Chart Beat

Chance the Rapper Helps Revive The Sounds of Blackness' 'Optimistic' on Hot Gospel Songs Chart

Sounds of Blackness perform on July 17, 1992
Alice S. Hall/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Sounds of Blackness perform on July 17, 1992.

Chance's #optimisticchallenge in response to Donald Trump inauguration spurs the song's 348 percent sales surge.

Another meme, another revived gospel hit.

The Sounds of Blackness' song "Optimistic," from their 1991 album The Evolution of Gospel, debuts on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart (dated Feb. 4) at No. 15. The catalyst for its bow, more than 25 years after its original release? Chance the Rapper, a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign, posted a clip on Twitter Jan. 19, dancing with friends to the song and dubbing it the #optimisticchallenge, encouraging his followers to stay positive during the inauguration of President Donald Trump (who was sworn in Jan. 20).

The meme (and optimism) grew, with The Sounds of Blackness themselves retweeting several revelers.

In the week ending Jan. 19 (and, thus, encompassing less than one full day of reaction to Chance the Rapper's tweet), "Optimistic" increased by 348 percent to 1,000 downloads sold, good for its No. 15 start on the multi-metric Hot Gospel Songs chart and its No. 5 launch on Gospel Digital Song Sales. (The Sounds of Blackness have charted six titles on Top Gospel Albums, between 1991 and 2011, led by the No. 4-peaking Africa to America… in 1995.)

The viral activity resurrecting "Optimistic" follows that of Shirley Caesar's "Hold My Mule," originally released in 1988 and now featuring Albertina Walker and Milton Brunson; it tops Hot Gospel Songs for a seventh week. On Gospel Streaming Songs, it rules for an eighth frame (1.8 million U.S. streams).

"Mule," which debuted on the Dec. 3, 2016-dated Hot Gospel Songs chart at No. 2, received a new jolt when DJ Suede the Remix God created an update, with its audio then soundtracking the #UNameIt Challenge. "Mule" gained greater traction when Chris Brown posted a video dancing to "Mule," inspiring further viral clips.