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Ask Billboard: How Has Enrique Iglesias’ ‘Bailando’ Become Such A Big Hit?

In the latest mailbag: Industry execs analyze the song's barrier-breaking explosion. Plus, magic chart moves, Hilary Duff's best sellers & Tom Petty favorites.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary,

“Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias, featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona, climbs 23-17 on the Billboard Hot 100.

A few thoughts:


– How has this song become such a big pop hit? It seems rare that a song that’s largely in Spanish, and sounds like many Latin, not necessarily pop, hits, is doing so well.

– “Bailando” joins the list of successful Spanish-language hits on the Hot 100. I’m remembering songs like “Eres Tú” by Mocedades back in 1973 and “La Tortura” by Shakira, featuring Alejandro Sanz, more recently (2005).

– Gente de Zona is a Cuban act, composed of people actually living in Cuba. Historically, Cuban Pérez Prado had hits in the ’50s, although he was then living in Mexico, not Cuba.

Keep up the good work and all the best,

Fernando Jerez
Havana, Cuba

Hi Fernando,

Thanks for some great historical, and geographical, context. The success of “Bailando” is notable on many levels.

To answer your questions in reverse order, the act carries on a tradition of acts of Cuban descent (if not necessarily living in Cuba at the time of their hits). That includes Pitbull, Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada, Irene Cara and Martika. Also: Nayer, who’s featured on Pitbull’s 2011 Hot 100 No. 1 “Give Me Everything.”

FYI, the name Gente do Zona means “people from the neighborhood,” and the trio is a leader in Cuban reggaeton.

As for successful Spanish-language hits, one of the most famous ever reached the Hot 100’s top 40 around this time in 1987 on its way to No. 1: Los Lobos’ “La Bamba,” from the biopic of one of Latin crossover music’s pioneers, the iconic Ritchie Valens.

“Bailando” also marks another achievement for Latin music this year. As we wrote when Romeo Santos’ “Odio,” featuring Drake, debuted at No. 45 on the Hot 100 in February: “‘Odio’ claims the highest debut for a Spanish-language song in the chart’s 55-year history, arriving at No. 45 as the list’s highest new entry. Santos is just the third tropical act to rank as high in a first week, following Gloria Estefan, whose ‘Heaven’s What I Feel’ (an English-language track) entered at No. 34 in 1998, and iconic Mambo act Perez Prado and His Orchestra, whose instrumental classic ‘Patricia’ ranked and peaked at No. 2 the week that the Hot 100 launched (Aug. 4, 1958).”

Santos, of course, just made more headlines when he knocked out hits at Yankee Stadium.

And, directly below “Bailando” on this week’s Hot 100 at No. 18 is Becky G’s “Shower.” Earlier this year, she reached No. 1 on Latin Digital Songs and No. 2 on Latin Airplay with “Can’t Get Enough,” featuring Pitbull. While both songs are in English, she adds to the ever-increasing mix of Latin and American pop music. Mexican culture is a “big part of my life,” she told Latina back in 2012. “In my household, it’s more of a Spanglish thing, aside from just the language. [It’s] the lifestyle, on both my mom and dad’s sides. Family get-togethers, the soul, the music … it just comes naturally. I’m very proud to be Latina.”

So, how has “Bailando” (Spanish for “dancing”) hit the Hot 100’s top 20, given its core Latin sound and potential language barriers? Between your question and hearing the song lately so much on Z100 in New York – where it sounds great, standing out, but still a fit for the format with its steadily pulsating beat and catchy verses and chorus, along with Iglesias’ friendly, familiar voice – I went to Charlie Walk, executive VP of Republic Records, which is promoting the song. As it scales the Hot 100, spends a 12th week at No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs and rises 30-25 on the Pop Songs airplay chart, with only a Spanglish remix updating its original Spanish-language release (and a new Sean Paul guest rap), I asked what’s led to its success at pop radio and its run up the Hot 100.

“This is a classic case of a data-driven record,” Walk explained. “The Spanish version started building at Latin radio around February in Miami, at WMGE, WXDJ and WAMR. Plus, WYUU in Tampa. To date, those stations have played it 2,000, 1,500, 800 and 1,100 times [according to Nielsen BDS]. That’s massive Latin airplay.

“We also saw big Shazam and iTunes numbers – without a single play at pop radio. It’s one of the few Latin records I’ve seen react before even pop play. So, it was delivering. We knew we had a hit.”

Walks says that Pop Songs reporter WHYI Miami adding “Bailando” in April was the first major step in its journey to mass appeal. “Again, more sales, research and Shazam-ing. That started it on its way to becoming a hit with pop audiences.”

WHYI program director Alex Tear calls “Bailando” “cool and smooth,” with Iglesias “the ultimate ambassador of this vibe. ‘Bailando’ carves through the clutter of summer to make you sit back and enjoy the tropical moments. It’s now in our highest rotation with no sign of slowing down.”

Continues Walk: “Now, you could say, ‘Well, it’s Miami, so obviously Enrique is going to work there.’ But, his last few singles didn’t there. It’s not Miami – it’s the record. ‘Bailando’ has a reggae/Latin sound. It’s unique, and very different from his recent songs, which just weren’t all-out hits.

“‘Bailando’ is reacting like a hit. You can’t fake that: hit records react. Market-by-market, you can see that Latin airplay has led to pop play.”

Walk notes the influence of the song’s videos, too: the original version, released three months ago, has 220 million YouTube views and the English version, released a month ago, 18 million. “That provides an amazing visual. It’s a one-two punch.”

Ultimately, Walk feels that the Spanglish version of “Bailando” proved that it’s a song that translates, while still keeping the “essence of its DNA. He brilliantly, when we were breaking it at Latin, came up with the Spanglish version. It didn’t hurt his core at Latin, while Sean Paul added another voice familiar at pop.

“In all, it’s a perfect storm. Other markets, including in the Midwest, are now coming on-board. All signs point to people liking it; it doesn’t matter where you are. I call it a tri-coastal hit: from New York to L.A. to Miami, where it started.

“It’s Enrique at his core – it just sounds like him. He went back to being who he is. That’s why it’s a hit.”

One other key contributor to “Bailando” is also intrigued by the song: Iglesias. “Of all the songs I’ve written in Spanish, there’s something about this song,” he recently mused. (Thanks to Billboard’s executive director of Latin content and programming Leila Cobo for the quote.)

“The more I listen to it, the more I seem to like it. There’s something addictive about this song.”


Hi Gary,

I so look forward to Thursdays when charts update online and I can check out the latest action at Billboard!

Looking at the new Aug. 2-dated charts prompted me to research a hunch concerning the No. 1 song on the Hot 100. It turns out my hunch was right and, as unusual and random as it might be, I wanted to share it with you nonetheless.

On the Aug. 2, 2014 Hot 100, “Rude” by MAGIC! is on top. Back on August 2, 1980, “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John arrived at No. 1 (for a four-week reign). So, we have the same week, 34 years apart (wow, I suddenly feel old, ha), in which, in 1980, “Magic” was the No. 1 song and, in 2014, MAGIC! is the name of the artist with the No. 1 song.

I realize it’s nothing more than a coincidence, but how odd for it to be happen in the same week so many years apart.  Could it be ‘magic’?  (I know, pretty lame pun 🙂

Scott Nisbet

Hi Scott,

There is never such thing as a lame, or bad, pun. (We even need a theatrical performance about puns. It would be a … play on words.)

That’s a fun stat about “Magic,” and MAGIC! And, it’s another example of how music from decades ago can link with the present when it comes to the charts, just as how the artist that MAGIC! dethroned atop the Hot 100, Iggy Azalea, is now linked to the Beatles as the only acts to rank at Nos. 1 and 2 simultaneously with their first two Hot 100 hits.

(Upon relating the coincidences to my girlfriend, Michelle, in a satisfyingly rare case of her listening to me ramble on about chart trivia, she asked, “What about ‘Abracadabra’ by the Steve Miller Band and ‘Magic’ by Pilot?” Former programmer of Boston’s classic hits station Eagle 93.7 that she is, it turns out that “Abracadabra” reached the top 10 this week in 1982, ahead of its two-week rule, while Pilot’s “Magic” wrapped its run in the top 10, where it peaked at No. 5, this week in 1975. Summer truly is a magical time.)

Meanwhile, happy birthday, Hot 100! With the first chart dated in August, it turns 56.

Got another good email about MAGIC!, one that also references Azalea’s seven-week No. 1 “Fancy” and Olivia Newton-John:

Hi Gary,

Continuing our monitoring of one-word titles – seven of the Hot 100’s top 10 songs this week have one that’s just a single word – “Rude” is the latest one-word No. 1 song title by an act with a one-word name.

The list (excluding hits by one-word-named acts featuring other acts, like Santana’s “Smooth” … featuring Rob Thomas):
“Babe,” Styx (1979)
“Rapture,” Blondie (1981)
“Africa,” Toto (1983)
“Sara,” Starship (1986)
“Venus,” Bananarama (1986)
“Amanda,” Boston (1986)
“Alone,” Heart (1987)
“Vogue,” Madonna (1990)
“Joyride,” Roxette (1991)
“Unbelievable,” EMF (1991)
“Informer,” Snow (1993)
“Weak,” SWV (1993)
“Creep,” TLC (1995)
“Waterfalls,” TLC (1995)
“MMMBop,” Hanson (1997)
“Lately,” Divine (1998)
“Believe,” Cher (1999)
“Unpretty,” TLC (1999)

“Amazed,” Lonestar (2000)
“Music,” Madonna (2000)
“Foolish,” Ashanti (2002)
“Burn,” Usher (2004)
“SOS,” Rihanna (2006)
“Irreplaceable,” Beyonce (2006)
“Disturbia,” Rihanna (2008)
“Diamonds,” Rihanna (2012)
“Royals,” Lorde (2013)
“Rude,” MAGIC! (2014)

MAGIC! is, thus, the first singly-named group with a one-word No. 1 since Lonestar back in 2000.
And, as a parting gift for our departed No. 1, I’m not sure if it was mentioned that Iggy Azalea is only the third Australian woman to hit No. 1, following Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton-John, and the first since Olivia’s “Physical” ruled for 10 weeks in 1981-82.

Fancy that?
Jeff Lerner
Long Island, New York

Thanks Jeff,

MAGIC! fans will also like the feature on the quartet in the new issue of Billboard magazine. Clearly, the band’s manager, Charles Chavez, made good on his mission: as he promised lead singer Nasri Atweh about “Rude,” “I’ll take it and I’ll do my best to make this the biggest song on earth’.”


@gthot20 Hi Gary, can you please update sales of Hilary Duff in the next #AskBB?

Rei Teen ?@chokitossdd

Perfect timing, as Duff just signed with RCA Records. New single “Chasing the Sun” – co-written by Colbie Caillat – arrives on Tuesday (July 29) and introduces her first studio album in seven years. (She also visited Billboard’s New York offices this week, although at the same time as our weekly charts department meeting. That caused social charts manager William Gruger to call the conflict “the greatest dilemma I’ve ever faced.” “Invite Hilary to the meeting,” one Twitter follower suggested, a little too late.)

Here’s a look at the U.S. sales of Duff’s studio albums, as well as her top-selling digital singles, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

3,961,000, Metamorphosis (2003; No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for one week)
1,799,000, Hilary Duff (2004; No. 2)
1,489,000, Most Wanted (2005; No. 1, two weeks)
477,000, Santa Claus Lane (2002; No. 154)
411,000, Dignity (2007; No. 3)

655,000, “Come Clean”
550,000, “With Love”
437,000, “Wake Up”
284,000, “Fly”
253,000, “Stranger”

252,000, “So Yesterday”
238,000, “Someone’s Watching Over Me”
161,000, “Our Lips Are Sealed” (with Haylie Duff)
124,000, “Why Not”
112,000, “Play With Fire”

“I took a break from music for quite awhile, but it gave me the power to choose my next steps carefully,” Duff says. “I’m really proud of the album I’ve made. ‘Chasing the Sun’ is a light and fun summer song that I hope helps people feel a little more carefree.”


@gthot20 Two Hot 100 debuts: No. 11 – “Dirt” and No. 99 – “Dust”

Sam Yunono ?@SamYunono

Ha, fun observation, Sam, of two new songs, by Florida Georgia Line and Eli Young Band, respectively, on the July 26 Hot 100. Thankfully, there’s also “Rather Be” by … Clean Bandit. That dance song cleans up this week, bounding 32-22.

As “Dirt” leads Hot Country Songs for a second week, the duo, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, will vault on next week’s chart as writers on Jason Aldean’s new single, “Burnin’ It Down,” which debuts this week at No. 42 from one day of airplay. The ballad, released at midnight on July 22, remains atop iTunes top songs list. It’s the first single from his sixth studio album, due later this year.

Notably, the song reflects another step in the evolution of FGL. After becoming known for party anthems like “Cruise” and “This Is How We Roll,” compositions like “Dirt” and touring partner Aldean’s new single are showing that the pair can score success with slower songs, too.


With Tuesday (July 29) bringing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ first album since 2010, Hypnotic Eye, Billboard asked readers on Facebook for their favorite songs by the rock legends.

A sampling:

“Free Fallin’ “
Gerald Phillips, Beto G. Balderrama, DeLinda Jones, Elmer-Charles Hamilton, Asdrubal Silva
(Petty’s biggest hit as a lead act, having reached No. 7 in 1990. As featured on Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” he and the band rose to No. 3 in 1981.)

“Runnin’ Down a Dream”
Robert Pickett, Andrew Sharp

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance”
Gabriel Aaron Campos, Robin Hope

“You Don’t Know How It Feels”
Brandon Sykes, Jan Szatan Wlodarczyk

“American Girl”
Deborah Carlotti

“Listen to Her Heart”
Lauree Loya

Diego Contreras

“The Waiting”
Jay Goldsworthy

“I Won’t Back Down”
Cruz Rivas

“Learning to Fly”
Debra Turnbull

“Into the Great Wide Open”
Alex Fernandez

I became a fan of Petty’s music when the Traveling Wilburys released Vol. 1 in 1988, led by the single “Handle With Care.” The song, and supergroup of Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and group glue Jeff Lynne, formed when Harrison, Lynne and Orbison shared a meal and discussed the idea. They went to Dylan’s house to record a B-side to Harrison’s single “This Is Love”; Harrison had left his guitar at Petty’s house, so he went to get it … and Petty returned with him. When the five icons rightfully decided that the resulting song, “Care,” was too good to release as a throwaway, the Wilburys were on their way to travelling up the charts.

(The origin of the band’s name? In recording Harrison’s album Cloud Nine with Lynne, some glitches occurred due to faulty equipment. Harrison’s solution: “We’ll bury ’em in the mix.”)

Liking the Wilburys (at age 14) gave my then-forming musical palette incredible rock cred. And, since there were five members (including Orbison, who passed away in December 1988), I got a seemingly endless supply of the sound in the late ’80s and early ’90s, starting with Cloud Nine and Vol. 1 and on through Orbison’s Mystery Girl, Petty’s Full Moon Fever, Lynne’s Armchair Theatre and more.

In addition to being masters of melody, the Wilburys, and especially Petty, possessed a fun sense of whimsy, including the wacky Vol. 1 liner notes that covered the mock, but incredibly detailed, “history” of the band. Petty always seemed to have a knowing wink-and-nod in his music, which he sums up in the July 26 Billboard issue cover story. “The only good thing about getting older is you get smart enough to avoid unnecessary problems. You know what’s worth spending time on and what’s not. If I had known that at 20, life would have been so much easier, but you have to experience all these things so you figure out how to find your way through the woods.”

In honor of his newest music, and since I want to take part in Billboard’s poll, too, here’s my list of my 40(-ish) favorite Tom Petty and Traveling Wilburys-related songs:

T40, “California,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1996
T40, “Do Ya,” Electric Light Orchestra, 1977
T40, “American Girl,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1976
39, “You Got Lucky,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1983
38, “Every Little Thing,” Jeff Lynne, 1990
37, “Kings Highway,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1992
36, “What Is Life,” George Harrison, 1971
35, “Got My Mind Set on You,” George Harrison, 1988
34, “It’s Good to Be King,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1995
33, “Walls,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1996

32, “My Back Pages,” Petty/Dylan/Harrison/Eric Clapton/Roger McGuinn/Neil Young, 1993
(A great live version of the Dylan classic, first made a hit by McGuinn’s Byrds, a major influence on Petty’s music.)

31, “Echo,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
30, “Don’t Do Me Like That,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1980
29, “All Mixed Up,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1987
28, “Accused of Love,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
27, “Even the Losers,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1979

26, “Into the Great Wide Open,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1991
(Favorite lyric: “They made a record and it went in the charts.” Second-favorite lyric, a wry look at complacency: “His leather jacket had chains that would jingle / They both met movie stars, partied and mingled / Their A&R man said, ‘I don’t hear a single …’ “)

25, “This Is Love,” George Harrison, 1988
24, “That’s What It Takes,” George Harrison, 1988

23, “Scare Easy,” Mudcrutch, 2008
(I listened to the DJ on WXPK Hudson Valley, New York, outro this song when it was new that April. Why is that interesting? I stayed in the car to hear him talk about it while in a hospital parking lot, writhing in pain that turned out to be appendicitis. I was operated on that day. But, I really wanted to hear about the song. Priorities!)

22, “The Last DJ,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 2002
21, “The Waiting,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1981

20, “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1985
(One of Petty’s few songs that sounds tied to its era, with its Dave Stewart-produced polish. Still, its slickness mixed nicely with the track’s understated hook, and the top 15 Hot 100 hit continues to receive significant airplay.)

19, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” Electric Light Orchestra, 1978
18, “Runnin Down a Dream,” Tom Petty, 1989
17, “Free Fallin’,” Tom Petty, 1990
16, “Runaway Trains,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1987
15, “You Got It,” Roy Orbison, 1989
14, “Square One,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 2006
13, “Learning to Fly,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1991
12, “Flirting With Time,” Tom Petty, 2007
11, “Not Alone Any More,” Traveling Wilburys, 1988
10, “Wildflowers,” Tom Petty, 1994
9, “A Face in the Crowd,” Tom Petty, 1990
8, “I Won’t Back Down,” Tom Petty, 1989
7, “End of the Line,” Traveling Wilburys, 1989
6, “Lift Me Up,” Jeff Lynne, 1990
5, “What Would It Take,” Jeff Lynne, 1990

4, “All the Wrong Reasons,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1991
(I always thought that the song was the sonic sequel to “Free Fallin’.” Never a single, it still brought an addictive guitar hook, as well as a commentary following the greed-is-good ’80s: “Well, she grew up hard and she grew up fast / In the age of television / And she made a vow to have it all / It became her new religion.”)

3, “Handle With Care,” Traveling Wilburys, 1988
2, “Inside Out,” Traveling Wilburys, 1991

And …

1, “A Higher Place,” Tom Petty, 1995

Hidden gem “Place” is from 1994’s Wildflowers. (The cut reached No. 12 on Mainstream Rock Songs the following year.) For its 20th anniversary, Petty will offer previously unreleased songs from the set’s sessions this fall. “There are some beautiful songs,” he says. “I think people who liked Wildflowers will certainly feel like they got part two of that record.”