Jason Derulo's 'Talk Dirty' Cleans Up: The Story Behind The Fast-Moving Hit
The pop singer lands his fourth top 10 thanks to celeb-driven viral dirty talk.
After spinning tales of earnest romance on his previous two singles, Jason Derulo ditches the nice-guy act on "Talk Dirty" — and the result is the fourth top 10 single of his career. The boisterous club track, which features a guest verse from 2 Chainz, rises 15-6 on this week's Billboard Hot 100, and has sold 598,000 downloads to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Talk Dirty" is the third top 40 hit from Derulo's 2013 EP "Tattoos" (Warner Bros.), following "The Other Side" (No. 18 peak on the Hot 100) and "Marry Me" (No. 26). The latter two tracks continued the cheerful, dance-pop formula that helped Derulo land huge hits with "In My Head" (No. 5 on the Hot 100), "Ridin' Solo" (No. 9) and "Whatcha Say," which spent a week at No. 1 in 2009. But "Talk Dirty" sounds unlike anything else in the 24-year-old's catalog, thanks in part to the bass-heavy, Balkan-influenced production of Ricky Reed, the mastermind behind quirky Epic Records act Wallpaper.
"I wanted to experiment, and Wallpaper. is all about experimentation," Derulo says. "Talk Dirty" was originally considered as a lead single for Tattoos, according to Derulo, but the singer didn't want the transition from 2011's sunny "Future History" to his new project to be so jarring. "I felt like 'The Other Side' was a better bridge from what I did in the past than 'Talk Dirty.'"
"Talk Dirty" caught on more quickly outside the United States: The single hit No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles chart last September, spending two weeks at the summit months before the song was serviced to U.S. pop radio the week of Jan. 6. Derulo's label, Warner Bros. Records, has acknowledged the singer's sizable international following by focusing his recent road itineraries abroad, and releasing "Tattoos" as a full-length outside the States while presenting the project as a five-song EP stateside. "Trumpets," a new single from the international version of "Tattoos," is in the top 10 of the U.K. singles chart, but remains unavailable at U.S. retailers.
"Jason Derulo has this incredible international platform — he's a star all around the world," Warner Bros. Records VP of marketing Ayal Kleinman says. "Some territories moved at different speeds than [the States] and went with 'Talk Dirty' early. We were able to watch this song become a massive hit in the U.K., Australia, France and Germany, and it set us up really well to bring the record back home."
The single was also aided by some of Derulo's famous friends co-signing the song on YouTube. Last November, the members of One Direction filmed themselves dancing to the track during their "1D Day" live-stream, and the clip soon led to more pop artists — including Ariana Grande, Robin Thicke and Flo Rida — giving their viral takes on "Talk Dirty." A video compiling these singalongs, titled "Celebrities Talkin' Dirty," was teased with a 30-second trailer on Derulo's YouTube page in early January, and a full version of the clip will be released in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros.' radio department is "wholly focused on delivering a big hit song for top 40 and rhythm," Warner Bros./Reprise senior VP of promotions Peter Gray says. The song moves 23-20 on this week's airplay-based Mainstream Top 40 chart, with a 46% leap in plays, according to Nielsen BDS. On Rhythmic, it rises 21-14, with a 38% bump. A version of "Talk Dirty" without 2 Chainz' verse will also likely be worked to adult top 40 radio.
According to Kleinman, Derulo is "putting the finishing touches" on a full-length U.S. version of "Tattoos," which will arrive in early April. The singer is currently promoting the single in between rehearsals for his international headlining tour, which begins Feb. 22 in Paris.
"I had to cancel my last tour, obviously," Derulo says, referring to a neck injury suffered in 2012 that kept him in a brace for seven months. "And this one is far bigger, with more music to perform."