What I’m watching —
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 21? 21 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.
- 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
- 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”
- 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:
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:
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?
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?”
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:
Top tens: 12
Top 20s: 13
Top 40s: 15
Top 100s: 18
And Lady Gaga’s US hits:
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.
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)?