Without the aid so far of radio or an all-out promotional push, Jason Mraz  blasts onto the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 8 with "I Won't Give Up," courtesy of a No. 1 debut on the Digital Songs chart. The song starts with 229,000 downloads sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and marks his first No. 1 on the latter tally.
On the Hot 100, the track's launch is the highest for a male pop/rock singer-songwriter since David Cook  burst in at No. 3 with "The Time of My Life" the week of June 7, 2008, after he was crowned "American Idol" champion.
"Won't" is the lead single from Mraz's as-yet-untitled fourth studio album, due May 8. The set follows 2008's "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.," which debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and has sold 1.7 million copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan.
Mraz premiered "Won't" live during his 2011 concert tour, well before an official version was released. The buzz was so great on the track that it quickly caught viral fire and, in the past couple weeks, garnered cover versions by YouTube luminaries Christina Grimmie and Tyler Ward.
Dane Venable, Atlantic Records senior VP/marketing, saw Mraz perform "Won't" at Carnegie Hall in New York in late November and recalls it as "absolutely breathtaking. It got a standing ovation." Even though the song had already been laid down in the studio with a full band, Atlantic then encouraged Mraz to re-record it acoustically.
Venable says that Atlantic "knew the emotional impact of the song" and thought it would be a "great gift for the fans (for us) to release it at the top of the year, to just kick off 2012 with this gift of hope."
"I won't give up on us, even if the skies get rough," Mraz sings in the song's chorus. "I'm giving you all my love. I'm still looking up."
As the tracklist for Mraz's forthcoming album is still being finalized, Atlantic says that it's too early to confirm if both the acoustic and full-band versions of "Won't" will appear on the set.
Last month, Mraz told Billboard.com  that his new set will feature "less horns, more piano and guitar textures (and) more vocal landscapes. That, to me, has always been my favorite part of making music; the singing and what voices can do and voices singing in harmony."
While the official lyric video for "Won't" has racked 2.5 million views since its upload to Mraz's YouTube channel Jan. 2, a proper video is on the way. Atlantic says that Mraz is currently reviewing treatments and hopes to film the clip before the end of the month. The label aims to release the short by the second or third week of February.
Also due next month: "Won't" will get its first TV performance Feb. 16 when Mraz sings it on NBC's "Today." The gig is scheduled two days after "Won't" earns a rare physical CD single release Feb. 14 - not so coincidentally, Valentine's Day. The single's tracklist isn't yet final but may include both the acoustic and full-band versions of "Won't."
Following the song's viral buzz and impressive sales start, Atlantic will begin promoting "Won't" to radio, working the song to Mraz's home bases of adult pop and adult alternative Feb. 23. The label is likely to follow with a push to pop radio shortly thereafter.
"Won't" marks Mraz's second Hot 100 top 10, following his No. 6-peaking 2008 smash "I'm Yours." The latter song set the record for most weeks (76) that a single has spent on the Hot 100 in the chart's 53-year history. At 5.9 million in digital sales to-date, "Yours" is the eighth-best-selling download in SoundScan history and the highest by a male pop/rock singer-songwriter.
Check billboard.com later today for our weekly Wednesday preview of the Hot 100 when we count down the chart's top 10. Tomorrow (Jan. 12), all charts, including the Hot 100 in its entirety and the Digital Songs rankings, will be refreshed, as they are each Thursday.
- News