 copies of their albums in the first week. Zayn’s Mind of Mine looks like it might have sold 125,000. It’s fascinating, because Zayn’s lead single debuted at #1 on the Hot 100, thereby nominally becoming a bigger hit than anything 1D ever put out.

Meghan Trainor‘s sleek new single, “No” is set to vie with Ariana Grande‘s “Dangerous Woman” for song of the summer, given that both should be peaking around memorial day. Will both or either make it to #1 on the Hot 100?

A few other songs that I think might blow up in summer time? 

Hey” – Fais ft. Afrojack

The Original High” – Adam Lambert

Can’t Go Home” – Steve Aoki & Felix Jaehn ft. Adam Lambert

Team” – Iggy Azalea

Cheap Thrills” – Sia

BeFoUr” – Zayn

Close” – Nick Jonas ft. Tove Lo

Rock Bottom” – Hailee Steinfeld v. DNCE

Low Life” – Future ft. The Weeknd

Piece by Piece” – Kelly Clarkson

Desire” – Years & Years ft. Tove Lo

 

 

 

 

Weekly Recap 3/11: Meghan Trainor v. Ariana Grande

Meghan Trainor‘s new song “No” has been blasting up the radio airplay chart about as quickly as is humanly possible. It gains another 8.391 million audience impressions today for a weekly running total of 62.299 million in its first week (#22).

Meanwhile, “No” has just been overtaken atop iTunes by Ariana Grande‘s new single, “Dangerous Woman,” which is reputedly far more appreciated by fans than was her recent pseudo-hit “Focus” (pseudo because strong early radio airplay reversed sharply when the first Callout reports revealed its deep unpopularity, but the song’s high budget and pristine music video–notice the extraordinary star contact lenses in this post’s featured image–still pulled out nearly 1/2 billion views and adds millions of new views/day, long after the song faded off of radio airplay charts).

Dangerous Woman” is currently selling at nearly twice the rate of the #2 song on iTunes (and still rising), leading to the possibility of a top five debut on the Hot 100, depending on how streaming and radio airplay shape up.

What I’m watching: 1) Will “Dangerous Woman” or “No” ultimately be the bigger hit? 2) Just how much early radio airplay will “Dangerous Woman” ultimately get? 3) Will Who Is Fancy‘s “Boys Like You,” which features BOTH Ariana AND Meghan Trainor, be this year’s Song of the Summer once they start promoting it to radio?

Kelly Clarkson‘s “Piece by Piece,” after debuting at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 after an emotional performance on the final season of American Idol, is starting to take off during a second run at radio. The track pulled in 8.149 million audience impressions from Adult Pop and Adult Contemporary radio stations during the running week (+418,000 today), as it nears Pop radio’s top 40. Second week sales are dropping about 50% to 98,000 for the week ending 3/10.

Adam Lambert Speaking of American Idol, the greatest-earning alumnus of 2015 will be performing next week for “a very special final performance.” “Ghost Town,” the lead single from Adam’s latest album, The Original High, actually has more Youtube views than the lead singles from the latest albums of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and on Spotify it has done even better, at 118 million streams. Adam Lambert is in the middle of his The Original High Tour.

What I’m Watching: Is Adam about to unveil title track “The Original High” as the set’s next single (as I have argued he should)? If so, will it go over a fraction as well as just did Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece By Piece?”

Sia‘s “Cheap Thrills” debuts on Pop radio today with 1.463 million running weekly audience impressions. Week over week (US) sales are steady at 7,000/week, as are Spotify streams at about 416,000/day. The lyric video continues to post steady gains.

Rihanna reaches a new peak of #3 on radio with “Work” (145.73 million running weekly audience impressions, +1.858 million today). With substantial leads, at 181.358 million and 201.788 million, respectively, it is unclear that Rihanna’s song will maintain sufficient steam to continue rising past Twenty One Pilot’s “Stressed Out” or Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” It depends on how high Rihanna’s song is going to rise before peaking, and on how fast the former two songs fall.

Rihanna concurrently extends a record stay of non-American artists atop the Hot 100 (Rihanna is from Barbados; featured artist, Drake, is from Canada).

Work“‘s music video crosses 100 million views today, after just over two weeks, as it continues to pull in over 4 million views/day.

Selena Gomez‘s “Hands to Myself” slides #11 to #15 on the Hot 100 this week, with an overall points decline featuring a 6% sales slide from 41,000 to 38,000, despite continued steady gains at radio. The song rises #10 – #9 this week with 98.385 million running weekly audience impressions (+1.056 million today). It is also expected to overtake two more songs within about one week, if current trends hold. It seems doubtful, however, that “Hands to Myself” will continue rising long enough to match the #3 and #4 radio peaks of earlier Revival singles “Same Old Love” and “Good for You,” respectively. I forecast a peak of either #6 or #7 for “Hands to Myself,” with the edge to #7.

Lady Gaga‘s “Til It Happens to You” has finally debuted at #95 on the Hot 100, based largely on the strength of a sales bump after her emotional Oscars performance. “Til It Happens to You” sold about 26,000 copies after peaking at #8 on iTunes (higher than Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall,” which won the award for which “Til It Happens to You” was nominated).

Taylor Swift‘s “New Romantics” appears to be slowing down WAY EARLY, before even reaching the top 40 on radio songs. Basically all of Taylor Swift’s singles peaked with 170+ million audience impressions until “Out of the Woods” peaked early at #18 with only 68.848 million audience impressions, never even passing immediately preceding single “Wildest Dreams.”

“New Romantics” has only 36.144 million audience impressions at #62, and it’s daily gain has already dropped below 1 million. In fact, “Wildest Dreams” (now two singles ago) is still getting almost 70 million audience impressions at #17 after peaking with just over 180 million.

Interestingly enough, “Style,” which is the only song prior to “Wildest Dreams” to have a lower radio peak, actually retains the highest continuing radio airplay of the album’s first four singles, by a good margin.

Current running weekly radio airplay of Taylor Swift 1989 singles:

  1. (5th, #5 Hot 100 peak) “Wildest Dreams,” #17, 68.098m, -572,000 today, peak: 180.290m.
  2. (7th, #71) “New Romantics,” #62, 36.577m, +778,000 today, peak: 36.577m.
  3. (3rd, #7) “Style,” #86, 25.567m, +47,000 today, peak: 178.862m.
  4. (2nd, #1) “Blank Space,” #104, 20.181m, +98,000 today, peak 198.131m.
  5. (1st, #1) “Shake It Off,”#109, 17.950m, -195,000 today, peak: 195.501m.
  6. (4th, #1) “Bad Blood,” #125, 14.879m, +56,000 today, peak: 195.179m.
  7. (6th, #18*) “Out of the Woods,” #297, 5.305m, -284,000 today, peak: 68.848m.

*”Out of the Woods” peaked at #18 based on sales when it was released as a promotional single prior to the release of 1989. It never surpassed this rank when it was released as a radio single.

What I’m Watching: What happens when TS releases a music video for “New Romantics?” Does she even bother?

 

Weekly Recap 2/12: Grammys, The Weeknd, Adele, Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Jordan Smith, Selena Gomez, Who Is Fancy, Lady Gaga, Haley Reinhart, Taylor Swift, Twenty One Pilots, Ariana Grande, Coldplay, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Songs of the Summer 2016!

What I’m watching —

Grammys

This year’s Grammy awards are coming up Monday, February 15th at 5:00PM, right in the middle of a tracking week. The Grammys being the Grammys, they should spur large sales bumps for artists that perform or are nominated for (or win) awards. I am watching the numbers on two artists in particular: The Weeknd and Adele.

The Weeknd – After a string of massive hits, The Weeknd’s current single, “In the Night” just missed the top 10 on the Hot 100, peaking for two weeks at #12. However, the song is currently just starting to decline from peak radio airplay (#5 on radio songs; #3 on pop). It peaked with 135.352 million weekly audience impressions several days ago, and has fallen to 127.857 million weekly audience impressions as of yesterday. Given its continued strong radio airplay, The Weeknd will be in a strong position to leap into the top ten on the Hot 100 with its Grammy’s boost.

The Weeknd is currently selling about 20k copies/week of “In the Night.” It is getting about 2,586,206 weekly Spotify streams. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that it is getting 5 million total weekly streams (that Spotify streams make up about half of the total.

Since the Weeknd is both nominated for a lot of awards (Best Pop Solo Performance; Best R&B Performance; Best R&B Song; Best Urban Contemporary Album; Best Song Written for Visual Media; as well as two of the big three: Record of the Year; and Album of the Year) AND slated to perform “In the Night” at the Grammys, we should expect a fairly large sales boost for “In the Night.” I would be shocked if weekly sales didn’t AT LEAST double, and I would be unsurprised if they jumped up to the 80k-100k range.

Streams should see a smaller boost. I would expect a +50% boost to perhaps 7.5 million streams in the Grammys tracking week.

I would note that in past years, the first few hours after the Grammys (when a substantial chunk of the bump tends to occur) have been in a different tracking week from the rest of the week following the Grammys. With essentially the entire post-Grammys bump crammed into a single tracking week, we should expect to see a larger post-Grammys bump than in years past.

The takeaway: Don’t be surprised if The Weeknd adds a fifth US top 10 hit to his resume thanks to to the fortuitous timing of the Grammys.

Adele – Adele’s “When We Were Young” is also a strong bet to surge into the top ten following what is sure to be a stirring performance on the Grammys.

After she finally released the song to streaming services and released cover art, it started picking up steam again on radio (where it had stalled at #10). Adele added 1.406 million audience impressions per week today, for a current total of 92.749 million audience impressions over the past week, about half that of the #1 song (Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” which grew by 1.193 million weekly audience impressions today, for a total of 173.683 million over the past seven days). That is up from only 906,000 in weekly audience growth yesterday, and an actual 169,000 decline four days ago.

In sharp contrast to “Hello,” which is still raging away at 6 million global youtube views/day, “When We Were Young” has declined to under 500,000/day. “Hello” is at 1.15 billion total views; “When We Were Young” is only at 79 million. I mean, that’s almost embarrassing. This is Adele. ZAYN’s new video got that many views in two weeks. Now that Adele has released the song for streaming and single artwork, is she finally ready to drop a real music video for the song and sprinkle a little bit of that Adele dust to make it light up the charts?

If Adele were to drop a music video in connection with a stunning Grammys performance, then it would be difficult to see how she could avoid shooting into the top ten on the Hot 100. Even absent a new music video, however, it is entirely conceivable that “When We Were Young” could more than double its current weekly sales total of 40,000, and shoot into the top ten anyways. We’ll just have to sit tight and see what happens.

What else to watch for: How do Adele’s album sales hold up as “Hello” drops off radio charts? Does she keep releasing singles and promoting them with killer music videos? Do pure album sales stay over the 100,000/week mark for the 19 weeks that it would now take 25 to sell 10 million pure album sales? Does 25 ultimately end up selling as many or more copies than did 2121 sold another 10,766 pure album sales in the most recent tracking week. Is that going to be the norm over the coming year, or will its sales slide faster than those of 25? If they hold up like that, 21 would sell another half-million copies this year.

Performers:

  • Taylor Swift
  • Adele (performing her new single “When We Were Young)
  • The Weeknd
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, John Legend and Luke Bryan (Lionel Richie Tribute)
  • Little Big Town
  • Pitbull, Robin Thicke and Travis Barker
  • Justin Bieber, Diplo and Skrillex
  • Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood
  • Ellie Goulding and Andra Day
  • Lady Gaga (Tribute to David Bowi)
  • Tori Kelly and James Bay
  • Rihanna
  • Eagles, Bernie Leadon and Jackson Browne (Tribute to Glenn Frey)
  • Miguel and Greg Phillinganes
  • The Hollywood Vampires (Tribute to Lemmy of Motorhead)
  • Gary Clark Jr., Bonnie Raitt and Chris Stapleton (Tribute to B.B. King)
  • Alabama Shakes
  • The Cast of “Hamilton”

Presenters:

  • Common
  • Ice Cube and O’Shea Jackson Jr.
  • Anna Kendrick
  • Ryan Seacrest
  • James Corden
  • Stephen Colbert
  • Kaley Cuoco
  • Ariana Grande
  • Selena Gomez
  • Anna Kendrick
  • Seth MacFarlane
  • Ed Sheeran
  • Sam Smith

Other Stuff to Watch

Rihanna – “Work” is continuing to rage up radio charts (to #15 overall), up 1.877 million weekly audience impressions today to a total of 73.633 million over the past week. Still, that is a dropoff from the 3 million weekly audience impressions/week increase that was the norm over the second week of release.

Daily increase in weekly audience impressions for “Work” in reverse chronological order (dating back to the 9th day of release): 1.877m, 2.1m, 2.7m, 3.1m, 3.2m, 3.9m, 3.2m, 2.6m.

Driven by  a strong response at radio, “Work” is back to #2 on iTunes, with estimated sales of 99,000 for the week ending yesterday. That is behind only Flo Rida’s “My House” which sold about 127,000 copies. Strong sales and increasing radio airplay put Rihanna in a good position to remain in the top ten of the Hot 100 for the foreseeable future.

Will she make it to #1? Perhaps, but not this week. 160k sales were only sufficient to propel her to #7 last week, and her increasing radio airplay and streaming isn’t likely to make up for a 61k drop in sales. Perhaps she can squeeze into the #1 slot if she has a strong Grammys bump, or she can maintain strong enough sales as radio airplay builds in coming weeks to capitalize on the eventual decline of the current hits. Alternately, she might amass sufficient streaming if/when she debuts a music video for “Work” to propel it to #1.

REMEMBER: Streaming is currently the biggest of the three components (streaming, sales, and radio impressions) of Billboard’s Hot 100. 

Parent album Anti is less of a success story. After one million albums were given away, it managed to rise to #1 on the Billboard 200 (and Hot Album Sales) after one full week of sales (166,000 album equivalents including 124,000 pure album sales). This week, the album is set to drop to #4 and #7 on the Billboard 200 and Album Sales charts respectively, with 92,553 equivalent units including only 47,644 pure album sales. For comparison, Adele’s 25, which has already sold 8 million copies in the United States, is reported to have sold another 105,852 pure albums in its 12th tracking week (126,077 total equivalent units).

What to watch for: Does “Work” keep declining in radio audience impression growth, or does it stabilize and/or reverse course?

Adam Lambert – With a solo tour underway this Spring, Adam Lambert obviously has a lot on his plate. But, he has also planned a separate tour for this Summer as Queen + Adam Lambert. Add in an Oreo commercial and a presumptive appearance in some capacity on the final season of the show which gave birth to his star, and you aren’t looking at a slacker.

In other news: “Ghost Town” was recently certified gold in the United States, for shipments of 500,000 units (I have previously estimated a global total of easily 1 million units), Adam was named (by Forbes) the top-earning American Idol alum of 2015 ($10 million), he was invited to star in Fox’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His tour is really selling tickets. He also finally officially fessed up to having had his voice insured for $48 million. He has been nominated for the GLAAD award for Outstanding Music Artist (full list of nominees). Oh yeah, and he is currently in the lead to win, once more, the title of “Most Eligible Bachelor” from Out Magazine (feel free to increase his vote total here).

Ghost Town” (with 58,602,994) still has more than twice as many YouTube views as The Weeknd’s current hit, “In the Night,” (25,917,537) which, as mentioned above, is slated to smash into the top ten on Billboard (“Ghost Town” peaked at #64). “Ghost Town” also maintains a strong lead in terms of global spotify streams (113,861,560 v. 73,351,971). This is, of course, just one more sign that “Ghost Town” ultimately achieved a very legitimate degree of success on the international stage, despite its slow ascent and mediocre peak in the US.

It is also fascinating that both songs ultimately have many more Spotify streams than Youtube, counter to the ordinary trend. Adele, for example, has only 394,659,764 Spotify streams for “Hello,” despite having racked up well over 1 billion via Youtube.

With all of this success, what exactly is it that we should be watching for in Adam Lambert World? Well, since current single, “Another Lonely Night” has started dropping off radio airplay charts, it is time to start looking towards the next single. As I have previously argued in detail, “The Original High” is a clear choice for Adam’s next single, and his label should start promoting it to radio soon if they want to give it a real chance to take off during the summer. At the same time, they should wait to release the music video after the song has built up to a critical threshold of radio airplay, then they should drop a music video designed to reinvigorate the song’s chart-life just in time for the summer months. Adam should especially consider using the sold-out concerts of his tours as an effective advertising medium for his song while he has the chance. I personally LOVE “The Original High.” It is the heart of his album, and it would be a shame if it weren’t given a chance to be a smash.

 

Jordan Smith – has announced the debut of his first album March 18th. Jordan Smith recently won The Voice after becoming the first contestant to ever send a song to the iTunes top 10 every single week of the Live Rounds. In fact, he managed three times to hit #1, including stealing the honor with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” of being the first person to unseat Adele’s “Hello” from the top spot during its initial run while it was still selling like hotcakes (it was selling around 400,000/week at the time that it was momentarily unseated by “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”). As opposed to now (60k/week, #8), when “Hello” is just selling like… luke-warm cakes…?

Lead track “Stand in the Light” is currently at #87 on iTunes and rising. Check out his past chart performance below:

Title Album details Peak chart positions Debut Week Sales
US Billboard 200 CAN
The Voice: Jordan Smith: The Complete Season 9 Collection 11 48 US: 48,000[23]
Title Year Peak Chart Positions Debut week Sales
US Billboard Hot 100 US Hot Christian Songs
Halo 2015 88
Great Is Thy Faithfulness 30 1
Hallelujah 61 1
Somebody to Love 21
Mary Did You Know 24 1
Climb Every Mountain 72
God Only Knows
(with Adam Levine)
90

Selena Gomez – “Hands To Myself” rises #33-#29 today on weekly radio audience impressions (57.476 million; +1.518 million). At its current rate of increase, it should reach the top 10 on radio songs within the next month. Sales are down 61k – 47k for the week ending 2/11. Daily Spotify streams are at 609,632 (#10 in the US).

What to watch: Is radio airplay increasing fast enough to continue driving sales, or will sales continue to deflate?

Who Is Fancy – “Boys Like You” (feat. Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande) is apparently being planned as this summer’s big breakout hit.

With two huge-name featured artist billings and a clear pop sound, it is not conceivable that this song is being promoted to radio without debuting on a single chart. The only logical explanation is that it is not being promoted yet. Why? Probably because the song has an obvious summer vibe. The labels want to break out a new star, and summer is the best time to do it.

More evidence? Both Meghan Trainor AND Ariana Grande had breakout moments in the summer. To be fair, Ariana Grande was already quite famous before “Problem” became the #2 song of Summer 2014, but that song is easily her biggest hit to date, and was the beginning of her current reign as a true A-list pop star. Meghan Trainor, of course, rode the tidal wave of her infectious hit “All About that Base” in 2015.

Other artists that have broken out with a massive summer smash?

2014 Iggy Azalea “Fancy” feat. Charli XCX

2014 MAGIC! “Rude

2013 Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines

2012 Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe

2012 Gotye “Somebody That I Used to Know

2011 Adele “Rolling in the Deep

2008 Katy Perry “I Kissed a Girl

Remember this in six months: I predicted this song would be a summer smash long before it ever debuted on an airplay chart.

Lady Gaga – After her extremely well-received Super Bowl performance, everybody is once again amazed  to discover that Gaga has pipes.

Her passion project, “Til It Happens to You,” after acquiring an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song and a Grammy nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media, has finally officially debuted on a Billboard airplay chart (although it previously topped Dance Club Songs), and its music video now has over 25 million views. Gaga is also nominated for a Grammy and she just WON a Golden Globe (for her role as The Countess in American Horror Story).

By the way, in case you haven’t heard, by performing at 1) the Super Bowl, 2) the Grammys, and 3) the Oscars all in the same year, Gaga is setting a new record.

So, after all of the toned down performances over the past year that have shown off Gaga’s vocal chops, is that what we should expect from her album out later this year? I don’t think so. I think we should expect pure pop. We should expect Lady Gaga in all of her manipulative glory, fighting to stay relevant in the music industry by setting new trends. We should expect killer hooks and solid beats. We should expect a mix of styles and sounds, but carefully crafted together into a cohesive whole. Gaga has a long history of producing killer radio fodder, and we should expect her to do it again. She went wrong when she got stuck in her head. Now, she is back to the killer Gaga who tore her way to fame in 2008 simply by acting like somebody famous and pushing the media into a frenzy.

Haley Reinhart – She’s returning as a guest judge to American Idol and she is supposedly releasing a new album soon.

Taylor Swift – Current single, “Out of the Woods” is slipping at radio far earlier than any of the prior singles. Now that everyone has bought 1989, and now that the singles aren’t selling well no matter how much radio airplay they get, does TS continue releasing them and promoting them to radio? Or does she hold off until the next album, when there will be something for her to sell?

For most artists, it would be a no brainer — you keep releasing singles as long as they are still getting mass airplay, especially since she is planning on going on hiatus after this album. But, what does she have to gain from more radio airplay exposure? She keeps selling a few more singles and albums, but not that many. And, it isn’t like it is going to make the shows on her tour any more sold out, or the anticipation for her next album any more pronounced. Quite simple, Taylor has reached the ceiling. She is basically the second biggest pop star in the world, and she has virtually no room for further growth.

Twenty One Pilots – With “Stressed Out” (167.419 million weekly audience impressions; +1.427 million weekly audience impressions today) rising faster at radio than Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself”(173.683 million weekly audience impressions; +1.193 million weekly audience impressions today), and with a fairly small gap between them to begin with (6.264 million), it is not inconceivable that “Stressed Out” should eventually take the radio crown from “Love Yourself.” With radio airplay driving sales and streams, it is only a short step to the overall crown on the Hot 100. At their current rates, “Stressed Out” would overtake “Love Yourself” in about 21 days, or 3 weeks. Will another song push in before “Stressed Out” has a chance to take the crown? Will Bieber fend off the challenger after all?

What to watch for? See if the gap between “Stressed Out” and “Love Yourself”‘s rate of increase at radio tends to widen or narrow over the coming days.

By the way, does Twenty One Pilots remind you of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? Or am I just being racist against all white rappers?

Ariana Grande – When is the new album coming out? Is she scrapping stuff and reworking her album after “Focus” got a lukewarm welcome? Keep in mind that, radio flop or not, “Focus” is still easily Grande’s biggest Youtube hit to date in terms of daily views.

Also? Freaking amazing star eyes:

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 6.39.30 PM

I have to say, it was probably one of if not THE best-produced music videos of the year.

Coldplay – After a Super Bowl performance that was largely derided and overshadowed by the sideshows of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars, some people have been wondering whether Coldplay had the requisite stature and popularity to be chosen to headline the half-time show in the first place. As it turns out, Coldplay has more cred than I would have guessed. Coldplay has sold about 59 million albums worldwide (they are on their 7th release). Four of their past five albums have reached #1 on the Billboard 200; the last made a very respectable debut at #2 (195,000 pure album sales, 210,000 equivalent units) behind Adele’s third week of blockbuster 25 sales (695,000 in pure album sales; 728,000 album equivalents). For comparison, this upcoming week’s #1 album, Future’s EVOL, should only have about 139,106 equivalent units (108,403 pure album sales).

Oh. Oops.  I’m so sorry, Coldplay. It appears that up above, for the words “Super Bowl,” I accidentally linked to the most viewed Youtube video (12 million views) for this year’s super bowl half-time performance… you know… the one featuring “Bruno Mars & Beyonce ONLY.” Here is a link to the full half-time show (500,000 views), including Coldplay…

Back to stats: Coldplay has sold 18.2 million albums and 33.6 million single downloads in the United States. How many hit singles has Coldplay had in the United States?

#1s: 1

Top tens: 3

Top 20s: 7

Top 40s: 13

Top 100s: 21

Coldplay is a UK band. How much better do they perform “across the pond?”

#1s: 2

Top tens: 16

Top 20s: 18

Top 40s: 22

Top 100s: 30

So, Coldplay is more of an international artist than a US artist, but they still make a respectable showing here.

Compare Beyonce’s US hits:

#1s: 5 (+4 more with Destiny’s Child)

Top tens: 15 (+10)

Top 20s: 23 (+11)

Top 40s: 27 (+13)

Top 100s: 42 (+14)

And Bruno Mars’s US hits:

#1s: 6

Top tens: 12

Top 20s: 13

Top 40s: 15

Top 100s: 18

And Lady Gaga’s US hits:

#1s: 3

Top tens: 13

Top 20s: 15

Top 40s: 17

Top 100s: 21

It’s not hard to see how Coldplay was upstaged…

Still, A Head Full of Dreams makes a 300% leap to almost 100,000 album equivalent units, good for a #16-#3 projected jump on the Billboard 200. In terms of pure album sales, the leap is 389% (#12-#3; 89,819 pure albums).

Beyonce – She released a hot new track just as she showed up Coldplay at the Super Bowl. “Formation” already has 23 million views in 6 days, despite being available only to those with a direct link to the video. On radio, the track rises #133-#108 today with a 3.932 million weekly audience increase to 17.688 million.

What to watch for? So far, the song hasn’t debuted on Pop Songs or Adult Pop. If it stays largely confined to genre charts, then its ascent at radio will have a ceiling.

Michael Jackson – After Spike Lee released a documentary, and Beyoncé paid tribute in a well-received Super Bowl performance, the King of Pop’s songs saw a miniature sales resurgence, lead by “The Way You Make Me Feel,” which sold 3,000 copies in the last tracking week.

What to watch for: With singer, Miguel slated to pay tribute on Monday’s Grammys with a cover of “She’s Out of My Life,” I for one will be watching the sales bounce.

TRIVIA QUESTION

Answer to last week’s question: Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind/Something About the Way You Look Tonight” sold 3,446,000 physical copies in its first week in 1997. It also sold 1,212,000 in its second week. Those are the only two sales frames in which a physical single sold more than 1 million copies in a week. Adele’s first week with “Hello” (1.1 million) is the only sales frame in which a digital single has sold more than 1 million copies. The previous record-holder on the digital side? Flo Rida’s “Right Round” sold 636,000 in a week in 2009.

This week’s question: What artist has had the largest CONSECUTIVE run at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 over the past two years (including on different songs)?

Why Ariana Grande’s “Focus” is Dropping Like a Rock at Radio, Even as YouTube Streams Remain Impressive

Do you think “Focus” is, should be, or should have been a hit?

With just over 30 million weekly audience impressions (30.482m, -4.056 m), Ariana Grande’s “Focus” is the fastest-falling song in terms of overall audience impressions today, beating out Dan + Shay’s “Nothin’ Like You,” which shed 3.849 million audience impressions. In fact, it is the fastest-moving song altogether, as Justin Bieber’s current smash, “Sorry,” only gained 3.644 million audience impressions today.

Why is “Focus” falling so quickly? 

According to Mediabase Callout Research, pop audiences just don’t like the song. In the most recent survey, “Focus” was rated positively by only 43.5% of listeners, as compared to 38.4% who disliked it. Her net positive score of +5.1% was the worst of all songs surveyed (which included all 32 currently charting pop songs that had audience familiarity of at least 60%). In fact, every other song had a net positive score of at least +17%. Also, “Focus” was listed as a favorite by only 9.5% of listeners, also the worst showing.

So, if Ariana’s song is so terrible, then why is it weird that it is falling so fast?

1) Callout numbers are improving.

Interestingly, the callout figures are actually an improvement over earlier callout reports, in which Ariana’s net positive score was approximately +0%. Why would Ariana’s callout numbers be improving just as radio starts abandoning her song?

2) Ariana’s performance of “Focus” at the AMA’s was EXTREMELY well-received.

Exhibit A, B, C, D, E, F, G

3) The “Focus” music video is getting tons of streams.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 12.14.42 PM

If everyone hates this song and wants it to die, then why are 4 million people streaming it on YouTube ever day? This is a seriously impressive view-curve, competitive with recent massive hits by Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Drake, and The Weeknd.

Last summer’s smash “Problem,” which is arguably Ariana’s biggest hit to-date, was only getting about 2 million views/day at its peak, and it never went over 3 million views, even as it became one of the ten fastest-selling singles in digital history in its first week.

This song has been out long enough that if it were a complete flop, its YouTube views would be dropping by now. They should have fallen faster, and they shouldn’t be popping back up (except on Saturdays).

4) The song is perfectly structured to be a smash pop hit.

Yes, to some extent, I am expressing my subjective impression of the song. But, I am not alone. When this song was released, radio programmers across the country were dead certain that it was a hit. It was rocketing up the radio charts at a seriously fast pace. Only Adele’s “Hello” was rising faster (for a while). Then, when callout finally issued its first report, and it turned out audiences weren’t entirely thrilled by the song, its progression stopped dead, after rocketing halfway up the chart. Radio programmers were confused, so they did nothing. The song was an obvious hit, but it was disliked by a huge number of people. So, they left the song at current levels, and slowly decided to start dropping it off their playlists.

Listen to last summer’s “Problem,” and then listen to “Focus.” Then tell me exactly why one song is beloved by audiences, and the other passionately hated. You can’t. The only salient difference between them is that one came out in 2014, before Ariana Grande’s last album became a massive success.

5) The music video for “Focus” is seriously emaculate.

Exhibit A: Ariana, wearing freaking amazing contact lenses in “Focus!”

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Exhibit B: This is what she looks like when nobody is watching…

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Exhibit C: “Who me?”

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 6.41.16 PM

Exhibit D: Selfie time!

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Exhibit E: Sleek profile shot.

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Exhibit F: You’re totes jelly of mah nails bi-otch.

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Exhibit G: Test tube baby.

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 6.35.58 PM

Exhibit H: Wink!

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Exhibit I: Just kicking it with mah tube friends (sisters?).

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 6.36.36 PM

Conclusion

Maybe the problem is simply a combination of simple and non-simple factors. Audiences loved “Problem,” because it was fresh and new. If it sounds like “Problem: Part 2,” then it is probably not going to excite people.

After a long string of hits from Ariana, radio programmers saw a song that preserved the best qualities of the biggest of the hits, and they immediately started putting it on heavy rotation. But audiences almost never love a song instantly. Audiences like songs that they know. That is why songs almost never debut in the top ten on radio songs. Even the biggest hits by the biggest artists in history take several weeks before they are allowed to reach #1 at radio. Radio programmers took a song that audiences were naturally inclined to be disenchanted with, and they committed the most grievous sin of all: they overplayed it too soon.

The song is still a solid one. The music video is captivating, and Ariana has a massive fan base. 40% of people can strongly dislike the song, and it will still get massive YouTube streams if 40% of people want to watch it on YouTube.

But, radio programmers thrive on not offending people. Radio doesn’t like risks. Radio programmers try to play music that is least objectionable, so that everyone can passively listen to it on their way to work. 40% dislike of a song is a big problem for radio, and that is why it is currently collapsing at such a rapid clip.

Do you think “Focus” is, should be, or should have been a hit?

— More —

The iTunes and Spotify Chart Positions of Every Ariana Grande Song in Every Country in the World 12/15/15 11:04AM Eastern. 

Focus

Santa Tell Me

One Last Time

Boys Like You

Break Free

Love Me Harder

Bang Bang

Problem

Almost Is Never Enough

Last Christmas

All My Love

E più ti penso

The Way

iTunes:


Baby I

Santa Baby

My Everything

iTunes:

(Kinda) Weekly Recap

What I’m Watching This Week – 

Gwen Stefani/The Voice

The Voice seems to be making a habit of taking over iTunes once a week. Performers locked up almost the entire top ten of iTunes for a while, leaving only Justin Bieber and Adele untouched. If you agglomerate The Voice‘s sales over time, and think about it as a single artist, you’ve got a pretty consistent top-tier artist.

After Voice judge Gwen Stefani performed her current single “Used to Love You” on the show, it also saw a serious sales spike. Now, after most of the actual contestant’s songs have started dropping, increasing radio airplay and a second sales spike has propped Gwen up to #3 on iTunes.

“Used to Love You” sits at #24 on Pop airplay (3852 weekly spins, +52 today, +407 past week; 15.967 million weekly audience impressions, +390,000 today); #14 on Adult Pop/HAC (2100 weekly spins, +45 today, +284 past week; 10.134 million weekly audience impressions, +120,000 today); and #47 on Adult Contemporary (37 weekly spins, -2 today, -20 past week; 155,000 weekly audience impressions, +3,000 today). It is at #63 in terms of overall radio audience impressions (27.510 million weekly audience impressions, +605,000 today; 6846 all-format spins, +138). At its current rate of increase, it would be a top-20 radio hit within 2 months and a top-20 radio hit within 5 months.

On the song’s release, I said “Used to Love You” would be Gwen Stefani’s comeback hit, and today I stand by that prediction.

Adele

Basically she broke all the records. Almost. Seriously, though, there are a few more amazing ones that she looks about to break. See all the Adele articles. Radio audience impressions for “Hello” are still rising,  and youtube views have barely slowed at all, still over 10 million/day even as the clip has already been viewed more than half a billion views globally.

Elle King’s fabulous “Ex’s and Oh’s”

Still rising on radio; #4-#3 today with a 1.8 million weekly audience impressions gain to 134.9 million.

Canadian Domination

Thanks mostly to Justin Bieber, Canadian artists are still dominating 70% of the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100. With Brit, Adele, still raging at #1, the top American act in America is currently Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” at #8.

Meghan Trainor

Speaking of which, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” reverses a dangerous trend of declining singles for burgeoning global superstar Meghan Trainor. Frequently, for a number of reasons, the lead single from an album peaks highest, and each subsequent single has a lower peak than the last. After breakout single “All About that Base” spent 8 weeks at #1 on the Hot 100, Meghan Trainor’s other singles seemed to be merely riding that single declining wave. But, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” A) was released more than a year after “All About that Base,” and B) has pushed well into the top 10 with continuing strong gains at radio even after previous singles “Dear Future Husband” and “Marvin Gaye” peaked at #s 14 and 21 respectively. Admittedly, “Marvin Gaye” was technically a Charlie Puth song that just happened to feature Meghan Trainor. But, it follows up Charlie Puth’s “See You Again,” which you might recall was one of the biggest #1 hits of this year and a rival to 2014’s “All About that Base.”

“Like I’m Gonna Lose You” moves #9-#8 today in overall audience impressions (119.9 million, +1.218 million). It is one of the ten greatest gainers.

Justin Bieber‘s “Sorry

Basically, this entire album is an apology to the American people for growing up to be such a douchebag. But, the apology was accepted. It may not be clear from the whole Adele overshadow thing, but Justin Bieber practically the biggest success story of the year. After “What Do You Mean” became Bieber’s first #1 hit on its debut, and then followed up with sustained massive radio airplay, Bieber took his album Purpose to the biggest debut of the year (until Adele happened the next week), seriously trouncing One Direction in what many thought was going to be a close fight (One Direction had an early pre order lead, but their music is basically shit, and Justin Bieber’s current album is grudgingly sonic bliss). Bieber’s album (unlike 1-D’s) had a relatively modest second-week drop-off, and will end the year on a strong note. Bieber’s second single “Sorry” debuted at #2 on the Hot 100 on similar strength to “What do You Mean” because Adele decided to drop a single the same week and literally shatter all-time records. But, as testament to Bieber’s strength, he has now become one of a tiny handful of artists to have three songs in the top five of the Hot 100 AT THE SAME TIME, as non-single “Love Yourself” debuted with massive sales. Then, Bieber decided to make a new record for # of songs in the Hot 100 at once, when literally every single song off of his album decided to chart during his debut week, most of which are still there for a second week.

Anyways, “Sorry” is currently getting 6-8 million global views/day on YouTube, while “What do You Mean” is still getting about 4 million/day. “Sorry”at #7 is the greatest gainer on radio today (125.587 million weekly audience impressions, +3.393 million; 20,093 weekly spins, +716 today). “What Do You Mean” is at #10 on radio, overall, and is dropping. “Sorry” is charting on Pop, HAC/Adult Pop, Rhythmic, and Spanish formats.

Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” 

I’m seriously obsessed with this song. It just speaks to my soul (sonically). Anyways, it nears 100 million audience impressions for #12 on overall radio (+1.688 million today, for 5th greatest-gainer). It has also risen to #6 on iTunes, and might sell 70k for the week ending 12/3.

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” 

As the solo artist with the most all time #1 US hits, Mariah Carey has just one song that still sells well and gets airplay. Every Christmas, the classic song comes back to invade the public consciousness once more. The question on my mind is: how big will its bump be this year? How much will it sell? How many YouTube views will it get?

On iTunes, it it already at #21, just below Shawn Mende’s recent #1 pop hit “Stitches.”

Here is basically a picture of the Christmas season over time. For reference, the song got about 700,000 views on December 1st.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 2.11.02 PM

Adam Lambert’s “Another Lonely Night”

Adam Lambert continues to post modest gains on the Adult Pop radio format (crossing the 2 million audience impression/week threshold today), and he has been getting sufficient ads at pop stations that he should start charting on that format within, perhaps, the next week. Here is Adam Lambert’s performance to date on Adult Pop with “Another Lonely Night:”
11/13 Friday: #NA; 235 weekly spins; +108 week-over-week weekly spins; 895,000 weekly audience impressions.
11/14 Saturday: #50; 252 weekly spins (+17); +109 week-over-week weekly spins (+1); 903,000 weekly audience impressions (+8,000).
11/15 Sunday: #48 (+2); 275 weekly spins (+23); +113 week-over-week weekly spins (+4); 949,000 weekly audience impressions (+46,000).
11/16 Monday: #41 (+7); 297 weekly spins (+22); +119 week-over-week weekly spins (+6); 993,000 weekly audience impressions (+44,000).
11/17 Tuesday: #39 (+2); 314 weekly spins (+17); +121 week-over-week weekly spins (+2); 1,035,000 weekly audience impressions (+42,000).
11/18 Wednesday: #38 (+1); 328 weekly spins (+14); +117 week-over-week weekly spins (-4); 1,023,000 weekly audience impressions (-12,000).
11/19 Thursday: #37 (+1); 350 weekly spins (+22); +128 week-over-week weekly spins (+11); 1,066,000 weekly audience impressions (+43,000).

11/20 Friday: #35 (+2); 372 weekly spins (+22); +137 week-over-week weekly spins (+9); 1,114,000 weekly audience impressions (+48,000).
11/21 Saturday: #34 (+1); 389 weekly spins (+17); +137 week-over-week weekly spins (+0); 1,221,000 weekly audience impressions (+107,000).
11/22 Sunday: #33 (+1); 416 weekly spins (+27); +141 week-over-week weekly spins (+4); 1,376,000 weekly audience impressions (+155,000).
11/23 Monday: #32 (+1); 437 weekly spins (+21); +140 week-over-week weekly spins (-1); 1,439,000 weekly audience impressions (+63,000).
11/24 Tuesday: #32 (+0); 455 weekly spins (+18); +141 week-over-week weekly spins (+1); 1,521,000 weekly audience impressions (+82,000).
11/25 Wednesday: #32 (+0); 476 weekly spins (+21); +147 week-over-week weekly spins (+6); 1,586,000 weekly audience impressions (+65,000).
11/26 Thursday: #32 (+0); 491 weekly spins (+15); +141 week-over-week weekly spins (-6); 1,629,000 weekly audience impressions (+43,000).
11/27 Friday: #32 (+0); 523 weekly spins (+32); +151 week-over-week weekly spins (+10); 1,707,000 weekly audience impressions (+78,000).
11/28 Saturday: #31 (+1); 544 weekly spins (+21); +155 week-over-week weekly spins (+4); 1,838,000 weekly audience impressions (+131,000).
11/29 Sunday: #31 (+0); 548 weekly spins (+4); +132 week-over-week weekly spins (-23); 1,799,000 weekly audience impressions (-39,000).
11/30 Monday: #30 (+1); 564 weekly spins (+16); +127 week-over-week weekly spins (-5); 1,857,000 weekly audience impressions (+58,000).
12/1 Tuesday: #30 (+0); 576 weekly spins (+12); +120 week-over-week weekly spins (-7); 1,824,000 weekly audience impressions (-33,000).
12/2 Wednesday: #30 (+0); 583 weekly spins (+7); +107 week-over-week weekly spins (-13); 1,902,000 weekly audience impressions (-33,000).
12/3 Thursday: #29 (+1); 608 weekly spins (+25); +117 week-over-week weekly spins (+10); 2,009,000 weekly audience impressions (+107,000).

Sia’s “Alive”

After a maddeningly slow start, and continued stagnant radio airplay, Sia’s “Alive” finally seems to be finding success on some level after a well-received performance on Ellen, featuring (you guessed it) Maddie Ziegler. If you didn’t guess it, Maddie was the girl who danced in all of Sia’s prior music videos before “Alive,” and, in my opinion, 1/3 of Sia’s viral success (the other two parts are Sia’s song-writing and Sia’s voice). Anyways, “Alive” jumped from about #100 into the top 10 on iTunes just in time for the holiday shopping season.  “Alive” currently sits at #9.

Here is the clip of Maddie Ziegler performing Sia’s “Alive” live on Ellen. And here is Sia NOT revealing her face on TV. And here is the official music video for “Alive,” featuring some random girl who isn’t as good as Maddie. And here is Sia’s “Chandelier,” which recently crossed 1 billion global views.

The Chainsmokers’ “Roses” feat. Rozes

Remember that song “Let me take a #SELFIE?” You know, the one that got 387 million YouTube views and rose to #16 on the Hot 100 on sheer viral success?

Well The Chainsmokers are back with a followup, “Roses,” featuring Rozes. The song may have only 1.7 million views so far, but it has climbed to #22 on iTunes, driven by its #21 rank on Pop Songs and #38 rank on Rhythmic. Overall, the song climbs to #75 on radio songs today with 24.131 million audience impressions (+896,000). It is the 13th fastest-growing song on radio. It is at #15 on US Spotify and #39 worldwide. It is #12 on US shazam and #46 on worldwide shazam.

This song is an emerging hit.

Who is Fancy’s “Boys Like You” feat. Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande

Speaking of emerging hits, label execs are quite clearly trying to groom a new superstar. Emerging gay artist Who is Fancy nabbed not one, but TWO A-list artists to feature on his second single after debut single “Goodbye” reached #29 on pop and #98 on the Hot 100 without much help. “Boys Like You” is certainly getting star treatment with a fancy music video, a debut performance on Dancing with the Stars, and its verse by fancy artists.

The song itself has the makings of a pop hit with a clearly cognizable hook and solid early performance on iTunes and YouTube. On iTunes, the song has surfed around the middled of the top 100 since its release, while the music video has been viewed 2.3 million times in just over one week, with only modest declines in daily views.

I’m watching for a debut on Pop Songs in coming weeks. Once we start getting airplay data, then we can start making predictions about future performance.

Ariana Grande’s “Focus”

After an extraordinary initial run on radio, a mediocre sales start, and a fantastic YouTube view curve, Ariana’s latest single got strongly negative audience reaction from listeners who felt inundated by a song that hadn’t yet grown on them. People like songs that they already know, but that haven’t been overplayed. Too many early spins for a song that could have grown on people if given more breathing room can be the death knell of what otherwise could have been a bigger hit. But, after a sharp reversal in fortunes, Ariana’s hit stabilized with her much-lauded performance at the AMAs.

Ariana is still stalled with about 55 million weekly radio impressions. The question is whether modest declines will accelerate or eventually reverse course.

With a negative rating from a full 40.3% of the 62.9% of pop listeners who were familiar with the song in the most recent callout report, I’m skeptical. But, I also don’t think it is that bad of a song. Without any information, I would have bet that the song would be a sure hit, and it seems radio programmers across the country agreed with me. Certainly, the performance on the AMAs was one of the best live performances o any current pop star. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Haley Reinhart’s Cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is charting on Adult Pop 

See my main article on Haley Reinhart’s radio success.

Haley Reinhart has a new album of original material coming out soon, and in the meantime, she is starting to really get some attention for her amazing vocal technique.

First, she crowd-funded herself into a seriously underrated music video for her original song, “Show Me Your Moves.” Then, she signed a new record deal with Ole and started collaborating with Postmodern Jukebox. She almost instantly became the star of Postmodern Jukebox, as her cover of “Creep” amassed over 12.6 million views (still about 40,000 views/day, 7 months after release), and all of her videos (except the one released 3 hours ago) have pulled in at least 3 million views (only seven of their videos released in the past year not starring Haley Reinhart have been viewed at least 3 million times, and three of those were released before Haley’s first. Besides “Creep,” Haley also stars in the second most-viewed Postmodern Jukebox cover of the past year, “All About that Base.”).

Then, she became the the honey-coated voice of the most heart-wrenching ad campaign of the year for Extra Gum, in which she sings a perfect cover version of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

This image captures the most emotional moment in the commercial, after she sees that he kept the gum wrappers from their first date and all their other dates and drew pictures to remind him of those moments. The last picture is him proposing, and she just starts turning around, with a hesitant tear leaking out of her eye.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.26.18 AM

If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, you should. Here. If you don’t cry even the fourteenth time you see it, then you should probably see a doctor for your broken tear ducts.

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.

Ariana Grande’s New Single, “Focus” Tops Adele’s “Hello” in 11 Countries

Like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande just released one of the years biggest pop hits, and it got almost completely overshadowed by Adele’s “Hello.”

YouTube still hasn’t solidified Ariana’s first-day views, but “Focus” has already racked up 12.2 million. So, she’s probably looking at 6-8 million for her first day. That is easily her biggest debut to date. “Problem” started with about 2.5 million YouTube views, while “Break Free” started with a little over 3 million and “Love Me Harder” and “One Last Time” each started with around 2.3 million. So, this is a pretty big deal for Ariana. I mean, she’s in Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber territory. Ariana has basically ascended into the top tier of current pop stars. That is… the top tier excluding Adele, who is still getting around 20 million daily YouTube views one full week after the single’s release. 

At peak, Ariana Grande’s new song was selling barely 27% as many copies as “Hello.” As somebody on Justin Bieber’s team allegedly said recently, “F***ing Adele…”

But seriously, major kudos to the Shatterer of Records, Queen of Music.

More

NOTE: “Focus” reached almost 15 million people on its first day of availability at pop radio (presumably with first-day hourly plays), which, coupled with today’s plays, might let it debut at around #22 on this week’s Pop Songs chart. It likely will not debut on the Radio Songs chart until it goes through a full week of availability.

Watch “Focus,” “Hello,” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”

Take a look at Ariana’s and Adele’s iTunes and Spotify rankings, and start making predictions as to where Ariana’s new single will debut on the Hot 100. Once we get a few more numbers, I’ll, of course, chime in with my own estimate… ;P

Ariana Grande’s Current Rankings

Focus

One Last Time

Bang Bang

Album: My Everything

Adele’s Current Rankings

Hello

Someone Like You

Rolling in the Deep

Album: 25