A theological debate infuses the charts department this week. Meanwhile, Phillip Phillips, Pink and Plumb net more traditional chart honors
One of the oddest discussions in memory took place among the members of the Billboard charts department this week.
"Is God an artist?"
Thanks to Kanye West, we ventured beyond our wheelhouse of facts, figures and charts and carefully into an exchange about religion. (At least as to how it relates to facts, figures and charts.)
As West debuts atop the Billboard 200 with "Yeezus," nine of its tracks enter the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. All are solely by West, except for one ... sort of: "I Am a God (Featuring God)" bows at No. 37. (Notably, Daft Punk – Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter – are among the song's writers.)
So … God debuts on our charts. Not technically as an artist, however. True, the iTunes listing for "Yeezus" shows "featuring God" as it would for any other guest credit (to the right of the song title). But, this case is clearly one all its own. (The issue stood out once Billboard associate chart production manager Alex Vitoulis initially created "God" as an artist in our computerized charts system, drawing quizzical (although good-natured) chuckles in the process …)
Essentially, the track finds West employing a sound effect in the apparent role of God, leading the charts department to settle on a thinking that "featuring God" is best listed as part of what's essentially a clever (if not controversial) song title.
And, who better to make the declaration, 'I am a god,' than the rarely reticent West? (The song does concede, however, "I am a god … 'til the day I'm struck by lightning …")
Despite the apparent religious nature of the song, West says that its inspiration was actually due to a perceived slight regarding last year's Paris Fashion Week. West was reportedly invited to a highly anticipated runway show as part of the festivities, but only on the condition that he not attend any others. "So, the next day I went to the studio with Daft Punk, and I wrote 'I Am a God'," West has recounted. "'Cause it's like, Yo! Nobody can tell me where I can and can't go. Man, I'm the No. 1 living and breathing rock star. I am Axl Rose. I am Jim Morrison. I am Jimi Hendrix.
"You can't say that Kanye West can't come to your show!" West continued, escalating to the third-person. "To even think they could tell me where I could and couldn't go is just ludicrous.
"It's blasphemous … to rock 'n' roll, and to music."
Still, "I Am a God" seems to sum up West's self-confidence on a wider scale than just the apparent fashion-related faux pas. "I made that song because I am a god," he's asserted.
"I don't think there's much more explanation."
ROD RETURNS: While we're on the subject of fealty-fueled song titles, Rod Stewart debuts on Dance/Club Play Songs for first time since 2005 with "Sexual Religion" (No. 49). Eight years ago, remixes of "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" reached No. 2; the original version became his first entry on the chart, and sole No. 1, in 1979.
The arrival of "Religion," from his album "Time," which opened at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 last month, marks Stewart's seventh Dance/Club Play Songs visit.