Justin Timberlake Makes Historic Debut On Pop Songs Chart

Tom Munro/RCA Records

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'Suit & Tie' scores the most first-week plays for a title at the format and the highest debut by a male. Taylor Swift, meanwhile, logs her second Pop Songs leader.

Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z, makes a record-setting debut on Billboard's Pop Songs chart, which measures mainstream top 40 radio airplay, as monitored by Nielsen BDS, soaring in at No. 14. The song arrives with the highest first-week plays total in the chart's 20-year history and marks the highest bow for a song by a male artist.


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"Suit" logged 6,045 plays in the Jan. 14-20 tracking week, with spins on all 157 of the Pop Songs chart's reporters, pushing it past Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," which opened (also at No. 14) with 4,602 plays the week of Feb. 26, 2011, for the highest debut-week plays sum on Pop Songs, which launched the week of Oct. 3, 1992. (The chart panel expanded from 141 to 157 reporters late last year.)
With its No. 14 arrival, "Suit" takes over as the highest-debuting song by a male artist in the Pop Songs chart's archives. It bests the No. 19 entrance of Jon Secada's "If You Go" the week of May 14, 1994. Among all acts, only Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" launched at a higher rank (No. 12, Aug. 14, 1993); "Suit" and "Born" now share the mark for the second-highest lift-off among all artists.



Aiding the fast start for "Suit," several Clear Channel Media and Entertainment-owned Pop Songs panelists gave it top-of-the-hour plays last Monday (Jan. 14), while CBS Radio reporters played it heavily on its first day and stations in the Cumulus chain added it to rotation.
Based on its first two days of airplay when the Billboard Hot 100 airplay/sales/streaming hybrid chart was tabulated on Wednesday (16), "Suit" debuted at No. 84. With a full week of airplay and sales, the song could vault into the Hot 100's top five when the chart is refreshed on Wednesday (23) this week. According to RCA Records, the song sold 310,078 downloads in its first week (ending Jan. 20) - however, official sales figures will be released on Wednesday morning by Nielsen SoundScan.


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"Over the years, we've come to expect the unexpected with Justin's music, which I think is fantastic," says Sharon Dastur, program director of Pop Songs panelist WHTZ New York. With its retro-soulful vibe, "'Suit & Tie' doesn't sound like anything else out in pop music right now and we can certainly use those kinds of songs. We welcome Justin back with open arms."
"Suit," the lead single from Timberlake's forthcoming third album, "The 20/20 Experience," concurrently roars onto the Rhythmic airplay chart at No. 14 and Adult Pop Songs at No. 22.
'KNEW' NO. 1: Timberlake doesn't have a lock on the week's airplay chart headlines, as Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble." lifts 3-1 on Pop Songs. The song marks her second leader on the list, following "Love Story," which topped the Feb. 28, 2009, tally.
As it tops Pop Songs, "Trouble" bounds 11-5 to become Swift's sixth top 10 on Adult Pop Songs and debuts at No. 29 on Adult Contemporary.
"Trouble" ranked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 last week with the chart's top Airplay Gainer award for a second consecutive week. It rose as high as No. 2 on the chart two weeks earlier.