On this week’s Billboard Hot 100 chart, Camila Cabello makes a pair of debuts after simultaneously launching two new singles: “Liar” bows at No. 56 on the chart, while “Shameless” is close behind with a No. 60 start. The dual-single strategy has been previously deployed by the pop star — and helped her score her first No. 1 single less than two years ago.
In August 2017, Cabello, still trying to find her sound as a solo artist after leaving Fifth Harmony in late 2016, released two songs at the same time: “OMG,” featuring Quavo, and “Havana” with Young Thug. At first, it wasn’t clear which one would be the focus for pop radio.
“At the time, ‘OMG’ seemed like it had that more rhythmic-pop feel that people were used to hearing from Camila via Fifth Harmony, because ‘Worth It’ and ‘Work From Home’ were pop rhythmic monsters,” Sandra Afloarei, SVP, promotion at Epic Records, tells Billboard. While “OMG” seemed to be gaining more steam at first, hitting No. 8 on the Pop Digital Song Sales the month of its release, “Havana” slowly grew into a smash, ultimately peaking at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and becoming Cabello’s solo breakthrough. Camila, her debut solo album, also topped the Billboard 200 chart upon its release last year.
“I think it took people a second to connect with ‘Havana,’ because what people needed to be reminded of is that Camila is not Fifth Harmony,” adds Afloarei. “She very much is her own writer, her own artist and her own person, and I think ‘Havana’ speaks to that.”
Now, as Cabello preps her second project titled Romance, the singer has once again tested out two new singles — although this time, she appears to have two equally radio-friendly hits on her hands. While “Shameless” contains a slick pop-punk streak, “Liar” incorporates flamenco influences and horns that recall the glory days of ska-pop.
According to Afloarei, the demand for both songs has been immediate and equal. iHeartMedia stations played each single on the hour following their joint release, as did Cumulus and Entercom stations. “We started having people call us up and say, ‘You know what? I’m putting both in, because I can’t pick and my audience can’t seem to pick,'” says Afloarei. (For her part, Cabello herself said in a recent radio interview, “I think it’s too much pressure when I haven’t released an album in a year and a half to just put out one song. … I’m not really like a drop one single kinda gal.”)
Although Afloarei says she doesn’t know whether Epic will continue to push both singles or puts its full energy behind one, as it did when “Havana” started clearly outperforming “OMG,” she sees the dual success of “Liar” and “Shameless” thus far as a positive sign. As far as other artists beginning to adopt the double-single strategy and letting the fans choose which song is the breakout, Afloarei says it’s a sign of the times.
“People want more and more, and I think that we need to probably keep up and continue to give people more and more,” she says, although Afloarei adds that the power of one song can also remain just as important. “I still think that there’s value in one really good project, be it one single or one album.”