Gwen Stefani set for first #1 on Billboard 200

This is What the Truth Feels Like is headed for an estimated 80,000 equivalent album units by the end of the day, good for a #1 bow. Surprisingly, This is What the Truth Feels Like would be Gwen Stefani’s first #1 album as a solo artist. Of 6 prior top 10 albums as a solo artist and as the lead vocalist of No Doubt, only No Doubt‘s breakthrough album, Tragic Kingdom, was able to take the crown. Tragic Kingdom, which contained the 16-week 1996 #1 radio smash “Don’t Speak” (which was not allowed to chart on the Hot 100 under the rules in place at the time because it was not sold individually as a physical single), went on to sell over 8 million copies in the United States and 16 million worldwide.

By the way, at the time, “Don’t Speak” broke the record for the most weeks atop the radio airplay chart. Only one song since has ever racked up a longer stay atop radio: The Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” made it to 18 weeks in 1998.

Singles “Used to Love You” and “Make Me Like You” peaked at #s 52 and 54 respectively on the Hot 100. Stefani also featured on Eminem’s latest (#80-peaking) single, “King’s Never Die,” for the film, Southpaw.

Stefani last saw major chart success in 2006-2007 when The Sweet Escape produced an eponymous #2-peaking single in addition to #6-peaking “Wind It Up.” The Sweet Escape has sold over 1.7 million copies in the United States.

Current single “Make Me Like You” is steady at #102 on radio songs, with 21.507 million weekly audience impressions from Pop, HAC (adult pop), and AC formats, after a daily increase of 263,000 weekly audience impressions. “Make Me Like You” is also #34 on iTunes (about 26,000 copies sold in the week ending 3/24/16), although it is not currently charting on Spotify.

(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.

Gwen Stefani has a Hit

I hate to say “I told you so,” but… Who am I kidding? I LOVE saying that!

One month ago, on October 21st, I predicted after a single day of release that Gwen Stefani had a hit on her hands. At that point in time, I was looking at stronger than expected iTunes sales and YouTube streams (along with some gut instinct based on the song). I left a caveat, at the time, that more data would be needed to confirm a trajectory for Gwen’s single. Today, I announce that it has become clear in the data that Gwen Stefani does indeed have another hit on her hands.

Predicted peak on the Billboard Hot 100: #6-#22. Peak-to-date: #84.

Radio

The most important statistic is radio airplay over time. Gwen has experienced accelerating radio airplay over time, and her song is now the fifth fastest growing on U.S. radio. It is the fourth fastest-growing single on Pop radio, and the third fastest grower on Adult Pop.

“Used to Love You” leapt 14 positions on the big radio chart today #135-#121, with a weekly audience impression gain of 2.341 million audience impressions, for a total of 15.203 million audience impressions over the past week.

Sales

“Used to Love You” popped back onto the (100-position) U.S. iTunes chart in the past 24 hours, and currently sits at #84. The rapidly increasing radio airplay is starting to drive increased sales.

After its initial sales bump, “Used to Love You” had a weak start at radio and had been sloughing off sales like a snake shedding skin. For the week ending 11/12, it only sold about 11,000 copies. Expect sales to reverse course and accelerate starting this week.

Streaming

“Used to Love You” is not charting on Spotify yet. International YouTube streams are stable at around 100,000/day. At the rate of its increase at radio, however, expect both of these stats to change for the better in coming weeks.

Why is this song going to be a hit?

I think the #1 reason that Gwen is finding success with her comeback right now is because she is caught in a positive media spiral. The media is reporting on her new relationship with Blake Shelton, and her new single/music video came across as genuine. People may not want to see new music that sounds like Gwen Stefani circa 1998 or 2003, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in anything Gwen Stefani creates. She took an excellent approach by opening up her emotions and searching for something real. She stripped away the pomp and circumstance that typically accompanies a Gwen Stefani music video, and left the spotlight exactly where it should have been: on a pretty decent song.

The song itself has an aura of uniqueness, addressing an emotional issue in a way that is different from what we are used to. It doesn’t sound like some song from the 80s dusted off and pulled into a new setting of background music.

Finally, I just wouldn’t underestimate Gwen Stefani as a general rule. She is one of the rarified handful of artists that has managed to generate numerous hits over a substantial period of time (through the 1990s and the early 2000s). The primary reason she hasn’t had a hit since 2007 is that she hasn’t been releasing singles really since then. The fact that her last top 40 hit was a #2 hit implies that she dropped out of the music industry at HER peak, rather than at a time when she was already on a downward trajectory.

Should Gwen turn “Used to Love You” into a new series of legitimate hits in the coming years, then she will truly have reached rarified music industry air, because she will have been a real force in three separate decades. Very few artists remain capable of generating serious hits decades after they first make it big.

So, kudos to Gwen Stefani, and we’ll just have to keep staring at the numbers to ensure a solid prediction of her future performance.

Watch “Used to Love You” here, and take a peak at its (admittedly still weak) global iTunes chart positions below:

Used to Love You

Hollaback Girl

Baby Don’t Lie

iTunes:

Spark the Fire

iTunes: