Weekly Chart Notes: Kanye West Brings 'God' To Billboard Charts
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.
NEXT: P!nk powers back to AC summit
P!NK ASCENDS AGAIN: Just 10 weeks after she topped Adult Contemporary with "Try," her first No. 1 at the format, P!nk logs her second leader, as "Just Give Me a Reason," featuring Nate Ruess, jumps 4-1. The return to the summit is the fastest for an artist since the chart adopted Nielsen BDS data the week of July 17, 1993, and the quickest since Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine also reigned 10 weeks apart with "Can't Stay Away From You" and "Anything for You" in 1988.
The only act to collect a pair of leaders in a shorter span? Elvis Presley, who sent "Crying in the Chapel" to No. 1 the week of May 22, 1965, and led again nine weeks later (July 24, 1965) with "(Such an) Easy Question."
The 10-week ascent to the top for "Reason" is the quickest (excluding holiday titles) since Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" also hit No. 1 in its 10th frame the week of April 3, 2010. (No non-seasonal track has logged a faster flight to No. 1 since Phil Collins' "Can't Stop Loving You," which needed just nine weeks in 2002.)
Additionally, with "Reason" atop Adult Pop Songs for a ninth week, P!nk is the first artist to top both charts with the same title simultaneously since Adele doubled up with "Someone Like You" (Dec. 3, 2011), a feat that speaks to the continued domination of "Reason" at adult pop radio and its swift acceptance at AC.
'IDOL' THOUGHTS: As "Gone, Gone, Gone" climbs 43-36, singer/songwriter Phillip Phillips becomes the first "American Idol" champion to score a pair of top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 from a debut album since David Cook five years ago. Cook, the 2008 "Idol" victor, debuted and peaked at No. 3 with his coronation song "The Time of My Life" and followed with the No. 17-peaking "Light On" later that year.
Phillips' prior breakout single "Home" peaked at No. 6 in January.
… AND, 'VOICE' THOUGHTS: As Phillip Phillips makes the "American Idol" franchise proud, four remakes unveiled on the June 18 season finale of NBC's "The Voice" enter the Hot 100.
New champion Danielle Bradbery logs her highest rank as "Born to Fly" starts at No. 75. Sara Evans' original ascended to No. 34 (and No. 1 on Hot Country Songs) in 2000.
Runner-up Michelle Chamuel brings back two 1992 top 10s. Her takes on Annie Lennox's "Why," also a No. 34 hit originally, and U2's No. 10-peaking "One" (with her "Voice" coach, Usher) debut at Nos. 92 and 98, respectively.
And, third-place finalists the Swon Brothers dent the Hot 100 at No. 99 with "I Can't Tell You Why." The original Eagles' recording, featuring Timothy B. Schmit on lead vocals, rose to No. 8 in 1980, marking the band's 10th (and last to date) top 10.
In between the Eagles' and Swon Brothers' versions, R&B girl group Brownstone took its smooth interpretation of "Tell" to No. 54 in 1995. Earlier that year, the act had arrived with the No. 8-peaking "If You Love Me."
'LA LA' LANDS: Aided by a premiere on the syndicated "On-Air With Ryan Seacrest" and hourly plays on Clear Channel radio stations (June 17), Britney Spears' "Smurfs 2" soundtrack single "Ooh La La" enters the Hot 100 at No. 85. The cut starts at No. 68 on both Radio Songs (17 million audience impressions, according to Nielsen BDS) and Digital Songs (31,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan).
"Ooh" marks Spears' 30th Hot 100 hit, extending a discography that began the week of Nov. 21, 1998, when "…Baby One More Time," her first of five No. 1s, debuted at No. 17.
And, while 30 is an impressive sum …
'RIGHT' ON: … Rihanna registers her 43rd Hot 100 hit, as "Right Now," featuring David Guetta, debuts at No. 90. The bow is powered by the track's 31-26 lift on the Pop Songs airplay chart.
With the debut, Rihanna moves up on the list of women with the most Hot 100 appearances, with only eight standing in her way. Aretha Franklin leads with 73, followed by Taylor Swift (58), Madonna, Dionne Warwick (56 each), Connie Francis (53), Brenda Lee (48), Nicki Minaj (46) and Rihanna's Island Def Jam labelmate Mariah Carey (45).