“Perfect Illusion” Update

“Perfect Illusion” was the 8th most-heard song overall on all of US radio during its first day of release, with 17 million Kworb-standard impressions. Radio impressions for subsequent days have been around 3.2M.

Primarily on the strength of first-day promotional airplay, “Perfect Illusion” debuted on the Pop Songs (Top 40) and HAC (Adult Pop Songs) weekly radio airplay charts for the tracking week ending Saturday, September 10th at #s 31 and 32 respectively.

NOTE: Sales and streaming are tracked on a Thursday – Thursday basis, and the two days of radio airplay were not alone enough to spark a debut on the Hot 100 for the tracking week that Billboard just reported on yesterday. This means that the initial promotional radio airplay spike will not count towards Gaga’s Hot 100 debut ranking. 

“Perfect Illusion” currently ranks at #4 on iTunes, and its sales decline appears to have slowed if not completely stabilized. Kworb.net currently estimates 95,000 first-week sales. Although not close to record-shattering, this is a robust figure that is consistent with the recent debuts of other big hits by major artists. It is comparable, for example, to the debut of Sia’s “The Greatest,” which is already clearly another huge hit. Of course, it is also comparable to the debut sales of Britney Spears’ “Make Me Ooh,” which subsequently stalled at radio.

“Perfect Illusion” currently ranks at #68 on the running weekly radio airplay chart. Given current trends, it should peak just inside the top 50 before its first-day promotional airplay drops off of the running tally.

On Spotify, “Perfect Illusion” was streamed 465,095 times in the United States on Monday, down from a peak of 594,798 on Friday, but up from a low of 422,776 on Sunday. It received 500,663 streams on Saturday. It is currently ranked at its low point of #30 on US Spotify. It debuted and peaked at #21. “Perfect Illusion” is currently at #32 on the Global Spotify chart with 1,432,210 streams on Monday.

By comparison, Sia’s “The Greatest” ranks at #11 on Global Spotify with 2,420,304 streams, and #15 on US Spotify with 613,759 streams. The #1 song on US and Global Spotify received 2,216,474 streams and 6,337,912 streams, respectively.

Gaga seems to have the strongest performance in Latin America and Mainland Europe. Here are the iTunes and Spotify positions for “Perfect Illusion” in every country in the world right now:

Perfect Illusion


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.


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.


“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.


“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


Spark the Fire