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.
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.