Weekly Chart Notes: Alternative Radio's 'Sound' Is To Play It 'Safe'

Capital Cities' 'Safe and Sound' reaches No. 1 on Alternative Songs at last, continuing a trend of songs taking their time to ascend to the chart's summit

Capital Cities' "Safe and Sound" reaches the Alternative Songs summit in its 29th week, tying for the third-longest trip to the top in the chart's nearly 25-year history. Only Neon Trees' "Animal" (32 weeks) and Phoenix's "1901" (31), both in 2010, took longer.

Notably, of the six songs to need at least 29 weeks to hit No. 1 on the chart, all have done so since 2009:

Longest Trips to No. 1 on Alternative (1988-2013)
32 weeks, "Animal," Neon Trees, 2010
31 weeks, "1901," Phoenix, 2010
29 weeks, "Safe and Sound," Capital Cities, 2013
29 weeks, "Little Talks," Of Monsters and Men, 2012
29 weeks, "Back Against the Wall," Cage the Elephant, 2010
29 weeks, "Feel Good Drag," Anberlin, 2009

Why are songs taking a more scenic route to No. 1 at the format of late?

"We're seeing hits take longer to lock in at alternative and, when they do, they hang around a long time," says Capitol VP of promotion Howard Petruziello, who's helmed the label's radio efforts with "Safe." "Often, an alternative station is the only one in a market playing these songs and it takes a while for them to get truly saturated, especially when light and medium rotations at most stations now mean only two-to-four spins a day."

With program directors in medium-to-large markets also now having access to real-time audience reaction, and tune-out, thanks to Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings measurement technology, it can be less risky to play established hits in heavier doses. "It appears that PPM research, although not used as widely as you would think, has influenced this process," says Warren Christensen, senior VP of promotion for Q Prime and the rock-centric Mom + Pop label. "It used to be that as soon as alternative noticed a hit of theirs on another format, like adult pop, they would drop it, or move it to recurrent status, and start the next track."

Now, with PDs chasing ratings in a more advanced methodology, "if a song is a big crossover hit, alternative wants to own that song and artist, so they stick with it longer."

Christensen says that consolidation among radio station ownership groups appears to be another factor in songs' steadier chart climbs. "Chains sharing information among their stations more freely has allowed stations to see trends, good or bad. Some may put a song back into rotation, and often in a better rotation then before, as they have more confidence that it will become a hit based on what they're seeing around the country and their own chain."

Still, the chart-topping success of "Safe and Sound," which pushes 38-35 in its second week on Pop Songs and 81-74 on the Billboard Hot 100, "goes to show that the audience that discovers music via radio is still alive and well," says Capital Cities manager Dan Weisman.

"There are hits just sitting around on iTunes and Spotify and blogs waiting to be mined by the right curator to be given the context and chance to become a hit."

HOT WINGS: Paul McCartney's reissue series, through Concord Records, continues with "Wings Over America," which flies back onto the Billboard 200 at No. 22. With 17,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the set moves slightly more than the opening-week sum of his last reissue, 2012's "Ram," which re-entered at No. 24 a year ago this month.

"Wings Over America" first appeared on the Billboard 200 on Christmas Day 1976 and led the list the week of Jan. 22, 1977.

A 'FAST & FURIOUS' MOVE: 2Chainz and Wiz Khalifa's "We Own It (Fast & Furious)" blasts 61-16 on the Hot 100 with top Digital Gainer honors in its second week. The rise is tied primarily to the song's 208,000 downloads sold, a 137% increase, according to SoundScan, which also spurs a 3-1 jump on Rap Digital Songs.

For 2Chainz, the impressive sales figure marks his best yet. His "I'm Different" previously held the mark, having sold 157,000 the week of Jan. 12, 2013.

"Own" accompanies the action film "Fast & Furious 6," which has crossed $500 million at the worldwide box office faster than any film in the studio's history.

UP 'SIDE': Jason Derulo's "The Other Side" climbs 37-30 on the Hot 100 and, with a 12-10 lift, becomes Derulo's his sixth Pop Songs top 10. Since his first week in the region (Oct. 10, 2009), only Bruno Mars (10) and Pitbull (seven) boast more Pop Songs top 10s among men. Flo Rida has also totaled six top 10s on the radio tally in that span.

Derulo topped Pop Songs with his first two singles, "Whatcha Say" (four weeks at No. 1, 2009) and "In My Head" (two weeks, 2010).

'KIDS' BOPS: As it rises 32-31 on Pop Songs, Ke$ha's "Crazy Kids" claims the Hot Shot Debut on the Hot 100 at No. 59. A No. 34 start on Digital Songs (up 215% to 54,000 sold) helps enable the Hot 100 entrance.

As a new mix featuring Juicy J accounts for 54% of the song's weekly sales sum, the song, previously released with guest will.i.am, is being credited on the Hot 100 as by Ke$ha featuring will.i.am or Juicy J.

'CLOUDS' PERSISTS: Late singer/songwriter Zach Sobiech's folk-tinged "Clouds" falls 26-92 on the Hot 100 and 7-54 on Digital Songs (34,000, down 78%) after media attention helped spur its debut on both charts last week. Still, its to date sales total rises to 215,000, all of which benefits the charity established by Sobiech before he passed away at age 18 on May 20.

Meanwhile, the song increases by 72% to 495,000 weekly streams, according to Nielsen BDS. And, adult pop station KSTP Minneapolis, which helped Sobiech record the song, continues to champion it, having played it 16 times last week, according to BDS.

"Zach's phrase was, 'You don't have to learn you're dying to learn how to live'," KSTP program director Leighton Peck shared with Billboard last week. "People really connected with him."

Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield and Rauly Ramirez

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