Ask Billboard: Any News On Britney Spears' New Album?

Britney Spears - Ooh La La (From The Smurfs 2)

This week's mailbag looks at when we might expect Spears' next full-length, how big a radio hit Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' could be, Miley Cyrus' career sales and more

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

ANY NEWS ABOUT BRITNEY SPEARS' NEW ALBUM?

Can you reveal something new & exciting about new Britney's album? #AskBillboardFromFrance

@Jeeliaw


Bon jour!

Not that exciting, but I can at least relay an official word from Spears' label.

I forwarded your question to a rep at RCA Records. Here's what he said:

"I can't give you any info. at this time because I'm not aware of anything other than what she told Ryan Seacrest a couple weeks [on his syndicated radio show]: we can expect a full-length record by the end of the year."

Then again, in last week's "Ask Billboard," I noted that Interscope Records had offered no details other than a tease of "COMING SOON: LADY GAGA!" at the end of a press release about its current singles being promoted to top 40 radio. A week later, we now know that Nov. 11 brings "ARTPOP." So, who knows what meatier details might soon arrive regarding Spears' next album.

In the meantime, we have Spears' current "Smurfs 2" soundtrack single, "Ooh La La." I still find it surprising, by the way, that the song has yet to truly take off, have charted so far at Nos. 85-92-94 in its first three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, it returns to its peak (23-22) on the mainstream top 40-based Pop Songs radio airplay chart. (It debuted at No. 22 two weeks ago, aided by coordinated plays on Clear Channel-owned stations.) Perhaps consumers would be more abuzz about the song if it were accompanied by a new album, as opposed to a soundtrack? (And, total aside: does anyone else hear similarities between "Ooh La La" and Madonna's "MDNA" track "Superstar"? Listen and compare ...)



The fortunes of "Ooh La La" are likely to be boosted, however, by the premiere of its video last Thursday (July 11). With more than 10 million YouTube views as of this posting, its initial streaming totals should help the song rebound when the Hot 100 is refreshed this week.

NEXT: Biggest July Songs



The Best of Billboard Video:

See All Billboard Video



As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

AMERICAN MUSIC

Hey Gary,

What were the top-selling Independence Day-related songs last week?

Thanks,

Abum Ezeonwu


Hi Abum,

As the U.S. had a Yankee Doodle dandy time celebrating over the July 4 holiday, revelers made holiday-appropriate songs their soundtrack.

Here's a look at the five top-selling such downloads for the Nielsen SoundScan tracking week ending on July 7:

"God Bless the U.S.A.," Lee Greenwood (23,000, up 532%)
"Freedom Song (They'll Never Take Us Down)," Neil Diamond (22,000 in its first week)
"Party in the U.S.A.," Miley Cyrus (18,000, up 72%)
"Firework," Katy Perry (14,000, up 59%)
"Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)," Toby Keith (12,000, up 208%)

(Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," by the way, just missed the top five: 12,000 [slightly less than Keith's sum], up 358%.)



It's impressive that Diamond's song ranks as the week's second-best-selling independence-themed track, given its lack of familiarity. The song was written in response to the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April. Diamond sang it live for the first time in Washington, D.C., on July 4 at that day's Nationals-Brewers game and at the PBS "A Capitol Fourth" concert, broadcast live from the U.S. Capitol.

Best of all, sales of "Freedom Song" benefit the One Fund Boston, as well as the Wounded Warrior Project.

"I was moved by the unity and the attitude of the people in Boston," Diamond has said. "And that's really all a songwriter needs, is to be inspired. It doesn't happen very often but when it does you have to follow that muse, and I did."

NEXT: Air Is Thicke


As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

ROBIN THICKE INFO.: YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT

Hi Gary,

With Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring T.I. and Pharrell, crossing over to so many radio formats at the moment, it must be bound to challenge for one of the highest weekly audience peaks ever on the Radio Songs chart.

Could you provide a list of the top weekly audience peaks, according to Nielsen BDS?

Thanks!

Aaron Miller
Washington, D.C.


Hi Aaron,

Even having spent five weeks atop the Hot 100, "Lines" continues to make new strides at radio. Last week, it reached No. 1 on Radio Songs and Pop Songs and debuted on Adult Contemporary (No. 30). Unsurprisingly, it's led the Rhythmic chart for three weeks, while bounding 6-4 as the Greatest Gainer on R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay this week. More interestingly, it hits the Adult Pop Songs top 10 (13-9), also as the Greatest Gainer, at a format traditionally known for a pop/rock identity (although that's lessened in recent years, thanks to so many adult-friendly hits from the likes of Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Rihanna).

With 156 million all-format audience impressions last week (which BDS tallies by cross-referencing plays with Arbitron audience data; i.e, a play on a top-rated New York City station at 8 a.m. on a Monday weighs more than an overnight weekend spin on a small-market signal), "Lines" leapt to No. 1 on Radio Songs. While the total is impressive, it's actually not even the highest total this year: Justin Timberlake's "Mirrors" peaked with 159 million last month.

Still, as noted above, "Lines" appears to have plenty of radio life left, so we'll see how high its audience will grow.

Will it challenge for the top audience sum in the Radio Songs chart's 22-year archives? Here's a look at the five titles to post the highest weekly totals to date. All the songs on the list, like "Lines," reached their lofty levels as rhythmic/R&B tracks mainstream enough for widespread pop and/or adult acceptance:



212.2 million, "We Belong Together," Mariah Carey (July 9, 2005)
196.3 million, "Irreplaceable," Beyonce (Jan. 20, 2007)
192.4 million, "No One," Alicia Keys (Dec. 22, 2007)
189.6 million, "Let Me Love You," Mario (Feb. 5, 2005)
175.6 million, "Gold Digger," Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx (Oct. 22, 2005)

NEXT: Miley Cyrus Sales


As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

FROM HANNAH TO FRENCH MONTANA

Hi Gary,

Could you please update Miley Cyrus' U.S. sales?

Thank you!


Rosie Britto
Capital, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Hi Rosie,

As "We Can't Stop" (No. 3) ranks as Cyrus' second-highest charting Hot 100 hit (after 2009's "Party in the U.S.A.," which reached No. 2, and ahead of the release of her fourth studio album, the title and release date for which are still to be determined (Billboard, June 22), here's a look at how Cyrus has sold in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. (And, since she told Billboard, "I want to start as a new artist; I consider my upcoming album my first, really," we'll look at just her albums billed to Miley Cyrus, excluding her "Hannah Montana" efforts, in this recap.)

Her three studio albums:
1,603,000, "Breakout" (2008)
1,452,000, "The Time of Our Lives (EP)" (2009)
346,000, "Can't Be Tamed" (2010)

And, her seven songs to sell more than 1 million downloads each:
5.26 million, "Party in the U.S.A."
3.65 million, "The Climb"



2.45 million, "See You Again"
1.69 million, "7 Things"
1.33 million, "When I Look at You"
1.3 million, "Hoedown Throwdown"
1.18 million, "Can't Be Tamed"

With another hefty sales week, "We Can't Stop" could also pass the 1 million mark this week, (See tomorrow's story on Billboard.com running down highlights of the new Hot 100's top 10.)

As Cyrus' chart history includes both pop and country success, she told Billboard that, on the new set,  "I'm moving over to a more urban side. It's not a hip-hop album, though. It's a pop album. We've been calling it 'count-step,' because it's like country, dubstep and a little trap.

"I love the Lumineers but I also love French Montana, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa and Dolly Parton … that weird balance."

NEXT: JT, Always In Synch


As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FRIENDS

Hi Gary,

Hope you're doing well. Here's my trivial commentary for the week!

Paul McCartney*, Nelly** and Beyonce*** have each earned Hot 100 No. 1s as a solo act, part of a duo, part of a trio and part of a quartet. McCartney has done all that with No. 2 hits, as well. (See note below regarding "Get Back" at No. 1.)

Justin Timberlake has the following distinction with No. 1 AND No. 2:

With "Mirrors" peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100, Timberlake has now peaked at that position as a solo act, a part of a two-act title (as featured on "Dead and Gone" by T.I.) and with a group (with quintet 'N Sync on its duet with Gloria Estefan, "Music of My Heart.") (He hasn't peaked at No. 2 as part of a trio or quartet, however.)

Similarly, JT has peaked at No. 1 as a completely solo act (with "SexyBack" and "What Goes Around…Comes Around"), with one other act ("My Love," featuring T.I.) and on a three-artist hit (with Nelly Furtado on Timbaland's "Give It to Me.") He, of course, also reigned as a member of 'N Sync with "It's Gonna Be Me" (a title which served as a harbinger of his eventual solo status, didn't it?)

Footnotes:

*McCartney scored a Hot 100 chart-topper as part of a one-time quintet because "Get Back" was billed to the Beatles featuring Billy Preston; Macca has peaked at No. 2 as a solo act, with a duet (with Michael Jackson on "The Girl Is Mine"), part of a trio (which Wings was at the time of "Live and Let Die") and part of a quartet (e.g., the Beatles' "Twist & Shout").



**Nelly's first chart-topper was solo ("Hot in Herre"), followed by his collab with Kelly Rowland ("Dilemma"), a trio effort (with P. Diddy and Murphy Lee, "Shake Ya Tailfeather") and a quartet single ("Grillz," featuring Paul Wall, Ali and Gipp; it samples Destiny's Child's "Soldiers." Speaking of Destiny's Child …)

***In addition to Beyonce's five No. 1s – two on her own, three with featured acts – Destiny's Child scored No. 1s as a trio and as a quartet.


And, vaguely related to all this (because she dated JT), I'm diggin' Britney's new tune.

Gracias,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, California


Thanks as always, Pablo!

And, since tonight is the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, how cool that you point out that Nelly's four Hot 100 No. 1s were solo and as two-, three- and four-act collaborations – in that order.

In baseball, that's called that a natural cycle (hitting a single, double, triple and home run in a game, in order). We could say the same thing for Nelly's performance on the Hot 100.

Either way, we're talking about four big hits.