Iggy Azalea's 'Fancy' Takeover: 10 Key Ingredients To a Summer Smash
From her social media presence to her "Clueless" tribute, check out the 10 biggest reasons why Iggy Azalea is now ruling the Hot 100.
It will be months before Billboard officially names the 2014 Song of the Summer, but if one song has a better shot than any other at following Robin Thicke's 2013 winner "Blurred Lines," it must be Iggy Azalea's "Fancy." The electro-rap track, featuring Charli XCX, has climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making the Australian rapper's first chart entry her first chart-topper (the song is also No. 1 on our Digital Songs chart and Streaming Songs chart). How long can it stay in that pole position, which it overtook immediately after Memorial Day? And will it be our Song of the Summer when all is said and done? Time will tell. But the rise of "Fancy" has made Azalea the best bet to be the year's biggest breakout artist, and an artist who just achieved a chart feat that only the Beatles can also claim.
So how, exactly, did "Fancy" become the top song in the country? All of the usual factors for a summertime smash were there -- radio support, media promo and a damn catchy hook -- but several other circumstances also positively influenced the track's reach. Here are the 10 key ingredients to the success of Iggy Azalea's first No. 1 single:
1. That Insidious Beat. Those creeping synths -- elastic in their delivery, arresting in their simplicity -- serve as the backbone of "Fancy" along with the faded hip-hop chants, and are more immediate than any production detail on Azalea's previously released singles. Credit veteran production team The Invisible Men, who worked with The Arcade on the track and several others on "The New Classic," for giving Azalea and Charli XCX the perfect foundation on which to flaunt their fanciness.
2. Charli XCX Brought Her Songwriting Swagger. Before she was getting her "Fancy" on, U.K. singer-songwriter Charli XCX released one of the best albums of 2013; "True Romance" is overstuffed with immaculate hooks knotted up in shiny synth-pop arrangements, often packaged with unapologetically personal vocals. Icona Pop mined Charli XCX's writing prowess for "I Love It" last year, but Azalea tapped the 21-year-old to solely deliver "Fancy's" hook and third verse, bringing some indie-pop cred and a tested performer into her hip-hop track.
3. "Fancy" (and Iggy) Have Had Time To Grow. Before it was the song with the inside track to be 2014's Song of the Summer, "Fancy" was released way back in early February and took nearly a month and a half to debut on the Hot 100 chart, quietly starting at No. 88 on the March 22 tally. The song proceeded to surge up the chart over the following two months and hit No. 1 two days after Memorial Day -- perfect timing for a would-be summer anthem.
Before "Fancy's" slow rise to the top, Azalea spent nearly three years honing her craft after her first mixtape, "Ignorant Art," dropped in 2011. In 2012, Azalea graced the cover of XXL as part of that year's 'Freshman List,' then proceeded to spend two years trying to find a breakthrough single to launch her first full-length, "The New Classic." "Murda Bizness," "Bounce" and "Work" all fizzled as album release dates were scrapped, but all the while, Azalea was making media appearances and improving her live show while waiting for the mainstream moment that finally arrived with "Fancy."
4. An Insta-Classic Music Video. Really, who doesn't have a soft spot for "Clueless"? The generation-defining 1995 comedy is fondly brought back to the cultural forefront in Azalea's "Fancy" clip, with the rapper assuming the role of Alicia Silverstone's Cher Horowitz and ruling class with a pink puffball at the end of her pencil. The video has garnered 57 million YouTube views since debuting on March 4. Coming soon: the yellow plaid revival.
5. On-Point Television Performances. Azalea has wisely brought along Charli XCX on her many televised performances of "Fancy," teaming up with the U.K. singer instead of performing with a pre-recorded hook. And those joint performances have largely been enthralling -- witness the cheer-squad shimmy at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, the matching checkerboard getups on "Good Morning America", the Iggy Azalea Hotel on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" or the Iggy Azalea Prom on "Dancing With The Stars." These presentations of "Fancy" aren't being phoned in, and Azalea has kept winning because of them.
6. Concurrent Hit = Not A Problem. Although "Blurred Lines" would have been a hit last summer even if "Get Lucky" had never happened, the timing of those radio smashes constructed the tidy narrative that it was the Summer of Pharrell Williams. The same thing is happening with "Fancy" and Ariana Grande's "Problem," which features an Azalea guest verse and rocked the charts upon its release last month. Notching one of the 10 biggest first-week digital sales weeks ever and peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart, Grande's "Problem" further solidifies the summer of 2014 as Azalea's time to shine, and gives more exposure to an artist who was unknown to the general public just a few months ago.
7. The Viral Parodies Keep Coming. Have you seen the one where the father and daughter lip-synch to "Fancy" in their car? How about the 'jazz' version, or the Judge Judy GIF version? If you've missed these, don't worry -- most pop culture sites like Buzzfeed have posts about all of them. Like "Blurred Lines" and "Call Me Maybe" before it, "Fancy" was inspiring viral tributes before hitting No. 1 -- and now that it's the biggest song in the country, expect dozens of others to follow.
8. Her Album Is Selling Well. "The New Classic" may have lost out to Future's "Honest" in its week of release, missing out on the week's top debut by a thousand copies. Since then, however, the album has sold steadily, shooting back into the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart this week and reaching 127,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Chalk those sales up to solid timing: released April 22, "The New Classic" hit stores just as "Fancy" entered the Top 20 of the Hot 100 chart. "The New Classic" should hang around the Top 10 for as long as "Fancy" reigns on radio.
9. Iggy's Engaging Interviews & Social Media Presence. Azalea has been candid about her background, struggle to find success and vision for "The New Classic" in the media, telling Billboard last month, "I wish I was a teenager in 1997. But with 'The New Classic,' I want younger generations to look back on what we're doing now and say, 'I wish I was a teenager in 2014.' I come from an era of kids who are always being told that what we make is not classic. But my album says to people my age, 'Don't devalue that we can be culturally significant -- because we can be.'"
Azalea is also a must-follow on Twitter and Instagram, where she posts inspirational quotes, blushing photos of her standing next to Jennifer Lopez and heart-meltingly adorable photos with her boyfriend, Los Angeles Lakers goofball Nick Young. If she sounds like a star, and she tweets like a star…
10. Nothing On Radio Sounds Quite Like Iggy. Think of Azalea as the anti-Shazam pop artist. Her distinct Dirty-South-By-Way-Of-Australia drawl makes "Fancy" (and by extension, "Problem") instantly recognizable, which is partially a symptom of not having enough female rappers impacting mainstream music. Still, the power of Azalea's performance on "Fancy" is not in any outrageous lyrical passages, but rather in the way she cockily unpacks her syllables, like when she lets the word "in" coast on the line "Bring the hooks in, where the bass at?" When "Fancy" comes onto Top 40 radio, you don't need anyone telling you the creator of that insanely catchy song. You already know.