Gospel Legend Shirley Caesar Soars Thanks to Remix, Memes of 'Hold My Mule'
Plus, Home Free debuts at No. 1 on Top Christian Albums.
Gospel icon Shirley Caesar's remix of "Hold My Mule," featuring Albertina Walker and Milton Brunson, kicks onto Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart (dated Dec. 3) at No. 2, propelled by its No. 1 debut on Gospel Streaming Songs, as it surges by 7,510 percent to 821,000 U.S. streams in the week ending Nov. 17, according to Nielsen Music. The 79-year-old vocalist and pastor originally recorded the track in 1988. (Caesar first reached a Billboard chart in 1975.)
Why the sudden surge in the song's popularity? In the tradition of recent social media memes (like the Mannequin Challenge) comes the #UNameIt Challenge, which started when DJ Suede The Remix God created an update of "Mule," with special focus on the line, "beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes" among other food shout-outs, obviously timely just ahead of Thanksgiving.
"Mule" gained greater traction when Chris Brown posted a video dancing to the song, inspiring further viral clips. While there's no telling how long the craze will last, Caesar has launched an online store selling #UNameIt Challenge merchandise. While Caesar says that she was "shocked to see [people in videos] dancing and boogie-ing" to the song, she's grateful for her reach: "The Lord is so good to me."
"Mule" marks Caesar's highest-charting of four Hot Gospel Songs top 10s, besting the No. 3 "God Will Make a Way” in 2013. (The chart launched in 2005.)
HOLIDAY 'CHEER' & MORE: On Top Christian Albums, a cappella group Home Free's Full of (Even More) Cheer, an update of the act's 2014 holiday album Full of Cheer, enters at No. 1, selling 13,000 in its first week. On Top Country Albums, it opens at No. 2, behind Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood's new holiday set Christmas Together (21,000). On Top Holiday Albums, Cheer starts at No. 5.
The new Cheer adds two new songs: the traditional Gospel hymn "How Great Thou Art" and a studio version of "Colder Weather," a live version of which was released on the 2014 set. With its spiritual leanings, the new release gives the group its first appearance on Top Christian Albums. The original Cheer peaked at No. 12 on the Top Country Albums chart.
Concurrently on Top Christian Albums, the first solo LP from Chris Quilala, Split the Sky, launches at No. 8 (3,000 copies sold). Quilala is the worship leader for Jesus Culture, the musical collective for Bethel Church in Redding, California.
Jesus Culture has collected 10 Top Christian Albums appearances, including seven top 10s, starting with Come Away, which peaked at No. 10 in 2010. Unstoppable Love is the group's one No. 1 (so far), topping the June 21, 2014-dated chart.
Top Christian Albums welcomes one other new top 10, and The Neal Morse Band's first, as The Similitude of a Dream begins at No. 10 (3,000). The outfit's 2015 set The Grand Experiment peaked at No. 38. Morse also charted two solo albums: Testimony Two (No. 46, 2011) and Momentum (No. 36, 2012).