Billboard Hot 100 Fest
Ask Billboard: Is There an Unusually High Number of New Acts in the Hot 100's Top 10?
From OMI to Rachel Platten, are rookies ruling more than ever? Plus, Selena Gomez's top-selling hits & more.
As always, submit questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, tweet @gthot20
NEW ACTS' TOP 10 TAKEOVER CONTINUES
A seemingly high number of acts in the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 this week are charting their first songs on the list. I believe that OMI, Charlie Puth, Silento, Fetty Wap, Walk the Moon and Rachel Platten are all appearing with their first Hot 100 songs. That seems to me an unusually high amount, six – especially if I missed any!
Is this week an historical aberration?
New artists are certainly making news on the Hot 100 right now, highlighted at No. 1 by OMI's "Cheerleader" (which is, of course, not that new, but originally from 2012 and has surged thanks to its remix by Felix Jaehn). And, even as Charlie Puth is the featured act on Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again," he wrote and sings the hit's pop hook.
Recapping the rookies in the current top 10 (as defined by artists enjoying their first Hot 100 visits):
Hot 100 dated July 25, 2015
OMI, "Cheerleader," No. 1
Charlie Puth (featured Wiz Khalifa's) "See You Again," No. 2
Silento, "Watch Me," No. 5
Fetty Wap, "Trap Queen," No. 6
WALK THE MOON, "Shut Up and Dance," No. 7
Rachel Platten, "Fight Song," No. 8
How do those six newbies compare to how many new acts were in the top 10 a year ago? Let's look:
July 26, 2014
MAGIC!, "Rude," No. 1
Iggy Azalea (featuring Charli XCX), "Fancy," No. 2
Nico & Vinz, "Am I Wrong," No. 5
Disclosure (featuring Sam Smith), "Latch," No. 10
So, six is more than four. (See what kind of deep analysis I'm providing so far?) Let's go back another year:
July 27, 2013
Ray Dalton (featured on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis') "Can't Hold Us," No. 5
Anna Kendrick, "Cups (Pitch Perfect's When I'm Gone)," No. 10
Now, we're down to two acts in the top tier in their first Hot 100 appearances. If we go back one more year, we get:
July 28, 2012
Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe," No. 1
Gotye feat. Kimbra, "Somebody That I Used to Know," No. 4
Ellie Goulding, "Lights," No. 5
Sia (featured on David Guetta's) "Titanium," No. 8
Hmm, back up to five first-time-charting acts in the top 10. Now, let's flashback just a bit further, and here's where we see a week even more dominated by fresh faces (and voices) in the top 10 than the current Hot 100:
June 9, 2012
Gotye feat. Kimbra, "Somebody That I Used to Know," No. 1
Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe," No. 2
Fun. feat. Janelle Monae, "We Are Young," No. 4
One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful," No. 7
The Wanted, "Glad You Came," No. 8
Phillip Phillips, "Home," No. 10
Thus, slightly more than four years ago, a whopping eight acts (including those in featured roles) teamed up in the top 10 (and with a variety of sounds, from pure pop to anthemic alt to stomp-and-clap folk). With the trend so noticeable at the time, I wrote a piece for the May 26, 2012 Billboard issue ("The New Wave of Top 40") examining why new acts had become so prevalent.
Four years later, several of the points cited remain relevant.
A key angle: "Social media have really helped many of these newer artists explode quicker than they would've before," said Sharon Dastur, then program director of WHTZ New York (now iHeartMedia senior vp programming integration). "It's another way for friends to discuss and share their favorite music."
In 2015, social media have especially been responsible for the rise of Fetty Wap and Silento, whose debut hits have been driven by viral clicks and user-generated videos using their songs' audio.
In a similar vein, the Internet overall has fueled artist discovery, with "Cheerleader," by Jamaican-born OMI, having become a global hit before breaking in the U.S. "I think labels have become better at the set-up of music from outside the U.S.," RCA executive vp Joe Riccitelli mused last year in a similar story about the new blood on the Hot 100 at the time (including the label's Magic!) "A constant flow of new [social media] content really helps stoke the fires."
Also in play four years ago and still now: new artists can benefit from breaks by established stars. With the likes of Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake, among others, between albums, doors open for previously unknown talent. "That breathes new opportunities for new artists," Chase Murphy, operations manager/PD of KXXM San Antonio, said in 2012. Plus, as Murphy pointed out, just because an artist takes time off doesn't mean that a label can. "Labels always need to break new artists to stay in business."
While those observations cover recent years, what about further back, before social media had become a practically 24/7 presence in our daily routine? (Put down that phone, I'm trying to make interesting points here! Unless you're reading this on your phone … which you probably are … so, never mind … probably.)
Here's how many new artists placed in the Hot 100's top 10 this week 15 years ago:
July 29, 2000
Vertical Horizon, "Everything You Want," No. 3
Nine Days, "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)," No. 6
P!nk," "There You Go," No. 9
Three. And, 20 years ago:
July 29, 1995
Monica, "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)," No. 3
Nicki French, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," No. 8
Blues Traveler, "Run-Around," No. 10
Also three. Going back 25 years:
July 28, 1990
Mariah Carey, "Vision of Love," No. 2
En Vogue, "Hold On," No. 5
Snap, "The Power," No. 6
Tyler Collins, "Girls Nite Out," No. 7
Similarly, four. Thirty years ago?
July 27, 1985
Sting, "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," No. 5
One (with Sting being firmly established as frontman of the Police). And, 40 years ago …
July 26, 1975
Van McCoy – the Soul City Symphony, "The Hustle," No. 1
Melissa Manchester, "Midnight Blue," No. 9
Gwen McCrae, "Rockin' Chair," No. 10
… three. And, finally, 50 years ago:
July 31, 1965
Barbara Mason, "Yes, I'm Ready," No. 5
One. By the scope of this research, the 2010s have been largely more welcoming toward new acts than previous periods. (The development of featured artists on so many hits has also grown opportunities for more first-timers to enter the Hot 100's top 10 more regularly.)
Still, the Hot 100 and top 40 radio have always made new names part of pop music's appeal, dating to the breakthroughs of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Per Tommy Chuck, PD of WFLZ Tampa, Fla., last year, "Discovering new artists is one of the many things that keeps radio great."
Of course, beyond whether an artist is new or deep into a hit-packed career (Taylor Swift, for instance, is nearly a decade into her chart history, ranking at No. 4 with her 18th top 10, "Bad Blood"), song quality is, and always has been, the most baseline determinant of hits, throughout the rock era.
As Erik Bradley, assistant PD/music director at WBBM Chicago says, simply, "Great songs win."
SELENA GOMEZ'S SALES
@gthot20 Hi Gary, Can you update the best-selling singles and albums by Selena Gomez?
Selena Gomez Charts @ChartsSG
As Gomez rebounds 17-15 on the Hot 100 with "Good for You" (featuring A$AP Rocky), after debuting at a career-best bow of No. 9 two weeks ago, let's look at her top-selling songs and albums (in the U.S.), according to Nielsen Music.
2.7 million, "Love You Like a Love Song," 2.5 million, "Come & Get It," 2.1 million, "Who Says," 2 million, "Naturally"
1.3 million, "The Heart Wants What It Wants," 1.1 million, "Tell Me Something I Don't Know," 1 million, "A Year Without Rain," 1 million, "Slow Down"
958,000, "Round & Round," 576,000, "Falling Down," 558,000, "Magic," 554,000, "Hit the Lights," 511,000, "I Want You to Know" (featuring Zedd)
922,000, Kiss and Tell (with the Scene, 2009), 812,000, A Year Without Rain (with the Scene, 2010), 694,000, When the Sun Goes Down (with the Scene, 2011)
392,000, Stars Dance (2013), 89,000, For You (2014)
"Good for You" has sold 308,000 downloads since its release. "For this record, I wanted to find my sweet spot, if you will," she recently told Elvis Duran of Elvis Duran and the Z100 (WHTZ) Morning Show. "I know that maybe, vocally, I wouldn't be the greatest singer in the world, but I know my strengths now.
"I have a lot to prove, but, I think, for instance, this song is totally in my register. It's smoky and fun and sexy."
AND A ONE, AND A TWO, AND A THREE …
Fun list about acts with the shortest names to top the Hot 100, led by M and U2.
I know you didn't count extra punctuation, but let's not forget acts like L.V. (aka, "Large Variety," real name: Larry Sanders), featured on Coolio's 1995 No. 1 "Gangsta's Paradise"), and T.I., with four No. 1s.
What if we went deeper than No. 1s … what acts with three characters or fewer in their names have come close to leading the Hot 100? (Hey, "hot" and "100" are just three characters long, too!)
Thanks Pablo. Or, "thx," in the spirit of the topic.
Just as we did with No. 1 hits, let's recap the acts with the shortest names to peak at No. 2 on the Hot 100 (as leads, and considering punctuation). Three of the acts (Mya, TLC and SWV) also notched No. 1s:
Artist, Title, Year Reached No. 2
PSY, "Gangnam Style," 2012
Mya, "Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do), 2000
TLC, "Red Light Special," 1995; "Baby-Baby-Baby," 1992
SWV, "Right Here (Human Nature)"/"Downtown," 1993
War, "The Cisco Kid," 1973
And … hits by such acts to rise to No. 3:
Artist, Title, Year Reached No. 3
U2, "Desire," 1988
LFO, "Summer Girls," 1999
Ace, "How Long," 1975
Speaking of summer girls, check out all the summer girls and boys in our special ranking of the 100 Biggest Summer Songs of All Time, also available in the latest print issue of Billboard, dated July 25.
Among them: hits by TLC and SWV. (By next year, the list might also include OMI.)