Ask Billboard: Summer Songs, More Taylor Swift & Remembering Survivor's Jimi Jamison
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HOW I DIDN'T QUITE GET (SUN)BURNT ATTEMPTING TO PICK 2014's TOP SUMMER HITS
Now that it's past Labor Day, a flashback to the May 16 "Ask Billboard," when reader Mark Siegal asked, "What are the top songs of summer 2014, in your opinion?"
Here's part of how I responded:
"I'm happy to give this my best shot, hoping that I won't miss too badly. I should probably just draft a document now called 'Ask Billboard: How I Got (Sun)Burnt Attempting to Pick 2014's Top Summer Hits!' and save it for September, when all I'll have to do is fill in the real winners. It would save me work then, too, which would likely be useful, since I'll probably need time to shovel the season's first Nor'easter ..."
The good news: I didn't do too badly, after all! The bad news: I missed completely on my late-summer weather prediction, as, instead of snow, it's been in the 90s and humid in New York the last few days. Actually, that's pretty good news, too.
To review, here are Billboard's top songs of the summer, with my picks from May at the right, in parentheses:
1, "Fancy," Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX (1)
2, "Rude," MAGIC! (17)
3, "Problem," Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea (2)
4, "Stay With Me," Sam Smith (36)
5, "Am I Wrong," Nico & Vinz (10)
6, "All of Me," John Legend (9)
7, "Wiggle," Jason Derulo feat. Snoop Dogg (16)
8, "Happy," Pharrell Williams (12)
9, "Summer," Calvin Harris (4)
10, "Turn Down for What," DJ Snake & Lil Jon (13)
So, I correctly guessed that "Fancy" would win. It's the only rank I matched, but if you're only going to get one, No. 1 is the best one to pick. At the time, the song rose 4-3 on the Hot 100. "I'm apparently predicting 'Fancy' to log a potent run at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and emerge as 2014's top song of the summer," I hesitantly summed up. Ultimately, "Fancy" spent seven weeks on top on its way to taking the title.
I actually correctly predicted half the top 10, including the No. 3 song of the summer, "Problem" (which I had at No. 2); "Am I Wrong" (5/10); "All of Me" (6/9); and "Summer" (9/4).
I had a strong feeling that "Rude," the runner-up to "Fancy," would become a big hit and took it a bit too safe predicting it at No. 17. At the time, the song jumped 62-39 on the Hot 100.
My biggest miss among the final ranking was easily Sam Smith's "Stay With Me," which finished at No. 4. I had it at No. 36 (although it, along with the rest of the top 10, at least made my list; all but "Stay," in fact, made my top 20). "'Stay With Me' has received much buzz, but it could face a tough climb due to its lack of tempo (with tempo traditionally, although not always, a hallmark of the biggest summer hits)."
Since I chose five of the eventual 10 top summer songs, I picked five others to place in the top 10 that ultimately didn't make the cut:
"Not a Bad Thing," Justin Timberlake (3)
"Birthday," Katy Perry (5)
"Sing," Ed Sheeran (6)
"Ain't It Fun," Paramore (7)
"A Sky Full of Stars," Coldplay (8)
At least all have become legitimate hits, with "Stars" still on the rise. "Coldplay could score its biggest hit since 2008's No. 1 'Viva La Vida,' as the hooky 'Stars' takes the band into EDM, thanks to Avicii's production and writing," I noted in May.
(Three other songs that I still think deserve to have become even bigger hits than they were this summer: Bleachers' "I Wanna Get Better," my No. 30 prediction in May; Jerrod Niemann's "Drink to That All Night," featuring Pitbull, at No. 28; and Tiesto's "Red Lights," at No. 21.)
Meanwhile, two other songs that I considered are still climbing. Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)," my No. 40 pick, reaches the Hot 100's top 20 this week, while Clean Bandit's "Rather Be," feat. Jess Glynne (No. 29), spends its fourth straight week in the top 15.
So, no need to call this one "Ask Billboard: How I Got (Sun)Burnt Attempting to Pick 2014's Top Summer Hits" after all! I even left room for a potential hit not yet out in May: "An important qualifier: This list covers only songs already released. Stars like Adele, Taylor Swift or Rihanna could always surprise with sooner-than-expected next album releases. I.e., anyone could pull a Beyonce (including even Beyonce again)."
Beyonce didn't, but, as of this week, Swift's "Shake It Off" spends its second week at No. 1 on the Hot 100. So, there's another sort-of pick I can feel good about.
And (hopefully …), there's no chance that it's about to snow.
AND A 1, AND A 2 …
Per last week's "Ask Billboard," which looked at songs by the same title that have peaked at Nos. 1 and 2 on the Hot 100, it's important to note that Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off" did not reach No. 1 partly because her own "We Belong Together" kept it from the top (the week it rose 4-2; it then spent five more weeks at No. 2 behind Kanye West's "Gold Digger," featuring Jamie Foxx).
A fact worth noting!
Thanks Zack. True enough, if you're going to peak at No. 2 on the Hot 100, the best reason for not reaching No. 1 is because another song of yours is blocking the way. It would be like bemoaning that Iggy Azalea stopped at No. 2 for five weeks as a guest on Ariana Grande's "Problem" because Azalea's "Fancy" held at No. 1 the entire time. An artist could have much worse chart problems (no pun intended).
Also regarding last week's list of song titles to reach Nos. 1 and 2:
I enjoyed the "Ask Billboard" about matching No. 1 and 2 song titles, but I noted two others that belong on the list:
No. 1, Ohio Players, 1975
No. 2, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, 1968
No. 2, Pointer Sisters, 1979
No. 1, Bryan Adams, 1985
No. 2, Warrant, 1989
Also, more Taylor Swift trivia: while "Shake" is her first song to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100, she's no stranger to high entrances, as the song is her 12th top 10 debut (of her 15 total top 10s):
"Change," Aug. 30, 2008, No. 10
"Fearless," Nov. 1, 2008, No. 9
"Jump Then Fall," Nov. 14, 2009, No. 10
"Today Was a Fairytale," Feb. 6, 2010, No. 2
"Mine," Aug. 21, 2010, No. 3
"Speak Now," Oct. 23, 2010, No. 8
"Back to December," Oct. 30, 2010, No. 6
"If This Was a Movie," Oct. 26, 2011, No. 10
"Begin Again," Oct. 13, 2012, No. 7
"Red," Oct. 20, 2012, No. 6
"I Knew You Were Trouble," Oct. 27, 2012, No. 3 (peaked at No. 2)
"Shake It Off," Sept. 6, 2014, No. 1
Ironically, Swift's three top 10s to debut outside the top are among her most popular hits: "Love Story," which debuted at No. 16 and peaked at No. 4, "You Belong With Me" (No. 12 debut, No. 2 peak) and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (No. 72 debut, No. 1 peak).
The top five artists with the most top 10 debuts? After Swift: Eminem (eight), Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne (six each) and, who else, with five, Mariah Carey.
Long Island, New York
REMEMBERING JIMI JAMISON
Let's take a moment to remember late Survivor vocalist Jimi Jamison. He sang lead on four top 10 Hot 100 hits by Survivor in the '80s.
Sad news about Jamison, who was 63 upon his passing a week ago.
In Jamison's honor, how about a recap of Survivor's top 10 Hot 100 hits? Notably, he didn't join the band until 1984, so he wasn't a part of the band's biggest hit, 1982's "Eye of the Tiger." As you note, he sang lead on Survivor's other four top 10s (and seven of its top 10 biggest hits overall), however, helping the group score its most sustained hit-making era.
Survivor's Biggest Hot 100 Hits
1, "Eye of the Tiger," No. 1 (six weeks), July 24, 1982
2, "Burning Heart," No. 2, Feb. 1, 1986*
3, "The Search Is Over," No. 4, July 13, 1985*
4, "Is This Love," No. 9, Jan. 17, 1987*
5, "High On You," No. 8, March 23, 1985*
6, "I Can't Hold Back," No. 13, Dec. 8, 1984*
7, "American Heartbeat," No. 17, Nov. 20, 1982
8, "Poor Man's Son," No. 33, Dec. 12, 1981
9, "How Much Love," No. 51, March 28, 1987*
10, "First Night," No. 53, Sept. 7, 1985*
*sung by Jamison (This ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart. The ranking is based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 having the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 proportionately less. Due to various changes in chart rules and methodology through the years, songs have had reigns at No. 1 and on the chart of varying average lengths. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from all years, certain time frames were weighted to account for the differences in song turnover rates.)
Jamison also sang Survivor's No. 63-peaking 1984 hit "Moment of Truth," famously from The Karate Kid. Some may have even fonder memories for his work co-writing and singing the theme to Baywatch.
Jamison was originally apprehensive about joining Survivor (after fronting the band Cobra), as he recalled in an interview with webzine Metal Perspective. "CBS Records suggested me as a replacement for [Survivor's then-] current singer. They called me to audition, but [I] wasn't sure I even wanted to do it. All I knew about them was 'Eye of the Tiger.' [But] I went out and bought their older albums and realized that they weren't just some studio musicians who got lucky."
He also helped Survivor master a rare sequel: remaining popular after a change of lead singers.
"Yes, it is usually is hard to replace a singer with a No. 1 song, but I never really felt any pressure. At that time, no one knew who was in the band or what they looked like, anyway. As always, I just do the best I can do and people would like me or they wouldn't. When we started doing videos for MTV, everything skyrocketed. We had No. 1 videos for weeks at a time."
Most importantly, Jamison devoted much time and effort to charity work. "I just feel that whenever we can help someone who needs help we should always try to do it. I don't really feel a need to do it, I just enjoy doing it. It gives me a good feeling whenever I can do something I love doing and it actually helps someone at the same time.
"It's a double blessing."