This Week RECAP: END OF TAYLOR SWIFT, Saara, Grammy Bumps: Weeknd, Adele, Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Zayn, & Haley Reinhart

In this issue of This Week RECAP, we will say goodbye to Taylor Swift for a few years. Then, we will look at a stunning new Justin Bieber cover song from Finnish Youtube sensation, Saara, before recapping Grammy bumps and the battle between new singles by Rihanna and ex-One Directioner Zayn Malik. We’ll close by congratulating Haley Reinhart on her latest accomplishment. 

THE END OF TAYLOR SWIFT – Don’t expect any new music from Taylor Swift for a while. It appears that “Out of the Woods” is the last single she will be promoting off of 1989, and for the first time in a decade, Taylor will not be releasing an album in the fall of an even year.

We know that she is planning on taking a break after the 1989 Tour because she said so. But it would be perfectly reasonable for you to wonder why I think “Out of the Woods” is the last single she will be promoting. The answer: I have been looking at radio trends and concluded that Taylor’s label has stopped PROMOTING “Out of the Woods.” Now why would they do that?

Radio Trends – First let’s take a peak at the performance of Taylor’s prior singles.

Shake It Off” stayed in the Top 2 of the Hot 100 for twelve weeks, including 4 weeks (at the edges) at #1. Radio peak: #1 (195.5m/week). Current radio performance: #104 (18.021m/week).

Blank Space” dethroned “Shake it Off” and maintained the pole position for 6 consecutive weeks. Radio peak: #1 (198.131m/week). Current radio performance: #101 (19.830m/week).

Style” peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 on relatively weak Youtube streams and weak sales (after everyone and their dog already owned 1989). But on radio songs, it still climbed to a #3 peak (178.862m/week). And, it is currently outperforming the two earlier singles and later single “Bad Blood” on radio at #85 (23.825m/week).

Bad Blood” spent a single debut frame at #1 on the hot 100 on the strength of strong sales and streams (from a high-budget music video and a remixed version of the single featuring Kendrick Lamar). Then, it spent an additional 5 weeks at #2, stuck behind Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again.” Radio peak: #1 (195.179m/week). Current radio performance: #128 (14.696m/week).

Wildest Dreams” peaked at #5 on the Hot 100. Radio peak: #1 (180.290m/week). Current radio performance: #13 (76.006m/week).

Out of the Woods” peaked at #22 on the Hot 100 on the strength of strong sales when it was released as a promotional single for 1989. During its current radio run as an actual single, it has peaked at #44. Radio peak: #18 (68.848m/week). Current radio performance: #25 (62.822m/week).

You KNOW there is something off about this pattern.

When it was first released as a single, “Out of the Woods” looked much like any of Taylor’s prior singles, numerically, albeit a bit weaker. It started with 5 million first-day Youtube views. It was consistently one of the greatest gainers at radio. Sales were weak, because everyone already owned 1989. But I was expecting the single to still rise up to at least 150 million radio audience impressions/week, just as all of the prior singles had, and to thereby peak at or near the top of the radio chart.

Everything looked swell until “Out of the Woods” suddenly stopped growing at radio, only halfway up the chart. In fact, never reached HALF of the radio airplay of Taylor’s next weakest 1989 song to date, and this after every other single had consistently reached a narrow band of 178m-198m audience impressions/week. There is nothing wrong with “Out of the Woods.” It sounds quite a bit like “Style” and “Wildest Dreams,” with no substantial or obvious differences in quality or hit potential. So, why on Earth would a song by one of the biggest pop stars on the planet right now so suddenly turn around on radio?

Last week, I wondered if Taylor Swift had any real impetus to continue releasing singles off of 1989, if they would be medium-large radio/streaming hits with weak sales. Who bears the costs of promoting a single to radio? The record label. How much does it cost to promote a song all the way to the top? I think Taylor’s label noticed that she has (they have) nothing to gain at this point from a hit single aside from the accompanying sales. If the sales alone aren’t enough to justify the promotion, then maybe the label simply cut the cord and stopped bothering with it?

Now, assuming that the label is no longer promoting her song to radio, what does that say about the prospects of a seventh high quality music video, and accompanying promotion of another single to radio? The chances are slim.

Conclusion – Don’t expect another single from 1989, and don’t expect another album any time soon. This is the end of one of the biggest runs that the music industry has ever seen. What will become of Taylor? Will she come back and release more music in a few years? Will her fans still be waiting? Will the country still be interested in her work the way it is now? Or is this the end of the saga of Taylor Swift as superstar? Is everything downhill for her from hear on out?

Saara – Saara is a Finnish girl who became youtube-famous for speaking perfect gibberish in essentially all the languages on Earth. Anyways, she is trying to break into the music industry. She has serious chops, but her videos have frequently been extremely… youtube. Anyways, she finally got her act together and released a legitimate, serious cover version of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” and it’s actually REALLY good, ESPECIALLY at the parts where it is most important.

Expected Grammy Bumps — or Rather, the LACK thereof! 

The Weeknd & Adele – Oh, where to begin. After an underwhelming performance, The Weeknd’s current single, “In the Night,” is apparently only looking at a 45% sales bump (21K – 31K), barely enough to cover radio airplay that is dropping like a rock (#5; 120m/week, -1.294m today; down from a peak of over 135m/week). Maybe that will be enough to pull it into the top 10 from its current #14 perch, but it’s a bit more uncertain now.

As for Adele, she didn’t even BOTHER to perform “When We Were Young” (which is sitting at #20 on the Hot 100 and #10 on radio with 95.679m/week, +0.395m today). Instead, she used the platform to promote presumed next single “All I Ask,” which, by the way, didn’t reach #1 on iTunes. After an underwhelming performance plagued by technical problems, the song missed the iTunes top 5, and will be debuting on the Hot 100 with fewer sales than “Hello” is still getting, months after its peak.

Hello,” meanwhile, is still in the iTunes top 10 more than 4 months after its record-smashing release last year. The success of “Hello,” which already has 1.18 BILLION views on Youtube just goes to show what Adele can accomplish when she puts in effort, releases a legitimate music video, and promotes her work. The mediocre performance of “When We Were Young” and “All I Ask” is the result of Adele NOT releasing a music video or promoting her work effectively.

The Most-Facebooked Event of the Night? Lady Gaga’s superfan tribute to David Bowie.

Rihanna – Riri did NOT show up for her Grammy performance due to health issues! That means she gets no Grammy boost! Luckily, releasing her song for streaming pushed her up into the top 5 anyways. Also “Work” is still rocketing up radio with 2m+ additional weekly audience impressions/day, and is now up to 84.315m/week. However, it is only appearing on three formats: Pop, Rhythmic, and Urban. Why isn’t it charting on Adult Pop, Adult Contemporary, Latin Urban, or Spanish yet? None of the top six radio songs overall are charting on fewer than 5 formats, so if Rihanna is going to make it to the top, she will eventually have to cross over to a few more formats.

Beyonce – speaking of crossing over, Beyonce’s new song, “Formation,” has been rocketing up Rhythmic, Urban, and Urban AC, but it has yet to appear on EITHER Pop OR Adult Pop after more than 1 week of release. It is obviously not going to appear on country radio, so its ascent is clearly handicapped by Pop’s boycott. Even if it were to reach #1 on all three of its current formats simultaneously, it would still only have about 70 million audience impressions/week and be ranked at around #19 overall on radio songs.

“Formation” is currently at #74 overall on radio (+3; 29.264m/week, +0.986m today). It is also #25 on Rhythmic (+0; 9.959m/week, -0.047m today; 1182 spins/week, +71 today); #15 on Urban (+3; 17.991m/week, +0.969m today (greatest gainer); 1902 spins/week, +147 today (greatest spincrease)); and #44 on Urban AC (-1; 0.662m/week, +0.018m today; 69 spins/week, +4 today).

Zayn – Zayn (formerly of One Direction)’s “Pillowtalk” (#19 on Pop, +2; 34.982m/week, +1.879m today; 5956 spins/week, +275), which was released within about 24 hours of Rihanna’s “Work” (#20 on Pop, -1; 33.423m/week, +0.944m today; 5908 spins/week, +150 today), just passed it on pop radio, even as “Work” (#12 overall, +0 today; 84.315m/week, +2.119m today) retains a massive lead on overall radio over “Pillowtalk” (#54 overall, +7 today; 39.088m/week, +2.235m today). The difference? Rihanna pulls in 23 million audience impressions per week from her #6 position on Rhythmic (Zayn is at #34 on that chart with 2.5m/week) and another 23 million weekly audience impressions from her #8 post on Urban. Zayn’s song appears on the charts of no other formats. On streaming and sales, the two songs are pretty evenly matched, with the edge to Rihanna on both.

But, note that Zayn’s song has accelerated, and it is now growing at a slightly faster clip than Rihanna’s “Work.” Will “Work” stay two steps ahead of “Pillowtalk” throughout their chart lives, or does “Pillowtalk” have a chance to eventually catch up?

Haley Reinhart – “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is still growing on Adult Pop, and it reaches a new milestone on overall radio songs, as it is set to pass a running tally of 5 million audience impressions/week by tomorrow. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is currently charting at #33 on Adult Pop and #23 on Adult Contemporary, after it featured as the centerpiece for a viral ad campaign for Extra Gum, which now has over 18 million views on Youtube. It is expected to be featured on Haley’s upcoming second solo studio album.

TRIVIA QUESTION 

Answer to last 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)? Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” ruled the Hot 100 for 14 weeks in early 2015. Honorable mention to Taylor Swift (“Blank Space” & “Shake it Off” — 9 weeks consecutive, 11 weeks total, but “Shake it Off” spent an additional 8 weeks in a virtual tie with “All About that Base,” thereby coming oh so close to having 19 consecutive weeks at #1, or almost 5 months), Adele (“Hello” — 10 weeks), Pharrell  Williams (“Happy” — 10 weeks), The Weeknd (“Can’t Feel My Face” & “The Hills” — 7 weeks, but “Can’t Feel My Face” had previously spent 2 of the previous 5 weeks at #1 — The Weeknd also managed to spend 45 straight weeks in the top ten, 4th best all-time), Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth (“See You Again” — 12 weeks @ #1 but non-consecutive; interrupted by Taylor Swift’s record-breaking “Bad Blood” debut), Iggy Azalea (“Fancy” — 7 weeks), Magic! (“Rude” — 6 weeks), Meghan Trainor (“All About that Base” — 8 weeks), and Justin Bieber (“What do You Mean,” “Sorry,” & “Love Yourself” — 6 non-consecutive weeks, but spread among 3 straight #1 singles, with 24 straight weeks of having a top 10 single).

This week’s question: Last summer, Taylor Swift and her team executed a carefully calibrated multi-prong strategy to get “Bad Blood” to become an instant #1 single, despite being released in the middle (peak) of “See You Again”‘s massive 12-week reign. Name one prong of that strategy.

 

 

 

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)?

Weekly Recap: The Weeknd, Twenty One Pilots, Hot 100 #1 Battle, Justin Bieber, Haley Reinhart, Adam Lambert, Adele, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Rihanna

As Rebecca Black once “sang,” to all of our entertainment, IT’S FRIDAY. Because, I mean, yesterday I think it WAS Thursday. And tomorrow is Saturday. And Sunday comes… afterward… If I can keep my days straight, I believe that Monday is the next one, right? Or was it Tuesday? Oh the travails of very-early-onset Alzheimers.

Obviously, it’s time for a weekly recap of what to watch in the music industry.

10) The Weeknd

In the Night” appears to have peaked at #5 on radio songs, as it is now clearly shedding airplay. After taking home a 4th place trophy for pulling off 45 consecutive weeks of having a single in the top 10 of the Hot 100, the question was whether The Weeknd‘s “In the Night” could continue the trend with the buzz of its music video release. It missed the top 10, peaking at #12 (Youtube streams were pretty wimpy… relatively, of course), and the question became whether it could reach the top ten at all on the strength of gradually building airplay. Now that its airplay has peaked, that finally appears impossible.

Except… he has been nominated for six Grammys this year (including Record and Album of the year) and he is slated to perform. We should probably expect a pretty big Grammy bump, at least in terms of sales. Will it be enough to vault The Weeknd back into the top 10? Maybe… Probably. We’ll just have to wait and see.

9) Twenty One Pilots

“Stressed Out” is actually not that far behind Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” in terms of radio airplay, and it is now growing at a substantially faster pace. “Stressed Out” could reach #1 on the Hot 100.

What am I watching? Global Youtube streams for “Stressed Out” are only at 1 million/day. Compare that to “Love Yourself”‘s 4 million/day. In terms of actual US streams and from all services, “Love Yourself” has more like a 40% lead on “Stressed Out” (still seriously problematic, since streaming is the most heavily-weighted component of Billboard’s charts).

8) Drake v. Zayn Malik v. Rihanna v. Justin Bieber

There is literally a four-way battle brewing for the top of the next Hot 100. Drake, Zayn Malik, and Rihanna all released massive new singles; meanwhile, Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” maintains massive streaming, and decent streaming as it nears the top slot on Radio Songs.

Estimated figures:

Drake – “Summer Sixteen” – 215K sales, 9.5m radio, 2m (?) (Drake’s song is only available for streaming via Apple, and it is not yet charting on any radio airplay charts; however, Billboard reported 3.4 million radio audience impressions in the first three days of the tracking week.)

Rihanna (feat. Drake) – “Work” – 163K sales, 48m radio, 10m streams (?) (Rihanna’s single is not available on YouTube or Spotify, and Tidal has not released streaming figures. However, Billboard reported 2.2 million first-day streams.).

Zayn – “Pillowtalk” – 250K sales, 14m radio, 17m streams

Bieber – “Love Yourself” – 105K sales, 140m radio, 15.8m streams

My bet? Zayn appears to have the edge with “Pillowtalk.” This guess is partly because the chart-formula was just rebalanced to give more weight towards sales, but leaving streaming as the biggest component.

7) Justin Bieber

Replaced himself atop the Hot 100. 5th week atop Artist 100.

 

6) Haley Reinhart

She’s reversing course on AC and finally starting to fall off with “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Slow growth on HAC, where she has now reached #34.

5) Adam Lambert

Adam finally dropped off of Pop songs altogether, and he has seemingly reversed course on HAC after peaking at #23. He is currently at #24 on the chart, with no daily spin gain or loss. Essentially, Adam’s single is done with its regular chart run. It is time to either A) pull a fabulous stunt and turn “Another Lonely Night” into the new official ballad of SINGLES AWARENESS DAY 2016; or B) start promoting “The Original High” so that it can have a legit chance to conquer the summer!

NOTE: Several years after Adam rooted for Haley on her season of American Idol, their paths are about to cross in terms of radio airplay. Adam is stalled/dropping from just over 4 million weekly audience impressions, while Haley’s song is just approaching the 4 million mark. Both artists are producing great music and proving that they will have staying power in the music industry (Adam was recently named the top-earning American Idol alum of 2015 with an estimated $10m income from various projects; Haley has now been the subject of multiple viral Youtube sensations over the course of 2015 and just made her TV debut as the voiceover of an animated young boy on the Netflix original, “F is For Family.”

4) Adele

“When We Were Young” is reversing track on radio airplay. It has basically stalled at #11. It needs a music video or Grammy performance with a little bit of Adele sparkle dust to give it a stimulus, or Adele needs to release a new single. Why? 25 sales are lagging behind projections. Basically, 25 is falling into Taylor Swift’s 1989 pattern, after spending its first five weeks steadily 3X 1989. I think we would all like to see Adele keep selling massive numbers of records and keep breaking records. So, WAKE UP, Adele. Snap your fingers and make the magic happen! ;P

3) Selena Gomez

VAULTS into Top 10 with new single “Hands to Myself” (with both the biggest gains in streams and digital sales for the week). “Hands to Myself” is the third single off of Revival, but Selena doesn’t seem to be slowing down. She previously reached #6 with two prior singles: “Come & Get It” and “The Heart Wants What it Wants” (and, including her work as Selena Gomez & the Scene, the Top 40 (none higher than #20) with 6 singles). With Revival, Selena has reached the ranks of #5-#7 with all three singles to-date, basically making her prior albums look amateurish. BTW, I’m digging the new music.

What am I watching? Will “Hands to Myself” hit the same radio peak as prior singles, or is it just popping into the top ten for a superficial visit? I’ve also noticed that “Hands to Myself” has a remarkable initial Youtube bump (topping 4 million/day for a few days), but that it has since fallen to (what appears to be a sustainable) 1m/day. It will be interesting to see whether it keeps deflating, and it will be interesting to see if the strong views are an indication of relative strength, or whether they are simply due to the steamy content.

2) Lady Gaga 

Gaga is about to set a new record: She will be the first person EVER, within a single calendar year, to sing at: 1) the Super Bowl; 2) the Grammys; and 3) the Oscars. Meanwhile, she just WON a Golden Globe for her performance as the star of American Horror Story: Hotel (to which she is presumably returning for another season), and she is NOMINATED for BOTH a Grammy AND an Oscar. To top it off, her passion project, “Til It Happens to You” (which is responsible for her Oscar and Grammy nominations) is legitimately scaling an airplay chart, as she rises 26-23 today on Adult Contemporary (the third-greatest gainer by spins).

What am I watching for? LG5. Gaga is reportedly planning on dropping an album this year. Gaga’s last (pop) album, 2013’s Artpop, was lampooned as a flop (relative to her prior albums), but it was still the 9th best-selling album of 2013, and its debut sales week (258,000) was comparable to those of contemporaneous albums by Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Plus, Lady Gaga is hot right now. She feels confident. And, quite honestly, Lady Gaga can really throw a punch in the music industry when she is feeling it. I can feel a storm brewing, and I will be fascinated to see what Lady Gaga drops next.

1) Rihanna

One of the biggest stories on the internet right now is how Rihanna’s new album was just certified platinum (representing 1 million sales) after about 14 HOURS of sales (Tidal claims to have moved over 1.4 million units, with 484,833 of them actual sales); and yet Neilson Soundscan officially reported first-week sales of only 460 copies. It’s not ACTUALLY a mystery: 1) Samsung bought and gave away 1 million copies for free, which Billboard and Neilson didn’t count but RIAA did. 2) Tidal was apparently reporting worldwide sales. And, 3) the sales started on the last day of the tracking week.

But, then, the question is whether Rihanna’s album is a “success.” I can report unequivocally that this is probably Rihanna’s single MOST successful album (as ALBUM, not necessarily as compilation of singles) to date. 1) Despite an insane number of massive singles (she already has the same number of #1 hits as Michael Jackson) Rihanna has only moved more than 2 million units (in the USA) of ONE of her seven prior albums, and neither of her two most recent releases has sold more than about 1.2 million copies TOTAL (in the USA). Free giveaway or not, Rihanna basically just brought her album to a par level of distribution in 14 hours–that’s impressive. Tack on the fact that it is still actually going through a legitimate sales run (it is slated to easily top the Billboard 200 in its second week [first full week] with about 125,000 incontrovertible pure album sales, plus massive streams and sales of lead single, “Work”), and the massive success of lead single, “Work” (which already debuted at #9 on the Hot 100 after a fraction of a week, and should challenge for a spot at or near the top of the chart after its first full week of sales, airplay, and streaming are factored in).

What am I watching for? How many albums will Anti sell? How will sales hold up over time? Will Rihanna find success with other singles on the album, or will it go the way of Beyonce (pitiful singles sales after everyone already bought the album)? It has become clear that “Work” will be a legitimate Top 5 hit for Rihanna, but can it make it to #1, either now or later? It is radio’s greatest gainer today, so it might reach number one after a few weeks of strong radio growth, even if it doesn’t make it based on initial sales.

Trivia Question

Every week, the first reader to post a correct answer in the comments section will get a point. I will keep a running scoreboard and post the answers with the next week’s trivia question.

  1. Adele’s “Hello” recently set a record for being the only song to ever sell more then 1,000,000 DOWNLOADS in a single week. What song holds the record for the largest weekly singles tally OVERALL, including both digital AND physical single sales?

 

Canadian Domination Expands

I reported last week that Canadians had locked up the Top Three slots on the US Hot 100. Not only does Canada hold onto that position for a third week, but a third Canadian artist (also from Ontario!) adds a FOURTH song to the Top 10.

As The Weeknd becomes just the 11th artist EVER to replace himself at #1 on the Hot 100, Drake’s new single bursts into the Top 10, roaring 16-9. All three Canadian artists (Justin Bieber, Drake, and The Weeknd) are from Ontario, Canada. Bieber is from London, Drake is from Toronto, and The Weeknd is from Scarborough.

How many weeks can Canada maintain its stranglehold? Sound off in the comments below.

Canada Rules the US Music Market

The Billboard charts are currently being dominated by Canadian artists. Both The Weeknd and Justin Bieber happen to be from Ontario, Canada.

The Weeknd currently leads the Hot 100 for a third non-consecutive week with single “Can’t Feel My Face,” the Billboard 200 with album, Beauty Behind the Madness, and the Artist 100 for overall sheer awesomeness across pretty much all the charts, including social media. For toppers, followup single, “The Hills” simultaneously takes the runner-up slot on the Hot 100.

Justin Bieber, meanwhile, debuted at #1 last week with the lead single from his upcoming album, “What Do You Mean?” This week, it drops to #3, yielding a second week of straight Canadian-born acts in the Top Three of the Hot 100. Last week, Justin Bieber took the #2 slot on the Artist 100, behind the strength of The Weeknd’s massive Beauty Behind the Madness bow (it was the second largest album sales week of the year so far). This week, Bieber drops to #4 on the Artist 100.

Other charts crowned by either Bieber or The Weeknd? Radio Songs, Digital Songs, Twitter Top Tracks, On-Demand Songs, The Social 50, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, R&B/Hip-Hop Digital Songs, Hot R&B Songs, R&B Streaming Songs, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, R&B Albums, Rhythmic Songs, and Dance/Electronic Digital Songs.

They are, of course, also ruling the Canadian Hot 100, Canadian Albums, and Canadian Digital Songs Charts. Internationally, they take the #s 1 and 2 slots on the Worldwide iTunes Song Chart per trusted numbers agglomerator website, kworb.net. The Weeknd also rules the Worldwide iTunes Albums chart (Bieber doesn’t have a current album, remember). They are currently at #s 1 and 2 on the US iTunes chart. Using a different methodology, United World Chart still lists Bieber’s as the #1 song in the world, with The Weeknd at #s 3 and 10. On the albums side, United World Chart has The Weeknd down #1-#3.

So, in the end, it might have been an easier undertaking to list the charts that AREN’T being lead by Canadian artists this week.

But wait, you say? Justin Bieber and the Weeknd aren’t really Canadian anymore, since they moved to the US and are now Americans? Yes, that is absolutely correct. They are not so much Canadians as Canadian-Americans. And, of course, neither became international superstars while they were still living in Canada. So, it is pretty clear where the credit should lie.

In the end, betting against America is like betting against the house. We stack the deck in our favor such that we always win in the end. ;P