As 'Royals' reaches the top of the Hot 100 this week, readers weigh in for an-all Lorde 'Ask Billboard' mailbag.
As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
THE #PRAISETHE LORDE EDITION
Finally something different atop the hot 100
Congrats Lorde! You truly deserve it, and your album is an amazing work of art. I can't wait to watch you sweep the Grammys!!
(three reader comments this week on Billboard.com)
With the clever (and hopefully not offensive) hashtag above, Lorde's coronation on the Billboard Hot 100 this week with "Royals" has caused a raucous celebration among many chart-watchers.
One of the most cited themes is the song's uniqueness. A young artist (16 years and 11 months old) from New Zealand with an atmospheric song celebrating underdogs and spurning celebrity overkill is quite different from the uptempo dance-leaning club/party anthems that have become the core sound of American pop music in recent years. Surely that's helping "Royals"; it stands out because it's different, especially in its sparse production (a la Gotye's eight-week No. 1 "Somebody That I Used to Know" last year) and paparazzi-eschewing viewpoint. (The last episode of "Extras" could be the TV equivalent of Lorde's hit.)
Still, "Royals" has a great melody, an essential ingredient for chart success in any era.
Overall, the song reinforces what's great about music: you just never know what song, wherever and whoever it comes from, will become a hit. After all, Ylvis' joyously goofy, dance-y "The Fox," in so many ways the opposite of "Royals," reaches the Hot 100's top 10 (13-8) this week, too.
So, an all-Lorde mailbag seems appropriate following "Royals" reaching the top of the Hot 100.
Here are some other reader insights on the achievement.
Hi Gary. Regarding the three ladies – Lorde, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus – in charge of the Hot 100's top three this week, I was thinking about these feats and connections:
1, Lorde joins Debbie Gibson (and others) as teen female songwriters (Lorde boasts a co-writing credit on "Royals") with Hot 100 chart-toppers.
2, Katy Perry scored a Hot 100 and Billboard 200 No. 1 with "Teenage Dream." Now, Lorde is living that dream, or "that fantasy," as she sings. And, Miley is a former teen star herself.
3, Paws, or pause, to think about this oddity: tigers are mentioned in the lyrics of the chart's top two songs, "Royals" and Perry's "Roar."
4, With Lorde ruling, it's the first time that a female from New Zealand has captured the Hot 100 crown as a lead act. Fellow Kiwi Kimbra was featured on Gotye's smash last year.
5, And, I love the link between Lorde and Tiffany, the youngest artist before Lorde to lead the list. An anti-materialism ode like "Royals" coinciding with a singer who shares a name with a worldwide jeweler.
All that while 80-years-young Yoko Ono tops Dance/Club Play Songs once again with "Walking on Thin Ice 2013"!
Thanks Pablo! To your third point, they sure are two cat-chy hits.
It is quite an accomplishment for Lorde to have written her No. 1 hit. In fact, as far as Billboard research can ascertain, having co-written "Royals," she passes Soulja Boy Tell'em to become the youngest solo artist to have written and performed a Hot 100 No. 1. Lorde also bests Debbie Gibson to become the youngest female to do so. A notable caveat, however: Soulja Boy Tell'em wrote, produced and performed "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" (2007) by himself. Gibson turned the same unassisted triple play with "Foolish Beat" (1988). Lorde co-wrote "Royals" with Joel Little, who produced the song himself.
Gibson, meanwhile, added another No. 1 that she wrote, produced and performed by herself as a teen: "Lost in Your Eyes" reigned for three weeks beginning on March 4, 1989, when she was 18 years, 6 months and 1 week old.
Other solo teens with co-writing credits on No. 1s that they performed in recent years? Sean Kingston crowned the Hot 100 for the first of four weeks on the chart dated Aug. 11, 2007. He was 17 years, 6 months and 1 week old at the time. The last teen female to top the Hot 100 with a song she co-wrote before Lorde was Christina Aguilera. She was 19 years and 10 months old when "Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" led for four weeks beginning Oct. 14, 2000.
And, how about this: With Lorde, 16, and Yoko Ono, 80, topping the Hot 100 and Dance/Club Songs, respectively, this week, it still takes the two of them combined to match the age of Fred Stobaugh, 96. Four weeks ago, he set the record as the most-senior artist ever to grace the Hot 100 when "Oh Sweet Lorraine" spent a week at No. 42.
While pop music is largely a youthful realm, sometimes, thanks to a song's strength, age ain't nothing but a number (to quote the late Aaliyah, who was only 15 when she made her first Billboard chart appearance ...)
NOT SO LITTLE
Billboard is correct in the case of Little Stevie Wonder being the youngest solo act (then 13 years and 3 months old) to top the Hot 100, with "Fingertips – Pt 2" in 1963. Correct again with Little Peggy March also being the youngest female to have a No. 1 ("I Will Follow Him," also in 1963) at 15 years, 1 month and 3 weeks of age.
But, let's not forget another big "Little": Little Miss Dynamite, Brenda Lee, who was recording when she was barely 9 years old and had a run of 51 Hot 100 hits from 1959 through 1973.
Lee is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. We'll celebrate her 69th birthday on Dec. 11.
Thanks Fred. Lee's two No. 1s before turning 16 is an amazing triumph not to be overlooked.
Almost three decades later, Tiffany came closest to the feat when "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Could've Been" topped the Hot 100 while she was 16.
WHERE'S THE LOVE?
With so much (deserved) attention this week on Lorde, how about a shout-out for another young act that once topped the Hot 100, Hanson – yes, 1997's resident "MMMBop"-pers!
Julie Raye, Matt Walton
Thanks Julie and Matt. While we've been focusing on soloists, brother trio Hanson merits a mention for a chart record of its own. Let's look at the youngest artists to top the Hot 100 regardless of solo or group classification.
While Wonder is the youngest solo male and March the youngest solo female, here's another honor for the late King of Pop: Michael Jackson is the youngest group member ever to top the Hot 100: he was only 11 years and 5 months old when the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" became the group's first No. 1 in 1970.
He didn't write that song, however, making runner-up in age Zac Hanson the youngest group member to co-write and perform a Hot 100 No. 1 (and bests Lorde's co-writing credit on "Royals" by more than five years): the group's drummer was 11 years and 5 months old when Hanson's "MMMBop" bounced to the summit for three weeks starting on May 24, 1997.
(At the time, Lorde was six months and 1 week old.)